AMA: How To Start Blogging AMA with Louise Gibbs, Bruce, Chris Armstrong & Lee Marshall

All of the unanswered questions from the https://www.crowdcast.io/e/ama-blogging webinar on 19th August 2020 will be added here, and we will do our best to answer them as and when we can.

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Here are the questions we didn’t manage to get through, after squeezing in 11 questions in the hour.

What do you all enjoy writing the most- the techy post or the non techy post. Also which is the hardest?
From Brian McRoberts

For personal blogging, is it worthy to spend on annual hosting ? or it’s ok to stay on xxx.wordpress.com or others that is less fancy ?
From Emna Ayadi

Where do your blog ideas come from?
From Russell Craxford

Is it worth paying for a Wordpress upgrade or keeping the free version?
From Beth Marshall
(Additional comment: Emna Ayadi I paid for it recently after 6 months asking same question, but I still wondersing not 100 % convinced about paying for it)

How do you approach writing a post, in terms of structure. Do you take loads of notes then structure them for your post or do you just start and go with the flow?
From Richard Forjoe
(Additional comment: Colin Wren I’ve found situation, action, result to be a good structure for posts. Especially for posts about overcoming a technical challenge

What are recommended tools that help you when blogging?
From Sharon O’Boyle

What do you prefer? A blog were every post belongs to a certain topic or a blog were you find different, maybe unrelated topics?
From Bettina Braitling

Have you ever come up against work’s communications team asking you to edit a post?
From Colin Wren

Can you give some practical advice on how to go about setting up the blog, where to put it etc?
From Sharon O’Boyle

What effective strategies generate organic traffic to your blog?
From Shay

IS it recommended to write short or long blogs ? when it’s long is it good to split it into parts ?
From Emna Ayadi

@undevelopedbruce have you ever considered creating a webtoon IT/tech/testing related?
From Ixchel Mesa

I could quite easily use the company internal platform for blogging. This would make it easy to reach my colleagues. On the other hand: It means I _only_could reach my colleagues. So, what to do? Use the company internal platform, an external site, or both?
From Bettina Braitling

From a personal blog what kind of BIG perspectives you could reach in your career/ amazing opportunity ? Do you have examples to inspire us ?
From Emna Ayadi

Are there interesting blogs patterns that you recommend in particular ? or we use our own pattern or it doesn’t matter if you change the format from time to time ?
From Emna Ayadi

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Right, here we go. I have tried to answer those that I could!

What do you all enjoy writing the most- the techy post or the non techy post. Also which is the hardest?

From @brimcrob

I look at very technical posts in awe, it isn’t something that I think I could do so well. I write about what I am doing, or have done, or something that I am researching. In my position right now, the more technical stuff isn’t on my radar. I was talking to a friend about some of the traps of a managerial position, my fear is always that I become so focused on the big picture, that I lose sight of the granular detail. That being said, maybe if I gave myself a more technical challenge, then maybe I would be able to write about that.

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Sorry Brian, that’s a rubbish answer. I enjoy writing about what I’m doing and what I find interesting, and I think I would find a more detailed technical post more difficult.

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For personal blogging, is it worthy to spend on annual hosting ? or it’s ok to stay on xxx.wordpress.com or others that is less fancy ?

From @emna_ayadi

This is very subjective, I don’t think it is necessary to do, especially not when you are starting out. I don’t think any more or less of anyone who has their own domain or a free one, the fact that new content is being produced is excellent! For me, I wanted to try and tie everything into the one ‘christovskia’ brand which would look cleaner for SEO, putting on things like my CV and be easier for me to keep track of. I initially chose ‘christestarmstrong’ for my Wordpress account, and I disliked it as I didn’t feel like it was me. I was happy to spend the money on my own domain as a result of tying everything together. Also the financial outlay was an additional challenge to myself to ensure that I wasn’t wasting my money, so I felt more obliged to ensure I kept on producing new content.

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Where do your blog ideas come from?

From @russell.craxford

Flipping everywhere Russell. I have looked at random things like being inspired by things like Eurovision and pro wrestling for comparisons to software development, I have talked about things we have been doing in the workplace, ideas that have played on my mind, workshops I have run, mental health, conversations I have, events I have attended or anything really. I imagine it might be a little like composing music, often you start with a melody or a hook and build from there.

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Is it worth paying for a Wordpress upgrade or keeping the free version?

From @bethtesterleeds

(Additional comment: Emna Ayadi I paid for it recently after 6 months asking same question, but I still wondersing not 100 % convinced about paying for it)

I do sometimes get pretty naffed off with ads, but if the content is good then it doesn’t matter. It was something that I was happy to pay for, as I said in my reply to Emna, the fact that there is more content out there and is freely and widely available is way more important than anything else.

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How do you approach writing a post, in terms of structure. Do you take loads of notes then structure them for your post or do you just start and go with the flow?

From Richard Forjoe

(Additional comment: Colin Wren I’ve found situation, action, result to be a good structure for posts. Especially for posts about overcoming a technical challenge

For me, I have that theme that I start with, then I mindmap areas I want to cover, go for a song lyric that can be loosely associated with it for my title and ridiculous Spotify playlist, and start writing. I write in a style very similar to how I speak (but with less stuttering and umming) and break it up with infographics, memes, gifs and occasional segues. I try to seek some proofreading if I can as well. The majority of those that get published will have been written in one sitting.

What are recommended tools that help you when blogging?

From Sharon O’Boyle

Mindmapping software, things like XMind, FreeMind, Miro etc. I use Google Keep and Trello for ideas. For the actual hosting and editing etc, I use Wordpress and all its native tooling, which works for me so far.

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What do you prefer? A blog were every post belongs to a certain topic or a blog were you find different, maybe unrelated topics?

From @bcbraitling

I often come across a blog by searching for a topic, but will stay and subscribe when I enjoy the writing and style. I love great storytelling and the honest way in which many blogs are portrayed. It’s amazing what we can learn and be inspired when you’re not even looking for it. I wouldn’t have known about conferences, inclusivity, accessibility, mobbing, communities of practice and waaaaay more if they hadn’t happened upon them from writers whose work I had previously stumbled upon!

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Have you ever come up against work’s communications team asking you to edit a post?

From Colin Wren

I haven’t had that problem to date. In fact, my old place often shared my posts. I don’t know if you’d call it an art or not, but I as someone who catastrophises a lot many different scenarios, I try and be really conscious of what I am saying and how it may be interpreted. I have sought permission where I felt it was required.

Can you give some practical advice on how to go about setting up the blog, where to put it etc?

From Sharon O’Boyle

The four of us all host on Wordpress, but there are loads of sites that you can use. I would suggest an initial charter/vision for what you hope to cover and stand for and how you may theme things, then continually review that. I made loads of edits and changes, including domains, style and layout over time.

Put it in front of people who will give you honest and candid feedback. When you are comfortable and confident to do so, use the social media plug-ins and share away, Ministry of Testing have a great blog feed to get onto.

Ooh and send it to me, I’d love to read anything you have and would be happy to help answer any questions you may have!

What effective strategies generate organic traffic to your blog?

From Shay

I haven’t been great at this, but where I have had success is where it has been shared via things like the Testing Curator, 5 Blogs, MoT Flipboard and so on. I should work better on my SEO and tagging, as well as the previously mentioned accessibility.

IS it recommended to write short or long blogs ? when it’s long is it good to split it into parts ?

From @emna_ayadi

I average around 1000 words a post, but some are really short and some much longer. Lengthier posts are fine as long as they remain engaging, shorter posts I occasionally choose to just tweet a thread instead.

As for a series of posts, I think that comes down the planning, if I can see that it’s turning into something like Spider-Man 3 where there is just too much content being crammed in that I don’t think it will be clear what the common thread in the post is, or the point that I am attempting to make, then it should be broken down. I tried it once with a series on the (FEW) HICCUPPS mnemonic, and I didn’t get to finish it yet……

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I could quite easily use the company internal platform for blogging. This would make it easy to reach my colleagues. On the other hand: It means I _only_could reach my colleagues. So, what to do? Use the company internal platform, an external site, or both?

From @bcbraitling

My decision was to post publicly where possible. I did write internal blogs if it was so specific to our context or needed to be much more granular. The aim in posting blogs like this is to share your thoughts, in the same way that others have in a kind of pay it forward sort of way.

From a personal blog what kind of BIG perspectives you could reach in your career/ amazing opportunity ? Do you have examples to inspire us ?

From @emna_ayadi

I guess having a blog can be a bit like an echo chamber, but also a personal portfolio that can be an extension of a CV, it can lead to opportunities to do things like webinars, conference talks and podcasts, if you like that sort of thing. I would love to be able to write more, do workshops and share more, if the blog can help me get there, then great, but right now that isn’t the motivator for having it.

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Are there interesting blogs patterns that you recommend in particular ? or we use our own pattern or it doesn’t matter if you change the format from time to time ?

From @emna_ayadi

My writing style has changed a lot since I started, as has the cadence of publishing posts, I have stubbornly stuck to a them with song lyrics for titles, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that, I think I spend way too long on that part. I think being open to changing up is an incredibly mature way of approaching your output and can mirror the inspect, adapt, transparency from the pillars of empiricism that are used in Scrum. It is possible to cover a wide range of topics and make use of tags/categories to group or arrange them.

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Ha no problem, both answers were good for me.When the lock-down happened I decided to restart my blogging. Mine is not just about testing though. It is just somewhere to practice writing and find my beat. Thanks for the discussion last night, it was good to hear the wisdom of people who have been blogging for a while.

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Sounds awesome, if you’re willing please share a link to your blog, I’d love to read it!!

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