Author Blogging 101: Presenting Your Content

by Joel Friedlander on October 26, 2011 · 2 comments

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Just like any other written form, there are conventions in author blogging. Some of these revolve around the way you present your content.

I got a lesson in presenting content when I did my first ever guest article for Maria Schneider’s Editor Unleashed blog (no longer online) in 2009. I had no idea at the time that the same copy could be presented a variety of ways. I sent it in using very standard paragraphing even though it was a pretty long piece.

When Maria published it, the text had magically spawned several bullet lists and subheads. The whole thing looked more like a blog article. When I took a closer look at how the magic had happened, I saw that Maria had simply taken a long string of items I had written with serial commas and turned it into a bullet list. Simple, but brilliant. I have often used this trick myself since.

Another Way to Vary Your Content

Now I publish a lot of articles by guest authors. It’s interesting to hear the experiences of different people. And everyone has a story to tell, I love that.

But I see the same thing in the articles people send me. I read once that Chris Brogan stopped taking guest posts for his ultra-popular blog because it was too big a pain to have to reformat them all the time. I get it.

Tip: If you use the HTML input on your blog software, here’s a trick I learned from Steven Lewis that can save a lot of time:

  1. Save a document you want to convert to HTML
  2. Email it to yourself at your Gmail account
  3. Choose “View” in the email and Gmail will open the file in Google Docs
  4. Choose “View / Plain HTML” from the Google Docs menu and the document will open in a new window
  5. Right-click the document and choose “View Page Source” and presto! your document in pretty clean HTML

Now, I originally wrote that HTML tip as a continuous paragraph. Afterwards, I realized it was a perfect numbered list, a standard type of format that makes content more scannable and easier to digest quickly. It was just a minute’s work to convert the paragraph to a list.

Every time I can make a conversion like this, I do it. I know it makes it easier for readers, and that is really my paramount concern.

It’s not enough to write articles with good information, people have to be able to read them.

7 Formats for Winning Blog Posts

Earlier this year I wrote an article about 7 Formats for Winning Blog Posts.

It describes each type of post and links to an example in my archives.

The ability to master all these different forms of blog posts is a powerful tool in keeping your content fresh and approachable. Not only that, if you have lots of ways to deal with content, you’re more likely to hit just the right presentation more often than not.

Take a look at that post and see if you can find a way to create an opinion post, or a resource post if that’s something you’ve never done before. Or maybe you haven’t done a definition post in a long time. Your readers will always appreciate a how-to post, especially if you take the time to explain your process clearly.

Or you can think of topics that will work with some of the 7 formats. That way you’ll end up with a whole list of things to blog about.

Here’s that link again:

7 Formats for Winning Blog Posts.

Doing this exercise can give you some great results, but give yourself time to experiment. It’s one of the things that makes blogging fun.

Photo by 4nitsirk

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    { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    Denise October 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    My problem is just the opposite, more like what you found when you “booked” your blog. I’ve gotten so used to writing blog posts over the last five years that my book feels very choppy: short, to-the-point paragraphs and bullet lists don’t fit so well on a book page — at least, not too many of them. I’m having trouble making that transition.

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    Alexander M Zoltai October 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I knew you’d be doing a sensible how-to series when I read your Intro post.

    I do hope, when you’ve completed the series, that you’ll “collect” them into a post (or, Page) I can feature on my blog :-)

    Reply

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