Developer time is scarce, and having developers write technical blog posts takes away their precious time from working on core product features.
As a VP of Growth or a Marketing Manager, you are in a tight spot. On the one hand, developer expertise is necessary to produce high-quality technical content that’s so vital for your marketing strategy. On the other hand, you don’t want to slow down product development.
What do you do? How do you get your technical content strategy kicked off without burdening the engineers?
Our answer is to create leverage. In this article, we walk you through how to create leverage in your technical content creation process. You’ll learn about specific tactics for reducing the developer time required for each post while maintaining the high quality of your content.
Insider knowledge is only one part of the equation
Many companies can’t “just” go ahead and create the technical content they want due to a knowledge problem. The specific knowledge that’s needed to create a useful and insightful blog post that developers would enjoy reading is frequently locked in the minds of a small group of engineers at your company.
Frequently, you need to involve the engineers in the blog post writing process because otherwise, it will be unclear what subjects to cover. Therefore, the developers act as subject matter experts (SMEs) in your content production process.
Now, when we create technical articles and blog posts for our clients, we involve a team of specialists in creating each piece. The group usually includes:
- a content strategist;
- a subject matter expert;
- a developer that creates code examples;
- a technical writer;
- and a technical editor.
When asking a developer to create a technical blog post, you essentially ask them to take on four or five responsibilities from this list. In reality, however, almost all of these tasks can be done by someone other than your developer. The only role they will have to assume no matter what is the subject matter expert.
Creating leverage on non-essential tasks
Knowing that the developers only really need to be involved as subject matter experts, we recommend delegating all other parts of the writing process. If you are successful with the delegation, you can reduce the amount of time the engineers spend on each blog post by as much as 90% while still keeping the high quality of the content your produce. From 100% of the time to just 10% — it’s a 10x lever right there.
But how do you get to that level of leverage? You‘ll need to create the right process to realise all the possible benefits.
Four ways to create leverage and reduce developer time required per blog post
What does an effective technical writing process look like that results in high-quality content but requires little time from your developers? Here are our recommendations.
#1: Standardise the subject matter expert input
Create templates that subject matter experts can fill out for each article. Over time you will work out which question to ask the SMEs up-front to ensure that the article covers all the necessary technical details. Having a template also helps you set up the expectations of what the developer will need to contribute and how long it will take them to do their part. Clear expectations help you gain trust with the engineers and engineering management.
#2: Involve developers from other parts of your organisation or freelance developers to create code examples
The example projects that you’d want to use in your technical blog posts in many cases rely on the product features that are already available and documented. When the information on how to use a feature is public, it’s possible to have someone outside of your core development team design and implement the examples. You can involve a marketing developer or a Solutions engineer in creating the code samples, or you can recruit a freelance software engineer to focus on the example projects.
#3: Work with technical writers to produce the articles
Once the developers have provided their input, an experienced technical writer can expand the subject matter expert notes into a well-written article. As most engineers aren’t necessarily great at writing, by working with a technical writer, you guarantee that the writing will be well-structured and stylistically correct. Many engineers don’t enjoy writing prose so having someone else on the team take care of that part of the process makes it easier still for developers to sign up to contribute to your technical blog posts.
#4: Establish ownership of different parts of the article production process
If the SME is responsible for the technical correctness, get them to review the finished piece to make sure all the technical details are correct. Decide who makes the final call on the article structure, the technical writer or the strategist, and who is responsible for the grammar and the style. Having clear responsibilities allows your team to work effectively together and increases the overall quality of the articles you produce. Once again, having a well-defined process makes it easier and less time-consuming for your engineers to help out.
The result is quality, and quicker
Once you implement our suggestions, you’ll prove to your engineering department that producing technical content requires only a small portion of developer time. With a reliable article production process, you can start creating more high-quality content for your blog and your website while also allowing your developers to do their best work in their primary positions.
Creating an effective technical writing process that leverages your developers’ time is valuable but can take a while to implement, both from you and from other stakeholders in your organisation.
The need for access to a high-leverage, robust content production process is why we created Wizard on Demand. Such a process gives content managers and growth leaders a way to start producing high-quality technical content today, and many companies don’t have the resources or the time to implement it.
At Wizard on Demand, we specialise in producing technical blog posts and articles with the input from your subject matter experts. We’d be happy to show you how you can take advantage of our process and produce world-class technical articles.