This evening I received some tweets from an online buddy @punkeel (you should follow them).
@tosbourn or a very "personal" use case ... :(— PunKeel (@punkeel) December 3, 2015
In case that doesn’t always work (you can’t trust the internet) the question is.
How do you overcome the idea that “Nobody will find my posts useful” Every subject I wanna blog about is either covered up or a very “personal” use case
This is a great question. I have some thoughts on it which were too long for Twitter and I think that may be useful to others.
Let me break my thinking down into three sections as I feel there are three things to address here.
I will wrap up with some other random thoughts.
Nobody will find my posts useful
This is complete rubbish but let’s assume that you have zero audience. If you are writing a technical blog post there is always going to be one person to find it useful. You.
Even when just re-writing the steps I took to un-break something I broke I come out of the blog post with a much better understanding of the problem and solution than before I began.
You need to write a lot before you even start to get in any way decent at it. I still think I am a terrible writer but I can see I have come on leaps and bounds since starting this blog. Not every post needs to be ground breaking.
Problems come back
How many times have you encountered an issue that you remember fixing 6 months ago and you kind of half remember the steps but you need to start stringing back together the various things you did before. It would have been great to have a record of that somewhere.
I have lost count of the times I have searched something and my solution from 1+ years ago is the first result. Past Toby had my back.
Every day there are new developers
Every day there is a new person coming along who has just started on their journey and is completely lost. There is always a need for fresh and current new posts to be made to help these people.
Every Subject is covered
It does seem like the web has every subject covered. I often stop an idea in its tracks once I realise it has been covered by a “real expert” in the industry. This is a bad.
Your own voice
Everyone has their own voice, their own way of putting something across and sharing ideas.
People have a wide range of preferences when it comes to what words make something stick for them.
This means there is a high chance there are people out there that find what others have said too hard to understand, or too dry to read.
Your explanation (even if it is just a re-write of what someone else had said) might be the thing to make something click with someone.
People don’t all search the same
This is related to you having your own voice, but I have found that people use different phrases when looking for the solution to something. There could be 10,000 articles detailing the solution to a problem but if the person doesn’t know what to search for they are never going to find it.
Your choice of words and how you present the problem will widen the pool of solutions and some people will find it and thank you for it.
Best practice changes
Best practice in our field changes a lot, as does the tech we use. This means people are always looking for up-to-date guides on ways of doing things.
My ideas are too personal
I hate to break it to you, but you are not a special and unique snowflake. I am reminded of this bash.org listing
The internet is a beautiful place….
Because no matter what kind of twisted freak you are, you’ve got a friend out there :D
You could ask the internet “Find people who have sex with goats on fire.”
And internet will ask you, “What kind of goats?”
There is no situation that is too personal that someone isn’t going to find it useful. I have a specific example to illustrate.
I wrote this blog post because I managed to break the standard CSS that would have enabled this to work out of the box.
Someone researching potential authors to write about Typeahead.js noticed it – some emails later I am a published author.
The entire Stack Overflow community is based around people having questions they think are too specific to be answered by a blog post.
Personal is Niche
Problems that are localised to things you are working on or your particular setup are niche, and niche is great on the web!
In content marketing you find that the more niche the thing you write about the fewer the people that will read it but the ones that do will be engaged with the content.
These people are more engaged because they can really relate to what you are writing about. They are more likely to want to speak to you and come back to your site.
OK Now to actually answer the question
I have just spent around 800 words saying I don’t agree with the premise of Punkeel’s question. I think people will find their posts interesting (I enjoyed the Tor article for one!).
- Write in your mother tongue – Everyone wants to write in English because that is the language of the internet, but not everyone knows English – posts in your native language will be valuable to folk who don’t speak English.
- Don’t worry about other people – Write for you, or for one other person that you know is having a specific problem. Treat the post as if it is something you might want to read at a later date, but you could take or leave if other people do.
- Answer emails as blog posts – if you ever get asked your opinion on something or the answer to something in an email or on social media, consider it an idea for a blog post.
- If you are stuck for ideas, I compiled a list of resources on how to generate ideas or you could look at these content curation services.
I hope this helps.