Since the middle of 2010, I’ve been publishing a weekly round-up of content that I think would be of interest to IT project managers. At this writing, I’ve posted 181 weekly round-ups. Curating so many lists has naturally led me to some opinions on what makes content interesting. I want to fine-tune my selection process, so I recently created a reader survey to collect input from my consumers. But while I’m at it, here are a few thoughts for my fellow bloggers and other content producers.
Good search engine optimization technique certainly has value, but it’s no substitute for good content. Temper your use of SEO so it doesn’t get in the way of what you want to communicate. I’ve seen a lot of really contrived titles of late. The folks who obsess over SEO publish titles like TopTen [plural noun] You Need to [verb] that just sound silly. Beginning the title of a blog post with How is probably good SEO, and it works for this post; [integer] Things I Do to Prepare the Weekly Round-up sucks.
I curate each weekly list from content on the sources I follow in my CSS reader, plus several daily Google Alerts I have set up to find news items. Together, they find around 300 items per week. In a typical week, I review over 125 blog posts, news articles, podcasts, and other bits of content in order to get it down to 20 – 25 for the round-up. I bypass the stuff that has already been done to death, or is so special-interest that the average IT project manager won’t care about it. I also generally leave out stuff that looks like it was prepared by Fiverr.com copy writers and sold to blogs. You know that stuff that delivers conventional wisdom, presented as though it were controversial? Yeah, that stuff.
I regularly include links to opinions I disagree with, and frequently adjoin articles with differing opinions in a “point / counter-point” sequence. It’s good to have well-founded opinions, and most people like reading well-written, opinionated content. So, what makes content well-founded and well-written? My inner eight-grade English teacher and I offer the following advice:
- As Will Strunk put it, “Omit needless words.” If you haven’t read “The Elements of Style,” by Strunk and White, read it before you write another word. It’s brief.
- Use your spell checker and grammar checker. There are several excellent bloggers whose prose would benefit tremendously from proper editing.
- Use facts. Refer to good sources. Provide links. This is the internet, so you have no excuse for making unsupported claims. Pretend your rant will be graded.
- Don’t use terms like “waterfall,” “traditional,” and “command and control” as epithets. Sell the good stuff; you don’t need to discredit the alternatives.
- Good expository writing is clear and well-structured. It clarifies, convinces, stimulates, and calls to action. Even if the action is to compose a rebuttal.
Thanks to all of you who take the time to produce good content – it’s appreciated. And thanks to everyone who reads these round-ups and the other content I post here. I get a lot of enjoyment out of writing this stuff and interacting with the readers. Peace be with you!