How I Write Articles
I have always had a passion for writing because I find that it is one of the best mediums for expressing yourself. It can be quite fun to engage with an audience and put your thoughts into writing. I used to have a blog on my portfolio website many years ago when I was just getting into programming. Back then it was sort of an after thought and I did not really take it that seriously because at the time my focus was on learning how to code. In 2018 I decided to try again. I think at the time I just wanted to put some content out to see what would happen. DEV and Hashnode existed back then but I did not know anything about them in part because I was not really that active on Twitter. Medium was the most popular blog platform as far as I was aware and they did not have a paywall at the time.
Writing the first articles
My first articles on Medium were Create React App and React Router 4 Developer Workflow and the second one was Custom VS Code Title Bar, for Front-End and Back-End Projects (macOS Guide). They received a decent amount of engagement however I never really thought about being a content creator I was still just focused on learning programming languages and frameworks so that I would be better prepared for interviews. It took me another 2 years before I had a third attempt at it. If it was not for the global pandemic in 2020 I might have taken a different path, but having all of that free time at home gave me an idea. My initial goal was to become active in the development community which I hoped would boost my chances of getting interviews as it would show how passionate I was. Gaining followers was never a real consideration although I have to admit that it was a welcome surprise seeing how much influence these articles were generating.
Taking blogging seriously
I joined DEV in February 2020 because that was the platform that I had heard the most about. My first article was posted in February but then I waited until July to be very active. I suppose I was still not sure about the whole blogging thing but because I had also started to become more active on Twitter I realised the value that was there when you start blogging. It took me a while to join Hashnode because I did not think that it would be worth cross posting across many platforms. I could not have been more wrong! In August 2020 I joined Hashnode and started to cross post I wish I had done it sooner because I would have grown my audience faster on both platforms. But oh well you live and you learn...
Fast forward to today and I am cross posting on a few platforms. My content has improved and I am a lot more active now than I was before. It can be a bit time consuming sometimes but with the right planning it leads to a lot of huge gains down the road.
I am still refining the process as I am learning as I go but I have quite a nice strategy at the moment that seems to be working for me. This is my current workflow and I imagine that over time it will evolve as I try to make it even better.
- Notion - For article management
- Typora and Dropbox Paper - For writing articles
- Hyper and GitHub - For online storage and version control for all of the articles
1. Generating ideas
When I have an idea for an article I add it to a project inside of my Notion and assign it to Articles/Blogging. I start by giving it a name and then a priority. I only add the dates once I start working on it and when it is finished. Occasionally I might decide to change the name of the article if I think a different one sounds better. Each article also has its own page so I can use that for writing notes on what topics I am going to talk about. When the article has been completed I add the name of the blogs and platforms to the published field.
2. Lets start writing
My preferred writing tool as of right now is Typora. It is a very good markdown editor and markdown reader which has beautiful themes which make the writing experience a joy. I also sometimes use Dropbox Paper because some platforms prefer that you have an online version so that their editors can look at your work. Once the article is complete all you have to do is copy and paste the markdown code into the WYSIWYG on whatever platform you want to publish it.
3. Quality control and testing
This is the stage where I read through my article a few times to make sure that it all makes sense and that there are no grammar errors if possible. If it's a tutorial then I will go through the whole thing and make sure that the application and code works as expected.
4. It's time to do some design work
With the writing out of the way I head over to Figma to work on a cover image for the article. Sometimes I will create all of the assets myself and other times I might choose to download an image from Unsplash for example and then turn it into a composition. Photoshop might also get some usage depending on how I want the design to look. At the moment I am just using one master file for creating the cover images that I resize and scale for the platforms that I will publish it to. In the future I might have separate files or pages that have a safe area zone so that the content fits properly. It would make the design work much easier.
5. Time to publish it
Once everything has been completed I publish it to all of my blog platforms. The next stage will be to put it on social media so that all my followers know about it too. On Medium it is also possible to add it to a publication which boosts the engagement more as you are now on the front page of a publication that could have hundreds of thousands of followers and get millions of views per month. I occasionally post them in some Discord groups too.
6. Sit back and wait for the magic to happen
Every like, tweet and comment increases engagement. When the main Twitter handles for DEV, Hashnode and CodeNewbie tweet out your work you really start to get noticed. If it's high quality it can get picked up by daily.dev who then put it on their front page giving it even more exposure which can make it go viral. If you are extremely lucky daily.dev might pick up multiple versions of the article that were posted on different blog platforms boosting the engagement even more. So you could have the DEV version, Hashnode version, CodeNewbie version etc... all on there at the same time. This has happened to me a few times already.
7. Backup and Version Control
I don't do this every time yet but it is good practice to have all of your articles backed up. I also host all of my articles on GitHub as well as my local machine. So whenever I feel the need I just push the latest articles up to my repo.
I really hope that you enjoyed reading this article and learned something from it. As a content creator and technical writer I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and helping other people reach their goals. Let's connect across social media you can find all of my social media profiles and blogs on linktree.
👋 Hi I'm Kieran | Front-end developer | Passionate about coding and helping aspiring developers
Nice article Andrew Baisden. It's interesting to see someone else's process and I'll definitely have to check out some of the tools you listed.