By Ofir Nachmani, CEO, IOD
Prepare yourself for the brutal honesty in this post.
My first confession: I don’t write my own tech blogs. At this point in my career, the vast majority of my blogs are written by professional writers and editors. In fact, one of our IOD editors wrote this very post you’re reading right now. What can I say? I enjoy writing, but I lack the time and the skills to do it as well as I’d like.
I’m also not a native English speaker. I grew up in southern Israel, so Hebrew is my first language. I did start studying English at a young age, as this is the norm in the Israeli school system, but I speak much better than I can write. When I started to deal with technology professionally and sell and create products that were being used by the U.S. market and other foreign markets that required English, my speaking abilities became stronger, but I didn’t get that same practice with my English writing. I’m sure many of you also understand the difficulty of writing in a non-native language, compared with speaking it.
But, setting aside the fact that English isn’t my native language, I’m not a fantastic writer, not in Hebrew either. So, here comes my second confession: even if I decided that I wanted to write my own blogs, I would likely be so critical of myself that it would take too long to hit publish.
Despite the many years of writing my own blogs, ghost writing, freelancing, and founding IOD, a company that consults on tech writing and that produces its own blog, I still don’t consider myself a writer. I do actually enjoy forecasting the next tech industry steps, explaining complex concepts and solutions, and shouting my opinions with the world. (I also love coming up with a catchy title.) But I just can’t devote today the amount of time it would take to produce my own pieces that I could be proud of publishing.
My skills and experience are, and have always been, very tech-based. Ten years ago, a company I had co-founded four years prior was bought by ClickSoftware (CKSW). Soon after, it became my responsibility to educate the company on cloud-related topics. I became ClickSoftware’s in-house tech evangelist, started a Tumblr page (mostly to avoid using the company sharepoint), and began creating and posting articles about the cloud.
Why Bother Hiring a Professional Writer?
Now, some of you might not be so shocked by either of my above confessions. Perhaps you’ve been hiring professional writers to produce your blogs for years. But I’m willing to bet that some of you are surprised. I’m also willing to bet that, even if you do write your own tech blogs, you, like me, aren’t particularly excited about the actual task of writing, or you recognize that your posts aren’t as polished as they could be. I won’t believe any tech blogger who tells me he has perfected a system all on his own after blogging for a few years and he’s able to produce both quality and quantity all on his own.
Ultimately, we tech people are, well, tech people, not professional writers. For most of us, it was never our intention to become bloggers at all. The typical tech blogger doesn’t start writing blogs until they have a few years of professional experience under their belt. They become enthusiastic about their subject area, and then they decide to share their passion and knowledge about this topic with others. This is true of any kind of blogger—if somebody has a strong interest and is skilled in their given field, they want to be “on the stage,” so to speak. They want to be involved in the greater conversation surrounding their area of expertise.
So, if we can agree on the fact that we are tech professionals, not writing professionals, we can also recognize that it’s hard for us to create a well-structured, coherent piece. We simply don’t know the conventions of grammar, flow, and vocabulary as well as professional writers and editors. If you want readers to learn something from the content you put out and to continue following your blog, you must be able to communicate your ideas effectively through writing. Yes, there are some readers who will recognize your expertise and be patient with you even if your writing isn’t great. However, if what you’re saying is difficult to understand or doesn’t sound good (especially to native English speakers), many will just stop reading early on.
There was a time when I believed that the quality of my writing didn’t matter—that the only important thing was the information and the solution I was providing to solve the reader’s problem. But soon enough, I realized that wasn’t the case and I at least needed an editor to fix my English language mistakes. And once I decided that I couldn’t stand the task of writing itself, I started hiring professional writers and editors to create my tech blogs.
Today, our team of writers at IOD support me in creating this content, and it’s well worth the financial investment. Now, my posts follow proper English writing conventions, my ideas are presented clearly, and the content is enjoyable for readers. I accepted my limitations, paid professionals to write for me, saved myself the time and frustration of doing the writing myself, and have reaped the benefits of focusing my efforts on the tech side of things.
Even if you are a native, English-speaking tech person and have been blogging for years, I highly suggest that you bite the financial bullet and try it out. Have a writer listen to your ideas, write your draft, and create a well-done, coherent, and entertaining piece. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed—in fact, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start doing things this way sooner.
Also, keep in mind that the pieces your writers create for you will get better and better over time. I work with a handful of ghost writers who know me, who can mimic my voice, and who can create provocative pieces that represent my unique point of view. I’m consistently pleased with the products. Establish those close relationships with your writers and your blog will improve that much more.
One Last Confession…
Before we end this piece, I have to admit one more thing: not everything I bring to my tech blogs is my own knowledge. I occasionally choose to create pieces about areas that are not within my realm of expertise. Sometimes, I own up to the fact that I am not an expert on this topic, but I’m just sharing my interest in it with my followers. Other times, I combine my opinions with another expert’s first-hand knowledge to generate discussion on the topic.
My understanding of a given topic might not be perfect, but if I have a good grasp of the content I read, I believe that if I have a strong opinion, then what I have to say is valuable to my readers. Obviously, if I’m not 100% clear on something, I am forthcoming about it. Plus, I always refer back to the expert I’ve learned from and provide links readers can use to continue researching this topic from first-hand expert sources.
So, fellow tech bloggers, this is my parting advice to you: stay in your comfort zone. Put your time and effort into what you are good at and love to do. Come up with the ideas, do the research, and handle the “meat” of your posts—but know your limitations as a tech person.
Make the investment in hiring a professional writer to help you succeed as a blogger. And when you present knowledge as a second-hand source, be transparent when you don’t know something and provide resources for others to continue learning from the real experts.
If you do all of this, you’ll be able to create more content, show your readers that you know your stuff, and expand your blog following. And that’s what running a successful tech blog is all about.