I read Stephanie Morillo’s “The Developer’s Guide to Content Creation”, an e-book with a self-explanatory title. I can recommend it to everyone who’s getting into technical writing because it covers a lot of ground. In terms of its objective, it is similar to Lauren Lee’s “The Art Of Technical Writing” talk I wrote about last week, though it’s more extensive (obviously) and covers a few different areas.
Stephanie writes about defining your goals and generating content ideas, going through the planning, writing, and editing stages, talks about titles, call-to-actions, and resources, promoting content, and, finally, using analytics to iterate and improve.
For today, I want to focus on the first step, defining your goals. This post is inspired by the chapter in the book but contains additional thoughts and ideas from me. Writing and content creation can have many different purposes, and just creating something for a personal blog because you want to practice is a valid reason. Nevertheless, you have to think more strategically if you are a developer-focused company or are creating and sharing, for example, an open-source library with the world.
Every written piece of content, even your API reference, appears in search engines and thus is part of your marketing material. It may be the first part of your product someone sees. It doesn’t mean, however, that you must optimize everything for newbies or overinvest in SEO. There is a lot of value in creating content for advanced users of your product. Even documenting edge cases can pay off if it takes some load off your support.
Whenever you write something, think of your target audience. What do the developers know? Where are they in your funnel? Do you want to inspire them to start trying your product, or are they already sold and need some help? Often it is helpful to make up “personas”, which are fictional readers for whom you write. The most important thing to consider, though, is that you are not your target audience. You have already solved a problem that others still have, and you present your solution.
Also, think about your content strategy as part of the overall product strategy. For example, if you have an API with a wide range of applications, but your content only features use cases from a specific vertical, you will mainly attract developers from that vertical. Is that what you want?
Now that you have some things to consider when it comes to content marketing for developers, here’s my regular reminder that I’m available for hire for contract work. We can plan and create your developer content together. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!