The Art of Writing a Blogpost
It has become quite common nowadays to find publications about anything you can imagine on the web: food, social relationships, how to solve x problem, news about new products, etc. There are different sites and forums where you can find that information, and in general they are organized by one or more than one person. And of course under every list of subjects or publications there's always a logic or reason as to why all those posts are organized or published in that particular way. That can be the job of a Community Manager or, more specificly, a Blog Manager.
Here at Inaka, the person responsible for all blogpost's publications is... (drumroll) ...me. BUT, even though I'm in charge of all the things related to the organization and publication of the blogposts in our website, I would be lying if I say that I'm the only person involved here. What we actually do at Inaka is in fact what we call a collaborative maintenance of all blogposts. In a nutshell, we sort of created a process every blogpost must undergo before being published. And like all processes, there are different steps.
Step #1: Pick The Right Subject
Not an easy task and definitely harder than what most people think. As a company, our interest is to publish about technical subjects related to what we do in a way that can be easily read and understood by as many people as possible (and through that share our knowledge with the different communities related to those subjects.) So when the time comes to actually pick one, there are some things we must take into account:
- Adecquacy: to the way we want to write each publication and what we think is the best way to do it.
- Worth: we always try to write about subjects, particular procedures, new tools, that we think might be of use for everyone.
- Potential: we push our guys to innovate, to write about things you can't find on the web nowadays, things that they would want to read about.
Devs and PMs can propose any idea they'd like for a future blogpost; but in general, and in case they have a hard time trying to find one, our CTO Brujo takes care of showing them all the path to the right choice.
Step #2: The Writing Process
Since blogposts are a secondary activity to the main one each of us have here at Inaka, sometimes we find ourselves with limited time to devote to the writing process. In light of this, it is important that we make the most of the time we have, so we can produce each blogpost in the time we've estimated for writing them. To achieve this, we believe it is important to bear in mind these tips:
- Play safe. Narrow the choices to subjects you know almost by heart, or to those on which you have plenty of sources to dig into.
- Draw up a plan of how you’re going to organize your post before starting to write: set an estimate on the number of paragraphs you’ll need and try to give each paragraph a heading or summarize the main idea in one sentence.
- Define the format your blogpost will have and stick to it until the very end (for example: introduction, main body, conclusion, and the specific features each one of them needs to have.)
- If you get stuck, press the pause button on your writing and reorganize your schedule to continue with it later/the next day (if possible).
- Review the blogpost a couple of times before assigning it to the Blog Manager.
Once a blogpost is done, the text file must be uploaded to GitHub, the tool we use to maintain and moderate our blog. From there, a PR must be created and assigned to me so we can start with the next step: The Review Process.
Step #3: The Review Process
And here comes the interesting part. When we review and suggest changes to a blogpost, we pay special atention to two main aspects: the grammatical and linguistical one, and the technical one. Since each of us specializes in a different areas, we concluded that the best solution would be to review each publication through the eyes of the people close to the subjects dealt with in each post, plus the eyes of the Blog Manager and the Tech Lead. This means that apart from the last two, the blogposts are never reviewed by the same people; you are always changing from writer to reviewer to writer again, and you are in contact with different publications related to subjects you know about. From Android to iOS, from Ruby to Erlang developers, and even PMs, we all participate in this process.
This practice allows us to have different views of the same text and makes the review process even more rewarding than what it usually is. We all learn from the other person's knowleadge, and each point of view helps to build a more solid and successful blogpost. However, there's always a limit. I dare say one must not exceed three thorough corrections. It's very likely that if you continue reviewing after this point, you'll always find something to change. And for each change you make, the chances of making a mistake rise again. In a nutshell, it is important to understand that at this point, it is better to let it go.
Step #4: Publication and Sharing
Once all reviews are concluded, it's time for the Ops guys to play their part. Once the PR with the blogpost is merged into master, a last check is run locally to make sure that the blogpost looks good on the web before actually making the deploy. Once Ops confirms that, the blogpost is ready to go.
The last part of the process now is to share it in the correct channels of communication. Aside from the quality of the piece of writing you have in front of you, what also makes your blogpost successful is sharing it in the right places. In order to achieve that, it is important that you search the web for forums, social media networks and similar platforms specific to the subjects you're talking about, or related to general topics that comprise the one you're dealing with. It's also important to check how publications are done on each site so you can adapt yours to get the best reach possible.
Tags are also really important here. Nowadays many social platforms allow you to add tags or hashtags to your publications so you can also help your post reach more and more people. The more tags you add, the better chances to cover more ground you have. But abundance without quality doesn't always ensure success, so try to think of precise and proper tags that can go hand in hand with your publication.
And...that's basically it! I hope you find this piece of writing educational and useful in case you're looking to create your own system of publications. Of course there's always things to improve and things to change in order to make all these more efficient and successful. So please, if you have any comments, suggestions or any other experience you want to share with us, leave a comment or contact us through our Facebook Account or Twitter Account.