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Maxi Contieri ⭐⭐⭐
Maxi Contieri ⭐⭐⭐

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Content Structure: The Do's and Dont's of Content Creation

Many tips and tricks on how to make amazing content.

TL;DR: Follow these experience tips to improve your technical articles.

Background

My name is Maxi Contieri. I am From Argentina.

I've been teaching and working in the software industry for almost 30 years.

I had written 0 Articles before the covid-19 pandemic.

Now, I've written 300 and counting...

Here are a couple of tips for blogging.

These are the pieces of advice I learned on my journey.


Do's

Find a Niche

Find something you are passionate about.

Ideally, you should be a bit out of your comfort zone.

Do your research and learn new things.

You can do some SEO research to maximize engagement, but I encourage you to write about your passions.

Find a Community

Follow the right people (takes time) on social networks, forums, blogs, Discord, etc.

Don't mix personal social networks with professional ones since this favors procrastination.

I use Twitter, Linkedin, Discord, and RSS feeds for professional usage.

I have TikTok, Instagram, and other RSS feeds for personal/joy.

Create Article Templates

Use them as your signature.

Starting from an empty structure is much better than working from a blank canvas.

Here's an example from my code smell series.

Smell Template

Use the Right Tools

Most writers use tools like these (especially if English is not your mother language, mine isn't).

  • Grammarly (Free version is OK to start)

  • Hemingway Editor

  • Online spelling and grammar corrections

  • Back and-forth translators

English to Spanish

Spanish to English

By the way, this article photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

Create Your Own Tools

  • You can develop your own parsing or validating tools or use open-source ones.

Crossposting and Metadata

Use the right SEO and Canonical Tools.

Add some analytics to your blog (if available) and understand how people find your articles.

Use Series

Readers love to see short intertwined articles with cross-references to see how each article complements others.

Add a TL;DR:

TL;DRs are a nice way to tell your reader you value his/her time.

Use Emotive Titles and Images

We read all articles' titles and images and decide which we will read.

Use emotional and catchy headlines.

Don't lie or use click bait titles. Humans don't like cheaters and liars.

This article's first heading was:

Some tips to make good articles.

Now it is:

Many tips and tricks on how to make amazing content.

Be Consistent on Case Conventions

Choose some convention and stick with it.

I prefer Title Case over Sentence case.

Create Habits

Writing is a habit.

Read how to master them and hack your brain.

Publish When it is Good Enough. Not Later

Don't wait until the article is perfect.

Do some proofreeding. Wait a couple of days and read it again.

Correct the above word :).

Gardening

Keep your articles alive and fresh.

Be ready to update them with constructive feedback and ideas from other people.

Go revisit them often.

Use (code) Samples

People learn by examples, not by theoretical ideas.

No matter how interesting the theory, fundamentals, and evidence are, readers will go straight to the examples.

Productivity Hacks

Follow some productivity tips to stay focused.

You can set your own micro rewards, baby steps goals, disable all notifications, and many others.

Track Your Code Samples

Use a GIT tracker for your code samples and paste it on your articles.

Don't use iframes since they are slower and might not load on every device

You can put your code using markdown comments to track hidden external references.

Check Your Articles on Mobile Devices

You probably write and test your articles on a personal computer.

Your readers won't.

Be sure to use AMP/PWA pages and narrow code blocks.


Don'ts

Write draft Ideas

Don't keep work-in-progress articles.

Enjoy the momentum.

Ride the wave!

Open Too Many Tabs

Don't keep too many ideas or too many tabs.

Address them and close them.

Styling

Don't abuse styling.

People get tired trying to find their meaning.

Avoid Passive Voice

Passive sentences are read slower than active ones.

You read active sentences faster than passive ones.

Don't Write as You Speak

We talk and write using different structures and grammar.

You need to write very short sentences.

HemmingwayApp does the magic for you.

Fight the Impostor's Syndrome

Be ready to fight impostor syndrome.

You are not the most suitable person to write nor will you ever be and no one is born an expert.

Fight Perfectionism

One not-perfect published article is better than 10.000 ideas

Don't Feed the Troll

People have opinions.

Answer and discuss with nice people.

You can learn new points of view from them.

Don't feed the trolls. Use available moderation tools.


Practice, Practice, Practice

If you build it, they will come.

Top comments (21)

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katafrakt profile image
Paweł Świątkowski

I wonder why you listed plagiarism detectors under useful tools. If I write myself then I actually know for a fact that it's not a plagiarism ;) Could you elaborate on this one?

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cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello • Edited on

@katafrakt: I imagine that @mcsee might have other reasons in mind for this as well, but as an educator that sometimes requires students to use a plagiarism detector before submitting assignments, I can say that I do so because those tools aren't just about detecting plagiarism. The better ones also make automated suggestions on writing quality issues including some of Maxi's recommendations like using active voice rather than passive.

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mcsee profile image
Maxi Contieri ⭐⭐⭐

In my articles I usually add quotes (citing the author) and sometimes examples borrowed with permission (and a direct link to them).

Nevertheless I use short paragraphs and using plagarism tools helps me find similar articles.
Let's do an exercise: Write yourself a brand new short article. Then use any plagiarism tool. You will be surprised ,

It is yet another tool. It does not mean you are stealing from other people.

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jankapunkt profile image
Jan Küster

This is also common practice in science when publishing articles. The more publications to a certain topic the easier the chance to unintentionally plagiarize.

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mcsee profile image
Maxi Contieri ⭐⭐⭐

Exactly!

I have a master in Computer Science. Searching for previous work is mandatory.

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katafrakt profile image
Paweł Świątkowski

Did the exercise. Put one of my existing shorter articles into a plagiarism tool. It found a similarity with the article itself on my blog (because it's already published) and nothing else. Unfortunately I fail to see the surprise and usefulness of this.

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mcsee profile image
Maxi Contieri ⭐⭐⭐

Ok. the article brings tips.

You can disagree with some of the tips.
We are fine.

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matthewbdaly profile image
Matthew Daly

Not all plagiarism is intentional.

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katafrakt profile image
Paweł Świątkowski

So first of all I'm not sure I agree. Might be a language difference, but definitely plagiarism bears a lot of innate intentionality for me. But that aside, I understand you may want to avoid accidental similarity when writing a scientific article or something. We are talking blog posts here though, if I'm not mistaken.

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matthewbdaly profile image
Matthew Daly

Plagiarism can be broader than many people realise, as well as unintentional.

In a musical context, it's quite easy to imagine an artist coming up with a musical refrain that they think is original, but is in fact one they might have heard at some point and not recognised. In that case it would be plagiarism, although unintentional. The music industry is replete with potential examples of these. It's harder to imagine this kind of plagiarism in a blog post, though not impossible (think how many spammers replicate content from other sites for SEO gains).

There's an article at ox.ac.uk/students/academic/guidanc... about possible forma of plagiarism which covers it quite well. In the context of a blog post, the most likely forms are probably cutting and pasting, paraphrasing, inaccurate citations and failure to acknowledge assistance. These are definitely things that can affect blog posts too because the source should be evaluated on its own merits and can't always be assumed to be accurate. For that reason plagiarism detection is likely to be useful when writing a blog post.

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cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello

Very nice post with great suggestions. I like your use of a template in your "code smells" series. Whenever I'm reading one of those, I like knowing how it is structured and exactly where to scroll for specific types of information. Your "code smells" template reminds be a bit of the structure of a pattern from the GoF's Design Patterns book. Obviously it is a different template, but same basic idea of organization.

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mcsee profile image
Maxi Contieri ⭐⭐⭐

Yes. GOF's book amazing because of the structure and naming.

Many patters are outdated or anti-patterns now. But the structure and common terminology was ground breaking

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sangamswadik profile image
Sangam SwadiK

Good tips!
I think, having a well defined structure/template to your blog gives new readers more control on the sections they want to focus, and ignore the rest. At the same time existing readers know what to expect as they are already familiar.

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vishwastyagi profile image
Vishwas Tyagi

Great tips. I will try to follow them. Thank you for sharing.

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yukikimoto profile image
Yuki Kimoto - SPVM - Perl Club

Thanks.

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yuridevat profile image
Julia 👩🏻‍💻

👏👏👏 so many useful tips in one post!

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balastrong profile image
Leonardo Montini

Thank you Maxi, great advice as usual!

A few more words on avoiding drafts... you're right, sometimes I write a draft, just a few lines, and I leave it there.
When I come back after some hours/days I feel lost and I forgot the Idea I had in mind.
It would have been much better to keep the momentum while writing the short draft and expanding it immediately!

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mcsee profile image
Maxi Contieri ⭐⭐⭐

indeed!

Took me years to learn.
I had to discard about 100 "ideas" and start from scratch

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phyllisperales profile image
PhyllisPerales

How does structure relate to the content ? vashikaran mantra for love

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