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Blogging lessons from working for a large blogging company

For a short period I worked for a company whose business revolved around writing articles on WordPress. It would rank extremely well on Google for these articles, and then sell ad space on those articles to the companies it displaced.

This worked mainly because the company hired writers of authority - people who knew the topic well, and had written about the topic extensively before working there.

Anyway, here’s what I learned.

Fundamental tips

  • Shorter sentences

    • In general, you should aim to write sentences with 8-13 words each.
  • Shorter words

    • You may think of this as “dumbing-down” your writing, but think of your readers.
  • One idea per sentence

  • One concept per paragraph

Structure

  • Spend lots of time on headline

    • Your headline is likely what will end up in Google. Ensure it’s catchy enough to get your readers to check it out, but not so clickbaity that they avoid you.
  • Spend lots of time on your first paragraph

    • Most people will judge whether your content is worth reading in the first paragraph. If it fails to land, they’ll bounce.
  • Start your articles with the positives, and what’s important, rather than exceptions.

    • Think of it like a newspaper article: most important facts first, then gradually taper off.

Editing

  • Rewriting is important

    • I personally don’t agree with this for personal blogging, though some authors rewrite their content until it sounds “right”.
  • Change the screen you read the content on.

    • For example, if you write your article on your laptop, edit on your phone. Potentially even print the article, and edit on paper. Changing the format will force your brain to actually read what you wrote, rather than skimming.
  • Change font size

    • In a similar vein to changing the screen, changing font size can help catch typos.

Human tips

  • Have empathy for your audience

    • Writing things like, “I’m going to avoid explaining this because it’s obvious” can and will piss off your audience. Either explain things or don’t.
  • Be specific

    • Don’t list generic tips without examples. For example, see this entire article.
  • Admit what you don’t know, and link to a reputable authority

    • Hyper-specific example: if you’re writing an article about useEffect() in React and you think your readers would benefit from a 49 minute read, you could link out to Dan Abramov’s guide.
  • Think about what your audience knows

    • Don’t assume your audience knows what something is. There are two schools of thought here (especially in web development), some authors just assume audience knowledge, others preface their articles with links for required reading.
    • See my previous tip on having empathy for your audience.

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    WebMentions

    9 ❤️
    5 💬
    Obed Parlapiano replied on Sun Jul 26 2020
    Really good article Max. A lot of people would benefits from. Those tips when starting out. I learned then the hard way through years of writing bad stuff haha
    Obed Parlapiano replied on Sun Jul 26 2020
    Holy shit dude that was the fastest like ever 🤣
    Max Rozen replied on Sun Jul 26 2020
    Just opened Twitter as you replied 😂
    Max Rozen replied on Sun Jul 26 2020
    Thanks Obed 😄
    Claude Walker replied on Sun Jul 26 2020
    This is really interesting, thanks mate
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