I write and transcribe for a living. You don’t. You run a cool startup or you sell cupcakes or you do something else. But you have to write. You have to explain to the world what you’re thinking. Here’s how.
Step 1 — Figure out why you’re writing. Few people ever do this. I get requests all the time to “write posts for Forbes.” This is wrong. Getting a post in Forbes or on TechCrunch or anywhere else is as useful as posting on Medium. Nobody notices your byline and barring some miracle of writing they won’t remember your message. The goal of writing online is to establish yourself as an expert in a your space. There is no other marketing benefit aside from SEO.
Before you begin, you must figure what you’re trying to explain. Maybe you don’t have to say it outright — after all, you might just want to get people to eat your cupcakes — but instead you can say “I want to teach people how to make neon green frosting using antifreeze and powdered sugar.”
Decide on a single, simple topic. Once we’ve done this, we have a goal and a preliminary outline in place.
Step 2— Outline it. Now that we have our our idea and our reason, we outline. In most cases all you need are four things:
- Intro — This is usually an interesting tidbit to encourage folks to read more. If you’re making cupcakes, you can start with something like: “In the history of baking, icing has always played second fiddle. Until now.”
- Nut Graf — This tells exactly what you want to talk about. “In this post we will discuss how to make amazing-colored icings using car fluids.”
- Commentary — This is the meat of the post. This part includes instructions or describes the actual thing you’re talking about: “Now add the anitfreeze. My grandmother used to say ‘A little antifreeze goes a long way.’ That’s why I only use two teaspoons of Jack Frost antifreeze.”
- Close — A clever close wins hearts. “I gave these cupcakes to my wife and she loved them! Just goes to show you that a little love (and some caustic chemicals) goes a long way.”
If you’re looking closely at this you’ll notice that this post is as lean as a stalk of asparagus. Why? Because you can’t write too much and still have people read it. There are people who can write very well. They can write…