Developers: The Why and How to Writing Technical Articles
I posted a small broadcast on the need for technical articles on a WhatsApp group of over 200 developers — the response I got prompted me to write this short article.
After my broadcast, I realized that many developers don't find it important to write articles, and I believe that's wrong. To my surprise, several developers messaged me saying that they needed help getting started writing technical articles after seeing this at the end of my post:
If you have write-ups, basically technical ones, and you want to reach out to a wider audience on Medium, please DM me with your Medium username and link to the articles or article.
If you would like to start writing technical posts and you don't know where to start from, you can also DM me.
To start with, it takes a lot of time to come up with awesome content. I know this is what puts many developers off, but in the first part of this post, I will talk about the benefits of writing technical posts.
Build Your Portfolio
One key thing about writing technical posts is that it can help you build your portfolio as a developer. Not only that, it gives you ample opportunity to be seen as skilled at what you do. One key thing I feel that has helped some developers, like Prosper Otemuyiwa among others, is the fact that no matter how short the tutorial is, they make sure they do something.
Before you got to where you are now, other people helped you get here through videos and articles. That's enough reason to write content for other people to learn from.
The more you write on a particular subject, or let me say, the more you teach a particular topic, the better you get at it. Writing technical content can be as simple as writing about an application you just built — maybe the project stressed you out and you want to help other developers avoid the same pain — or you just learned a new thing and you want the world to know what you just learned.
Writing about your experiences helps you build confidence in what you know.
Yes! Money is very important, and you don’t get it by sitting around and not doing anything that will add value to someone else's life. You can get paid for writing technical content but, before you get paid, you have to have written some interesting content to build up a portfolio.
I know a few companies that pay for technical write-ups. One is Scotch Development. Scotch Development pays for written work, not because they have a lot of money to spend, but because they believe development is a lot easier when you have the right content to guide you.
One of the things that makes me happy is the number of views I get on my articles. I wrote an article on React, Babel, webpack, and webpack 3.0 and Codementor alerted me on Twitter that I'd reached 2000 views, which made me feel proud of myself. I think seeing people reading your content and learning from it should be a plus for you.
Few people invest their time in writing technical articles. This gives the people who write an edge when it comes to getting something a lot of people apply for. Auth0 opened their web application for Auth0 ambassador, and one of the application fields included a place where applicants could attach links to write-ups written. Hint. Hint.
HOW DO I START?
I get asked this question every time I talk about writing technical posts. I'll explain how to get started based on my experience and other posts I've read about getting started writing technical articles.
- Believe you can
You don’t have to be the world's greatest developer to write an article. You can always write an article on what you're currently learning, but the first thing is to believe in yourself.
- A Little Step but A Great Beginning
Many developers get confused at this point, because they feel like they have to write that will impress people. Not me. I always say to start with something small. My first post on Medium was PHP: BEYOND BUILDING WEBSITES, and it was not a very ‘techie’ type of article. I wrote it just to have something out there.
Other people encouraged me by recommending the piece and I got an invite to become a writer on Medium. That was the little step I took, and now I have more tutorials out on Scotch Development, Codementor, Medium, @dev.to and so on. Just give it a try.
- Learn New Technology
The best way to have something to write about is to learn new technologies. Learn new frameworks you weren't asked to learn or write on. Recently, I saw that there was a new JS framework without any tutorials for it. When I went through the documentation, I found out how light and awesome it was. So I made a tutorial on it, some popular JS Twitter users found out about the article, retweeted, and I got more and more views.
- Topics are around you
Some developers feel good topics are the main issue. To be honest, the quality of content is not always the most important thing — you just have to be sensitive. Scotch Development has a section on their website where you can get ideas for tutorials you can write. Check it out here. Basically, there are no new topics — what you have are differences in content most of the time.
- Know Your Niche
To be successful at this game, you have to carve out a niche for yourself. If you know you're awesome at building web applications, stick to that — if it's mobile development, Artificial Intelligence, ML and so on, stick to that. If you make mistakes you shouldn’t have made while writing a tutorial, people won't take you seriously.
- Be Unique In Your Writing
When writing, you have to put things as simply as possible and be very free at the same time. Write your articles like you're explaining something to another developer and you want him or her to understand it in simple terms. You can always include funny GIF images, short videos, screenshots, etc. to keep your readers interested.
- Get Feedback
Don’t act like you know everything. You'll only be shooting yourself in the foot. Ask for comments and be open to criticism because you can't avoid it. Let people be able to talk to you about something that's unclear to them via email or Twitter.
- Don’t Stop Writing
I shouldn't have added this, but don’t stop writing once you start. Even if you receive a lot of criticism saying that you don’t know anything — work on making corrections, write more, and it will pay off.
If you've learned something from my article, I'll be glad if you can share your thoughts with me on Twitter @goodnesskayode.