How to Promote Your Technical Blog Posts
The #1 mistake new writers and blog managers make is failing to share their work.
Creating great technical content takes time, but without adequate promotion, nobody’s going to read it. Writing a fantastic, in-depth tutorial and then posting it once to your Twitter account is unlikely to yield results, but that’s what 90% of writers do. It’s sad to think how much great content is out there that we’ll never see.
How Much Time Should You Spend Promoting Your Work?
Many bloggers advocate spending as much time sharing your content as you do writing it. Derek Halpern goes further, recommending that you spend 80% of your total time promoting your post. It may sound extreme, but I’ve found a direct correlation between how much traffic a blog post gets and how well I promote it.
Case Study: “Alternative Career Paths” on FreeCodeCamp.org
I recently wrote an in-depth, 3400-word article about the alternative career paths you can take as a trained software engineer. It was inspired by my personal experience leaving a role as a CTO to start Draft, and I spent almost 8 hours writing it.
After it was published, I spent about 2 hours promoting it using the checklist below. I knew the intended audience well, so it was relatively easy to translate the blog post into posts on Twitter (1, 2), Reddit, Linkedin, Facebook, several email newsletters, and Hacker News (which was then reshared more successfully by someone else).
Partly due to the platform (FreeCodeCamp is a popular blog) and partly due to the promotional work I did on the piece, it took off. I ended up spending a fair bit of time responding to conversations online and answering questions about it. A Chinese publication even reached out to ask if they could translate it for their readers, and Code Nation asked if they could use it in their curriculum.
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Why Promotion Works
If I had a formula for making every post I wrote go viral, I’d probably be on a beach somewhere, but the fact remains: nobody will find your writing if you don’t tell them about it.
Like any creative effort, writing is partly doing and partly telling people what you’ve done.
To understand why promoting your writing works, you have to understand how websites get traffic. There are two primary channels:
- Social media and email newsletters
- Search engines
Many people think that sharing your writing will only improve social media and email engagement, but that’s not true.
Getting ranked in search engines can take weeks or months, but a necessary prerequisite is having high-quality links to your content. A strong promotional plan will help build links to your content, and social sharing may directly impact your search engine ranking.
My Blog Post Promotion Checklist
Rather than haphazardly sharing content on social media as you have time, you should plan your promotional strategy. Ideally, you’d customize the plan for each piece of content because some channels will work better than others for each piece, but even if you try half the things on this list, you’ll be in a better spot than most.
While there are plenty of general promotional checklists for bloggers out there, not many are specifically built with a software engineering audience in mind. Here is the blog post promotion checklist I use for all my technical content:
- Publish a summary as a Twitter thread with a link to the entire post at the end.
- Publish/schedule tweets mentioning any technology or people referenced in the article.
- Schedule one tweet per month promoting the post for the next three months.
- Pin the Tweet to your Twitter profile (if it’s really great).
- Share with your personal/company newsletter.
- Share with any relevant Slack channels/groups.
- Publish a post on Facebook and Linkedin.
- Create a reminder to share on Facebook and Linkedin again in a month.
- Share the post as a link on any relevant subreddits.
- Republish in part as a post on the most relevant subreddit.
- Pitch a variation of the post as a guest post on relevant blogs in exchange for a link back to your original post.
- Share the post on Hacker News if relevant.
- Find and answer any relevant questions on Quora, referencing the post.
- Find and answer any relevant questions on Stack Overflow, referencing the post.
- Add links to the post from any relevant posts on your personal or company blog.
- Create a reminder to republish the post on Medium, Dev.to, Linkedin, or HackerNoon (2+ weeks after initial publication).
- Create an image using content from the post and share it on social media.
- Create and publish a video version of the post, share it on YouTube.
- Create a short video version, share it on other social media channels.
- Reach out directly to technical newsletters to see if they’ll share with their subscribers.
To download a printable copy of this checklist, click here.
Finally, I want to hear how you promote your technical blog posts. If you customize this checklist or you ever have suggestions for improving it, reach out to me to let me know.
Build a Better Technical Blog
The Technical Content Manager’s Playbook is a collection of resources that we use to produce high-quality, technical blog content for our clients. It includes:
- A template for creating content briefs
- An Airtable publishing calendar
- A technical blogging style guide