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Analyzing Successful Tech Articles: Learn From Our Readers' Latest Blogging Wins

Monica Lent published

I love celebrating wins and milestones.

In October, the Blogging for Devs Newsletter hit a pretty big one:

More than 4,000 devs (😱) have taken the Blogging for Devs 7-Day Challenge in the roughly 5 months since launching it.

To celebrate this milestone, I'm going to be turning the tables and highlighting some excellent articles written by readers of the newsletter.

Including a few that went viral!

You'll also find a quick analysis on why I think these articles have done so well, so you can adapt those strategies for your next blog post.

Here's what you'll find in this post:

  • 3 recent blogging wins by subscribers (and what you can learn from them)
  • My favorite articles you've published lately
  • Proof you still don't need to be Twitter-famous to grow your blog

3 Recent Blogging Wins by Subscribers (And What You Can Learn From Them)

SEO Mistakes I've Made and How I Fixed Them

Maxime Heckel
Maxime Heckel
Frontend Engineer at MadHive, @maximeheckel

Apart from the useful content about diagnosing and fixing SEO mistakes, Maxime fulfilled what I think of as the "golden formula" for Hacker News:

Teach people something interesting by writing about your own experience

Framing a technical breakdown around your personal experience is a great way get a message across without seeming arrogant or like a know-it-all, especially in "delicate" channels like Hacker News.

(That kind of attitude is best reserved for the comments section anyways 😉)

Plus, Maxime does a great job establishing credibility by showing a graph of his results early in the article. This gets people interested enough to keep reading and find out how to achieve that for themselves.

This approach paid off: Maxime's post reached #3 on Hacker News, with 300+ points and 125 comments. Thanks to his kind shoutout, he also sent 100+ email subscribers my way. The power of recommendation in action!

Congrats 👏

Dockerfile Security Best Practices

Gianluca Brindisi
Gianluca Brindisi
Security Engineer at Spotify, @gbrindisi

Gianluca's article about best practices for Docker security managed to get 15K+ visits from Hacker News, 400+ points and 192 comments.

What can we learn from it? My hypothesis for the reason his article had so much success and sparked a lot of discussion is this:

Devs love debating best practices. And security. And probably Docker, too.

Plus, anytime you make a list of something, it's like a developer instinct to try and add something they think is missing...by leaving an anonymous comment on the internet 😎

(Who am I kidding, we are all guilty)

This article has a great combination of easy-to-consume information (via well-formatted take-aways in bold subheadings) on a topic that developers love to discuss. The comments and votes attest to this.

Congrats 👏

Refactoring (Newsletter)

Luca Rossi
Luca Rossi
Head of Engineering at Translated, @lucaronin

This example is a bit different. Luca's Substack newsletter, Refactoring, hasn't had a viral edition (yet).

Still, he's grown it to 200+ subscribers in about a month. Not because of having a ton of followers on Twitter or a big break on Hacker News.

But by being consistent, and increasing his cadence over time.

He started publishing every 2 weeks in September, and bumped it up to weekly in October. Here are the results he shared in his October Review:

Since I originally shared Luca's success in the Blogging for Devs Newsletter just two weeks ago, his readership has grown to over 350 subscribers.

Luca distinguishes the content of his newsletter by drawing on his experience as an Engineering leader.

Plus, he puts in the effort to include custom-drawn graphics in just about every article, as you can see in The Four Types of Work.

That article is also a great example of starting your article with a sentence that makes people curious enough to read the next one, and the next one, and so forth.

Congrats 👏

My favorite articles you've written lately

The three wins I shared above are just a few that've landed in my inbox over the last week or so. So thanks to Luca, Maxime, and Gianluca for sharing them with me 🙌

I also want to highlight a couple recent articles shared in our Pro community, which I just personally enjoyed, and what I took away from them:

Offer Up the First Pancake

Paul McGrath
Paul McGrath
Software Engineer, @heypaulmcgrath

Paul's article comparing the creative process to making a batch of pancakes (and recognizing that the first one's always going to suck!) is a great reminder of how powerful "everyday" metaphors can be.

The Way to Get Better is to Build

Jamees Bedford
Jamees Bedford
Engineering Manager, @jameesy

In a similar vein, Jamees shares the importance of getting out of the "tutorial rut" and compares this to why you can't learn to play the guitar just by listening to music. Again, a great metaphor that triggers an "Aha!" in your head.

How to Give a Talk Without Being an Expert

Rachel Leggett
Rachel Leggett
Frontend Engineer, @rleggos

Rachel's article is a timely reminder for anyone who struggles to put themselves out there, or doesn't feel enough like an "expert" to express a public opinion. She shares her approach to finding a topic to talk about (or write about!) without needing to know absolutely everything up front.

What I learned from the #2Articles1Week Challenge

Alyssa Holland
Alyssa Holland
UI Engineer, @code_runnings

Alyssa took a challenge to publish two articles per week for an entire month. What she learned in the process can help all of us find a cadence and system that works for us, and helps us write more often.

Proof you (still) don't have to be Twitter-famous to grow your blog as a developer

Something I realized after putting together this post:

None of the people I'm highlighting here have over 1,000 Twitter followers.

But they are getting some great wins, and show us that putting in the work pays off.

That said, if you liked any of what they have to say, feel free to scroll up and check them out on Twitter and see what they're up to!

I'm sure they wouldn't mind you following along :)

P.S. I'd love to hear your latest blogging win. Either Tweet at me @monicalent or leave a comment below! Time to celebrate 🎉



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