Mon Apr 10 2023
How to find the time to write blog posts as a developer
Writing is rewarding but finding the time for it isn't as easy. Here are my tips on how to find the time
I had a friend ask me how I managed to find the time to write blog posts after working a day job as a dev and managing other commitments. It’s not easy, at least for me as I am juggling being a PhD student, alongside being a full-time developer, which means I spend a sizable chunk of my time researching and writing. It was incidentally being a PhD student that taught me ways to maximise the time I have for writing.
1. Have an idea board
I generate most of my ideas for blog posts based on my life. So this blog post was generated by my friend's question on how to find the time to write blog posts. Other blog posts are motivated by my learnings from the problems, warnings and errors that I solve as a developer. So basically it’s me writing the blog post I wish I had when I first faced that issue. Such writing I feel would be more helpful to another developer than the more generic and common topics that are often found on the internet.
Once I have an idea, I write it down on a bookmarked Google doc that I have named “Article Ideas”. This way whenever I have an idea, I open this doc and write the idea, a possible title and some information on the content I might want to include in this article.
This process of writing the ideas as it comes to me is super important as they do not get forgotten.
2. Let ideas ferment
Ideas and content do not come fully formed. To me at least. They come to me in bits and pieces, at different times, whether I’m on the bus, the tram or having a meal. When these ideas and content are pieced together, it is only then that they start to look like presentable blog posts. I call this process “fermentation”.
I prefer doing this to forcing myself to sit down for several hours and forcing my brain to come up with content. It's more organic in my opinion.
3. Block time
Time is hard to come by and there are two ways to get around this. The first is to set aside a block of time and work on your content. This isn't the best approach for me but I know writers for whom this is ideal. The second is writing a little bit every day. I tend to use this approach more often as little sentences when compounded over a certain period of time are what create a blog post.
What I do when I come up with an idea and have some fermented content is flesh them out over several days. At the end of a week, I have what looks like a presentable blob of content that needs to be proofread and made readable.
4. Dont worry about perfect
The quote “Done is better than perfect” really applies here. It's unnecessary to worry about having the perfect blog post. All you have to do is outline an issue and produce the solution with enough information to help someone facing the same issue.
5. Streamline the process
Writing the blog post is one part of the puzzle. You also have to find the perfect image, meta description, slug, content management system etc for it.
Well, actually you don't. Keep it simple.
Plug your content into your website by using a content management system (I use Contentful). I have set up webhook with this CMS so that every time I press publish or change some content, it triggers a build of my website which is hosted on Vercel.
You don’t need the perfect image. Have a format that you can reuse for every blog post. I do this by having a preformatted image on Canva, where the only change I make is the title of the blog post. Two of the key pros of this approach are that it saves you time also helps with brand recognisability as your readers would remember you.
Worried about the perfect slug? Just use something like https://slugify.online/ or create a custom function in your website's code that generates a slug based on the title of the blog post.
Worried about spelling mistakes? Use Grammarly!
6. Use posting tools
It's good to share the content that was just created across social media channels to help with reach and discoverability. I do this by scheduling posts on my social media and this saves me from having to remember to share blog posts on a particular day and time.
So those are a few tricks I learnt from trial and error on writing more as a developer and a PhD student. Did you find the above useful or have some for me? Let me know!