Seven Tips for Building a Breakout Tech Blog
Blogging can seem like a quick and easy way to draw attention to yourself as a technology professional. You post your opinions on Web 2.0 trends, information architecture or whatever strikes your fancy, and pronto, you've got a worldwide audience.
If only it were that easy.
Blogging can be a savvy way to develop your street cred as a techie, but it takes a certain combination of audacity, persistence and writing ability. In particular, IT bloggers should avoid focusing solely on technical matters; successful blogs of any sort typically bring a degree of opinion and personality to the mix, whether the topic is political shenanigans or programming. "It's definitely a balancing act," says Jason Olson, who writes Managed World, a blog billed as "another blog by yet another geek."
What's more, you've got lots of competition. "Even in the technical world, there seems to be an overabundance of blogs," Olson says.
To make your blog stand out, follow these tips:
Be an Authority
If you want to position your blog as a technical one, you need to decide on a focus, such as game development or open-source software, and bring a legitimate degree of credibility to it. "A blogger who focuses on Linux will be much more effective if he works full-time in a Linux environment, consults on Linux issues, etc.," says David Teten, coauthor of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, a book about blogs and other tools for building a virtual presence.
You don't have to be a tech guru to be an authority. After all, even interns have authored popular blogs. Entry-level Web designers and unemployed coders can develop an audience if they write about their experiences with verve and authority.
Just make sure your employer doesn't have objections. As The Virtual Handshake notes, you should consider the future career consequences of what you say in your blog.
Reference Other Bloggers
Be sure to link to influential bloggers and their posts within your own blog; if you're lucky, they will link back. But don't focus solely on the top one or two bloggers, or else you will look like you just want attention (and links). Other bloggers with clout who aren't the stars of the scene may be more likely to link back to you. "Try referencing the bloggers who are read by the top bloggers," Teten says. That way, you can edge yourself into the game by developing the sort of virtual social connections essential to successful blogging.
Let Your Personality Show
Blogs began as an intensely personal medium, often having a diary-like quality to them. While blogs have since evolved, many still convey plenty of personality. "Let your personality show," Olson says. "Remember to be yourself."
Unless you feel strongly about your subject, you will have a tough time succeeding as a blogger. "You have to enjoy what you are blogging about -- it's as simple as that," Olson says. "If you don't, it will feel forced and your readers will notice."
Jeff Julian, cofounder of Geekswithblogs.net, a hub for technology bloggers, asks bloggers who want to join Geekswithblogs.net about their passions. "When a person reads a blog, one of the only ways they can be attracted to your writing is to know who you are and immediately acknowledge your passion about technology," Julian says.
Explain Technical Matters
To prove your knowledge about your particular technology sector, Jon Henshaw, Internet strategist for Sitening, suggests you provide information that techies crave, like "informative tutorials [and] ingenious software solutions."
Blogging requires time -- lots of time. "The number one thing is to blog as often as possible and to make every post as interesting and useful as possible," says Henshaw, who manages his company's blog.
Enlist Your Friends' Help
Henshaw suggests bloggers ask friends and colleagues to submit posts to spots popular with technology bloggers, such as del.icio.us, Digg and Newsvine. Attention breeds attention, and blogging is, without a doubt, a viral activity. "The fact is, one digg or popular vote from del.icio.us can catapult a blog from obscurity to notability," Henshaw says.
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