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Why I cross-post

Jordan Nielson

April 10, 2020


Some history

Since writing my first blog post over a year ago on my new gatsy-powered site, I've gone back and forth with how I want to share the content that I create. The main channel I've used so far is twitter, since that's pretty much the only platform that I'm active on social media wise. So, my first couple posts here were only shared on there.

At some point last year I heard about dev.to, and was intrigued by the idea of posting on there but didn't want to let my recently created site languish with no content or changes! So, I made the decision to post to both places at the same time, but only really share the link on dev.to. An example of that is this twitter post sharing my Sharpen your axe article, there was no twitter post sharing the link to the post on my site... which at this point I think was a mistake.

Throughout the rest of 2019, posts were available on both platforms at roughly the same time. At the start of 2020, I started to reconsider this pattern as I was trying to evaluate my goals with cross-posting and the first article I wrote this year, didn't ever get posted to dev.to (that was my intro to react hooks article). I rather enjoyed writing that article! Not posting it on dev.to was probably a mistake though, since at least the tweet analytics make it seem like there wasn't much traction to it (though I'm probably just missing a lot of best practices for tweets...).

So, with that singular try at not posting on dev.to I decided to re-evaluate my relationship with dev.to. This evaluation helped me realize that while I do follow a ton of blogs using RSS feeds through feedly (and my blog supports one! RSS Feed) I also do a good amount of my reading on dev.to, especially for when I'm looking to read about a topic in general. So, in order to tap into that while still giving some benefit to subscribing to my blog I decided to go back to cross-posting, but with a delay. The delay has been totally random so far and not automated at all... which has come with a couple benefits (though I'll probably automate it at some point...). The biggest benefit so far has been the extra, organic, sharing opportunity since I'll do a tweet when I post it on my website and then throw out another one from dev when it gets posted on there!

Why not just post on dev.to?

Some might ask why I want to post on my own site at all... and the biggest reason is that I like having a place to tinker, but without a reason to come back to it regularly (like writing a new post) it languishes without any care or change.

Another reason to keep it on my site is that I recently started streaming on twitch at my channel there, and I'd eventually like to find a way to integrate that into my site. That might end up looking like posting recent streams, since I've been throwing them on my youtube channel to avoid the twitch auto-delete time of their video-on-demand. It might also end up looking like using react-livestream from Ryan Harris... who knows!

Also, I just launched a newsletter that people can join from my site! I'll probably start including that link when I cross-post to dev.to... but each post on my site has the signup form embedded at the end of the post too.

Why not just post on my own site?

There's a ton of reasons to cross-post articles, so I'm just gonna list a few off the top of my head:

  • Network effects for discovery (aka the dev.to feeds)
  • People can customize the reading experience on the platform (at least on dev.to)
  • On platform following (I have 180 dev.to followers apparently)
  • Comments... I don't want them on my site since I don't like them, but some folks do and dev.to has them

Current strategy summarized

After doing the delayed posting thing for a couple months now, I can say that I like it a lot. It's nice to have a chance for people to see the post at least twice, and there's a lot of benefits for readers by posting on dev.to. There also isn't much friction there, since I generally write my posts in markdown and dev.to accepts markdown.

What's next?

I think I'm going to go back to posting on both platforms at the same time. Why? Because what I learned from reflecting on what I've tried so far (while writing this post out to see what I wanted to do) is that the bigger issue is that I don't really share the posts in a consistent way, not so much the platform that I post on. So, what I really need to adjust is my marketing strategy, not the posting strategy. I don't really see a reason to have it "exclusively" on my website, but what I should do is formulate a marketing strategy that takes advantage of both platforms.

So, what you'll probably see is something like this:

Write the post on my site and publish it to both platforms. There's a slight delay since I link to the published version on my site in the dev.to post.

Linking to my site:

  1. Put out a quick tweet about it right when I publish to write up the sum'd up version
  2. Schedule a newsletter post about it to go out the next morning
  3. Schedule a tweet for the second day it's up, similar to the first one but without the "just published" sentiment
  4. Retweet ^ at the 1 week or so mark
  5. Schedule a tweet for 3 weeks out to re-share
  6. Schedule a tweet for 3 months out to share it again

Linking to dev.to version:

  1. Put out a quick tweet from dev.to right when I publish there
  2. Schedule a tweet for the fourth day it's up, similar to the first one but without the "just published" sentiment
  3. Retweet ^ at the 2 week or so mark
  4. Schedule a tweet for 2 months out to share it again

I'm not set on a tool yet to help manage these scheduled things, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on twitter! Reply to this thread on it! If you have other thoughts on how to market blog posts, especially posts you've written, I'd love to read them!

Banner image courtesy of undraw.co

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