We’re kicking off 2015 with a few resolutions at Wiredcraft, one of which is to be more consistent at posting on this blog. We tried to push hard last year, both here and on the devo.ps’ blog, but we’re still trying to find the best way to share what we are doing. Hardly anybody know that we’ve built things like the online registration platform for Libyan voters or the electoral platform for the upcoming Burmese elections. Few people know about our products as well (e.g. devo.ps, chato.ps or Sweepboard.com).
To get better at this blogging thing, we started adding some basic guidelines to our internal playbooks. Sticking to the process below, I’ve managed to bring my time spent on most posts to about 30 minutes. I thought this could be helpful to others, so here it goes:
Dump your ideas; you absolutely do not want to start writing a coherent post right away. You first need to generate raw material. Start making a list of short statements and ideas that come to your mind when thinking of what you decided to write about. Things will look drafty and incoherent, and that’s what we’re going for.
Build a skeleton; now that you have raw material, we’re gonna try and build a plan around your leading idea. Find the one argument you will attempt to make, and start building an outline of the sections of your post. I usually use a structure to the one I use when writing GitHub issues:
Context: I usually try to describe a pain point. If my post is about backup strategies, I’d start with an anecdote illustrating the danger of not having one (“the server’s HDD crashed and I lost all of my data”).
Teaser (optional): after providing the context, I sometimes outline the main issue or idea I want to make; “There is never a good reason for NOT systematically having backups”.
Development: in this section I go in greater details through the main arguments for my idea.
Closing argument (optional): very technical posts sometimes are rather light on that side as the meat of the post is the development section.
Write the damn post; you can now dress your skeleton with the raw material. You may not use all of it, and that’s fine; you don’t want to modify your skeleton, just keep that material for a future post.
A couple pieces of advice:
Keep it Simple avoid complex & lengthy posts. Engagement is often better with posts that have a clear and concise idea. If you have a larger, more complex topic to develop, spread it over multiple posts.
Invest in your title; that’s how you convert people into readers. Make your title catchy and as descriptive of the core idea. Capitalization of letters and use of foul language (“Sh*t”, “Kick asses”, etc.) seems to lead to a better conversion.
This may sound overly simple, but forcing my colleagues and myself to stick to that very simple recipe helped us tremendously. We do most of that work in Hackpad, it makes the (collaborative) review process much easier.