How-To Geek

A Few Things I’ve Learned from Writing at How-To Geek

When I wrote the article a few days ago celebrating the first year of How-To Geek, I had originally included a section called “Things I’ve Learned”, but it made the article far too long… so I’m posting that here just in case I didn’t bore you enough with the first article.

The most important rule to follow is that the readers should come first. Since the readers want good content, that logically means that good content is most important.

Quality not Quantity
With the amount of times this expression has been used, you would think I’d have figured this out before I started, but I had to learn through experience. It doesn’t matter if you post 20 times a day if you are boring everybody… in fact it will probably work against you.

Be Consistent
I used to write articles whenever I felt in the mood, which was usually only twice a week at the most… sure, I’d write 6-10 articles at a time, but they all went out on the same day because I was impatient. Finding a daily time to write was a huge step.

Be Your Topic
You have to live it, breathe it, understand it. You can search through analytics for the best keywords to write about… but if you aren’t on the path to mastering your topic, you just simply won’t connect with the readers.

SEO is Great – If Your Content Sucks
If you write articles you’ve heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), the art of getting your pages to rank at the top of Google searches. If you are writing articles for a search engine instead of for your readers – you will fail. Just ignore anything you read about SEO.

Don’t Be An Idiot
Don’t get into flame wars, don’t post things and then delete them, don’t link to or suggest anything that you wouldn’t do yourself. Avoid writing about anything illegal… do you think your next employer isn’t going to check up on you?

Gadgets are Useless
It seems like virtually every blog is covered in widgets and gadgets that link all over the place, or show some meaningless rating from an even more meaningless rating site. These widgets are worthless unless you are trying to distract the readers from your terrible articles, in which case go for it.

Ignore Digg & Clones
The best decision I ever made was to remove Digg buttons from this site and stop trying to write articles that would have any chance of getting on the front page there…

…as that only leaves me with useful articles to write, now I can focus on what is important: good content for the readers. The site has simply exploded since I made that change, and I urge all authors to do the same.

I’ll admit that I still would enjoy the large volumes of traffic they can send, so I’m not without the sin of envy.

Please Step Away From the Adsense, Sir.
If your readers have to play the “Find the Content” game every time they visit your site, you need to slow down with the adsense. Unless your goals are only short-term, that is, because otherwise your visitors will eventually stop coming.

Try To Avoid Writing Lists Like This One
Aren’t we all tired of lists? I’m really tired of reading through feeds in Google Reader and seeing mostly “Top 10 Lists about Making Lists!” I think it’s much more important to get to the point and write about something worthwhile. That’s why this article will fade into the woodwork and you will never read it again.


That’s apparently all I’ve learned. Just remember that focusing on good content is the best rule.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/5/07

Comments (20)

  1. Nick

    Totally agree that lists are becoming a little too much and used by many, and I believe the ‘top 10’ or ‘best 10’ are outdated. Think more bloggers are going for lists of 5 that are more indepth and develop in the post.

  2. Insomnic

    I only recently started blogging and these tidbits are definitely helpful. I have learned a couple of them already and found the most important one for me was the quality vs quantity item and the consistency issue.

    I also found that a mix of text, images, and video/animations works much better than one or the other being done repeatedly. The break up of medium really helps keep people engaged.

    Thanks for the hints!

  3. Guy LeBleu

    I enjoy your blog tremendously.
    Can’t remember the number of times I’ve said to myself “I read something about how to do this on How-to Geek.”

    Very fine work, indeed, and stimulating to read.
    Keep it up.

  4. CompuWorld

    that was rare…

    you are the first person who says DO NOT write list kind of articles..

    and yeah I do agree upon the point that one should not think too much about SEO. Be what you think is good for the article and will be appreciated by your readers..after all everything goes into your archives…it doesn’t get deleted!!


    Pretty good pointers. I found you through stumbleupon. Thanks for the post. ;)

  6. Ross

    I agree and have found most of what you said to be absolutely true. I’ve stopped writing for digg as well (and somewhat ironically the first month I’ve gone without being on the front page of digg was also the month with the most page views), but there’s no doubt that a few front page diggs does help your site, esp. when starting out. The stuff about SEO is totally on the mark too. I would suggest to anyone getting started, spend two hours learning about SEO and you’ll know all you really need to. If you spend more time writing quality content, people will find it.

  7. Ahmed Kachkach

    I hope you all-world good !

    Those tips are so important that I bookmarked it , in case of an Alzheimer decease :-p !

    Keep the good work !


  8. Gary Cartwright

    I have been coming to your website off and on for about 6 months. I have found a number of helpful articles, both for XP and Vista.

    I just read your “A few things that I have learned . . .” You are right on on each point.

    Please keep up the good work. You can’t be everything to everybody, but if you focus on good content that will interest a wide audience then you will continue to be an important place to go to.

  9. ronald

    It’s kinda good to share the knowledge this way. Thnx! :)

  10. Andrew

    I found the site through stumbleupon too and loved it – have just downloaded a few Firefox apps that I wasn’t aware of – well worth the time! Thanks!

  11. RN

    I can relate to this a lot. I’ve learned a lot of the same things through my own Blog. Although I may not get as many hits as you, I still get a good few. I’m glad to see someone else who’s having the same experiences as me.

  12. fstephens

    Some good tips. I may not always follow them but…

  13. jack7h3r1pp3r

    very nice i will take those into consideration and i can’t believe that i missed this one before :D

  14. Michael Williams

    I don’t believe Top Ten/Five/Three of Whatever lists are all that bad until becomes every other posts or you do the same ones over and over, looking at you Lifehacker!

  15. Sta No

    To the Geek without the cape;
    Great site. Great Tips. Keep on doing what you’re doing. Thanks for devoting the time for us. However, I would not implement some of your tips. Perhaps I do not know the benefits they offer. For example I would NOT disable UAC just work around it – enable Administrator account (not Administrator User), change settings or whatever needs to be done, then disable it again.

  16. Hammad

    totally agree with you….great work….i really love this blog

  17. sandy

    you are my go-to how-to site! whether i like it or not, i am on the path to geekdom!

    thanks for you help.

  18. kevin

    keep up the good work. there are many, many great posts

  19. Lulu Bel

    Very good advice. Keep up the good work! <3 :-D :} :] :)

  20. HackToHell

    This site continues to be an inspiration to many bloggers :)

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