Publishing a good technical article takes time. As a developer, we’re often behind schedule and we’ve little time to transform ourselves into writers. If publishing an article isn’t a priority for your team, it won’t be done.
Still, French companies have outstanding engineering blogs. At Guriosity you can find 50+ of them. Last month, I spent time trying to understand how these companies started and grew their engineering blogs. The stories from three companies resonated with me.
An engineering blog can help attract talent
Two years ago, leboncoin was hiring more than 60 engineers and data scientists. At the same time, it was hard for leboncoin to communicate about their technical challenges.
We had the image of four guys in a garage building an e-commerce website comprehensible for users from 7 to 97 years old. That image didn’t help us hire talented software engineers.
— Guillaume Chenuet, DevOps Lead at leboncoin.
To promote the work of the tech and product team outside of the leboncoin, they decided to create the “social tech team”. The team is composed of a mix of tech and communication profiles. Their responsibilities include managing the engineering blog in Medium, leboncoin.tech website and organizing conferences.
Leboncoin source code is obviously private but not how they build things. Having an engineering blog is also a good opportunity to onboard new hires, Guillaume Chenuet shared.
The first article is the hardest to publish
Jean-Hadrien Chabran was the first to publish on the Heetch engineering blog back in 2016. He wrote the first four articles because he was used to blogging. Then, little by little others joined…
In 2018, my team decided to block Thursday afternoons to spend time on advocacy work such as writing articles, preparing a meetup or contributing to open source as long as it benefits Heetch too. We wanted to demonstrate the value of having such a time.
— Jean-Hadrien Chabran, Engineering Manager at Heetch.
But why have a dedicated time?
Often, it may be easier for young developers to find time out of work to train themselves. But more senior employees with families may have a harder time to do so. Having a dedicated time gives the same opportunities to everyone in the team to develop themselves and contribute to the blog.
A good article can take one month from idea to getting published
When Heetch wrote their article Developer Care, it took six iterations to get it published. A good article often takes one month from idea to publishing. That precise article paid off for Heetch. One hire realized he wanted to work for them after having read the article.
Setting a publishing calendar, the tone for the blog and reviewing articles can be a tedious task. Last month, Heetch hired a technical writer. One of his roles will be to support developers to take the engineering blog to the next level.
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An engineering blog requires ownership
When Nicholas Suter joined Younited Credit in 2018, they already had an engineering blog in Wordpress. Then, they decided to migrate to Medium. Nicholas gave the blog more momentum and structure.
I wrote four articles to set the example. Then, I considered that everyone was legitimate to write, even newly hired engineers.
— Nicholas Suter, Chief Architect at Younited Credit.
The result, Younited Credit has already published more than 19 articles in 2019, making them one of the most active engineering blogs in France.
Even more outstanding than the number of articles is the diversity of authors and topics. In Younited Credit blog, you will find a good selection of articles in English and French on their engineering culture, C#, DevOps and Angular.
At Younited Credit, each article benefits both the author and the company. Writing is a good exercise for the author to challenge its thoughts and get feedback. The company gains visibility.
How to start an engineering blog in 2020?
French engineering blogs already published more than 365 tech articles in 2019. If your company wants to start an engineering blog in 2020, I found the following things to be important.
- A Medium publication is the easiest way to start an engineering blog.
- You need a first motivated writer to set the example.
- It helps to have an allocated time or add the article to the sprint.
- A good article can take one month to publish.
- You can create different cards for the idea, drafts and final revision.
- It’s important to give ownership of the blog to a person or team.
- Don’t forget to celebrate and share each article on social media.
If you would like to boost your company engineering blog, you can submit it to guriosity.com, a collection of the best French engineering blogs.
If you need help starting your new engineering blog, convincing managers or encouraging developers to write you can contact me at email@example.com.