Mar 04, 2019 By Team YoungWonks *
What’s the process behind writing a technical blog? Where does one start and how does one lead it up to the finish? Before we get to that, it’s important that we take a look at what is a technical blog. A technical blog stands out from a regular blog in that it focuses on a technical subject. Typically, it traces and thus explains the development/ rise or the functioning of a particular thing, say a technical invention or an application.
In an increasingly technology-driven world, it is not surprising to see tech blogs evolve and take shape. Indeed, writing and sharing technical blogs is a great way for an individual or a company to share their expertise and thus cultivate a loyal and valuable readership. Not only does it help document projects, but it also serves as a guide for other web users. In some cases, one can also monetize one’s content, or use one’s blog to market their products/ services.
Which brings us back to the question: How can one write a technical blog? In this blog, we shall share how this is done…
1. Selecting a blogging platform
When it comes to selecting a good blogging platform, Medium (https://medium.com/) is a good option. Sure there are other blogging platforms too - such as Blogger (http://www.blogger.com), WordPress (http://www.wordpress.org) , Wix (http://www.wix.com) and so on. But Medium has garnered a good following and has some great content shared by experts from various fields, so it is a popular choice today.
2. Know your audience and look for the purpose behind the blog
At the outset, recognise who you are writing for. That will help define the approach you will take while writing the blog. Also, what’s the purpose behind writing the blog? For instance, in the case of YoungWonks blogs, our targeted audience is that of young students and parents who are curious and wish to feed their tech-inquisitiveness. So the ideal blog would be one that leaves the reader with the sense that he/ she has gained something from reading the blog and in turn makes him / her want to come back and check out other blogs by the same author. In keeping with our audience, this blog will break down complex concepts and explain them with analogies from our day-to-day lives. The purpose is here to inspire our readers and steer them towards science, tech and coding-related topics that have high utility value and also help keep the readers abreast of the latest developments in the said field. The idea is to imbibe among students a culture of making things - of building things from scratch.
For example, a Pygame installation blog has steps listed in it so it follows a straightforward pointer format, whereas a cloud computing blog has subheads making up the body text. Now the former is mainly meant for students and tech enthusiasts whereas the latter has a more universal appeal because in today’s days and age, we all use the cloud.
3. Selecting a topic
Like with most things, it’s important to choose a worthy topic. This may seem easy but it is something that needs careful consideration. The idea is to zero in on a topic that is relevant to today’s times and strikes a chord with one’s readers. A trending topic - say top 10 technology trends this year or cloud computing or autonomous driving technology - is always a good bet. One can look at Google Trends to take a look at what are the currently trending topics. So for instance, at YoungWonks while we do focus on general education, teaching strategies and student competitions, we typically give more importance to a coding, electronics or robotics-related topics (blogs on how to light an LED using a Raspberry Pi and top 10 IoT boards are two popular examples) as they tie in well with our goal, that of teaching coding to youth and adults.
4. Doing thorough research
Get your facts/ information right; this is a standard rule for all blogs and technical ones are not any different. Start at the beginning and go on to build from there; you can’t go wrong with such a blog structure. For instance, if the blog is about blockchain technology and its future, you need to first explain what blockchain technology is all about. If you need to explain the said concept with the help of another technical term, it is advisable to address that first and at least give a basic idea of what this technical term is. In case of the blockchain technology blog, for instance, it’s important to share a basic idea about cryptography, since it is a big part of blockchain technology. So it is recommended to elaborate on cryptography - maybe even crosslink to a previous blog on the subject, if any - and then take the blockchain technology blog forward. Again, start with what is blockchain technology, what it is, how it came about and then go on to the current scenario. Incorporate stats and have experts vet your content wherever possible to add veracity to your blog. Multiple expert voices will lend gravitas to your work.
5. Keep it simple and use subheads to break it down
No matter how complex the subject, take care to stick to simple language. If your audience comprises of young students, check if your blog text would make sense to them. After all, the idea is to encourage people to take an interest in the subject and not have them intimidated by it. Bear in mind that anything can be explained if it’s broken down into simpler concepts and that’s exactly the approach a technical blog needs. Depending on who your audience is and their grasp on technology-related topics, you can break down the blog into several subheads / shorter paragraphs where one can address different aspects of the same subject. This lends a coherent structure to the whole blog and it’s easy to follow what’s being shared.
6. Play up the visual element
Nowhere is this more relevant than in case of a technical blog, especially one addressing a complex subject. Pictures, graphics and videos are all visual representations of the topic at hand and they go a long way in helping explain the bigger concept. So it is important to have the support of some kind of visual element. It could be just an image of the component as clicked on one’s phone camera or it could be a simple diagram depicting the functioning of a particular system. Alternately, it could be a royalty-free image sourced from the Internet; one could also look at buying images from websites such as Shutterstock. There are also several free photo editing tools available online today. They will allow one to edit a photo clicked on one’s phone and even add text on the image. Popular examples are VSCO Cam, Snapseed, Adobe Lightroom, Instagram, Pixlr Express and Flickr, among others.
And while it will help if the image is visually striking, it’s more important for it to be simple and self-explanatory. So it’s okay if your image is rustic as long as it’s factually correct and easy to understand. With YoungWonks blogs and videos, we make sure we have at least one image for each blog. Typically, each blog has a lead image or a holding image giving an overview about the blog and if needed, there are more images included in the body of the blog to further explain concepts. And wherever mandated, we have an accompanying video (this is optional) which delves into greater detail on the same subject. So if you check out our blogs - especially the technical ones such as the cryptography and blockchain ones or the blogs on blinking an LED with a Raspberry Pi or what is Lorentz Force - you’ll see that it’s the visualization through images and videos that helps the readers understand the blog much better and rather quickly.
They say a picture says a thousand words and we couldn’t agree more. Even the simplest of images will go a long way in helping your blog get more readers as it would be more appealing to them than a blog with no holding image/s.
7. Have a critical mind
This is not unique to technical blogs, but the fact is that it is important to have a critical mind while approaching any blog subject. What matters is sharing an honest, unbiased view backed by facts and figures. This means the proverbial showing of both sides of the coin; always look at both pros and cons and leave the reader to draw his/ her own conclusions. For instance, if the subject is about an introduction to AI and Machine Learning, don’t just celebrate this technology or simply warn readers about it. Instead take care to touch upon both its advantages and disadvantages.
8. Creating SEO-friendly content
We live in the age where there is no dearth of information available online, so it is important to recognize that and at the same time, work towards creating content that stands out from the rest. Not only does this involve going the extra mile and doing in-depth research to share a fresh perspective (written in one’s own words, copy -pasting will be caught out early on in the virtual world), but it also includes presenting the content in an SEO-friendly fashion. SEO here refers to Search Engine Optimization and where one taps into the previous searches that users have carried out and factoring that in, tries to predict what most users would be searching for and using which key words or phrases. You then include that word or phrase in your blog title / headline and thus the generated URL and preferably start your text with a similar set of words. This will help you up your search ranking and reach out to more readers.
Another way of doing this is perhaps opting to include the next most popular set of keywords as opposed to the most popular ones. This will help you tap into a narrower yet focused search area and rank high for those words.
To sum up, always try to think like the reader you are writing for that will help you establish a stronger connect with your audience. If your topic is relevant, well-researched and has seen you go the extra mile - where you have added inputs typically not found in other blogs/ online articles - your work shall certainly be well-received.
*Contributors: Written by Vidya Prabhu; Lead image by: Leonel Cruz