This is a fancified excerpt from Stephanie Morillo on The Changelog #382. Stephanie recently published The Developer’s Guide to Content Creation, so we invited her on the show to discuss. To get the full experience you should listen while you read.
I’ll definitely give away the four ways of generating ideas that I outline in the book.
The first one is write down a list of ideas of things that you already know very well, so things that you’re confident talking about.
Number two is write a list of ideas of things that you already have. You mentioned the drafts folders. Everyone has a drafts folder of things that they have thought about publishing. Maybe they started a blog post about something quite some time ago, and they kind of dropped it.
There’s also the fact that we have a lot of content that we’ve created in the past that we don’t repurpose. So, if you gave a conference talk on something that took you 40 or 50 hours to write, to script and to create the slides, and you gave it at that one meetup or that one conference, guess what!
You can repurpose that content and turn it into a blog post. You can take your notes and decide if you wanna pull high-level takeaways, or you can actually just turn your script into a blog post. I’ve done that in the past, actually, and it’s great.
If you’ve already done it for one particular audience or medium, there’s no reason why you can’t do it for something else. So if you did a screencast on something that was really interesting, maybe you wanna write some of the top five things that were discussed, or the top five tips to entice people to actually look at the screencast. That makes for a good blog post.
Something that you did on the job in the past, or an open source project that you were working on - talk about the process of how you actually built the thing or worked on the thing. So things you know, things you have.
The third way of generating an idea is trying to figure out what people need. Chances are we check out Stack Overflow, or even Twitter… If you’re there and you’re engaging with developers in a particular forum, and people say…
Hey, I have issues or problems or trouble with one particular thing
Chances are there’s probably not enough content to explain how that particular thing works… So you can write the blog post (or the screencast or what have you) that presents the solution to that particular problem. So pay attention to the things that people need.
And then the fourth way of generating ideas is to write down a list of things that you actually wanna learn about. I find that there’s a lot of value about writing about your learning process.
When I started blogging (back in 2012 when I started learning how to program) my mentor suggested…
You should keep a blog just for yourself, where after every lesson you kind of rehash what we’ve discussed, you share some of your personal thoughts about it, and you’re kind of like re-teaching yourself the concept, you’re explaining it to yourself, just so you can gauge your level of understanding or where the gaps are.
It’s actually really valuable for a lot of people to use writing in that particular fashion. So if you learned how to build a blog with Gatsby or whatever, hey, why don’t you write about it just as a way of showing people your learning process and your thinking process?
There’s a lot of value in writing about the things that you really like, too.
The conversation doesn’t end there. Listen to the entire episode to hear about crafting your blog’s mission statement, developing your personal brand, promotional and syndication considerations, and much more. You can play it from the start right here 👇
Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe to The Changelog in your favorite podcast app so you don’t miss future episodes and insights. ✌️