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How To Get More Traffic To Your Technical Writing Blog

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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Review Camtasia 6: The Good, Bad and The Ugly

I upgraded to Camtasia 6 at the weekend (from v4) mostly to import and edit .MOV files. These are created by my faithful Canon Powershot when I shot videos. Sony makes AVIs. The other reason was to do more heavy lifting with Camtasia. I have tons on material on the hard-disk and want to get these into screencasts. So, what the verdict?

Review Camtasia 6

Price – $149 not cheap but not as expensive as Adobe Premiere.

Key features

  • Import and edit MOV files
  • Independent audio edits (saves me doing audio in Audacity)
  • 3D tilt (can’t find where to do this, yet) and oodles of
  • Special effects

The good – What I liked

The user interface is nice, no nutty changes a Ia Microsoft Office and ribbon bars

Presets for blog, YouTube etc means it will help you produce files that best suit these formats. For simple videos, this is fine. You can do your own monkeying around as well, e.g. change frame rates.

the bad – What I don’t like

Audio enhancements are hit and miss. Sometimes makes the voice lovely and rich (hey, why not!) other times I sound like I’m under-water.

Number of un-dos seems limited. I love to un-do.

the ugly – real Problems

Freezes with files over 4 MB. These are (for me) small files, so I need to reboot all the time. Big problem. (What memory do I have? 80 GB of hard disk and 2 GB of RAM – thought that would be ok.) This is a killer. Files more than 3MB cause Camtasia to freeze. What this means is that when I try to make an AVI, MP4 or MOV for YouTube, the thing locks, usually at 19-25%. Close all apps, re-boot and try again. No joy.

Smartfocus won’t start – Camtasia thinks I’m using an older version, e.g. v5, and so won’t start it. I’m on 6. Can’t get it to work. See the error message.

MOVs won’t import – this is a horror! According to the site ‘Large MOV files not importing into Camtasia. Camtasia will crash or give a no codec message upon importing. This is a known issue that will be fixed in a future release. As a workaround, try creating smaller MOV files from other programs when bringing them into Camtasia.’ I’ve done this and still no luck. Off to contact Tech Support.

MP4s won’t import – No Codec available error message. Contact Tech Support.

FWIW I download all the codes I can find on the site, re-boot and… no joy.

What to do next?

Not sure. Have downloaded all the codecs I can find, re-booted the pc, cleared the cache, closed all apps and sent some emails to Techsmith. Now, I’m waiting…

Can you help?

If you’ve had these type of issues, can you let me know what you did to fix this?

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Favorite 10 Technical Writing Tools

drinking sheepI’ve used the same technical writing tools for the last 5 years. A few products have come across my desk but nothing that really blown me away.

Here’s a run-down of what I use to write my technical documents. No order of preference. Which should I keep? Which should I replace?

Continue reading Favorite 10 Technical Writing Tools