Twelve Blog Post Writing Tips From 2012

on (ttk.me b/4Mm1) using BBEdit

I made a concerted effort to write more and better blog posts last year. Here are a dozen things I learned and/or put into practice that helped me do so. If one of your 2013 resolutions is to blog more, perhaps you'll find a few of these tips useful.

  1. Single topic post. Think of each post as a building block that you might use as a reference in some other post. The more your post focuses on a single point (or a closely related set of points) the more reusable/citable it will be, both by others and your future writings.
  2. Tweetable post title. Social media this, social media that. POSSE and distribute. Enough said.
  3. Summary opening paragraph. This is a classic, but absolutely essential as attention spans shorten every year. Provide context but don't bore with background. Expand on your post title and let it be. If your topic is interesting, your readers will read on.
  4. Put tangents aside. Use the HTML5 <aside> element to isolate tangent fragments or seeds of related topics and keep you (and your readers) focused on your post's single topic.
  5. Quotable Tweetable sentences, sprinkled throughout. Use strong, self-supporting sentences as the start, end, or even as the entirety of a paragraph. Even better: quotable multi-sentence paragraphs.
  6. Local text editor. There should be zero latency between your thoughts and your text. Online editors are still janky and/or have distracting excessive navigation & user interface. They're notorious for losing your data "in the cloud", touchy AJAX code (I'm looking at you, comment box in the Google+ Notification drop-down - why not keep drafts of all textareas?), or fragile page refreshing javascript, vulnerable to network glitches. Such uncertainty in an authoring user interface is like background noise: it distracts you from focusing and writing better. Using a local text editor greatly reduces (or eliminates) those distractions, delays, and doubts.
  7. Lists are nice. Make and share lists. People like lists.
  8. Subheadings help cluster related paragraphs and provide a skimmable (and linkable - use fragment ids) outline. Even in lists, keep the first phrase/sentence of a list item short, self-standing, and stylized.
  9. "The Skirt Rule". Stop adding content when you've covered the topic and yet your post is still short enough to be interesting.
  10. Edit furiously. Content is like interface: anything that's not helping your main point is distracting from it.
  11. Check your references. "Always... no, no... never... forget to check your references."

What helps you write good blog posts?



Additional Reading