One of the best ways to get your latest blog post in front of developers is to have it linked in a developer newsletter.
Many devs are subscribed to trusted newsletters and these are some of the primary ways they find out about new and interesting stuff.
Being included in an established developer newsletter could result in hundreds or even thousands of page views in a single day!
Particularly if your product is new, your social media follower count is small, or your marketing budget is low, focusing on newsletters could be a smart distribution strategy for DevRel teams.
I've curated more than 230 issues of my weekly Vue.js Developers Newsletter (opens new window). If you follow my suggestions below, I'd probably want to include your post in an upcoming issue!
# Is it hard to get included in a newsletter?
My newsletter is a weekly digest of top articles on the Vue.js framework (opens new window). I simply feature the seven best article links I can find each week - no more, no less.
Vue is a popular framework and so in any given week, I'd guess there are around 50 new blog posts published from DevRels, enthusiasts, open-source contributors, etc.
Despite that high output it's surprisingly hard to find just seven to include in the newsletter each week, as most posts don't meet my criteria for relevance and quality.
The bar isn't that high, in my opinion, so if you're willing to do just a little bit more work than others, you'll stand out from the crowd.
# My criteria for including posts
There are three simple but important criteria I have when considering a blog post for inclusion in my newsletter.
- Is this of relevance to my audience?
- Is this a good-quality post?
- Is this easy for me to post?
Most blog posts I come across do not pass all three criteria. I'll now break down the factors that make a post pass or fail.
Note: there are many different styles of newsletter, so you shouldn't assume that my criteria will be the same as what other curators use.
But...I bet it's close, and I also bet these criteria will help your post with SEO, social shares, etc as well!
# Criterion 1: is the post relevant to my audience?
Obviously, your post will need to be relevant for a newsletter to consider including it.
In the Vue.js Developers Newsletter, this comes down to two things: the right topic and the right level of assumed knowledge.
# Right topic
I post Vue.js articles. Even if it's very high quality, I'm unlikely to post something about React (a substitute for Vue) because it's not what my audience expects.
# Right level of assumed knowledge
While there is a need for beginner articles to be written, I rarely share them. I bet most other framework-specific newsletters don't either.
Why? Because if someone is committed enough to the framework to subscribe to a newsletter, they usually stay subscribed for months or even years.
Very quickly, they're no longer beginners and therefore aren't interested in "What Is Vue.js?" style posts.
I only post articles that are relevant to frequent users of the framework. These posts will normally assume a basic level of competence with the framework.
Tip: Check back issues of the newsletter if you aren't sure exactly what topic and level of difficulty they include.
# Criterion 2: is the post good quality?
The three aspects of quality I'm looking for are: information quality, writing quality, and code example quality.
# Information quality
Good information is original and useful. I look for blog posts that alert readers to something new, teach them something they may not know, or give them a different perspective.
Your information is probably not of good quality if it's the same as other blog posts, regurgitates the docs, or if it's just a shameless ad for your product.
# Writing quality
While a developer blog post doesn't need to have the quality of a research paper, it should be focused, coherent, and relatively error-free.
If the writing quality is bad, a reader may have trouble understanding what the post is about and they'll abandon it. I avoid posts like that.
# Code example quality
Many developer blog posts include code. Make sure your code examples are neat, short, and well explained.
Readers will quickly give up on posts where the code formatting makes it unreadable, or if you dump hundreds of irrelevant lines with little explanation.
Possibly controversial tip: try to avoid embedded Codepens or Code Sandboxes in blog posts. These embeds degrade the performance of the web page, especially on cheap phones. Plus, they can't easily be skimmed, and they encourage you to be lazy by dumping in lots of code without explanation.
I prefer short, annotated code examples. If you really want to include an interactive embed, I suggest putting it towards the end of the post or linking to it.
# Criterion 3: is this post easy to share?
If I have one spot remaining in my newsletter and two equally good posts, the one I will include will always be the one that's easiest for me to post.
To ensure your post is easy to share, make sure you make it obvious what it's about (and why it's different or interesting) and provide good meta info.
# Make it obvious what your post is about and why it's interesting
In my newsletter, I don't just post a bare link, I always put a short "blurb" to say what it's about in my own words.
If I can't figure out exactly what your post is about and why it's unique and worth reading, I won't know what to say and may decide it'd be easier just to include a different post rather than trying to figure it out.
My suggestion is to always have a paragraph at the start of your post where you let readers know where they're headed in your post and what they're going to get.
You might also have a table of contents and descriptive subheads to help this as well.
# Use good meta info
Meta info includes the headline, header image, and meta description. Meta info is responsible for 50% of the success of a post.
This is not hyperbole - it doesn't matter how good your content is if no one clicks on it to read it. And yet many blog authors spend 8 hrs writing a post and only 5 mins creating the meta info.
Most blog posts don't include a meta description or include a poor-quality one. This is a huge opportunity lost for social sharing, plus, my life as a curator is so much easier when I don't have to spend much time succinctly explaining your post.
# Let newsletter curators know about your post
If you google "vue newsletter", my newsletter is currently the 2nd search result, after the official Vue.js News (opens new window).
With that in mind, I'm surprised at how few people reach out to me to ask me to include their post.
While I do my research each week to find good posts, I inevitably miss a few good ones because I simply didn't know about them.
If I were you, I'd make a list of any relevant newsletters and find out their preferred contact method (some have a dedicated form, some provide a contact email address, some prefer not to be contacted...do your research).
Then, when you make a new post, invite relevant curators to include it in their next issue. They may not include it, but it's worth a shot.
# In summary
Developer newsletters are a great distribution strategy for your content marketing.
Here's a summary of the dos and don'ts I recommended in this post.
- Pick newsletters where your post is relevant (check back issues)
- Ensure your post is original and useful
- Ensure your writing is focused, coherent, and relatively error-free
- Have an attractive blog site that makes the post easy to read
- Have short, tidy, annotated code examples
- Make it clear in the introduction what the post is about and what the user will get out of it
- Have a good headline and a meta description that summarizes the post
- Reach out to newsletter curators when you publish if appropriate
- Cover the same topics that everyone else does with no point of difference
- Make your post an ad for your product
- Make it hard for a reader to quickly know what your post is about
- Skip the meta description