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Ten Ways to Keep Technology Savvy Readers Engaged and Coming Back for More

Writing technology, science and programming blogs, or simply writing for technology savvy readers can have unique challenges. They are often more critical, not as loyal to a single blog source, and are difficult to keep engaged. The ten tips I share here should help attract this finicky audience, and keep them coming back for more.

1. Write a Timeless Topic in Sync With Modern Technology

Mind mapping is a great exercise (read more on Mind Mapping on this previous ProBlogger post). Write a central key word on a piece of paper, circle it, and then start branching out interrelated ideas from there. You will find quickly that if you start with the word technology, there is a lot to discover. Not all key phrases and ideas will immediately appear to be related, but as you step back for a little introspection, some interesting topics should begin to surface.

One article I wrote that continues to drive traffic is interview questions for programmers. At the time of the posting it received a mild response, but now that more folks in the technology sector are being put out of work, they are looking for any advantage they can get. Similar posts on updating resumes, cover letters, and general self-marketing tactics specifically geared toward science and technology job seekers are on the rise.

Tips on resume writing have been around for decades, but syncing them up with technology during a recession is what gives you a boost in popularity. Uncover those relationships that others might not recognize, and you will have a wealth of information to publish.

2. Find an Already Discovered Niche, and Give It Some Much Needed Attention

One of the most popular tips that bloggers give out is to find a niche that you would enjoy writing about that no else has discovered. I would argue, find a niche that has been discovered, and give it the attention it deserves from a unique perspective.

Technology, even as broad a spectrum as it is, receives a lot of coverage. This means that there is a high level of saturation, but there are also a lot of not-so-great posts floating around as well. These could be anything from product and service reviews, to coverage of green technology. How much have you heard about a green, renewable, sustainable energy source?

Too much to be sure. It could be though, that there are technology micro-niches that have yet to be filtered through to the mainstream. Try to draw conclusions from several other articles, and find the hidden sub- topics they are afraid to touch that you know your readers will appreciate.

3. Discover Your Reader’s Technology of Choice, and Milk It Dry

Your reader’s predilection for certain technologies will unveil itself over time. Did you ever stumble across a Web site that covers a lot of Microsoft, Adobe, or Apple hardware and software? You wonder why they refuse to move onto something new and exciting. There is a reason for that. Their readers want more, and keep coming back for more. So they keep giving it to them. This is actually not a bad thing.

Novel authors often talk about how their characters develop themselves, and how the story begins to take shape around unexpected behaviors. I used to wonder how that can be the case — they are the ones writing the story, not their characters! However, if you run a blog you will soon understand that this type of thing happens naturally. The technology is like a character, and you are merely making it the protagonist in the plot line.

This is where analytics can also be a key factor in how your writing evolves around specific topics. Dig deep for search key terms in order to get a better sense for what search engines consider your area of expertise. For an indicator of what your readers think, check out a social- bookmarking service like Delicious, and see what posts are being bookmarked.

4. Understand That the Technical Aptitude of Your Readership and the Technical Aptitude Required to Read Your Posts are Directly Proportional to Traffic

Even if you have the technical chops to write about it, the more complicated a topic is, the less likely you are to draw in grassroots readers. This was a hard lesson I had to learn when writing about programming techniques and technologies. I always get a greater response, and an increase in readership, when I write about topics that have a broader appeal. In other words, HTML and CSS tips do well. A tip on outputting MySQL query results to an XML file from the command prompt does not.

Of course, you can still tackle the tough stuff, but it is better done in chunks, or a series of posts. A steady buildup where you can educate readers along the way will be helpful because it teaches while informing. Keep in mind though that if you decide to get nitty-gritty, you risk shifting the audience focus. The expectations will then be much higher.

There are also occasions when it is acceptable to tackle the tough stuff, keeping the focus instead on the human interest element. When Wired News posted an article on Dan Kaminksy, a security expert who found a flaw in DNS, many hackers claimed the post was soft on the technology details. Yet, it was still a great read for a wider audience because it was an intriguing look into the underbelly of the Internet.

5. Play Referee in a Game of Dueling Technologies

Remember the old saying, any publicity is good publicity? Some bloggers feel the same way about readership. The attitude is that controversy sells, and so any controversy is good controversy. With technology savvy readers this can backfire. Entire camps are formed around brands, services and products, and being purposefully mean-spirited can ruin future opportunities to pull in new readers.

A better approach is to critically compare two technologies, making sure that one of them is your reader’s technology of choice. This way you can play referee through the community, allowing discussions to form without explicitly taking sides. These one-to-one comparisons are advantageous because they encourage comments, and they educate simultaneously.

Around the holiday season this is a great trick to use for product reviews. Used in conjunction with an affiliate relationship and a solid review system, you are generating a “sticky” revenue stream. Dueling technologies do the work, and you get income in return.

6. Do Not Always Be the First to Discover New Technology, but Always Be the Best At Reviewing It

Traditional media outlets have one rule to live by when it comes to getting the news — get it first, and get it fast. Some blogs covering technology conferences or a new product release take the same approach. Engadget, Gizmodo and TechCrunch all do that well. They are a tough act to follow, and have an army of authors posting up to a dozen times per day.

Being first on the scene is a dangerous game to play for those of us unable to manage such a schedule. There are alternatives. Instead of being first, take the extra time to write an in-depth analysis. Being constantly barraged with half-baked statements and high-level coverage will only engage technology savvy readers for so long. Get into the details and give your posts personal attention.

You can even write follow-ups, or have a guest author cover the same technology from a different viewpoint. Post both articles at the same time, and let your readers decide. Magazines have been doing that for years.

7. Be a Part of the Culture, Not a Sellout for “The Man”

Are you in management, or even middle-management within the technology sector? You have your work cut out for you when it comes to convincing readers you are a part of the solution, and not the problem. Technology savvy readers are cynics, and are typically cynical of corporate entities. That includes managers who are expected to toe the company line. Be willing to expect this reaction, and address it clearly.

Never do product, service or conference reviews for the company you work for unless you fully disclose it to your readers. Most people know that employees, especially managers, are required not to publically speak ill of their employer. This can have a negative affect on how your coverage is perceived, and can cause you to lose credibility.

On the other hand, if you can identify with co-workers, are tapped into the culture, and become known as a bastion of hope, then you can really generate a solid following. Not only do you have the expertise, but you have the position to back up your statements.

8. Stick To What You Know, and Research Like Mad What You Do Not

Never pretend to be an expert. However, a humble and exciting review of technology can still garner a good deal of traffic. Actually, posting a new-to-the-scene article is a great way to benefit from commentary by experienced technology professionals. Exploring old concepts and ideas with wonderment can help to alleviate some of the dry material your readers may have come across on other blogs.

The trick is to use that energy and excitement to explore in greater depth those technical questions you have been meaning to answer. Do not be afraid to use age-old journalism tactics to make it happen. Call up experts, even if they are friends and family, and get quotes and data. All bloggers writing on any topic should be willing to pound the pavement to get a great story.

You should also have a long list of well organized research bookmarks and even hard copy papers. Do not be content with Wikipedia, or else you will only be scratching the surface. Your readers deserve an author who is detail oriented.

9. Put Together a Technology Review Like You Would a How-to Manual

Paid technology reviews are easy to spot, and are referred to by some as a fine bit of navel-gazing. They are self-absorbing, and until you read a more honest review elsewhere, you are simply distracted for a short time. Automobile magazines in the US are well known for this, and are criticized for softening critiques of poor performing cars and trucks. If they are to post a no-holds-barred review, they risk being black-listed by manufacturers.

Try not to fall into the same trap. Write technology reviews like you are a customer who uses the product or service every day of your life. If you want to know if others feel as you do, or if you are glossing over trouble spots, check out the comments from readers on other blogs. Read The Consumerist to get a better understanding of how real people react to real problems with technology. Write from that perspective.

If you do get paid, or are compensated for the expenses involved with a review, be sure to fully disclose that fact. It will help to strengthen your credibility with readers.

10. Take Heart in Knowing That Technology Savvy Readers Are Cynics, but Form a Great Community

As I mentioned in the introduction, technology savvy readers tend to be critical, and are even a tad cynical. Do not be disheartened if an above average number are unsympathetic to your hard work and effort to write quality material. Be respectful in your response, though, and learn to glean from comments exactly what improvements can be made. Remember, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

This is the best way to learn what your audience is really after when reading about technology. Do they want to know more about the who’s who in the industries you cover? Do they want a barrage of alternate reference materials? Maybe they want the fine details and hard-science involved with the products you review? They might be inventors and entrepreneurs in need of information on being involved personally.

Find the time to answer these questions, and you will keep your readers engaged and coming back for more.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Surender says:

    Thanks Dareen.I got lot of useful stuff from your blog.
    You are guiding us day by day about blogging.
    Thanks again.

  2. Helmi Asyraf says:

    For me, the best type of blog visitors are the tech-savvy group.

    They tend to be more easier in trying something that couldn’t be found it the outside world.

    Easy example is RSS. For the tech savvy visitor they will definitely use RSS subscription if they find the blog is good but the non tech savvy they probably rely on search engine to find the blog.

    Non tech savvy may feel uncomfortable all the new terms and method.

    For me, the tech savvy visitor is one specific market of its own they we can focus on Therefore, this article is absolutely good for those who target this kind/type of emerging market

  3. Thanks for the tips! I have a technology blog and it’s my main blog. So, your tips does help me!

  4. Elliot says:

    5. Play Referee in a Game of Dueling Technologies – maybe the all time favorite Mac Vs Pc duel!!, that would probably bring on some heated debate!, and a few cyber fights I would expect;))

  5. DJ says:

    Another big article.
    Man, can you stop doing it!?? ;)

  6. Victorseo says:

    Good Post. Thanks. I would add that bloggers are often at the vanguard of a school of thought and should avoid assuming their readers are. Referencing related material, as suggested, is important.

  7. Phao Loo says:

    I can’t write anything without mind map. I use a XMind – a mind map software to manage what I should write for long term. When writing for a specific post, I usually map what my mind goes on paper, draw something, link all ideas together before fulfilling the post.

  8. Shrihari says:

    The top ten questions link leads to an article written by someone called Brian. But, this post has no signs of being a guest post. Anything wrong here ?

  9. Hendry Lee says:

    I try to balance content for both technical-savvy readers and the less savvy crowd but relevancy is utmost important. But often I do think starting a separate blog is the way to go because as you said the more technical savvy audience tends to be harder to satisfy.

    Most of them already have a few sites to read daily. And they tend to find solutions to unsolved problems via search. Once their problems are solved, they’ll leave, unless you have a series of very high quality and unique content.

    I know that’s true as I consider myself part of this group.

  10. çiçekçi says:

    For sharing thank you very much good very beautiful work

  11. Dave says:

    Once again, original content is what builds a good blog.

  12. Liz Micik says:

    You make some great points, especially about taking a niche that has already been “discovered” and exploring it from a very tightly focused viewpoint. But look at what you said about your own example…green technology. In one sentence you said it was a good area to explore and in the very next sentence you said too much had already been written about it.

    If I may presume to read your mind and expand on this a bit, what I think you meant was that too much surface scraping, mind numbing regurgitation of same old, same old has been blogged in this area. (Have I caught the Darren tone?) And I agree fully with that.

    But I don’t agree that you have to dig way down deep to find a micro-niche that hasn’t been trounced to death there. I’m just starting to share stories from all the people who are taking matters into their own hands and doing something about creating their own little corner of “green technology” on wemakehybrids.

    Today I’m scouting for stories about what people are doing to buy new or convert existing cars to incorporate new technologies. And so far we’ve covered dozens and dozens of unique twists on the “save me money, save the earth” theme you are already calling old hat.

    Tomorrow I may be talking about people who are up on their roofs installing solar panels and wind turbines and getting off the grid entirely.

    Technology growth is organic and the stories we can tell as bloggers are as numerous and unique as the people who are growing it everyday.

    That’s what keeps me going even though there isn’t much “green” in my blog wallet. I thank God technology cynics are also as passionate about their little corner of the subject. I;d be awfully lonely without them

  13. B. Durant says:

    Great tips. Sometimes technology sites/articles get so deep in details that they lose the wider audience. Sometimes they even lose the tech audience for the same reason.

  14. Thanks Dareen. I like point 6. It’s not only geared to technology blogs, since we can use this point for any niche.

    Franck

  15. Perfect timing for this post! I have just started my tech blog :)

    /Patrik

  16. Tim Bowden says:

    This post could not have come a better time for me. I run a technology related blog with very few competitors but since the middle of last month my visitors stats have dropped dramatically and I can not for the life of me work out why. Some of the better blogs in the same vein as mine aren’t even updating as regularly so I can’t imagine they are getting as many visitors. I have added this to my bookmarks and plan on reading it a lot, I have read through it 4 times already.

    For me point 3 is the most important to me, and I like 6 and 9. I wholeheartedly agree with

    “They are often more critical, not as loyal to a single blog source, and are difficult to keep engaged.”

    The amount of new visits against repeat visits in my analytics is amazing!!

    Thanks for the post.

  17. rick says:

    Great post as always, Darren. I might suggest that in addition to creating a well written and researched technology article, you may attract an even larger readership by a) not talking over the majority of your audience’s heads ( which addresses your #4)..most people can quickly ascertain the intelligence level of a writer, so watch the heavy-handed serving of “me smart” writing… and b) be interesting,,,Even techno-geeks can be put to sleep with dry material….Liberal use of bulleted lists is always nice, as is a touch of humor, not overboard, but enough to fight back the eyelids…rick

  18. Shirley says:

    Number 7 is key. This is probably the reason that I don’t put much stock in many company blogs. (ie. if they have a product to sell)

  19. Millard says:

    Although my digital photography blog is somewhat slanted to be non-technological for the beginner to intermediate photographer I can see that I have ample need to learn more and post more about photoshop and digital imaging from a more technological standpoint.

  20. David says:

    Hello Darren, I just want to thank you for sharing your insights about blogging and what it takes to be successful. As a new blogger, I am learning the hard way at times, and it is great to have a resource such as yours to provide much needed guidance and direction.

    Happy Holidays,

    David
    Energybloggers.com

  21. Soso says:

    So true and useful. Thanks again for such a well written post. Its very educational.

  22. These are useful things we should learn to use. Technology is growing so fast that people’s demand fluctuates and doesn’t have a regular state or condition.

  23. “Agreed ” especially regarding point #2. When I think about how quickly and often some of our partners Nvidia, Cisco and Asus for examples are capable of development of new products. It boggles the mind how anyone can keep up without using past information to promote the benefits of the new products. I personally would prefer not to not have to leverage the work of others and promote everything as new,fresh and my own, but is that a realistic and achievable goal?

  24. Hey Darren

    When have you written about outputting MySQL query results to an XML file from the command prompt ? I would like to read that……

  25. uwak says:

    very useful tips….. thanks for nice information

  26. MIND MAPPING…..hear, hear for thinker toys

  27. Scott Mahler says:

    Thanks for so many helpful hints, I especially like the one about mind mapping! It can be difficult at times to come up with a different angle that will keep your audience coming back for me, and this helps widen the scope of ideas. The one thing I have found fascinating and frustrating is the fact that people have so many different opinions when it comes to technology. I guesse that’s a good thing, and what keeps technology rolling on.

    http://www.datexmedia.wordpress.com

  28. Thanks Dareen.Its really very helpful stuff for blogger.Keep on posting such a good stuff.

  29. Chris says:

    Awesome article! I just started a tech-centered blog less than a month ago, and all of these tips will come in handy.

    I think my biggest (fear?) issue is that I don’t want to seem pretentious… or try to write articles that are too big for my britches. I think I’m going to try staying with more broad, introductory topics. We’ll see how things go from there.

    Thanks for this post!

  30. Thank you friend. I have just created a blog on puppy and dog training tips, so i hope your article will help me.