Tweaking Your Content's Performance

Because geeks, nerds, and IT dorks are always the first on the tech bandwagon, the blogosphere is full of geek writing. A lot of this writing is great - but it's also self selecting, because articulate bloggers will naturally be more readable and, therefore, more popular. The balance of these less popular yet often just as interesting blogs can be hard to follow, diluting the points these fine individuals took the time to compile. That's sad, because sometimes it seems like poor writing has become the standard. If you want to be an effective blogger, you have to think about how you say it, not just what you want to say. This takes a moment of reflection often lost in the immediacy inherent in web publishing.

Becoming a good writer means taking responsibility for the complete process of creating and publishing comprehensible and enjoyable content. Unfortunately, current blog software can't make your post more clear, insightful, or articulate (though it can often catch spelling errors, but I find those rather endearing). But practice, self-observation, and thinking ahead can. If you want people to read you, stop tweaking your latest Ajax widget or CSS class and start tweaking your content!

The purpose of this article is to give you some ideas if you're willing to consider improving your content creation process. Notice I said "process": I'm not talking about raw talent, but rather instituting a workflow that forces you to reflect on your writing. A lot of my suggestion originated in stuff we learned back in 6th grade English - so don't think of this as the authority voice on writing, but rather a simple reminder. I'm certainly not gonna make you diagram sentences or anything.

I plan to address more technical web design topics in the future, at that indeterminate point where I know better what I'm doing. So here we go, and remember: these are not dogmatic directives, but simply things to consider. All or none may apply, and sometimes things I consider "bugs" are actually "features". Use your head and your heart, and take everything with a grain of salt. And don't sue me. Or flame me.

I'd love to hear any other advice you have for bloggers. As we engage in these blogosphere-wide discussions, it's advantageous for everybody to express themselves as precisely and colorfully as possible. The more articulate we are as a movement, the more say we'll have in the societal conversation. So please, use the comments below to share your tips on blogging!

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Written on Monday, April 24, 2006