Capture a larger audience with your software development content
Creating content for software developers is tricky and time consuming. In this article, I’m going to explain what you can do to make the most of your content and capture a larger audience.
I’ll introduce you to:
Once you’ve published a piece of content, your work is only half-finished. For that content to have an impact on your developer community and attract a larger audience, you need to promote and reuse it far and wide.
I’ve created an example workflow as a guide for how you can do this with a blog post:
The workflow is based around a blog post. It would be slightly different for videos, podcasts, conference talks, etc., but the principles are the same — at every stage of content production, you should be thinking about how to reuse the content effectively and how you can promote the content.
I’ll use the example workflow as a guide throughout this article. Let’s break it down.
First, you should be promoting your content before you’ve published it. If you have a following on social media, however small, or you are active in a community of some kind (think Reddit, Discord, Slack Workplaces, etc.), then you can begin promoting content before it’s even completed. You’d be surprised how many people are interested in what you are working on.
Say you’re writing a blog post tutorial on how to use an API, you could post a working example of the GUI you’ve built to interact with the API.
Alternatively, ask people what they think of a certain aspect of the content. Run a poll asking whether app design A or B is better, what feature they’d be most interested in, or what common problems they face when using the API.
An added benefit to promoting and engaging your audience before publishing is that it can give you feedback before your work is even finished.
An example of promoting before publishing
One person who does this really well for their YouTube videos is Nicholas Renotte. Before a video is completed, they publish on their channel what they’re working on. They publish previews and screenshots, and they often ask for input from their subscribers on ideas.
A word of warning: if you’re promoting something before it’s finished or published, make sure you finish it. Nothing is more frustrating to an audience than overpromising and underdelivering!
Promoting content before you’ve finished it is a way to get some quick wins, and it can be fun to think imaginatively about how to engage your audience.
Once the piece of content is published, it’s time to think about rewriting it. Rewriting content is a simple and effective way to maximise your reach. For our blog post example, we could turn the blog post into a stub article or a how-to guide. Usually, you can keep the majority of the content from the original piece and simply reformat or edit it very slightly.
Example of rewriting content
Now that you’ve published content, it’s time to think about where else you can publish it. There are lots of platforms you can publish your content to.
Websites like Medium, dev.to and Hashnode are great low-effort places to publish your developer content.
For SEO reasons, when publishing to third-party platforms, remember to use canonical links.
Example of publishing content to third-party platforms
Scott Galloway is extremely good at making sure his content is published in as many places as possible. All the content on his website is meticulously published on other platforms to attract a wide audience.
Repurposing content is about changing it from one format to another. Who is to say that your blog post can’t form the script for a great YouTube video? Could it be the basis of a talk you give at a conference? Try to think of all the ways you can use repurpose the work you’ve already done in a different format to reach a wider audience.
In the workflow, I give a few examples of content you can create by repurposing a blog post. Here is a list of all the different content formats I could come up with:
- Blog Post
- Conference Talk
- Podcast or Audio Snippet
- Live Stream
- Twitter Thread
I’m sure there are many more!
An advantage of repurposing content is it gives you the ability to capitalise on your good ideas and successes. Let’s say you hit the jackpot with a great blog post that is shared far and wide and becomes an evergreen post.
It’s brilliant, and it is used as a resource by the whole developer community. If it’s been that successful as a blog post, you can be fairly certain it will be a popular video or conference talk.
Example of repurposing content
The Tools of Titans book, authored by Tim Ferris, is a fantastic example of repurposing content. 90% of the interviews in the book come from his very successful podcast of the same name. Not everyone is going to create an entire book out of reused content, but it’s a good example of what is possible.
Writing about a topic can inspire you to write about an adjacent topic or write about one aspect of the topic in more detail. Always keep an eye out for ideas that present themselves as you are writing or once you’ve published. Keeping ideas for follow-ups can help you capitalise on your successes and find a core audience.
Let’s say you write a blog post about how Single-Sign-On works for web app authentication. The blog post does really well, and it’s clear your audience wants more. Your next post could be about OAuth, SAML, or the myriad of other authorisation topics.
We’ve seen some ideas for rewriting, repurposing, and ideating content. Next, let’s take a look at how we can reuse content on different websites and platforms, and how we can promote developer content.
Syndication is the act of handing over control of something for publication or broadcast to multiple websites, newsletters, or publishers.
This is a small but important section of the content workflow. Essentially you want to try and borrow audiences from others. There are endless amounts of websites, newsletters, and third-party blogs you can choose from — each with its own niche or speciality.
Here are a few big names to consider:
Ideally, if you want to build up a relationship with a syndication partner, you will often find content creators who regularly contribute to a publisher.
Syndication is a win-win situation: the organisation/person you syndicate with gets additional content, and your content gets shared more widely.
To a lot of people, advocating for themselves and shouting about their work doesn’t come naturally. However, promotion is arguably as important as the content itself, and it’s something you will get better at over time.
There are lots of ways to promote your content. In the example workflow, I’ve included some social media sites, communities, and platforms you can use.
You should try to promote your content on all the places I mention and more.
Let’s look at some things that will make your promotion more effective.
We all hate clickbait, but it’s here for a reason. The algorithms platforms use optimize for clicks and, ultimately, it works!
You don’t have to create cliché or low-quality clickbait headlines and thumbnails, but you should be thinking about how you can maximise clicks. Ask yourself, why would someone click on my post?
Also, a picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure your posts have a good thumbnail that’s properly sized, easy to read, and eye catching. Creating quality thumbnails can take time and practice but the benefits can be massive.
Clickbait is Unreasonably Effective by Veritasium is a fantastic video describing how important thumbnails and titles are for your content — I seriously recommend watching!
Promote it again and again!
One thing to remember when promoting something is that it doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. You can promote the same piece of content a number of times — especially on platforms like Twitter where the feed moves on so quickly. You don’t want to spam your audience with the same link over and over again, but why not post a throwback to a piece of content from a few months ago?
Reach out to others
If you know someone with a decent following and it’s something you think they would be interested in, share your content with them and ask what they think. They may even be up for sharing it with their audience! Often creators are happy to help others and your content may well be of interest to their audience.
This works especially well if, as part of your content, you are promoting their work. Maybe you’ve cited a security researcher in your blog post, they will probably be more than happy to share your content with their followers because it shows the positive impact their work is having!
Success requires timing
Don’t fret too much over this, but posting and promoting your content at the right time can have a real benefit. There’s no point promoting your content if most of your audience is asleep!
Most of my audience is in the US and Europe, so I often post around 2 pm GMT. It means everyone is awake, and it’s early enough to catch the morning readers in the US and afternoon readers in Europe.
Newsletters are tried and tested
Building a mailing list and having a regular newsletter is surprisingly effective. Emails usually have a high click-through rate and your mailing list are people who have made a conscious choice to keep up to date with your work.
Also, as I mention in the syndication section of the example workflow, try getting your work included in someone else’s newsletter.
Hopefully, this article has inspired you to make the most of your developer content. We’ve covered the following:
Thanks for reading!
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