Monday, May 17, 2010

What have I learnt after blogging for a year?

The timing of this post is almost correct. I have been blogging for a little over a year now. Software Testing Space has now over 50 articles. Here are the top lessons that I learnt while blogging about topics in software testing. You will find these tips handy if you blog or plan to blog in the future.

1. Getting ideas for posts is critical.
In the beginning, I spent a lot of effort of listing and evaluating ideas to blog about. Then, I would select a topic that was interesting to me. That was a mistake. Your post is helpful only if the content is useful to your readers. Off late, I have found that a good source of ideas is the questions posed by readers. Of course, the response to the question should provide value and be interesting. You can also write on topics on which there is little, misleading or no information available online.

2. The title of the post is its most important part.
A reader is more likely to read the post if your title is interesting. A short title is better than a longer one. If you can frame the title as a question, even better.

3. Posts that draw on personal experience are more popular.
Posts should be interesting. A post based on personal experience captures a reader's attention more than one that just deals with a topic in a theoretical fashion. If you have no personal experience to draw upon, then you should provide the data supporting what you write. At least, you should explain the logic of your thoughts on the subject.

4. The post itself should not be too short or too long.
The post should cover the subject well. For example, if you are writing about how to create a good test strategy, you should first define what you mean by a test strategy. Then go on to point out the benefits of a good test strategy and finally outline the method by which you can create a powerful test strategy.
If your post is too long, a reader may just skim the post. However, this is not always true. I have had readers write to me and sometimes they remember even a point made in passing one of the earlier posts.

5. Grouping and linking information makes it easy to find it.
Earlier, I just managed with a chronological listing of all the posts. If a reader had to find a related post, they would need to look up the title of each prior post. Grouping your posts by category makes it easier for all. Further, linking to other resources (including previous posts) within the post is even better.

6. Add content regularly.
I have seen blogs that only have a handful (say, 2 or 3) posts or haven't been updated for a year or more. It is sad. If a reader visits your blog again, they expect to find some new useful or interesting content. These days, I aim to create at least 10 to 15 new posts every month.

7. Use the power of humor.
Writing with humor is an art. To be honest, I find writing with humor while being sensitive and respectful to all concerned rather challenging. However, I have written one humorous post and plan to write more in the future.

8. Finally, take help from others.
You should remember that there are many other experts in your field. They may be happy to share their knowledge with you. I found that interviewing other experts is a good way to way to gain knowledge and broaden your mind. I have started interviewing experts and soon more interviews should follow. I, too, write on other sites. If you would like me to write for you, you are welcome to let me know :}.

6 comments:

  1. Inder,
    You have a good blog. I find good content and good source here to other contents. How about collaborating this effort with other software testers who would like to contribute. They can have their own blog but if one can develop 1 repository of all ideas pertaining to a particular topic and find links from there onwards, that would be good. Being your blog it can go through an approval process via you and then posted. A central repository, a hub where the search for excellence for software testing begins.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Inder,

    I am almost regular reader of your blog and have started blogging just 2 months back and strongly agree by point # 1 as I am also falling short of ideas. I am even struggling for the visitor count and followers because of which i am not getting enough new ideas. Can you please help me in that ?

    Regards
    Amit

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear all,

    Sorry for the late reply, I was out of town :)

    @Suprinder,

    Excellent suggestion and very well put! You will be happy to know that we do have a central repository now. Its in the form of our own group on LinkedIn. No points for guessing its name :) It is called Software Testing Space. We can have a featured discussion there titled "Ideas for our blogs" or something similar. You and our other members/ readers are more than welcome to join this group and post ideas for us to blog about.

    I always find you giving mature insights into problems. Keep it up.

    @Amit,

    It is good to know that you blog. What is the name/ URL of your blog?

    Even before looking for ideas, I think it is important to position your blog (at first, in your mind). For example, when I started blogging, I thought about what kind of posts I should write. The ideas that I got were like How to solve specific problems in testing? Or How to design a particular test approach? The topics dealt with in STS are suitable for growing and mature testing professionals and these are the readers that visit STS most often. The point is that you should write for your target readers. For example, if your blog focuses on beginners or people who are just starting out in testing, you should be writing about basic testing concepts, interview questions or basics about test automation. Whatever be your position, stick by it and write useful and interesting content. I am sure that you will get more visitors.

    You should also check out our "Ideas" repository on LinkedIn STS group regularly. I am sure that Suprinder, I and other members of this group can suggest more ideas than you will have the time to write upon :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Inder,

    Thanks a lot for the wonderful advice. Just to carry on your advice, I am clear that I have to write about software testing and topics includes basics , some real time experiences. But in my opinion , TESTING BASICS does not offers much to write unless you are getting good hits on the blog and people put comments which leads to further discussion.

    I admit that i started very late and as a result struggling to get hits. I request you to share your tips on this.

    My blog address is http://software-testers-blog.blogspot.com/. Alternatively you can find by clicking on my name's hyperlink

    Regards
    Amit

    ReplyDelete
  5. Just an extension to Suprinder's idea ,I think we can create a community (come under one umbrella) which can be linked to individual blogs.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Amit,

    Even if you have good content, it should be easy to find it on the web. One way to do it is to list your blog in the blog directories. Look at the blog directories listed under the Miscellaneous Items on this page.

    Do not worry too much about the hits. You should just focus on writing useful material.

    You are also welcome to join the Software Testing Space group on LinkedIn. Let me figure out the ways to list your blog there and elsewhere.

    ReplyDelete