So you have a blog on the internet, and it’s great. Profound, yet witty. Accessible, yet highbrow. Complicated Latin puns and cartoons about penises. And now it is time to share your hard-earned wisdom with the broader digital world. The internet is full of posts on How to Write Great Content, but what you need is a post on how to write a great post about writing a great post.
I am here to help, at least until Chuck Wendig comes along and writes 25 Ways to Write about Writing. That guy is a genius at lists.
Content is King
Somewhere in the first few paragraphs of your post about great blog posts — ideally the first sentence — you will probably want to mention that content is king. Don’t worry about tracking the source or attribution of this saying: it’s about as scientifically verifiable as the idea that food dropped on the floor only begins to accumulate bacteria after five seconds have elapsed.
Now, maybe you hear the phrase “content is king” and you imagine writing something with staying power like Schroedinger’s Rapist or White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Something that people will share and link to months after it appears, something that contains ideas that will change the lenses through which ordinary people view their lives and their fellow humans. But that kind of post is ambitious and time-consuming and requires buckets of self-awareness and insight — in other words, it’s a trap.
If, on the other hand, you write a facile, thrown-together post about how someone else should write a great post that will speak to readers and engage an audience, then maybe someone will take your advice and write something spectacular. Everybody wins!
One of the wonders of the digital age is that great pictures are everywhere, just a Google image search away. Don’t actually advise your readers to steal other people’s images and content — just repeat the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words and tell them that vivid illustrations can really make their post look engaging and relevant. Some of them will know about public domain and Creative Commons, while others will merely find the prettiest landscape in all of Pinterest — but by then it’s not your liability anymore, so why worry?
Load Both Barrels with Bullet Points
You can’t write a great post about great content unless it is divided up into smaller sections. Bold text, numbered paragraphs, or bullet points will add visual interest and make it clear that great writing is a systematic, repeatable process, like baking cupcakes from a recipe on the back of the box of mix. Bonus points if your subheadings have half-baked metaphors or aggression that is at odds with the business-casual tone of the post itself!
For instance, if you were taking this writing-about-writing-as-recipe metaphor too far, your description of the writing process might look like this:
- Crack open several semi-related ideas.
- Beat the ideas with your strongest words until the post is clear and the ideas are fully separated.
- Make sure your post has the proper amount of detail — not enough and your post is bland, too much and the reader starts to hallucinate, because details are the nutmeg of writing.
- Bake on the internet until trolling and abusive comments begin to appear.
Keep it Short
This is the internet, where everyone is busy, unless you are an adorable cat with a capslock caption. No great thoughts or ideas need more than a thousand words (eight hundred is better, five hundred is ideal). If your post is longer than a thousand words, what you have is called a “book,” and you should probably just slop that thing onto Kindle and charge people ninety-nine cents for the privilege of reading it already. (If you do, make sure your cover image is obviously distorted, so people will know with a glance that the book’s content is freshly harvested from the wild internet.)
All great content advice ends with a summary, because saying something once isn’t enough — you really need to hammer it into your reader’s mind. Let’s recap!
- Content is king — not queen, and not the democratically elected president of a republic with a bicameral legislature and separate judicial branch. King, because the internet is a feudal state.
- Use pictures, though never your own.
- Bullet points and bold text.
- Trim the excesses of your wayward intellectual meandering and distill merely the purest essence of your thoughts.
Often posts about writing great content will end with the idea that you should solicit your readers’ opinions and musings (despite the overwhelming evidence that comment threads are the internet’s festering rain gutters, full of scum and illiterate invertebrates). Do you think it’s a good idea to write about writing? Why or why not?