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20,000 views milestone, what I've learnt about blogging so far

James Wallis
Software Developer at Ostmodern, Computer Science Graduate, University of Portsmouth
Originally published at wallis.dev ・Updated on ・5 min read

πŸŽ‰ Last week I hit 20,000 total views! πŸŽ‰

When I posted my first article on dev.to last July (2020) I never imagined that I'd be sitting here a few months later seeing +20,000 total post views on my stats dashboard but somehow I've achieved it. Big shout out if you've read one of my articles!

Why am I creating an article around this?

Answer: For more views... joking... sort of.

When I was approaching 20,000 total views I realised that the best way to celebrate this milestone was with a post, given that this is a blogging platform. I decided that I wanted to discuss my experience during my first few months of blogging. Hopefully, this will achieve a few things:

  1. Inspire someone to start blogging. The most difficult thing is just to start and publish that first article, it took me years.
  2. Document lessons that I've learnt so far. In life we're almost constantly improving, writing articles if definitely no different.
  3. Describe my process. How do I develop ideas and turn them into full-blown articles?

    3.1 Hope that someone calls me out regarding my process in the comments with a differing opinion or advice so that I can continue to improve the standard of my posts. I'd massively appreciate the feedback πŸ™ .

What I've learnt

In no particular order.

  • Post titles matter. They're displayed on the Dev.to homepage and are what Google displays. Ideally, they should both summarise your article and entice users to read it! A couple of months ago, I posted an article which gained 25 views over two months. I modified the title to include the technology used and a few days later the count has tripled. It's not much but it proves it has an impact. - The post in question.

  • Keep posting. Sounds obvious right? My first few posts didn't get many views but over time the view count has risen. Additionally, every post that you complete you're becoming a better writer as you gain more experience.

  • Don't be discouraged by a low amount of reactions. I'll be honest, I usually forget to react to a post once I've read it, I'm sure many other people do too. Moreover, I have a tutorial that explains how to use EmailJS with React. That post doesn't have many reactions, however, I get notifications when the form is used and so far I've had a lot more test emails than post reactions.

  • Post what you find interesting. Most of the posts I've read regarding how to increase your views tell you to research which search terms are popular. While I might have been able to get more views this way, for me that would make blogging feel like a chore. When writing an article my primary aim is to teach the reader something, whether that introduces them to something interesting or guides them through a tutorial. Then when I gain a view or a reaction, I know that I've had a positive impact on their developer journey.

  • Write about what you're working on. When I'm working on a project I try to determine whether there is an angle I can use to write about it. My first series of blogs was documenting how I rebuilt my Dad's website in Next.js and contains my most popular posts.

  • Use a grammar checker. So many articles I read on blogging sites have little grammatical errors that distract the reader and ruin the flow of an article. I use Grammarly (free) in an attempt to keep my writing to a high standard.

My process

When I create an article for my blog this is the rough process that I follow.

  • Starting a new post usually goes one of three ways:
    1. Jot down a random idea as a new post title and let it sit there for a few days/weeks until I feel motivated to write about that particular subject or create the project in mind.
    2. Have an idea alongside a sudden burst of motivation, start writing straight away (rarely happens btw).
    3. Realise I'm working on something that would be cool to tell people about. Write a rough post while developing the project - this is my favourite approach as I find it the most efficient, especially for tutorials.

The point is I don't have a strict method for starting a blog post, I just do it when I'm feeling it.

Once I'm in the zone and am focussing, the rest of the writing goes like this:

  • Determine the focus of the blog. What part of the initial idea is going to be the most unique and helpful to readers. Should the blog be a tutorial for people to follow or just to build knowledge on a subject?
  • Read the article back a few times, editing sentence length and changing some words.
  • Add 4 tags (Dev.to max). I try to go for ones that have descriptions as they are usually the most viewed ones. Only add tags that actually describe the article.
  • Edit the title from the initial idea to reflect the articles finished state. See above for more information on how I write my titles.
  • Post! Then sit back and pray for some views!

What I plan to do next

In the next six months, I'm aiming to reach 50,000 views. And, by the end of the year, I want to achieve 100,000 views.
To achieve this I will:

  • Create more posts!
  • Update old posts with new content and correcting tutorials where the underlying software has changed.
  • Publicise my posts across the web and share them on Linkedin and other social sites. So far I haven't advertised them at all and rely on followers on dev.to, it's algorithm and Google rankings to gain views on my articles. This would be beneficial to gain more views, but means advertising my writing to people that know me - so we'll see whether I actually do it or not.

Β Summary

I've thoroughly enjoyed my first few months of blogging on Dev.to. Now that I've crossed the initial "do I really want people to read what I think" stage, I'm starting to find writing actually quite relaxing.

Let me know in the comments what you think about my thoughts, what I've learnt and my process, and tell me yours so I can improve mine.

Thanks for reading!

Discussion (4)

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Ian Holden

Hey James, congrats on the 20,000 total views!

Thanks for sharing this post! I am just going through the starting phases of my blogging journey and I enjoyed reading about your experiences. I'd love to know if you start to post on other platforms (you mentioned LinkedIn), I'd love to know how it goes.

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James Wallis Author

Hi Ian, thanks! Happy you enjoyed the article! Sure I'll definitely post an update in the future (perhaps when I hit my next milestone). So far I haven't posted on other platforms aside from the occasional one on CodeNewbie or Medium but I haven't gained any views on either so far. LinkedIn is definitely one I should be targeting but again haven't (yet!).

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Aman Mittal

Congrats James πŸŽ‰

Here is to many more milestones to achieve.

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James Wallis Author

Thanks Aman!