Writing for software engineers is an especially challenging niche in content creation. Businesses and individuals often want to write to a developer audience to build their brand, educate developers on their product, and bring in organic traffic. This falls in line with typical content marketing goals, but the strategy for this sort of technical writing requires a more unique approach.

In this article, I'll explain how developer education serves as content marketing, the best-performing types of content for developers, and how to write the content that developers trust and share with their peers.

Table of Contents

Developer Education as Content Marketing

Educating developers is a great way to write content that brings value to your business. Generally speaking, providing value to searchers (and in turn, readers) is the best way to do content marketing, but marketing to developers requires providing a lot of value.

Software engineers are busy and often live to optimize their time. When searching the web, it's often a goal for them to spend as little time as possible looking for what they need. If you want to bring in high-value, organic traffic that consists of software developers, you need to be the best place on the internet for them to click when they're searching for a given topic. This will bring in traffic, but also help your business build a trusted brand.

Over time, your content that focuses on educating developers will build your site into a trusted place where engineers know they can get reliable information. Posting only high-value, low-noise content enhances the value you provide, and people will begin to visit your site to learn, rather than end up at your site when searching for a given problem. Educating developers is the best way to provide value to them, which will in turn ensure that organic traffic to your site is equally high-value.

Writing Long-Form Tutorials That Solve Real Problems

One of the best ways to get search traffic from software developers is to write long-form programming tutorials that solve real problems.

Generic articles like "How to Code" and "Best Programming Languages" are good options, but writing extremely specific tutorials is a great way to niche down and rank in search results quickly.

The process of a developer arriving at a tutorial on your site might go something like this:

  1. They're working on building a new feature that requires them to provide some parameters to an API call
  2. They don't understand the documentation they're looking at. They're not sure how to provide the parameter in the way their API documentation explains it
  3. They search Google for: "difference between parameters in URL and after URL"
  4. They see an article that looks like it might answer their question
  5. They read the article and it quickly solves their problem
  6. They share it with a peer because it provided a lot of value to them

Writing programming tutorials is a great way to capture developers' attention in this way. Still, you shouldn't write these tutorial to capture traffic. You should write novel and helpful tutorials to genuinely provide value to developers searching the internet. You only get value from your traffic when you provide value to your readers.

  • Don't write on a topic that has already been covered comprehensively
  • Do write on topics that don't have adequate resources

Solving problems is hard, solving novel problems is harder. Teaching people to solve novel problems is incredibly hard to get right, so the work this kind of content requires keeps many teams from investing in it. Even so, teaching developers how to solve novel problems through long-form tutorials is a great way to provide value in an evergreen way.

Writing Informative Articles about New Developments

Another great way to write content for software developers is to write informative articles, as opposed to programming tutorials. This sort of content is often focused on new developments in languages, frameworks, or communities.

You can provide a ton of helpful information on a new release of a framework by doing some of the heavy lifting up-front. If you're early, you'll quickly build trust among developers with sharable content.

At face value, informative articles could be centered around things like "This Feature of React Was Just Released" or "Rails 6.0 is Going End of Life", but this isn't the way to make informative content great. Digging into the internals and doing explanations of technical concepts beyond duplicating announcements makes informative content stand out.

For example, if a new version of Ruby on Rails introduces a library called Solid Queue, it would be useful to write content around using that new library. Regardless of how in-depth you go, writing informative articles is a good way to make content for developers.

Keys to Great Technical Content

Writing engaging and educational content for developers is hard! There are a lot of things to get right, so here are some high-impact keys to keep top of mind.

One of the easiest ways to engage readers is to have them follow along with a project. Even if they don't complete the project, this takes them on a journey through building something. By teaching them to build something meaningful, you can readers something new.

The most underrated key is to always thoroughly explain your prerequisites. Your tutorials should contain all the information a programmer needs to complete the project. People often overlook this, and it results in readers abandoning a tutorial or leaving your site to accomplish their prerequisites. If, for example, you're writing a Python tutorial, you should explain at the very least that the project requires Python installed. If you have space, you should consider getting the user through prerequisites inside your article. Nothing is more frustrating to readers (and learners!) than unexplained prerequisites.

You should also tell your readers up front what they can expect to learn by reading your article. Some SEO specialists call this "putting value above the fold". Hook visitors to your site early by showing them what value they will get by reading.

When introducing new concepts, give your readers sufficient context and even links to keep them from having to go back to Google. Your technical articles should be a one-stop-shop for readers, providing as much value as you can.

Programming tutorials that stand out from the crowd use plenty of code examples that work well while following best practices for the given language. If you want developers to trust you, you should put extra care into ensuring quality in the programming samples you use.

The last most notable key to great technical content is to show proof that your samples work with screenshots and working demo links. Showing proof in this way is an easy way to prove your content is worth reading.

Technical Content That Stands Out from Generative AI

It's no secret that the internet is being polluted by content from generative AI. Large Language Models have given everyone the ability to produce truly massive amounts of content. Now more than ever, it's important to write content that is unique and of the highest quality.

When you're writing content for developers, don't just say things. Do things!

Don't just do things. Show the reader how to do things!

Produce interactive content like tutorials focused on niche or novel concepts. You'll have a hard time getting results from content like "How to Write a For Loop" as opposed to "How to Set up DNS for a Next.js Application Hosted on AWS".

All of the keys to great content apply when trying to stand out from AI-generated content. Use screenshots, make good code samples, and link to complete projects. Your readers will LOVE visiting your site.

Conclusion

Writing great content for developers is hard. Writing long tutorials that educate developers on how to do specific things is a great way to stand out from the crowd.

SyntaxPen does the heavy lifting of writing, reviewing, or editing technical content so your team doesn't have to become experts. If you're ready to talk about how we can help you make great technical content, we'd love to hear from you!