I recently had the opportunity to interview very prolific and friendly, Taiseer Joudeh.
He first caught my attention when I saw he had mentioned me on Twitter, thanking me for the help in getting his Microsoft MVP and mentioning me in his blog post.
John @jsonmez Thanks for all the inspiration and motivation you blog about! I'm MVP now. Special thanks for you here: http://t.co/tmQ9cL6m4V
— Taiseer Joudeh (@TJoudeh) January 1, 2015
I was amazed when I saw that he had started his blog in Nov of 2013 and had already grown it to over 100,000 page views a month, in under a year!
That is some pretty insane growth. This blog only gets slightly more page views per month and I've been blogging for what, like 5 years now consistently.
Since I had just created a free email course to help new technical bloggers get started and succeed, I thought it would be perfect to interview Taiseer and ask him how he was able to achieve such stellar success in a short period of time.
I recorded a video interview with Taiseer, but Taiseer was also kind enough to provide me with some detailed written answers, and they were so good that I decided to make them into a Q&A blog post and post it here.
Q: What made you start blogging?
A: There are two main reasons that pushed me to start blogging. I’m a strong believer of the quote saying, “If you want to master something then you need to teach it.” Almost one year ago I was in the phase of learning how to build SPA using AngularJS and how to build RESTful backend services using ASP.NET Web API. I’d read a lot of posts, technical articles, and watched a lot of video tutorials.
I felt that I was learning too much, and I wanted to find a way to express and share my knowledge more clearly, so the easiest way to do this was to write and blog about it; why not share what I’d learned during this period and hear the feedback from people? I believe this was the main motivation to start the blogging journey.
The second reason that pushed me to start blogging was that I wanted to build a name and a good reputation in the Software Industry. I believe the simplest way to get started is to start a blog and maintain it. This blog is my central base on the web that I use to express my ideas and share them with the community. It is good if someone googles your name and finds useful content on the internet written by you.
Q: How were you able to grow blog visitors quickly?
There are many factors that helped to gain a good number of visitors in a short duration. I’ll share with you those factors:
Before you start blogging it is always better to be focused and find a niche area to talk and blog about. People will remember you easily and your posts will be focused on this niche area of technology, so in my case, I didn’t come and talk about the whole ASP.NET technology stack covering Web Forms, MVC, SignalR, performance, security, etc. I picked a niche area which was the ASP.NET Web API framework, then I found myself covering a smaller niche within the ASP.NET Web API framework which is security, Open Authentication, and authorization. This highly focused niche helped me to build a wide base audience.
I believe that when I started, there were a very minimal number of posts or tutorials on the internet covering the security part of a RESTful service, and as you know security in any application is invincible. I remember that I was looking at the queries and keywords used in Google search which lead to my blog, and keywords such as “Web API Authentication”, “Web API security” were among the top. So, I assumed that people wanted more about this. I decided to build tutorials about ASP.NET Web API security and covered those tutorials with more than 10 detailed posts, and some of those posts received more than 500 comments which indicates how engaged the readers were.
I always strive to provide posts and content with high value. I guess my style of writing focuses on quality and a deep level of detail in content more than the quantity of the posts. Audiences are always looking for detailed content and posts; they are looking for value. They are looking for something to help them do their job in a better way, or something that will teach them a new skill or concept.
So in my case I picked a big subject in my niche area. I tried to break it down into smaller pieces. If you notice, most of my tutorials are broken down to multiple smaller series, yet smaller means that those posts ranges from 2000-4000 words with deep technical detail. When I started the Web API security series, I posted 2 parts of it at the same time, then readers started leaving comments asking for the coming parts. People are always looking for value in the posts, I guess readers tend to like to read smaller, logically connected parts, rather than reading a very long technical documentation that might bore and confuse them.
I have a golden rule, and I follow this rule each time I want to write a blog post: if you are blogging because you feel it is work then please do not blog, you have to blog because you have passion for the thing you are blogging about, you want to help people out there, and you want to express and share your ideas.
As well, write and never expect anything in return. Especially if you are new to blogging, people might not know you before, and you need to build credibility and a good reputation. I guess by following this rule you will have a good follower base and people will like and share the content you produce.
Q: What tips and tricks do you advise other bloggers to follow?
I believe one of the main obstacles facing anyone who has started a new blog, is bringing visitors. I experienced the same at the beginning, and I asked myself those negative and demotivated questions, such as: for whom am I writing? Am I wasting my time for nothing? Will my content be interesting to anyone?
But I followed some tips that other successful bloggers already followed and shared. It turned out to work. I kept a list of them here in case I missed any:
- First of all, you should have passion for the thing you want to talk about. We talked about this earlier, but once you write a post, write it because you love to share and express your ideas, never write something because you feel it is a task you have to finish, otherwise you will get bored very early and you will quit blogging.
- Try to express the complex topics in a simple way using your own words and style of writing. Do not pretend to be someone else, be generous when you provide information, and there is nothing wrong about saying you do not know about this point. You will get surprised that other experts are reading your posts and answering your concerns!
- You must be consistent, try to post a minimum of 3 posts per month. If you disconnect for a while people will forget you.
- It is fine to share your posts on other websites with a higher ranking and larger audience. For me, I shared some of my posts on CodeProject.com using their technical blog feed feature, and you will be amazed how much traffic you will receive from them!
- If you are writing tutorials or technical articles like in my case, do 2 things if possible; put your code on GitHub or Bitbucket, don't just put code snippets on the post itself. People like to fork/download the code then run it and play with it. As well, try to provide a working demo of the tutorial you are producing. People tend to play with the demo and want to know what the features it provides are before implementing it.
- This is very important, be kind, friendly, patient, and helpful with anyone leaving a comment or sending an email. If you are writing quality content, expect you will receive comments and emails, and you should reply and engage with them. The reader who left you a comment is the one who read your article to the end, and most probably he will follow your blog feeds. So answer and engage with readers who comment; you will be amazed how much those comments add value to the blog post itself, the discussion gets very interesting and it will motivate other readers to drop a comment because they know you will help them and answer their concerns!
- Share your blog posts on social media. For me, twitter is a great platform. Do not forget to use the right HashTags, people will find your tweets easily and there is a high chance you get retweeted by people with a huge number of followers. As well, it is fine to tweet the same tweet multiple times a day to reach larger audiences in different time zones, but do not spam your followers for sure.
- Share your blog posts on web sites such as Reddit with the right sub reddits and on hacker news. If you get up-voted you can’t imagine how much traffic you will receive from those websites. As well, there are people running very successful technology newsletters with huge audience bases; go and look for them in your niche area, approach them and they will be happy to include your content in their newsletter.
- When you are writing a post, think about the basics of SEO and write SEO friendly posts. This is a huge topic to cover now, but at least use the right focus words, and include those focus words in your post title, URL, and Meta description.
- Do not waste a lot of time trying to create the perfect web site with the best UI and UX in the world. Focus just on writing posts. I started with wordpress.com with a very simple free template, then after 3 months I felt I needed to have more control on my web site, so I moved it to wordpress.org and self-hosted. Just one recommendation here is to buy your own domain from the beginning, because if you registered with WordPress.com you can start for free using subdomains then if you decide to move later to self-hosting, it will be harder to do this step.
- Go answer some questions on Stack overflow and refer to your posts if they answer the question.
If you want to create your own blog, like Tasieer did, it's not hard. Just sign up here for my free 3-week email course and I'll show you step-by-step how to do it.