How To Get More Traffic To Your Technical Writing Blog

by Ivan Walsh

To quote Van Halen, ‘everybody wants some.’ And what you want is traffic. Why write a blog if no-one visits, right? I have 17 technical writers’ blogs in my Google Reader & RSS feeds. Most are fine but… if they used some of the following tactics, they’d get more traffic, comments, money and Nobel prizes. Well, three out of four, anyway.

How To Get More Traffic To Your Technical Writing Blog

Apply five of these tactics and your traffic will double. No kidding, it will!

How To Get More Traffic #1: Add Your Photos

Look at your favorite technical writing blogs. How many faces do you see? Why are they all hiding? I dunno. Stick your mugshot on the page so we can see what you look like! Go on! None of us are Brad Pitt or Paris Hilton, so add a picture. Don’t be shy. People like to read about people they know. If they can’t see you…

How To Get More Traffic #2: Video

I’m no spring chicken, so if I can do it, you can. All of these video were taken on a Canon powershot.

Videos let people hear you, see your expression, feel what you’re trying to say in ways that words cannot. Making videos is easier that you think. I use Camtasia 6 for all its sins. (read my frustrated Camtasia 6 review here.)

How To Get More Traffic #3: Social Media Outposts

Use Social Media for maximum impact. With web content publishing tools like Posterous you can get the message out to all these channels with almost no effort. Posterous lets you post once, publish everywhere. Try it.

How To Get More Traffic #4: Quizzes

We all get tired of checking for split infinitives and looking for typos, so lighten things up. Add quizzes to get people involved… and try to be a little different.

  • Did you ever download software illegally?
  • What’s your manager’s most annoying habit?
  • Would you let your boss friend you on Facebook?
  • Do you know any technical writing who can reverse park? (I was going to say Women but then turned on my brain! That was so close!)
  • Do you know any men who ask for directions when lost? One for the girls, no doubt.

How To Get More Traffic #5: Comics

May not work for all sites but comics are a nice break from technical documents and other heavy reading. Why do you think they are so popular? Every serious newspaper has them, why not you?

How To Get More Traffic #6: Reviews

If they come to your site, it’s your opinion they are after. So, why don’t you give it?

#1 cardinal sin of most blogs is that they have no opinion!

Don’t be scared! I’m with you! Give your honest opinion (try not to rant or swear) and you’ll see people will respond very quickly.

#2 cardinal sin of most blogs… bland!

If your blog echoes the rest of the crowd, well, why should I come back? Stick your neck out, even a little. Some people were upset that I dissed Camtasia but y’know I’d be lying if I said it worked!

How To Get More Traffic #7: Trends

Pssst! Did you know that… everyone wants to be in the know. Keep your readers up to date. Use graphs, charts and diagrams. See Brain Solis and Information in Beautiful for inspiration.

How To Get More Traffic #8: Lists

It doesn’t have to stop at 10. Here are a few list of get started:

  • 21 Left Handed Technical Writers
  • 7 Reasons Why Adobe FrameMaker Sucks But You Still Need to Buy It
  • 12 Honest Ways to Get a Pay Rise
  • 5 Ways To Give An Honest Appraisal
  • 28 Ways to Proofred a Technical Documant
  • 1 Good Reason to Join the STC
  • 18 Mistakes Technical Writers Make Before Breakfast
  • 9 Ways to Evaluate a Help Authoring Tool

How To Get More Traffic #9: How-to guides

Ok, the technical stuff comes last. If you’re going to offer technical advice (and you should!) identify the problem, explain how to fix it, and then ask for questions or comments.

#3 cardinal sin of blogging is… blogger doesn’t interact with readers. Ask for comments. If you have a Facebook page, give them the link and connect there. Use Twitter? Create lists for technical writers and add them. Like these lists I created for technical writers and creativity.

Share, share, share!

What ya think! Fire away below.

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{ 5 comments }

BillKerschbaum March 18, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Thanks, Ivan. I've been resistant to doing videos, but maybe I'll give it a go. I like your idea for using comics, too – I'll have to go digging around now.

Ivan Walsh March 19, 2010 at 12:31 am

Hi Bill,
What stopped me was that I thought it would be more difficult that it is… and I guess having the confidence to go in front of the camera. I'm hardly a party animal :)
I use Camtasia most of the time but (live and learn!) Windows Movie Maker is even better in some ways and it’ free, at least for the editing. Look at the special effects, some lovely things in there.
The other reason is that I don’t want to rely on writing documents as my sole income. Video is bubbling to the top now and, for me, these efforts are to give me an extra edge & other income streams.
Let me know if you have any questions about the tools or editing.
Ivan

Astro Gremlin October 30, 2011 at 5:41 am

Hey Ivan! These are great tips. I started getting a lot more traffic and a higher page rank when I started commenting on other blogs. Every comment creates a backlink, evidence that others have taken note of my blog. The higher the rank of the site, the better. I check to see if they are DoFollow sites and have a decent ranking (although I will comment on a good article whatever the page rank!). The roaming around for sites on which to comment is educational and social. Just started social networking awhile back and have made some good contacts that way, too. Really like your advice on bland blogs. When you write for friends, I think it keeps it peppy, cogent, and real. I want to write blogs that are interesting, humorous, or valuable so my readers get something I can be proud of.

Ivan Walsh, Media Writer November 1, 2011 at 10:15 am

Thanks Astro,

There was a monster list on, I think, Kikolani.com of Do Follow blogs.

If I find the bookmark, I’ll share it as it really does work, doesn’t it.

Fwiw, I also use google reader to keep on top of things and find new blogs that way. There’s a nice PR Chrome plugin that shows the PR of each post.

Nice way of seeing what’s working and ideas for blog post titles :)

Thanks for dropping by.

Ivan

german technical translation August 24, 2012 at 5:41 am

Use only one thought per sentence. Use only one sequence of thoughts per paragraph.

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