As you know all too well, this is a blog about unified communications. I write a lot about SIP, but I am not afraid to tackle WebRTC, network components, 9-1-1, security, and best practices methodologies. Every once in a while I take a tangent into a subject like online privacy, but for the most part, I stick to the basics.
However, I want to do something different today. Instead of writing another technical missive about a confusing SIP header or a complicated call flow, I want to talk about me. More precisely, I want to talk about me in terms of writing this blog – the wordsmith me.
Not long after my blog started to get some traction, I began receiving emails from people wondering how they might create their own blogs. These were peers in the communications industry that knew they had something to say, but weren’t exactly sure how to say it.
Having grown up with five brothers and sisters, I know all about sharing and see no reason why I should keep my methods to myself. So, the following are off-the-cuff thoughts on what it takes to make a successful blog. You can certainly pick and choose from the list to find what makes sense to you, but this is what I strive for with every article.
- Don’t be afraid to show your passion. Find something that you absolutely have to write about. I don’t write SIP Adventures because someone told me to or because I have too much time on my hands. I write it because I love this stuff. I truly get excited looking through WireShark and traceSM traces and feel the need to share that excitement with the world.
- You don’t have to know everything. That’s certainly the case with me. While I never willingly say something I know is wrong, I have made mistakes and my blog readers have caught me on a number of occasions. Also, when those mistakes are found, go back into the article and fix them. A blog is a garden that needs constant watering and weeding.
- Be original. Find something that no one else is writing about. Be the go-to person for your passion.
- Force yourself to learn something new. Some of my best topics have been on subjects that interested yet baffled me. However, instead of shying away from them, I spent time researching and learning to the point where I felt confident to share what I discovered.
- Be yourself. Even though I am certain that some people would rather have me stick to the technical stuff, I nearly always put something of me into my articles. It may be line from Shakespeare or a story from my Arizona childhood, but I blend my life into even the most mundane topics.
- Find someone to help you proofread your articles before posting them. As hard as I try, I can never see the tiny mistakes that slip into my writing. I see words that are not there and my mind turns plurals into singulars (and vice versa). Another set of eyes will always find what yours cannot no matter how many times you read and reread.
- Don’t write what you hope will be popular. Write what you need to say and let popularity come as a surprise. I found that I am a terrible judge when it comes to knowing what people will read and what they will ignore. Most of my most popular articles shocked me. Who knew that there were so many people interested in SIP timers? Not me.
- Even though you should not focus on popularity, be relevant. Look at trends in the industry. Anticipate what you think will be important. Know your subject matter well enough to understand what is important and what is not.
- Respond to comments. I get frustrated with bloggers that post articles, but never answer their reader’s questions. If someone takes the time to read your blog and leave a comment, be respectful of that effort.
- Explain yourself. Do not assume that because you are familiar with a term or abbreviation everyone else is familiar with it. Know your audience well enough to realize the common terms, but when it doubt, spell it out.
- Don’t write in a vacuum. Use social media to spread the word. Personally, I have the best success with LinkedIn. Tweets can be overwhelming and there isn’t the same level of “look at me” competition on LinkedIn. Of course, a lot depends on who follows you. Spend time on building the right audience.
- Write as often as you can without over-saturating your readers. Personally, I strive for two articles a week. One of those articles will be something I’ve written for No Jitter and the other will be exclusive to this blog. I honestly don’t know if that is too much or too little, but it works for me.
Why do you read my blog? What keeps you coming back for more? What do you hate and what do you love? Speak up and help make SIP Adventures even more relevant.
Okay, I got that out of my system. It’s time to start up Wireshark and get my packet fix for the day.
Couldn’t agree with you more Andrew. All of these points are spot on. I will add one other thing, think about multi media. This is where I took what started out as a podcast, and turned it into a blog. I also took selected podcasts and made them into YouTube videos. I don’t think I have found the secret mix yet, but it does exist somewhere with all of those ingredients. The ones I agree with most or, passion, and relevance. If you have those two things, you are likely to have successful readership and thouht leadership.
I find the best complements come from other bloggers who reach out to you for your opinion; and I certainly appreciate yours on several issues over the past year. Great to see that in addition to being an advocate for WebRTC, you can expand your capabilities and blog about anything, including blogging!
Please excuse any typos, I had Siri translate this on the way to the city 😉
If only I could get Siri to write my blog articles. What a weight off my shoulders that would be! 🙂
Mark, I love your podcasts, but not everyone has your golden radio voice. I can write until my fingers are numb, but I am no Wolfman Jack (a reference that my younger readers will not get). I need to stick to what works for me.
Yes…passion and relevance. The two most important ingredients in the secret sauce and I love it when I can pull them off at the same time.
Great! I am sure we will do a podcast in the near future. We can talk about Wolfman Jack, Pirate Radio and the Midnight Special! History lesson for the newbies. . . .ha ha ha