Category Archives: Content Writing

Avoid the Worthless First Post

Anyone who’s followed a few blogs or social media accounts has seen his or her share of exuberant and vapid kick-off posts like“Now We’re Also On Google+!”

TL;DR Nobody values first posts that just announce the start, maybe because they’re so easy to write! But there are better ways to start.

These posts resemble WordPress’s “Hello World” default first post, and there’s a reason WordPress tells you to delete it or change it. Your social media account or fresh new blog may be exciting to you. It may be the culmination of a lot of effort from getting support in your organization to finalizing design choices. You might’ve worked on it for a year, or stayed late for weeks to get this thin up and running. Congratulations!

Nobody cares. That’s the problem. Nobody else cares.

Before you hit publish, before even start the first draft, put yourself in the position of the user visiting your site, or your social media account. Would you come back to a site because you read a breathless announcement that this post is the first one?

Do you ever pull out your phone because you want to re-read the statement that somebody started Tweeting? No?

If you must introduce, do it by outlining some upcoming content, introducing yourself (if this is an altogether new website or account), make it a teaser that shows people why it will be good.

Write that post if you must have the “one giant leap for mankind” quote in your feed, but the same day do something…

Even better: just jump into the first topic. Introduce that. Start providing something that your desired audience will value. Jump right in with useful stuff.

Any regrets? Don’t worry. Most of us have done it. I have.The point is we’re now well into the 21 century, we’ve grown, and we know better.

How do you do it? Share your strategy for getting started well, and check back, we’ll soon get into planning content – a lot.


  1. Sheesh, what can I say? Do as I say not as I do.

The Ideal Writing Stack

Note: This is a cross-post from my personal blog that seems relevant here too.

I’m creating an author once, publish everywhere toolkit and using it most every place that I can, from blog posts to internal business memos. Sometimes called COPE, this approach seems to continue gaining popularity. I like it because it improves my efficiency and lets me learn some cool technologies and transferrable skills.

The source and the rendered version of this post.
MultiMarkdown syntax highlighted in vim, converted and rendered Chromium

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Draft, the Clean & Simple Online Word Processor

Draft is a new web-based word processor. There are two primary reasons you should care: (1) It’s very, very clean and simple. (2) It allows collaboration.

Clean & Simple

Draft‘s simplicity really shines throughout, from writing to saving and exporting your work.

Writing

With the browser in full-screen mode, Draft is a pure Zen of writing experience — or as close as you can get with a web app. Nice!

Formatting is intentionally limited. You have the basics that you need: bold, italic, link, blockquote, headings, and (probably source code blocks) — and you do that, not with buttons, but with Markdown syntax.

E.g., to make a heading type:

### Heading Level 3

What Draft does, it does very well. What it doesn’t do, is also very well thought out… I like that, too.

Saving & Exporting

Saving: Draft autosaves as a good web-based word processor should. But it also lets you click a button to mark a save as a draft. So you can easily create different versions of the same document.

Exporting: Draft exports to HTML and Markdown. Click the export button, and it saves a markdown file to Dropbox, Google Docs, or your hard drive. Choose from a dropdown, and you can copy Markdown or HTML code. Easy.

Collaboration

Collaboration is straight forward. You get a URL that you can email to other contributors. They can use it to edit your document. Draft keeps track of the edits, and lets you review them.

Do You Use It?

Yes. In fact, I (Ted) am writing this post with Draft. Gusset Beard, LLC has use for Draft… maybe with you. If you’re a client who’s authoring content, expect to hear about it at some point. If we’re collaborating on something, expect to get a Draft collaboration email soon.