The Beginners Guide to Blogging for Testers
In this blog post, I will share a step by step guide on how to get started with blogging as a software tester.
Topics covered include:
- Why should I write a blog?
- Finding time to blog
- Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
- Which blogging platform to use
- How to come up with blog post ideas
- How to write your blog posts
While this blog post is primarily targetted at people who don’t yet have a blog, I hope you’ll still gain some value from reading this even if you already have been writing for years.
Why Should I Write a Blog?
In a previous post, Will a Blog Help My Career?, I wrote about how having a blog has helped my career and I shared other people’s experiences.
These benefits included:
- getting conference speaking opportunities
- receiving job offers (or at least interviews)
- building your personal brand
- improving your writing skills
I would like to focus primarily on the last two benefits: building your personal brand and improving your writing skills.
Having a blog helps you build your personal brand. Meanwhile, the act of writing in your blog will improving your written communication skills.
You shouldn’t wait to become good at writing to start blogging, instead you should start writing to become good at writing.
My biggest benefits from having a blog is that it helps me organise my thoughts and that it’s a written record of what I am thinking in different points in time - call me vain, but I enjoy reading what 2013 Nicola has to say when it comes to getting feedback as a software tester.
How to find time to blog
Here are some tips to help you manage your time so that you get the opportunity to blog:
- Utilise timeblocking - set aside a dedicated period of time once (or twice) a week to write.
- Take notes when inspiration strikes - I do this with my phone or my notebook (depending on which is closer).
- Utilise dictation by recording your thought process - Otter.ai is very useful for this. While it’s not 100% accurate, it’s accurate enough that you won’t be stuck figuring out what strange things you apparently said.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
A common concern I’ve come across is:
Who am I to write a blog on
<insert topic here>. There are heaps of other people who know this topic better than me.
First off, I’d like to say the only difference between the people who blog and the people who don’t is that the first group write blog posts and publish them, and the second group doesn’t.
I’d like to share my perspective on overcoming imposter syndrome, which I hope will help you overcome this fear.
By blogging, I am not claiming that I know the most or everything about a topic. I am merely sharing what I have learned or what I am learning. Even in my About page I am pretty explicit about this:
This blog is an attempt to document my learning journey. I’m sure that my opinions will develop and change. I’m learning, exploring and seeing what’s out there.
Putting yourself (and your thoughts/ideas) out there can be scary, but unless you’re stating things in a “I’m right, everyone else is wrong” sort of tone, rest assured that readers will probably assume that you are writing about your experience.
Which Blogging Platform Should I Use?
I suggest you start with something quick and easy, you can always move your content later. (This is what I did: I started with Blogger, then moved to Wordpress, then later moved to my own static site hosted with GitLab pages)
Here is a very brief rundown on each platform:
Blogger is owned by Google. Very quick and easy to get started.
I find Wordpress has a slightly cleaner UI. It has a lot of plug-ins you can use, but seems you have to pay for a lot of them. It is also very quick and easy to get started.
You’re a bit limited with how much of a site you can set up in Medium (to me this limits personal branding), but if you want to focus on just writing then Medium could be worth considering. You are fairly limited when it comes to formatting.
You can write articles on LinkedIn. Like Medium, you are fairly limited when it comes to formatting.
Typeshare is a social blog that does distribution well. You can write shorter blog posts and then share them, as a picture on social media. To get an idea of what this looks like, check out Vernon Richards’ tweet about Career Options for Testers and Vernon Richards’ Typeshare account.
I know you can export your content from Blogger and Wordpress (I’ve done this myself). I’ve also read that you can export your content from Medium and LinkedIn.
However, I’m not sure about Typeshare, I’ve tried to look this up and can’t get any information on that.
Being able to export your content can be useful if you decide to switch platforms.
How Do I Come Up With Blog Post Ideas?
Here are some ways you can get started:
1. Write the summary and/or key takeaways from conference talks.
Here are some examples from TestBash Manchester 2019. You’ll notice that while people attended the same talks, each person has a slightly different interpretation of the conference talks (which is reflected in their blog posts).
You don’t have to go to conferences to do this, you can watch some great talks online.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- How Others Perceive Devs and DevOps by Cassandra Leung
- BDD Anonymous, a testers addiction by Vernon Richards
- Testing the Untestable by Angie Jones
- Breaking Illusions with testing by Maaret Pyhäjärvi
- How to Win with Automation and Influence People by Gwen Diagram
2. Book summaries/ book reviews
You can write a summary of a book you have read recently or even write a review for it.
3. What happened this week/month?
You could take the opportunity to reflect on what happened to you this week or this month.
4. Notes from a course
You can take a free (or paid) course and then write what you learned in the course.
- Struggled to set up your IDE?
- Did it take you some time to figure out how to use dev tools to see network info?
If you struggled with something, you’re not the only one - write a how-to blog post so you can help others.
Even if you didn’t struggle, writing how to do something can still help a lot of people.
Marie Drake has written a lot of great posts in this area. For example:
6. Ministry of Testing’s Bloggers Club
To get inspired for new blog post topics, you can look at past Bloggers Club topics.
Just because it’s no longer the month of a certain challenge, doesn’t mean you can’t write a blog post on that topic.
Feel free to also join us for the May 2022 Bloggers Club challenge and write about ‘In testing, I have changed my mind about…’
How Do I Write My Blog Posts?
When ideas come, I tend to make notes on my phone and/or pen and paper (depending on what’s available). So by the time I write my blog posts, I am just getting the thoughts down on ‘paper’ and can focus on the writing aspect, not just the thinking.
If you don’t do this, you have to deal with a blank page.
A blank page is rather intimidating to look at. Here are some tips that have helped me when this happens:
- Write bullet points of my thoughts and then later expand
- Write whatever is on my mind around the topic (don’t try to ’edit’ my thoughts)
- Write keywords and random thoughts (e.g. 2-3 words that don’t quite for sentences). You are not writing at this stage, you are just trying to get any ideas or thoughts down.
Next, you can expand on what you wrote.
Lastly, use a tool like Grammarly to catch spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and overused/redundant words such as “actually.” (I actually use the word “actually” too much. See what I did there? I’m hilarious right?!)
If English is not your first language, you could consider writing a blog in your native language.
Federico Toledo has a blog in Spanish for instance.
How Do I Distribute My Blog?
It’s not a case of “write it and they will come”.
No, you need to find a way to tell people about your awesome work! 🙌
Here are a few tips when it comes to distributing your blog:
- Use the ‘Contact Us’ link on the feeds page to ask Ministry of Testing to add your blog to their RSS Feed.
- If you wrote a blog post about someone’s course, book or conference talk, make sure to tag them in Twitter and/or LinkedIn. Chances are, they will share what you wrote.
- If you are sharing your blog post on Twitter, make sure the link is last - it will look nicer that way.
- Remember that on LinkedIn, by default people can only read the first 2-3 lines, think carefully about what your first sentence(s) say.
- Twitter has a character limit of 280 characters. Don’t waste those characters writing what’s already included in the title and/or the preview card (if you have one)
- Did you find this useful?
- Are there any topics/areas in particular you would like me to dive deeper into?
- Do you have any other questions about blogging as a tester?
Let me know and if I have something of value to share, I’ll write more about it.
I hope that in writing this I inspire at least one person to start sharing their thoughts and ideas.💡— Nicola Lindgren 🇳🇿💻 (@NicolaLindgren) May 9, 2022
Even if you already have a blog, I hope you’ll gain some value by reading this. 🤓https://t.co/b4IteAwRqu
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