How to use Hackernews and Reddit for blogging

2 minute read

A few weeks ago, I posted my latest article Is There Any Room for the Not-Passionate Developer ? on Hackernews and Reddit Programming. The post stayed on the fist page for a while, and I got a lot of traffic. If you are yourself blogging, you might be interested to know how it occurred, and what I learned in the process.

How it started

The cover of 'Soft Skills, the software developer's life manual'

In Soft Skills, the software developer’s life manual John Somnez explains that posting your blog articles on HN or Reddit might bring you a ton of traffic, but that comments can be hard to swallow at time. Within a few hours of writing my blog post it had generated some positive activity on twitter (favorites and retweets) from my regular followers. That’s a good sign that the post is good enough. As I had promised myself in such case, I submitted the post to both HN and Reddit.

What happened ?

A Google Analytics screenshot, with the traffic spike

I don’t know for sure on Reddit, but I know my post stayed on the first page of HN for a few hours, it even went up to the third place for a while. In the process I got a lot of traffic, a lot more than I am used to. I also got a ton of comments, on HN, Reddit and directly on my post. John Somnez had warned that comments on HN and Reddit can be very harsh, so I went through these quickly, took notes about the points that seemed interesting, but I only responded to comments on my website.

Overall, the comments were pretty interesting though, and brought a lot of valid points. I’m planning to write a ‘response’ article to take all these into perspective.

Most of the traffic was made in the day I submitted my post, but I had more traffic than usual for 2 or 3 days. Since then, the traffic has settled down, but I now get between 2 and 5 times more traffic than I typically had on a daily basis ! An online Taiwanese tech magazine also asked me the permission to translate my post in Chinese !

I’m not sure about the performance of my website during the traffic spike. I’m using Octopress to statically generated html on Github Pages, so that should be fine. I am also using a custom domain, and I need to make sure my DNS is correctly configured for this to perform well.

Advice for bloggers

So here is what I am going to do regarding HN and Reddit in the future :

  1. It can bring so much traffic and backlinks that I’ll definitely continue to submit blog posts from time to time
  2. For the moment, I’ll stick to only submitting the articles from which I already received good feedbacks, I don’t want to get a bad karma or reputation on these websites
  3. I might submit old articles that gathered good reviews at the time I wrote them
  4. Concerning comments, I’ll try to grow an even thicker skin. Maybe at some point I’ll try to answer on HN or Reddit

Of course, depending how this works, I will adapt !

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