How to start your own Swift blog? It’s a question I get asked more and more. I’ve given some tips already in my interview with hackingwithswift.com, but it’s not as good as writing a dedicated post to help you start up your own blog.
May 2nd, 2015 I wrote my very first blog post. At the time I was far from where I am now, but in essence, the idea was the same:
As iOS developer for my job I found myself experiencing a lot of problems, writing solutions and figuring out what’s the best way to create this UI. Many times these are things to share with others, but until today I didn’t had a place for that.
Writing is caring, you give back your experiences and findings with others in the community. This is just one of many benefits blogging brings. For those thinking about starting a blog or the ones who already have a blog, I give you my thoughts and ideas on setting up your own.
Benefits of having a blog
Although a blog takes time, it does not necessarily have to take a lot of time. In my case, I’m only writing one evening every week, mostly Monday evening from 7 pm till 9 pm. It turned into a habit for me, but before you get there, you need to have a reason to start blogging.
It’s a great way to learn something new
Writing a blog post is not only teach the community something new. It’s mainly also a way for you to dive into a new topic by writing down your findings. At the same time of sharing the knowledge you make yourself a bit smarter: win, win!
Your own knowledge database
It’s quite often that I find my own blog posts back in the search results of Google. In the end, I almost always blog about something I find hard to understand, didn’t know yet, and something I look up often on Google. By writing your own blog posts you start to create your own knowledge library which you can revisit to refresh your memory.
It opens doors
My blog started small but is growing rapidly. It gave me exposure and surely helped me to get a chance to present at some great conferences. Although you don’t need a blog to get a job or a talk position, it will definitely look good on your profile!
Turning yourself into a frequent blogger
My target user does not like reading and I don’t like writing, so keep it short and focused
May 2018 I started blogging every week. It was after that I decided that it was time to turn my blog into a serious one. This structure turned writing weekly into a habit and into a streak, which I could not break for whatever reason. On top of that, my Swift blog was getting more and more attention. People started to follow my blog and knew that a new blog post would arrive next Tuesday.
Looking at my stats it’s clearly visible when I started to write weekly. My audience started to grow, newsletters like iOSDevWeekly created spikes, and my first analytics downtime arrived in October. Either way, creating consistency was the best thing I ever did so far to make my blog more successful.
It’s often that I get a question like:
“How do you find the time to blog every week?”
For me, there is a simple trick. I told myself from the beginning: “My target user does not like reading and I don’t like writing, so keep it short and focused”. Don’t get me wrong, I do like writing (now at least) and probably a lot of my users like reading as well. However, this sentence of thought helps me to stick with my value of writing relatively short and to the point blog posts. So far I’ve always written my blog posts on a Monday evening within a few hours. Although some users might find my blog posts too short, it’s still something new to learn, every week!
Another thing which is often hard for new bloggers is to find topics to write about. The way I solved this is by maintaining a list in Trello with topics to write about. When I’m at a conference, discussing something interesting during lunch or on Twitter, I write down the topic to revisit it on Monday when I start writing a new post.
It works best when you write about something you know already or something you’ve just sorted out during for example your day to day job. Also, trending topics like WWDC or a new Swift version can be interesting to write about regularly. Just make sure to write down your topics the moment you think about one, so you can revisit them later!
Focus and don’t lose time on web development
Not everybody agrees, and WordPress is far from as cool as all those fancy static website generators. However, if you want to start your blog effectively, you might want to think about using just WordPress. I agree that it might be a big framework for a simple blog, but it allows you to move fast and set up a blog within minutes.
If you can do the same with a static website generator, great! My main point here is to not lose too much time on setting up your blog and making it fancy. Focus on a basic blog which allows you to start writing and evolve over time. My blog is far from what it looked like when I started and developed over time towards a more fancy looking design. On top of that, WordPress allowed me to quickly install plugins to optimize for things like Search Engine Optimization, which can be great to move fast.
Reaching an audience
In the end, you start writing to reach an audience. Therefore, it would be great if you can grow that audience and create even more reason to write often.
In this week’s blog post: cleaning up localized Strings using a tool from @bach4life https://t.co/tpfjIToPT4
✨ Keep your project clean
?? Easy to use tool
? Remove unused keys from .strings files#xcode #swiftlang #ios pic.twitter.com/R1v2Hm6NKm
— Antoine v.d. Lee ?? (@twannl) March 12, 2019
Social Media can really help your blog grow. I’ve integrated a cross-posting plugin for Medium, allowing me to reach an audience with both my own blog and the Medium platform. Be aware to set up Canonical Links correctly though!
Next, Twitter is a great platform to grow an audience. My followers grew with my visitors from 500 in May 2018 towards almost 1800 today. By posting your new blog post weekly you’ll reach a base audience quickly.
Besides creating your own blog related newsletter, you can also reach the attention of public newsletters in the community. The biggest one, iOSDevWeekly, makes it very easy by registering your blog on their website iosdevdirectory.com. Others from what I know mainly focus on finding posts either through Twitter or by subscribing to RSS feeds. Therefore, it might be handy to provide an RSS feed for your blog as well!
If you own a newsletter and you have your own way of collecting blogs, let me know so I can update this post!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Watch out, this can be addictive as well! Watching those numbers grow every Month or even every day. It’s something I got addicted to at least! Search Engine Optimization is optimizing your website to get higher into the Google search results. You can target specific keywords and optimize your page speed to improve rankings. I could basically write a whole blog post on this topic only, which I’m not going to do. Instead, I give you a few things to investigate yourself. Tools I use often:
Your own blog is great! It takes some time to set up, but in the end, it shouldn’t take up too much time to keep up and write often. I hope that the above tips help you to improve your own existing blog or to start a new one. Feel free to contact me on Twitter for any following questions. Looking forward to seeing new blogs arriving!