How Being a Coder Can Make You a Better Blogger

How Being a Coder Can Make You a Better Blogger

One of the neatest things I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing by combining my love for software development and professional blogging is to see how closely tied they are in art, form and function. The marriage couldn’t be more copasetic, and I’ve discovered that they complement each other and I can learn more about each respectively and dependently.

Taking it one step further, I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of a startup that leverages one of the top blogging platforms out there, WordPress, and I’ve spent ample time in the weeds developing both WordPress themes and plugins for the system.

Naturally, I’ve learned a lot and, just like how an auto mechanic knows a car better than the average driver, I’ve been blessed with an insider look into how the blogging system itself talks to the end-user.

Here’s what I’ve discovered: You can become a seriously better blogger if you code even a little bit. Below are a few ways development is similar to blogging.

An Affinity to Order

When you first start out, developing software is like swimming in a pool of ideas that somehow coalesce into something workable, pliable and functional.

As you mature, you find that you’re able to quickly increase your pace of development by systemizing your processes, taking advantage of existing structures, syntax, systems and frameworks to speed things up. That is, you produce order out of chaos.

The more order you bring to a system, the more manageable it will become.

As a blogger, your goal is create order in what you write so that your readers can reasonably understand what you’re saying. It harkens me back to my elementary school years where my teacher required me to create all those outlines before I actually started to write anything. You remember, don’t you?

Practically, this means that your blog posts need to be orderly, written in a pattern, rhythm and cadence that’s acceptable to the audience and the context you’re covering. The more you can lock into the acceptable pattern and order, the better and quicker your writing becomes.

Balance and Tension

Coding requires poise, nerves of steel, and a bit of luck to get it off the ground. Do it once and you’re hooked. It’s like a drug that satisfies but never completely satiates.

As you build more and more complexity into your system, the balance begins to wear and the tension begins to grow. Of course, all of this is to produce an excellent product that the end-user will enjoy, so you continue to muddle through the code to completion!

And like any good blogger, your content needs to strike the right balance and tension as it presents the information to the reader. Go out too light, and the reader finds it boring and not deep enough. They might even find you a tad bit boring as well.

Create too much irresolvable tension, and you won’t capture anyone long-term.

In literary terms, this is called the narrative, the overarching movement of the story, a beginning, middle, and end.

Code does that aplenty, and if you spent a little time walking through some code, then you’d come away with a fresh perspective that few bloggers have: an appreciation for the art and science of software narrative.

In time, this develops into even more mature thinking as you build out your blog posts. For example, you might even start thinking about blog series and putting more than one or two blog posts together. You might even string them out for over 50 posts at some point!

Just Ship It!

At the end of the day, the most important thing that any software developer needs to do is ship the darn thing. That is, they need to finalize the last semi-colon, make sure it works, and then give it to the public for use.

The never-ending battle within the soul of the developer is that he knows that his work is not completely finished nor is it absolutely the best thing since sliced bread — but they ship and launch anyways.

And bloggers can learn a thing or two here: I encounter tons of people that have the potential to become amazing bloggers if only they’d ship more. In other words, they need to let go of the fear of making a mistake and the pointless drive to perfection, and just simply publish their posts, even if they’re imperfect.

Many writers simply feel like they can’t publish anything that isn’t completely perfect. This is insanity in a box. A post will never be perfect.

On the other hand, a developer knows that the moment she ships it, she’s already fixing it.

You will become a better blogger if you learn to publish despite the voices in your head telling you that it’s not perfect, that it’s not quite there yet, and that it’s not your opus.

Then, you’ll find the next time to be easier, and then the next even easier, and heck, you might even wake up one day as a professional blogger.

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About the Author

John Saddington is a software developer at 8BIT and a professional blogger who loves sharing his blogging tips, tricks, tools, and practical teaching covering SEO, WordPress and making money through your blog. You can follow him on Twitter @TentBlogger.

This was published on Jun 29, 2011


Zoe Feast Jun 29 2011

If designing is ying than coding is the yang. I love the two sides to my job!

John (TentBlogger) Jun 29 2011

Thanks for the opportunity!

Matthew Snider Jun 29 2011

“You can become a seriously better blogger if you code even a little bit. Below are a few ways development is similar to blogging.”

I honestly believe this, since I have dug in deep into the bowels of WordPress, it has allowed me a little more freedom on how I display my writing, the angle of writing and my confidence in my writing!

Thanks John

dave miers Jun 29 2011

really useful stuff. thanks for sharing the love john!!

Craig Allen Jun 29 2011

I love the fact that software like WordPress allows you to publish quality content without having to be a design or development expert, AND it’s free!

I have also learned a lot from the Standard Theme, which I use on all my blogs and always recommend. The “Just Ship It” mentality has been an ongoing challenge to accept as a recovering perfectionist with my sites as well as my music, but I have seen the benefits firsthand.

Community feedback is awesome and people are always willing to help when you are just starting out. It’s better to ask questions as you go, and showing our “human nature” by admitting we don’t know everything goes a long way in establishing trust and acceptance!

I have yet to do a blog series, but that is my next goal. Always learning!!

Chris Langille Jun 29 2011

Great stuff man! Your dead on about it being like a drug. I knew absolutely nothing about code six months ago, and two weeks ago someone offered to pay me to develop their WordPress website! I nearly laughed at them. “Me??” I asked. Crazy right? Code=Cool

Trifecta Tech Jun 29 2011

I love this article! I always thought that I would just be a coder and writing would always be a lost art for me. As I continued to code and learn more about technology out there, I had a greater interest in letting people know about the stuff out there that makes their life easier. Isn’t that what coding is about: building something that makes other people’s lives easier. The idea of simplifying to make end user’s lives easier is inherent in both blogging and coding. Great points!

Kathleen Krucoff Jun 29 2011

I completely agree! You are definitely talking my language and yes, coding can be addictive as you mention. Great analogies between coding and blogging. Love it!

Jimmy Moncrief Jun 29 2011

Great article man! This really inspirational. BTW, I love my Standard Theme!

Marianna Jun 30 2011

It is quite intriguing writing in coder mode. Everything is clean, logical and straightforward. This also applies to design. If you’re a coder, the division of task when designing is very clean cut. Everything is in order. It’s fun noticing these things about yourself, kind of like looking at yourself from the side.

As for “they need to let go of the fear of making a mistake and the pointless drive to perfection, and just simply publish their posts, even if they’re imperfect”, I think I’ve had this problem for the longest time without realising what it was – I think until I read this article!


Inventika Solutions Jun 30 2011

I’m a coder and a blogger and I agree with your Shipit point.

Usman Jun 30 2011

I agree learning the basics of programming languages help us optimize freeware software easily and more conveniently.

For WordPress i think a blogger with knowledge of css and php can make his blog more functional

gaurav chaudhary Jun 30 2011

i agree with your view…if you coding will be best blogger

I’ve heard that the best programmers are not mathematicians, physicists or other techies. The best programmers are – guess :) – linguists! If this is true then your thoughts about coding and blogging may have much more deep background :). Moreover, I’ve noticed that some of my best and most effective piecies of code look like good poetry – similar formatted, pleasant to read and easy to understand.

John (and others) — Ok, I completely intuitively agree with this, having used WP for a year now to write blog posts. But do all my writing on the visual side because I’m afraid of coding. (I let my biz partner sort out my mistakes.) I know I can’t do all I want to do, but I don’t know where to start!
Where do y’all recommend I learn some basic html? I’m trying to learn as I go…don’t have too much extra time for classes…what do you suggest? A book or website would be helpful. I bought “Create Stunning HTML Email” by Matthew Patterson, but even that is a bit over my head!

Vladislavs Judins Jul 01 2011

I really love the standardization, but more colors which are used in standard syntax highlighting (like in Coda) would really make themes look crispy & sharp. I’ll share my results with you :)

Raymond Parker Jul 01 2011

I adopted WordPress 14 months ago to escape coding and concentrate on my strengths–creating content. Soon after, I chose Thesis as my theme.

I soon learned that it’s not possible to get away from “looking under the hood” if you want to be creative and so a new and steep learning curve followed.

I’m slowly getting my head around php, hooks and custom functions, making a big breakthrough this week in understanding the power of combining these languages.

Has this helped my writing? Well, though these unseen developments have gobbled up an inordinate amount of my time (and of the gracious experts that have helped me learn these foreign languages), I think they have, as you note, encouraged both coherence and experimentation, for there is a certain poetry in code that I’ve begun to comprehend, in its own “write.”

I love this concept. I am noobs in programing and coding, but I’m still learning. Hope I will be a good blogger either coder, as you. Thanks for the article :)

Manic Jul 04 2011

Hi guys, i’m trying to build my own website…but i don know how to start off… can anyone give me some advice? is it good to use wordpress to do it? or is there any better ones? is there any forum with lots of wordpress experts to help?

Craig McPheat Jul 05 2011

I write prose in HTML markup. I trust it more than MS Word.

Scott Jul 17 2011

I work with a wordpress blog and I’m always learning new things to tweak under the hood. But where do you start actually becoming proficient at code? I want to learn more to be a better web professional, but it all seems like so much. For instance, I can tweak CSS and create new classes to change how things look. But I don’t understand all of it and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t write the CSS from scratch. The PHP I basically don’t touch, though often I’ve run into a wall because of it. So where do I start? Do I complete my CSS knowledge? Do I delve right into PHP? It seems a little advanced for me and it’s a lot to chew on

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