Last year, in the midst of all that 2020 craziness, I ran a little project that I like to call the Guest Writer Program.

During this program, people who did not have a technical blog could write a post or series for Exception Not Found and have it published and hosted here. It went really, really well, and I'm bringing it back for 2021.

ready for notes
I want to help you get farther than this. Photo by NeONBRAND / Unsplash

During the program, four guest writers wrote nine posts that were published in 2020. They include:

Readers, please go check out these posts, and leave comments if they help you. Send a special thanks to Joe, Ram, Cesar, and Vladimir!

The Guest Writer Program for 2021

For this year, we're going to do the Guest Writer Program in much the same way. You write a technical blog post, I'll help you edit it and find your "writer's voice", and then we'll publish and host the post on Exception Not Found.

Worship Room
Soprano, mezzo, or contralto? Photo by João Marinho / Unsplash

Further, to ensure that you get all the recognition for your work, I will not take credit on your post in any way; you are the author, so your name will be the only one on the article.

Why Do This?

In short: to get someone who has been writing for a while to help you learn how to write a blog post. Writing for a blog is a skill, one that I believe can do well.

As I said in the original Guest Writer Program post:

"...the reason to use this program is not to write a blog post, it's to get help developing your writing skills."

That's what I want to do for my guest writers: help them develop their written communication skills, and get them some online presence outside of their own GitHub or personal site.

I firmly believe the best programmers are the best communicators, and I want to let everyone have a shot at being a better programmer.

Rules

There are just a few rules that I expect guest posts to follow:

  • The post must be about programming, or something programming related. If you submit a politics or cooking post, it will not get published.
  • The post must be written in English. My audience speaks and reads primarily English and I do not have the capacity to host blog posts in other languages.
  • I do not accept opinion pieces. Your opinions may be in the post, but they should not be the main focus of it.

That's it! As long as it conforms to those three rules, any post you write will be acceptable and will get published!

Picking a Topic

The first, and possibly most difficult, part of writing a blog post is picking a topic. I cannot pick your topic for you (since it depends on what you are good at, passionate about, or know), but I can help get you started.

Pick any topic that you know or enjoy. Photo by Bambi Corro / Unsplash

Here are some options for a good technical blog post topic:

  • Tell a story! Tell us about how you solved a bug, or fixed an interpersonal conflict, or survived a death march. Readers want to see how much of our experiences are things that happen to other developers in other places! Take a compelling or interesting event in your professional life and relate it to us.
  • Write a tutorial! Tell us how to do something, or do it better than everyone else. Whether for beginners or seniors, all tutorials on programming subjects are welcome.
  • Build a cool thing! Then tell us about it. Create a GitHub repo and build something in a new technology, or with a new method, etc. Having a GitHub is basically a must for any programming blog post that has significant amounts of code.
  • Improve on my posts! Yes, seriously! Make one of my posts obsolete because of how cool your new or improved way of doing things is. I promise I will not take it personally; in fact, I'll help you do it.
  • Take a deep dive! Pick a programming topic, tear it apart, and put it back together piece-by-piece so we can all learn how to do it. I don't care how many posts it takes, they will all be published.

All of these are valid, useful kinds of blog posts, and there are many others; these are just a starting point. If you need help picking a topic, I can help with that too!

Promoting the Post

When the post is published, I'll promote it by sending it to my more than 2000 daily users and almost 3600 email subscribers, plus I'll announce it on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It will stay up for as long as this blog exists, and you can link to it on your resume, social media profile, personal site, or wherever.

All of this is automatic, and included with participating in the program. I want people to read your article, and will do my best to point readers your way.

But What If...?

A lot of potential writers come to me with concerns, or questions, or fears. They are concerned that they shouldn't put the effort in to writing a post, usually because of concerns that aren't really the problem they believe them to be.

We all have fears. Darkness, death, automatic flushing. These fears make up who we are. We should embrace them. Face them head on. Don’t let them define you.
"OMG, what if it's terrible?!" Relax, it won't be. Photo by Melanie Wasser / Unsplash

These people ask me, "What if..."

  • "...somebody already wrote this post?". This doesn't matter at all. Every reader enjoys a different style of writing; two posts about the same topic may be enjoyable by two very different sets of people. Unless it's on the same exact topic that I wrote about last week, you should write that post!
  • "...I get something wrong?" So what? Just fix it. The beauty of a blog is that it can be corrected, or updated, once new information is available. Come back, correct the post, and I'll help you update the post in such a way that preserves your original points and still reflects new methods, styles, or information.
  • "...nobody reads my post?" This is extremely unlikely. Exception Not Found has a monthly readership of around 50k users; in a readership that large, there's bound to be someone who wants to know more about your topic, even if you never hear from them (and do not expect to hear from them; 99% of the time the people who your post helped will not respond to you in any way). However, even if nobody does read your post, it still won't matter a whole lot: the point of the Guest Writer Program is to improve your writing skills, not get eyeballs on your words.

Don't let these fears stop you! You can write, and you can improve on your writing skills. You have something that is useful, funny, insightful, or poignant to say. We can get it out there!

Get a Complimentary Subscription!

One last thing: any person who submits and publishes an article on Exception Not Found gets a complimentary subscription to the site as a thank you for putting in that effort!

Let's Get Writing!

The program is now open! If you'd like to be a guest writer, please contact me using any of the following methods:

I look forward to hearing from each and every guest writer, and seeing your posts up on the site.

Happy Coding Blogging!


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