Before you start writing, have the answers to the questions mentioned below. You can revise, iterate the answers as you write to make your blog crisp and interesting.
This will make your blog crisp and help you to ship.
- Who’s the audience?
- What audience questions will the blog answer?
YOU CAN STOP HERE. Start thinking and writing. Everything else is secondary – Tips, tricks, rules, and all.
These tips are from Larry McEnerny, professor of English at the University of Chicago. The lecture is about 80 minutes, I highly recommend it. For the past couple of years, I’ve used this model to write my blogs which have been read over half a million times. At a minimum, this helped me to structure my blogs faster and better. Hopefully, these have created better value for the readers. When we’re not writing, we’re readers. We carefully search, select and see the content useful for us. We’re looking for things that are interesting and valuable. The crucial thing is the value. The value is in the eye of the beholder - entertainment, education, or enchantment. That's why it's important to decide on the audience.
You write about a topic you’re an expert at or willing to research to write. At some point of thinking or research, finalize your audience. It can be everybody, even in a narrow field. I write about databases. Even within this narrow field, there are developers, administrators, architects, evaluators, influencers, CxOs.
Developers themselves can be divided into database developers, Java developers, data modelers, LAMP stack developers, Oracle developers, and so on. So, the audience of every one of my blogs cannot be "Database Enthusiasts", but a specific subset in them. So, decide.
If you’re an expert in the topic you’re writing about, it’s difficult to determine the level of detail you want to write in a blog. Your friends, colleagues and customers could read this blog. This can tempt you to write a detailed and in-depth article covering every nuance, taking the focus away from the value you’re trying to create for the target reader. Hence the clarifying question is critical: What questions from the audience about this topic will you answer in the blog?
This blogger literally wrote the questions in the blog itself. I usually start with a set of questions to frame my thinking, refer to the questions once in a while, and at the end verify the blog answers the questions.
Just because you’re answering the questions does not mean that blogs have to be just Q&A. You can weave a story, make a point or pursue a counterpoint while answering these questions. The question will provide a guard rail for the scope of your blog and keep the focus on creating value for the reader.
Think of the questions and answers as an MVP - a minimum viable product. Take the MVP away, the product is useless. It’s time for another parting tip paraphrasing Seth Godin: If you write regularly, the biggest beneficiary is yourself. Yes. Just yourself - your thinking and your writing. If you're applying yourself sincerely, in time, others will benefit too. Good luck.
Originally Published here!