How to Boost Your Business Reputation With Blogging

Paul Boag

This week on the Boagworld Show we explore the importance of blogging in building your reputation and visibility.

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This weeks show is sponsored by Videoblocks by Storyblocks and Gather Content.

This week on the Boagworld Show Colin Gray talks about how to give old content new life through podcasting!

Paul: Hello and welcome to the Boagworld show, the podcast about all aspects of digital design, development and strategy. My name is Paul Boag and joining me on this week’s show is Marcus Lillington, hello Marcus.

Marcus: Hello Paul. I don’t think…

Paul: We’ve got… Sorry, what? Instantly…

Marcus: We instantly talk all over each other. I was wondering, I was debating to myself should I be honest and say this is the second one we’ve done today?

Paul: I know, yeah. Well you said it now haven’t you.

Marcus: Yeah, I know. I said it very quietly.

Paul: Does that not count if you say quietly?

Marcus: Yeah, because some people won’t hear you! If you say it like that.

Paul: Oh I see. People don’t pay any attention to this podcast anyway so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

Marcus: Oh, I thought we had over a million listeners now.

Paul: oh yeah, a gazillion. Yeah, we have a gazillion but none of them actually pay any attention to it. They just have it going in the background while they are cooking tea or whatever or doing work.

Marcus: Driving their car, that sort of thing.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. So if you are driving a car right now please don’t pay full attention to us, pay attention to the road!

Marcus: Quite right. Yes!

Paul: Yeah, we don’t want your full attention.

Marcus: Talking about cars though, and I know we are vaguely there. I watched on the Tesla website the new technology that they have got for self driving and it blew my mind.

Paul: Why was it so cool?

Marcus: Because it… Because it’s like a… obviously they set in “I want to go from here to there,” which is, I don’t know, 30 miles away. The car just drives. The guy just sat there in the front seat and he’s got his legs crossed away from the pedals and his arms folded and the car just takes him from A to B completely. It can see pedestrians, it slows down for them. It deals with crossroads and all of this kind of stuff and it… The fact that it can do that completely reliably I found amazing.

Paul: But that’s what self driving cars do?!

Marcus: Yeah, but I thought they weren’t like a real, real thing. I thought they were a thing that was on the test track and still drove into people if… Yeah.

Paul: Oh! No, no, no, no. We’ve moved along way past that. No, we’re living in the future.

Marcus: Yeah, well that’s basically was it. Ooo, on the same subject have you sane Blade Runner yet?

Paul: No, I haven’t!

Marcus: Of living in the future.

Paul: No, was it good?

Marcus: Shall I ruin it for you! (Laughter)

Paul: Yeah. Was Decker a replicant after all? Don’t answer that otherwise everybody who listens to the show will hate you forever. Did they answer that question? Do they?

Marcus: Err, they don’t specifically deal with that but there is an assumption.

Paul: Oh, okay.

Marcus: Oh, that’s an interesting point because I never really thought that he was or he wasn’t. That was never a thing for me, he was always a human to me.

Paul: Ah, it was a huge thing because I went to art college and we did entire lectures on Blade Runner.

Marcus: Yes, it’s my favourite film of all time. And I regularly watched it but…

Paul: That’s interesting then. If it was your favourite film of all time did the sequel leave you disappointed or satisfied?

Marcus: The latter.

Paul: Ooo.

Marcus: It’s done in the same, it is a homage to the original in all the good ways. It is kind of… The music is kind of like 2017 version of Vangelis’s soundtrack which was obviously was a classic at the time.

Paul: Oh, great… Yeah, yeah.

Marcus: It’s really slow which I love. That’s how it’s meant to be.

Paul: Good. Yeah.

Marcus: It’s meant to take forever for them to kind of, for our new Blade Runner to kind of slowly pick his way through this minefield of stuff and every single scene in it looks amazing. If I have one small complaint, and it’s only a small complaint, is that I found the dialogue a little bit lacking, a little bit characterless. When you think about how the character of Roy in the last film. You know, he was amazing, especially the last scene, the amount of character he had as a person, even though he was a replicant, but you don’t get that so much from the characters in this film but they look stunning. It’s brilliant, you will love it.

Paul: Oh, I can’t wait. I don’t know when I’m going to find time to do that. Oh, my life is so hectic.

Marcus: It’s two hours and 43 minutes of your life it will take. And I want to watch it again, immediately.

Paul: Cool, and it’s really one you’ve got to see a cinema isn’t it, if it’s that gorgeous.

Marcus: Absolutely, must, must.

Paul: Another thing I’m excited about living in the future is soon my face will open doors for me. Well, it will open my iPhone. So excited about the new iPhone. I haven’t talked about it on the show and I need to. Phone, iPhone, iPhone X, yay! There, there you go.

Marcus: Yeah, I’m going to get one but I’m not that excited about it.

Paul: Oh, you’re so boring.

Marcus: Really? What… I’m due a new one. The one thing that I’m really excited about on it is the camera because…

Paul: Oh, well, yes.

Marcus: Because I’ve still got a 6S or something, like that and it’s two years old and it’s time for a new phone and it’s like “Oh, I can get a non-massive tablet -sized phone with a really really cool camera in it.” So that I am excited about, what else? Tell me Paul?

Paul: Well, talking about living in the future, you unlock it with your face. That feels like you are in sci-fi.

Marcus: Yes, I agree but I wonder whether it will work because…

Paul: Yes, I know. I’ve got that worry as well.

Marcus: Because my thumb sort of works randomly on my phone.

Paul: Oh, I’ve never had a problem with that.

Marcus: Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. So it’s kind of like… It’s more actually between my iPad rarely works with my thumb print where as my phone usually does.

Paul: Right.

Marcus: So, yes.

Paul: Yeah, you see you might find your face is better then.

Marcus: Yes, my craggy old face will be great.

Paul: Yeah, you might find that you’ve got such a characterful face that it always works flawlessly because nobody looks like you.

Marcus: I hope so.

Paul: You see, I’ve got a doppelgängers all over the place. People often think they’ve seen me on a train and it’s not really me so anybody will be able to unlock my phone! I’ve got such a boring non-descript face. Wireless charging, what about that?

Marcus: I have to get the wireless charging thing.

Paul: Yeah, but you don’t need to get the Apple one, you can get a cheaper one that like $19 or something. I don’t know, to be honest I agree with you.

Marcus: Yeah, it’s not a bad thing but yeah.

Paul: Thing I’m most excited about is the same as you. I’m excited about the camera because I have got an iPhone 6S, the same as you. And this camera is a bit old now, a bit shity.

Marcus: I know and I have seen all the pictures that Dan and Ed have been taking on their seven. You know, the seven pluses that have got the same camera, I don’t think it’s quite as good as the new one, the X. But it’s got the double camera in it and they are amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Paul: Yes. But we we’ll have that weird lighting mode thing that you can do as well that’s going to be very cool.

Marcus: Yes, so. Now I’m talking about it, I’m quite excited. Sorry, I was blabbering on about iPhone X’s. I’m in a funny mood today Paul.

Paul: Are you?

Marcus: Yeah, I don’t know why.

Paul: Ahh, I don’t know where to go with that. I just don’t… Whatever. Anyway, this show we are talking about blogging, yay, my favourite thing. Well, it’s not my favourite thing. I have many things… It is what I seem to spend most of my life doing is blogging. So we thought we would spend a bit of time. We are talking about content marketing and we talked about podcasting in the last show. We’re going to talk about SEO in the next show, we’ve got all these different areas of content marketing to talk about but we have to do blogging don’t we because blogging is the kind of mainstay of your content marketing strategy. You do know Marcus that I’m doing this entire season just so that you might get your arse into gear and do some better marketing for Headscape, you do know that that is the hidden agenda right?

Marcus: The only thing, the only reason we are doing this is to make me do more. I was thinking that “Okay blogging, that is something that I do, occasionally.” That’s not right is it, you’re not meant to do it occasionally.

Paul: No.

Marcus: But yes, I would like to do more Paul. Make me do more.

Paul: Well, the thing is…

Marcus: I quite like writing. Sorry, in this my funny mood I keep wanting to… I keep saying something pause and then annoyingly start again five seconds later. I quite like writing so it’s something that I think I can be persuaded to do more of. It’s always the… I like writing about something that I like writing about and it’s finding that thing is my main issue, always. I’ll shut up!

Paul: Are you sure?

Marcus: Yes.

Paul: Okay. Well, we’ve got Vitaly {Friedman} coming on the show. It is a pre-recorded interview that you haven’t listened to so this is going to be… You are not going to learn anything at this point. No, you will learn a few things because I have got a bit before and after of the interview stuff that I want to share but yes, you need to listen to the interview with Vitaly Friedman the founder of Smashing who we have on later. Because he talks about some really interesting stuff about his method of blogging and the approach that he uses which is very different to my own. He talks a little bit, as well, about what they look for in writers as well, so if you want to do guest posts and you want to get accepted by people like Smashing Magazine he shares a little bit about that which is really cool as well.

Marcus: Can I interrupt? Sorry.

Paul: Oh gore, it’s so painful. It really is.

Marcus: (Laughter) No, but it is relevant to what you just said.

Paul: Okay.

Marcus: How did you get in with Smashing magazine? You know, did you just sort of like go… Send them an email, phone them up, meet them at conferences. What happened?

Paul: I slept with Vitaly.

Marcus: Really! It was the casting couch thing.

Paul: Yes, it was. He’s very predatory.

Marcus: No, seriously because that was a Long time ago wasn’t it. You can’t remember can you?

Paul: No I can’t. I have no recollection whatsoever. You know I have trouble remembering last week. I suspect, he probably asked me to write, would be the logical… Or speak at one of their events. No, I’ve just become really good friends… We’re just really rude to each other. It’s just like the relationship I’ve got with you, we’re just really, really rude to one another. That’s how I become friends with anyone, just insult them and if they are still there after I have insulted them then often it works out! (Laughter)

Marcus: Yeah, it’s best when they insult you back. Because yes,

Paul: Yeah, absolutely.

Marcus: It’s a mutual hatred thing.

Featured Posts

Play Featured Posts at: 11:53

Paul: Exactly, tolerating one another! So I wanted to make some reading suggestions. Each week as we talk about a subject I want to kind of share with you a few things that you can go out and find out more about that subject, get a better understanding of it, et cetera, et cetera. So, I want to share with you three posts this time. Two of which are from me and one it’s a whole other website that you need to check out. We’ll do my ones first because if I do mine following the other one they are going to seem very inadequate so always do the shittier ones first. So there’s a couple ones I have written. One is “The secret of successful company blogging.” Now, all of these will go in the show notes associated with the show so you can check them out but I will read the ridiculously long URL. R, this one’s not too bad. boagworld.com/content–strategy/successful–company–blogging/. So this is an article I wrote about how… Really again I wrote it so that Marcus might pay some attention and maybe actually do some blogging for Headscape. I don’t think he’s even read it.

Marcus: I don’t think I’ve read this one. I’ve read the next work one. And I refer to it!

Paul: Ahh, ooo.

Marcus: You know, occasionally when I’m occasionally writing a post but yes, it’s good stuff.

Paul: Yeah, so this one was really about… Talks about why blogging is worth doing for your business, it talks about why corporate blogs, company blogs often fail and also a little bit about how to keep feeding the animal as I refer to it. Because that’s the hardest bit about blogging is to keep blogging. Which brings me onto to the second post which expands on that a little bit. Which is “How to ensure long-term blogging success.” So that is available at blogging{Boagworld}.com/marketing/blogging-success. This one is kind of really breaks down the process of a) starting blogging and overcoming some of the fears that we have about it, like the fear of criticism. But it also goes further and looks at my process for blogging and how I go about blogging which we touch on a little bit on in the interview with Vitaly but it’s all laid out there in that post as well. Where you should really check out, if you want to get serious about blogging, whether you want to blog for your business or whether you want to blog to raise your personal profile or whatever your reason is, the place that you should go and you should definitely subscribe to is problogger.com. This is an absolutely superb resource that I highly recommend that has been around for a good while and it has got like thousands of articles on every aspect of blogging from how to start a blog, how to create your content, how to find readers, build your community, how to be more productive and efficient in the way that you work, how to deal with the technology associated with blogging and then also things like how to get work through blogging how to make money directly from blogging. So it really is a beautifully set up and run website by a guy called Darren Rowse. It is problogger.com. So make sure you check that one out, really good site, highly recommend it if you want to get into blogging. So there you go. Marcus, you need to subscribe to that site and do everything he says.

Marcus: (Laughter) Okay Paul.

Paul: You’re not going to do that are you? Wasting my time.

Marcus: I’m doing it now as we speak.

Paul: Oh, okay.

Marcus: That’s me typing. (Sound of tapping fingers on desk.)

Paul: Oh, I see! Yes, yes, I totally believe that. That’s really believable. All right, next. Let’s talk about our sponsor. Talking about blogging one of the big things in producing any blog is having some quality content in the blog post that is not textural. Marcus again is particularly bad at this, actually you’re not, I’ll tell you who is worse, Chris Scott. He writes these really long posts. There’s nothing wrong with long posts, right, that’s fine but no imagery, no video, not even audio in it. You know, there’s absolutely nothing and it’s just this ream of text and he is very naughty. The content…

Marcus: Naughty Chris.

Paul: Naughty Chris… The content is very good content, what he writes is absolutely excellent but he is not making it very scannable it’s not making it very engaging and that is where something like a Videoblocks comes in. So Videoblocks is part of a kind of network of sites called Storyblocks and they consist of imagery, stock imagery, stock video and stock audio. So video blocks is unsurprisingly if the stock video part of it but it has got all the things, anything to make a blog post interesting is available to you. There is great imagery that you can get hold of, you can have video with little clips that you can include in and you can talk over the top of. Then obviously there is audio that you can use as background music to the little video clips that you can create. And really creating simple little videos it is not difficult these days. It really is very straightforward and so we’ve really got no excuse not to do it. So, you’ve got sound effects, you’ve got everything you could need. Now, the way that it works is that you just subscribe to this. Now, I like this from a blogging perspective because yes, sure you could just download the individual little clips that you want, right, as you were writing a, you know, as a blog post came along. But a) that is going to be a lot more expensive because it is much cheaper to pay a subscription model than it is to buy the individual things but b) if you have signed up for a subscription that is taken out of your bank every month then that is going to motivate you to blog in order to make… get value out of your subscription. Make sense?

Marcus: Ahh. Yes.

Paul: It’s like signing up for the gym, you know, if you only…

Marcus: Hmmm, well that doesn’t work! (Laughter)

Paul: … No, it doesn’t actually. That’s just completely undermines my entire argument doesn’t it.

Marcus: I’ve done that twice in my life. Signed up the gym and gone twice. There you go.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. Okay. All right, dump that argument! It’s a subscription model alright! That’s the way they work.

Marcus: I like the one you did last week which was, you can sign up, if you sign up for one month you can download their entire catalogue and then dump it. (Laughter)

Paul: You see, at some point I will do a professional version of this sponsor slot. So, once you’ve signed up you can go in and there is like 115,000 or something videos that you can download as much as you want to in their members library. Obviously, it is all HD footage but there’s also things like after-effects, templates, motion graphics all that kind of stuff as well and they’ve got a marketplace where you will get heavily discounted other clips that aren’t in the members library but you can buy. Millions, and millions of them. They would be much more expensive on other sites and you get cheaper because you are a part of their subscription model. All the content is royalty free, you can use it for commercial uses, personal uses, whatever you want and new clips are added all the time. So you can give it a try, you get a seven day free trial of it and no, you can’t log in for seven days, just download their entire library. They worked that one out! Impressive hey! So they stop you doing that but you can get in the library, you can see a load of stuff you can download some samples and have a little play by going to videoblocks.com/boagworld. All right, so that is that. So now what you’ve got is that we have got our interview with Vitaly and we will jump straight into that because it is a long interview and we are going to run over.

Discussion with Vitaly Freidman

Play Discussion at: 20:20

So, joining us today is Vitaly Friedman. Hello Vitaly how are you?

Vitaly: Hello Paul, doing wonderful. How are you today?

Paul: This is weird isn’t it because we were literally just talking two minutes ago.

Vitaly: Well, this is how life is I guess.

Paul: Well, it’s your fault for having me on your supervisory boards or whatever it’s called.

Vitaly: Well, it’s your fault for accepting me inviting you, you didn’t have to do that but apparently you did. So, it’s on you now.

Paul: How could you possibly turn down an opportunity to work with the Internet famous Smashing magazine?

Vitaly: No comments.

Paul: (Laughter) So how long has Smashing been going now?

Vitaly: Smashing has been around for quite some time. It’s been like… To be honest I feel so old now, it is unbelievable.

Paul: Oh, you feel old! Imagine how I feel!

Vitaly: Oh well, I don’t care about your feelings so… But it’s been like 11 1/2 years now so even more than that maybe. Oh, I think it’s 12, oh, I don’t know… It’s difficult to count. It’s just been an incredible journey for me to be honest. And you know sometimes I feel like it’s a little bit strange because I’ve been doing this for like 11 years and I find that the profession, like in the web, in digital where you been doing the same thing more or less… For 11 years.

Paul: I know, that’s very unusual in our world isn’t it. So how did you get involved with… Was Smashing magazine… How did it start, was it a personal blog at the beginning or was it always meant to be this bigger kind of magazine? What was the plan?

Vitaly: There was no master plan, you know me at this point. There is never a master plan it is very important for me to, throughout all these years to be able to stand behind something, I guess. This has been my journey for the last decade and I really want to produce something that I am proud of. So when we started it was more about basically me thinking about myself, I guess. You know, some point in our lives we all have these moments and so I just wanted, because I was freelancing at the time, like doing web stuff, mostly PHP at the time. And I just felt like it would be really useful just to have some sort of list, reference that would contain all the links to all the techniques and tools and services and resources that I could actually benefit from when developing and designing. So I was doing PHP CSS stuff and so there was basically this camp to create a resources that didn’t exist at the time. To sum it all up. So I would not have to spend too much time trying to find them every single time, more or less.

Paul: So, I mean jumping forward to today, I mean it’s a very different beast today and obviously you are pushing out and creating content on a regular basis. There are posts that go out every day of the week, well, the working week anyway. So that’s a lot of different people that have to produce content for you. Now, this season of the podcast that we are currently on is about content marketing, reputation building and those kinds of things. Now, a big part of that is getting your name and your content out there. So it is writing not just your own blog but writing for other people. The problem is of course is persuading other people to let you write for them. So I’m kind of quite interested. Because you must have thousands of people banging down your door going “Let me write for Smashing.” So how do you decide… What are you looking for in a writer?

Vitaly: Well, that’s a very good point. So, very often I will have this conversation with other publishers or with my colleagues and friends and they would try to find A-name people. You know, people with huge names who would want to write. But they might not have time for writing so that is something that I almost given up on already at this point. Instead I have been trying to find is people who have a story to tell. Now, it can be any story to tell. It could be anything related to marketing, it could be building like backhand, it could be design, it could be CSS techniques discovered. So I’m looking specifically for people who are working on or have been working on a complicated project because usually complicated projects tend to have a wealth of techniques that you have to find, you have to discover. You can’t, you know, set up a site and have it done. There are performance challenges, design challenges, usability challenges and marketing challenges. So I am looking specifically for those and then I am trying to find people around those areas and I try to contact them directly. It is really rare, to be honest, that we accept guest posts.

Paul: Okay, so somebody contacting you?

Vitaly: Yes, that happens all the time and most of the time I must admit that the quality is not as good as it is. It doesn’t mean that we are closed down to curating or just inviting people that we like or so. It means that if we have… If you want to write one good clue for us is if you have, for example, if you have been working on a project or you have been running an open source project or you have been having a side project like 22 illustrations of cats a day, this kind of thing! That brings attention. Sometimes its just enough to send a tweet linking to your work. Not linking to “Hey, I’d like to write.” But linking to a project that you are working on.

Paul: So what you are saying is that those emails that even I get all of the time which say “Hey, I’ve written this post on the 22 best ways to do blah blah blah.” That isn’t the way to do it. It is rather to reach out to you and show the quality of your content and the kind of stuff that you have been working on.

Vitaly: Exactly, so even if it is just a simple tweet where it mentions and links to something interesting because we monitor all of them, right. And that would be enough sometimes. In the same way that I… You know we have a buttons that says press releases. Once somebody tries to contact us. Do you know what happens when you click that button?

Paul: Oh really? That’s genius idea. It goes nowhere.

Vitaly: Yes, it goes nowhere. Actually, it’s worse, because it actually is reported as spam.

Paul: Oh, you genius!

Vitaly: It is mean but I don’t believe in press releases.

Paul: No, nor do I. I hate them.

Vitaly: If we get them out… It has to be if you want to reach out to us I think it’s the more personal way just again, random tweet more or less would work like magic.

Paul: Okay, so you’ve seen a lot of blog posts go through Smashing magazine over the years. The one thing that I think anybody who is going to start doing some more blogging and get into the area of blogging wants to know is what posts do get read and do get shared? You know, what are the successful posts and what doesn’t work, if that makes sense.

Vitaly: Okay. So that of course also requires… Is not a simple answer to… a question to answer. I think, if I’m being very honest all those link baiting things they work. So like “Look, 55 cats were just were dropped in the swimming pool look and see what happened.” This kind of stuff. That would definitely work but again I am always thinking not about a short-term conversion if you like. Pop-ups work as well, like annoying light boxes work as well but they are damaging, extremely damaging, for long term reputation so I am trying to play a long game here so we don’t really accept those link baiting articles. We accept articles that actually have potential, I would say, to stay relevant within years. So that means again things like “This is a project that we worked on and this is what we did and this is why.” “This is what did works and this is what didn’t work.” At the same time one other side of the coin is that articles that are reference articles, they work. So if you write an ultimate guide to CSS grid layout, that is probably going to bring you some traffic. It would probably going to take you some time to write but it will bring in some traffic. And you can play with this stuff, like you can play with usefulness and relevance of the article, you can play with curiosity, this is why we have this kind of mystery roles every now and again where we invite readers on a journey to find something and they are going to get a prize if they do that, right? They get a lot of attention because they are not simple and are quite advanced. Also things that are stories, right, so once we… And it’s not necessarily like lessons learnt but just a story of somebody doing something. I am not talking about a fiction at this point, but may be a personal growth, this kind of stuff. So your articles for example, about pricing and billing and how you do this and what you learnt along the way, not necessarily in a project but they are an experience that works very well.

Paul: I think that’s the other thing that works quite well about those kinds of posts is if they are honest, right? Because what always… The post that most resonates with people from my experience of writing for Smashing are the ones where I say “Look, I know this is the way you’re supposed to do it but this is the reality of what I really do.” And people feel empowered by that because they realise the crap kind of compromises they are making are compromises that everybody is making, do you know what I mean?

Vitaly: Yeah, so this also creates an emotional connection, right? So I remember vividly, like it might be 10 years ago everybody was creating a little portfolio website and they would say things like “We are a company that does whatever.” And it was like one person sitting in their suites at home doing stuff. So being more grandiose than you really are. Think at this point the only way to establish connection with humans who are attending our sites, or visiting our websites is to be a person and show who you are, who you really are. Even if it means quirky. That means for me personally that you should not go like… You should have an opinion, even if it is a wrong one. It is better to have an opinion than not have one at all. It means for example that if you… Like a basic example is our cats, right. So I am not really a cat person and we had to, when we was doing the redesign and working on it it was kind of a decision, what do we do? Do we have this playfulness around the site or should we be respected, serious, official publication that everybody trusts. So is was like a very difficult decision for me as well and I said “You know what? I would love it to, the Smashing magazine, to be seen as being open-minded and friendly and experimental in a way. I don’t want it to be sturdy and boring.” So we went totally going overboard, I think. I rocked the boat saying “Don’t break the rules.” I think we should be breaking the rules because we can recover from them later. With cats, we are sort of saying okay, let’s have one cat somewhere in the footer. I said no, let’s go overboard, we need to have cats.

Paul: There are cats everywhere.

Vitaly: If we have cats then cats. So at this point we have 58 freaking cats! If your listeners actually find all of them I guarantee a business class ticket to any conference of your choice, fancy hotel, speaker dinner, whatever you need you will not find them.

Paul: (Laughter) There’s the challenge for you! But in some ways there’s I think there’s an underlying point there which is, I don’t think you had any choice but to go down the route that you did. Or I think it would have been a big mistake to go down another route because that kind of fun, relaxed, friendly persona is you. It is who you are. For you to pretend to be a grown-up professional…

Vitaly: Somebody else. But I am grown-up! I am professional.

Paul: … Isn’t going to work. Well, all right, I’m not grown-up or professional so I don’t see why you should be! But you know what I’m getting at by that, you’re not a serious corporate type, neither am I, it wouldn’t have been right and it would have seemed false and seemed awkward. I see that in a lot of people who get into blogging and try to blog, they end up trying to be something that they think they should be rather than what they actually are. Which goes back to your comment about the website as well. In terms of the opinions stuff. I mean the trouble with an opinion, and this isn’t a question I sent you earlier but I’m going to ask it anyway, the trouble with having an opinion is that some people are going to disagree with it and the Internet is a place where they strongly disagree with it!

Vitaly: Well that’s how it is in the Internet.

Paul: You know that I have written posts for you sometimes where the reaction has been very strong to what I have said. How do you cope with that? Because obviously you want to be a respected publication, you want people to like you, et cetera but they don’t always so how do you balance that conflict with having an opinion with wanting to be liked?

Vitaly: Well, I think… It’s a very good question, I think that’s not the magazine should have an opinion but authors should have an opinion.

Paul: So you are blaming me basically.

Vitaly: Well not, necessarily. I would always protect you if I strongly believe that you have a point. So I don’t necessarily have to agree with everything that you say in order for you to be published on the site. And so in fact I would rather see the magazine being a platform for everybody to share their ideas and opinions professionally than kind of being a filter of what goes against and what goes with best practices. I also think it is not our place to be honest. So I don’t see us being like a shield, things to do and not to do. They are more like a discourse where you can share what has worked for you and what didn’t work for you. It doesn’t mean that it will work and not work for other people.

Paul: That I think is a really good point. I think that because if I look back to the times where I’ve caused a shitstorm because I have expressed an opinion it’s not because I expressed an opinion it’s because I expressed it in an absolute way.

Vitaly: Yes, true, that’s right.

Paul: You know, this is the reality, this is how things are. And that is going to get you in trouble because other people are going to come back and say “No, it’s not how things or certainly not in my situation.” So instead what you got to do is come back, you’ve got to write those kinds of opinion posts with “In my experience this is how things have been.”

Vitaly: Exactly, that is a very different view right, so if you can make it a bit more relative and say “This worked for me, it might be very different for you but I am just expressing what I really believe in and what has worked for me.” So that is perfectly fine.

Paul: Yeah.

Vitaly: You know, as long as you are not saying this is how things are or should be, yes, that is a different story. Although you might be able to say that too if you strongly believe in something but you better get some proof that this is better.

Paul: Okay, I mean, of course the other big, the reality is with my smashing magazine is that you are, yourself a huge blogger. You write a lot for Smashing magazine and you are always putting out content. So I am quite interested in how you come up with post ideas all the time because that is the hardest thing. That’s the thing, if you talk to people about blogging the one thing they always come back with is “Oh, I can’t come up with ideas.” Or they keep it going for three months. You’ve been keeping it going for 11 years, you know, how do you keep it going?

Vitaly: Yeah, well to be honest there is always something to solve, there is always a problem to solve. So I am always trying to keep my eye on all kinds of problems that I encounter. It could be… Basically it requires you to be curious, I think. So it could be I am in the subway and I look at the Metro map and I find it’s weird, something is wrong there. So think “Oh, that interesting maybe somebody could write an article about how to design metro maps.” So we actually had a few articles about that too. Then “Oh, I have a problem with some flex bots here in that scenario. Hmmm, maybe it will be interesting to look into how to explore it how to solve it for good.” Not just the, you know, the dirty hack that works in this particular case but what is the reason why it doesn’t work? So am always trying to be inquisitive and I mean obviously we always have a list of potential authors that I could contact to write about something, you know, if I have a problem with flex bots I will go to, I don’t know, to ???. If I have a problem with grid layouts I will probably go to Rachel Andrew. This kind of that stuff. But also things like, you know problems that we have like subscription for example, Smashing membership and the new site, its new stack and everything is different. So probably we will look for people who already have experience in this kind of project. So when we had a problem with the web font loading. So I thought "Okay who could I talk to some event to Zack Leatherman who is just so much into web forms and now as a result we have a nice solution that he or we could write about, Right? It’s always problem based. You start from a problem, there are tons of problems to solve everywhere, everywhere you look. And then you just find your way out.

Paul: I like that. I’ve never thought of it in terms of problem-based but that is a really good starting point. For me I just kind of have a constant ongoing list that I’m always adding to. So you are surrounded by blog posts all the time. You know, every time you have a conversation related to your work there is a blog post in it. There’s a blog post in blogging, as we are just discussing now.

Vitaly: Sure, sure.

Paul: But also whatever you are working on currently almost always has…

Vitaly: Yes, that’s a great gateway to everything. This is exactly what you can write about. And of course I am privileged to be having many conversations with many people around the world about CSS, visual design, UX performance, whatever. So there is always something in the air, like “Oh, that’s really interesting how would you do that?”

Paul: Do you keep any kind of list or is it all… I suppose because of the huge quantity that you have to push out of content that it kinda goes out the door as soon as you think of it does it?

Vitaly: Actually that is exactly how I tried to do it. Once I have a problem I write it down, usually use dropbox paper just as a to-do list for everything and I put it on the list to send it out today and then I just do it and then it is gone and then keep track of course, if that person has replied or not. That’s pretty much it.

Paul: I find, because the last thing you want to do is sit down and go, “Okay today I’ve got to write a blog post,” without any kind of backlog of ideas of what you are going to write.

Vitaly: That’s probably not going to work.

Paul: No.

Vitaly: And I think at this point for me it’s really about finding those little things. So I would always often go to gallery of responsive Japanese websites and Chinese websites and Arabic websites because there are many interesting things that are different from what we are used to. The patterns are different, the colours are different, the typography is different, everything is different. So I look there and I think “Hmmm, well that’s a different way of doing this.” An example for that would be a carousel. I mean I know everybody hates carousels but if you need to design one how would you design one? You would probably go on Google and try to find, I don’t know, some of us might be going carousel jQuery plug-in, this kind of thing. And I spent probably an entire day finding and trying to explore carousels in Turkey, when I was in Istanbul. Like my thing now every time I am a new city I pick a topic and I just go. And so they don’t use, for example, when we use carousel we have like an arrow left arrow right and then just dots in between. They never use dots. You will never find dots in Turkey. They always have numbers.

Paul: Really? Ah.

Vitaly: Like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 sometimes going all the way up to 20. It’s just ridiculous, right? So I’m always trying to find those patterns. Then I think “Hah, what would make an interesting article. Wouldn’t it be interesting to write an article about how to design a carousel, a perfect carousel.” Even though you know, most of us hate it. And based on this research I would just think and read and do research and then this articles kind of appear. They take a lot of time but they appear and I think that they have a very good resonance as well.

Paul: That’s a really good question then, a follow-up question to that is I am always torn between the quality and the quantity aspect. And I think we might potentially disagree a little bit over this. So if you had to pick quality or quantity which would you go for?

Vitaly: Well of course I would go with quality.

Paul: Yeah, and that’s interesting because I think I would lean towards quantity which seems contradictory but let me explain my logic.

Vitaly: I think I know why but go, you go first.

Paul: I talk to a lot of people that struggle to get blogging and is one of the biggest barriers I see them struggle with is this thing in their head that it has to be really good, right? But the trouble is is that you don’t get really good unless you do it again and again and again and again and again. So I can understand how quantity, sorry, quality applies more in your situation where you can kind of slow it down and you can spend more time on it. But if you are at your beginning days of blogging I think quantity is the way that you learn. The other reason that I lean towards that is that when you focus just on quality then you put outposts more sporadically which means that you don’t build up the same readership. So perhaps the reason that you can concentrate on quality… I mean you could, Smashing could put out one post a month but it chooses not to, it chooses to do it every day so are you really just focusing on quality?

Vitaly: So first of all I fully… I respectfully, but fully disagree with you.

Paul: Okay.

Vitaly: I think that you can also learn by writing and writing and writing the same article.

Paul: Ooo.

Vitaly: But the thing is you don’t have to to keep just waiting for the perfect moment to publish that big monster online. You can do it in parts. You can do it, you can write an article and publish the first part and then the second part and then the third part. And even if it is you know, short it’s not a big problem, if it’s just five minutes read or eight minute read, I think that’s perfectly fine. I think that if you want to stand down behind or for something or if you want people to notice you unless you have tons of brilliant ideas that can be expressed in a very short way, right? You really need to do some research to find “Okay, this is the point because…” You have to have some sort of solid ground on which you operate. Or if not, you could have tons of interesting ideas that people find interesting as well. Like for example a littlebigdetails.com, right? It is a fantastic little site that I visit every day if I can so every post is like two sentences, like a tumbler, two sentences. So here’s an interesting thing I found UX wise or UI wise, go and check it out. That’s okay, so you don’t have to go away and spend I don’t know 5000 hours or so, well probably not that much! (Laughter) Trying to find these are all examples of this pattern in use everywhere in the world. So we kind of try to do both. So we have quite short articles, we have quite lengthy articles. I think that the lengthy ones become some sort of cornerstone if people notice them, they will keep coming back to them. That’s very important, like reference articles. If they don’t find it you have to bring attention to that article maybe every now and again because if you think this is a good one. But at the same time short articles can produce… They can be great, so they can produce interesting discussions, they can link somewhere, they could be goodies, freebies anything. So it’s totally, it’s just about having a mix of both, I guess. And again short articles even if you publish every day they are not bad at all, hey don’t have to be. If there is something that is worth sharing, let’s go for it. You don’t have to wait until you finish that big monster. Reference articles are important as well.

Paul: Yes, you seem to be leaning more these days towards those big reference cornerstone pieces. Is that a fair comment? You seem to be doing quite a lot of those recently.

Vitaly: Yes, if I am writing I tend to do that, yes. But also partly because I am kind of writing a book about those things so I want them to be kind of included, well not included but I have to do my research for the book to be published.

Paul: Yeah, see you are reusing…

Vitaly: I have quite high standard so yes, yes exactly.

Paul: That’s actually a really good tip, isn’t it. If you are blogging is that reusing of contents. Like you said about breaking stuff down into multiple posts or turning something into social media, and so on.

Vitaly: Exactly, exactly. So think quite often I’m a bit afraid of showing something publicly and then to charge for it. And I can see that value and I can see that problem but I say that if you have a book and you spread over say 30 or 40 HTML’s pages, right, I don’t know if it’s really such a dealbreaker for people not to buy it.

Paul: I don’t think so.

Vitaly: If they can access it online.

Paul: And people like to be able to take stuff off-line, they like it in print format, they like its… An e-book brings a whole… One of the things I’m a huge fan is taking a whole series of blog posts and turning them into a coherent single argument as an e-book. I think that works really well.

Vitaly: Yes, it’s like a tangible one. A tangible thing. I don’t think we should worry too much about “Oh, that’s available online, nobody is going to buy it.” Same way like conference videos. Right? So you could lock them down and make the people pay but I don’t think that’s… I’m not sure that having a conference videos available online is necessarily makes you stay away from the conference. I can see that…

Paul: No, because it’s a different experience.

Vitaly: It’s a different experience. I can see that some managers might say “Well you can watch all the talks online anyway for learning.” So this is why, for example, workshops, I can sell workshops attached to a conference, I think they are critical. Honestly I didn’t run any research on this kind of, if it actually keeps people away.

Paul: So one other question I wanted to ask you about blogging if I may. I’m interested in your process for blogging. Because I have a very particular series of steps that I go through but everybody that I speak to seems to approach blogging in a completely different way so I am interested… I’ve never asked you this, how do you go about writing a blog post?

Vitaly: Oh, that’s a good question. Now, first of all we need to distinguish between me and you know, editors. Because they have great, great…

Paul: No, I mean you. When you actually write something.

Vitaly: Okay. So when I write I just open up a text editor. First of all I go off-line, I turn off everything and just turn on my headphones. Pretty much like the ones that you have right now actually. I turn on music and just do a lot of research or if I am online. If I am off-line then it is my writing time. I just write all the stuff down. But first I always need to kind of write down some of the key things that I want to mention, and want to cover, just on a piece of paper. I always have my moments where for an hour I am just going to write down the structure of what I have in my head, what I want to cover, this kind of thing. Then I open the writer and just go. I prefer to be off-line, even if it means I can’t look things up. So would have things like placeholders in my article because I don’t know what the right word would be because I feel like it’s a bit better than going online and getting distracted by all the emails and everything else. One thing I also used to do is actually not necessarily going off-line but removing everything that has notifications. So I would then use my browser like a special browser which is chrome canary at this point, just for research. So I use it only for research. There are no extensions there, it’s blank, it’s fast, it’s great. Where everything else including dropbox and mail is just disabled. And so I go and I basically, like, it’s like ironing for me. I write and then I go over and I refine and then I keep writing and then I go over again and refine again. It is like from top to bottom, top to bottom, top to bottom. Thousands of times until I feel like it is solid. And then just the last step before kind of sending the article to proofreader is to send it to people like you, like for second review, second opinion to get something better. Sometimes if an article is very technical I will do it even earlier.

Paul: That’s really interesting. So my process isn’t dissimilar. So I start with some research, I then create a structure, that’s the same as you. Then I take the approach of Ernest Hemingway’s Write drunk, edit sober.

Vitaly: That’s right, that’s right!

Paul: So what I interpret that, I don’t literally… Well, I have been known to write drunk but…

Vitaly: We do not encourage people drinking in this podcast.

Paul: No, no we don’t. But that principle of just writing and not analysing what you are doing but just get it out of your head and keep going, keep going, keep going until it is done. Then I tend to… The first thing is I tend to, yeah, my editing process is more basic I think than yours. Because my editing process will be first of all I will dump it through something like Grammarly just to kind of clear up the big obvious editing stuff. Then I get it read back. I get my computer to read it back because my computer is merciless. It reads what’s there rather than what I should have written, if that makes sense. So that helps pick up things. Then I tend to read back through it again when I then start adding links in and imagery and captions and headings and that kind of stuff. Probably I don’t go over it as many times. You rewrite a lot more I think then I would do.

Vitaly: Well yes, so yes I always need to have this moment where I kind of need to, I don’t know how to describe it, it’s like I have to be able to feel the potential of getting into the zone, if that’s kind of…

Paul: Yes, yes I know that. Yes.

Vitaly: … Describing. Sometimes you have, I don’t know, you just have a long day a day before and it feels so slow and everything, you are not going to get some really interesting writing done. Sometimes I feel like “Ha, I’m really curious how to solve it now.” And I will just start writing and sometimes the way I write is very similar to how I speak. And then, of course, once I have to edit I realise that some things have to be changed and sometimes I even go as far as dictating.

Paul: Yeah, I do.

Vitaly: I do that sometimes just to get my ideas out of the head and there are actually very cheap services that allow you to move from audio to text but then of course that it is just a rough and it’s not particularly helpful but it is helpful in the way of kicking off an article. It helps me a lot for example when I just don’t know how to start. So I feel like “How would I actually say it?” So I’m just talking and talking and talking and some points I can come in to this point right here and I am “That could be a good starting for that article.” And then I’d start writing.

Paul: And also sometimes I don’t always start at the beginning either. You know, I find the beginning the hardest bit to do, the kind of intro. Sometimes I’ll jump through… Because you’ve got an outline, you’ve created an outline structure of bullet points of sometimes I’ll just jump into the middle and write that bit first and often I write the beginning at the end, if that makes sense. Because I’ve kind of… everything else has come together by that point, so that’s another thing. But I also dictate. I actually use dictation, proper dictation software because, I don’t know, taking my fingers out of the equation seems to help me in some way so I use Dragon for the Mac to dictate a lot of the time, which is another good thing.

Vitaly: That’s interesting.

Paul: Do you do it in a single sitting or do you split it.

Vitaly: Oh no, no. It’s all over the place. I do travelling a lot, well not last month or so, well not last month but not the month before. So it’s usually split. But then the thing is that I know that I am most productive if I start early in the morning, it could be as early as seven, and go all the way the entire day.

Paul: Right.

Vitaly: No interruptions. Well, obviously for lunch and stuff like that.

Paul: You see, that’s very different.

Vitaly: Oh okay. For me it’s like I am sitting, I’m in this moment everything is still off-line so I am just doing my thing and eventually I am done and I have finished a major chunk of the work, right. And sometimes if I have that chunk ready and then I don’t do anything for three or four days, because I have some other things take care of, then it takes me quite some time to get back in. Then when I got there, which maybe takes like half-an-hour or so to get back in, I always try to push myself to get as much as possible, get as much done as possible. And then again the same story.

Paul: Wow.

Vitaly: So I don’t like to work on multiple blogs at the same time. I like to have my thing in front of me and I just want to have it ready and get it out the door.

Paul: Wow, we are really different over that. Because I always have probably half a dozen posts going.

Vitaly: Oh.

Paul: The reason that I do that is that it goes back to what you were saying about getting in the zone. I know that I am very driven by my mood, and my feelings. So I have to be in a particular frame of mind to write that initial draft and I am not always there. So if I hit… If I am in the mood to write, even if… Because what happens is (Laughter) it’s my attention span this is, I will start writing a post and I will get the rough draft of it there and then I will get bored with that subject and another subject will come along that I am excited about.

Vitaly: Oh, that sounds just like me actually.

Paul: Yes, so I have to kind of get that bit down at least partially but then another day I won’t be feeling very inspired but I can easily sit down and take a post and run it through Grammarly because that’s almost an autonomic kinds of step-by-step thing. So that’s why I end up with a lot going because sometimes it’s just an idea and it’s an outline and nothing else. Other times I want to kind of blurge and get a bit out and then other times I am in the mood to edit. So yes.

Vitaly: Okay, so that’s interesting. So for me it’s like sometimes I will be distracted as well, like just because, not necessarily digital stuff but off-line stuff and if I got a birthday party to attend, this kind of stuff then it’s really throws me off to be honest.

Paul: Yeah.

Vitaly: But I still feel like when I sit down I need… The worst thing that can happen to me as somebody interrupting me. This is why my phone is off and everything. So that’s really really ruins everything because I need to gain another 15 to 20 minutes to get back, if at all. Sometimes I just don’t do it anymore, I just can’t. So I need this uninterrupted time, as much of it as I can. So this is why for example I write fairly well. And actually the same goes for coding, I code fairly well in planes, or just in uninterrupted spaces like even if there is a chaos around me like in a coffee shop, right? If there is nobody coming to me who wants to talk to me I have my headphones on and they don’t have to be noise cancelling, I just I am in my thing and I am dedicated to doing that thing until I don’t know, six? There is one little thing that has been very helpful for me by the way, is to have some sort of schedule, I guess. So I would go to the gym at a very specific time, no more, no later, never. It would always be 8 PM. That means that I have to finish that article, I have to finish that off-line whatever until 7:30 to go home and to change and things like that. So that pushes me a little bit so I know its not a big deal if I don’t make it but I will never work beyond eight, that’s one thing. On the other thing is that I would always be in a little bit of a… Be motivated enough to finish it and get my head in the right place, right. That’s been like having this kind of structure, a little bit of structure helps me enormously.

Paul: I think my writing process gives me the structure because I’m not going back over something again and again with no finite end, you know, I will do, as I said the run through Grammarly, the get the computer to read it back, the add images. I got this set number of stages and once I’ve been through the stages it is done and I am moving onto the next thing. It is really interesting, is how different people…

Vitaly: So we do work differently, we operate in different space.

Paul: Yeah, yeah. And I think that should be quite encouraging to anyone listening to this that there is no right or wrong way to blog. Either in terms of how you write, the length of posts, the subject matter of posts. You know, whether they are opinion or tutorials there is so much possibility in terms of doing this. And that’s a good takeaway if nothing else.

Vitaly: And I wouldn’t be discouraged by people saying “Well everybody has written about this a thousand times.” Well, the thing is, again, if you write about your own experience this is your own story and you deserve to tell this story. People deserve to hear this story as well. Even though something similar might have been published already. This is why I love looking into case studies of what people do, they are not necessarily professional case studies but even anything like…

Paul: Side projects.

Vitaly: Even like, I know it sounds clichéd but things like “Things you need to about being the father.- That’s what I learnt over the last 15 years of my life or so.” I love reading these articles and even if I read them a thousand times I still learn something new.

Paul: And also even if somebody has written something before they’re not going to say it from your perspective, as you were saying. And they might not have read the other articles that are out there. You know, you never know. Also the other thing about personal opinion and writing articles about your own experience is that it is very hard for people to criticise that. You know, one of the things that…

Vitaly: Yes, exactly. I agree.

Paul: Because there’s a lots of people out there who are afraid of criticism but if all you are doing is talking about what happened to you then you know, you can’t really criticise that can you?

Vitaly: Yes, because it actually happened to you. These are the things that you learnt from it so yes, absolutely. So go ahead and share, I would love to read your article dear friends.

Paul: Absolutely. I think blogging is, there is less and less of that around today and I think it is hugely. Well, no that’s not true, there is a lot of people that are blogging but there are a lot of people that are… Maybe doing it for the wrong reasons, that aren’t doing it out of the passion to share ideas. You know.

Vitaly: Right, and I also think that’s if we look back now over the last decade or so, going back to what we talked about at the beginning, I think at the time like five or 10 years ago, well actually I would say 10 years ago, blogging was kind of shiny and new thing, everybody was getting their hands on it and now it feels like it is companies and agencies that are blogging, it is a bit more corporate at times which is not necessarily a bad thing but it has changed little bit in the perception of blogging has changed as well. For example you will hardly see anybody writing their own blog post about one little interesting technique that they have discovered. Well maybe on medium but most of the time it’s just not happening, maybe people would tweet something or they would maybe share it with their friends but I think we may be all too busy to just blog regularly we are maybe not sure. I don’t know.

Paul: The thing is this I think blogging can be very valuable from a corporate perspective and so that’s why a lot of corporations blog. But the people that are blogging in those corporations are almost always marketing people and something changes in people’s mentality, even say if you are blogging for your web design agency. If you are doing it at a corporate level you turn into corporate bot 2000 and everything becomes very marketing and very, you know, dry and not human. I think I would like to see people, sure, blogging for the marketing benefits, blogging for the content marketing elements of it but doing it in a more human, real way. You know, introducing the humanity back to blogging and that personal voice and not everything needs to be so polished and not everything needs a carefully crafted click bait headline et cetera. You know. A bit of realism.

Vitaly: In the same way like I see for example Airbnb blogging about their… Airbnb engineering blogging in the same way financial Times engineering. That’s brilliant. That’s so good, that’s really, really good stuff. You will even find pornhub blogging as well.

Paul: (Laughter) Do they really? I didn’t know that.

Vitaly: They have a fantastic, really interesting things about user stats and all kinds of stuff. It’s really, really interesting. So I think it’s really valuable to people out there. Obviously engineering blog would be interesting for engineers and front-end developers but it also puts the company in a very different spotlight. Everybody is looking for a front-end developer, everybody is looking for a designer these days so if you have a blog, an engineering blog first of all you show that you kinda care about it, you show that you care about the people working there that they have the time and the space to actually write about what they learn. They see also what they have learnt and so if I was looking for a front-end developer I would probably use it as a gateway to find people who might be interested in it as well. Because people who will read this article are also the ones who have interest in this topic, right? So this would be a perfect spot to maybe have a job ad or so, they were hiring by the way! So this is why see a lot of value in this kind of blogging.

Paul: Yes, absolutely. Anyway, we have run over time as is always the way when I talk to you.

Vitaly: Oh No! I could talk to you Paul always.

Paul: I know, we can do soon.

Vitaly: And we will.

Paul: We are going to meet at Barcelona for Smashing Barcelona so we can have a lot of drinking and talking then.

Vitaly: Not drinking. We do not encourage drinking on this podcast.

Paul: Sorry. We do not encourage drinking on this podcast! All right, thank you very much for your time Vitaly and I shall talk to again soon.

Vitaly: Thank you so much for having me Paul, it was fun.

Paul: so there you go, that was my interview with Vitaly. Marcus, I won’t ask you to make comments on it because you haven’t listened to it yet. But you are going to listen to it aren’t you when you edit the show.

Marcus: The one thing you said at the start which I thought kind of made me look up, was he has a different approach to you. So I thought “Oh, that’s interesting.” Okay, so I’ll be… Because you know, I know what your process is you been through it with me and with Chris and it’s kind of like yes, and I try to stick to it and I fail and I wonder if there is an alternative way of looking at things that will help me out, so.

Paul: Yeah, he has a very different methodology. Obviously his approach is wrong and mine’s right! But you know, there you go. You can’t have everything. All right let’s talk about our second sponsor which is Gathercontent. Perfect tool in terms of blogging especially in a company organisation because often in situations in a company, right, that the blog lives with the marketing team. So the marketing team is responsible for dealing with the blog but they then have to get specialists, people who actually understand the topic that is being, you know, that the company is involved with, to write the content for the blog. Getting content out of people is always hard and miserable and yeah. So something like Gathercontent will really help with that. Also it obviously helps if you run an agency and you are working with clients and trying to extract content from them which makes life miserable. So it’s a great place to organise and gather your content. You can do things like create an inventory of all the content that’s got to be produced so that people know exactly what has got to be done. You can define your site map within it you can even create templates to help contributors know how the content needs to be structured. So you could even put in, for example, into your template things like “Who is your target target audience?” “What is the one takeaway that they should get from this blog post?” You can actually lead them and educate them in writing the content. Also, and this is a huge, huge feature especially if you run an agency, is that you can import the content from Gathercontent directly into the content management system that you are building. That is just killer. The user doesn’t have to fiddle around with the content, sorry, the content creator doesn’t have to fiddle around with the CMS yet you can still be building the CMS while collecting the contents together which is so useful. You can define your requirements and all your rules around the content. It is just such a good app. Check it out for yourself a 30 day free trial, no credit card required. Go to Gathercontents/ sorry, Gathercontent.com/boagworld.

Featured Apps

Play Featured Apps at: 1:06:58

Talking of apps, we always try and suggest some apps on each week’s show in this season. In this case some apps to help you write good, wonderful blog posts. The first piece of advice I want to give when it comes to this kind of thing is seriously consider learning markdown. Now markdown is not an app, markdown is really a very simplified kind of coding, scripting language. So it’s like HTML for Marcus!

Marcus: Yep! Marcus can do markdown, although I rarely, rarely do these days. Most of the… Obviously pretty much all the blogging I do is on our Headscape site so I just do it straight into WordPress but yes, I have done it and it is easy enough that even I can do it.

Paul: Yes. So it’s really useful because there is a whole range of text editors that support markdown and the great thing is that if you write something in markdown then you can export it in all kinds of different formats. You can export it as rich text you could export it as a word document, you could export it as a PDF you could export it as HTML. So it is hugely flexible so really worth doing if you’re going to be blogging a lot, learn markdown. It really is very simple, we shall put a link in the show notes to a markdown cheat sheet. Now, the apps that I wanted to recommend both build on that idea of learning markdown. The first one… Because markdown is just text, right? You can write it in whatever your text editor of choice is. When you save it out you save it out as a text file then you can preview it in something called Marked2. Now Marked2 basically gives you a preview of any markdown and you can set the style of it so it can visually replicate what your site looks like. Or you could style it so that you could save it out as a PDF and it comes out in a certain way. So it is a really, really powerful tool. It also kind of has a load of extra functionality built into it. For example it tells you how many words you’ve written and it has smart tools for writers that kind of give different, you know, advice on your writing content and spelling and all those kinds of stuff. So it’s a great little tool which you should definitely check out. The other one that I wanted to mention is a bit more of a heavy duty tool but is the tool that I write in all the time and it is called Ulysses. Now, annoyingly they have just changed to a subscription model which gets right up my nose but setting that aside… It is five dollars per month or $40 per year to subscribe to it and it is an incredibly powerful writing app. I have written books in it, I have written articles in it. All of my writing is within this app and is all searchable, it is all indexed, it’s got things like you can set a word count that you want to reach and you can see it easily counting down as you get nearer that word count. It’s all markdown based writing. It is a very clean distraction free interface and again it’s almost got the Marked2 functionality built into it so you can preview stuff and output it in different ways and it is backing up everything that you write as you write it which is so useful, trust me! So a couple of great apps. Oh, you can even publish directly to WordPress and medium in it. I mean it’s got loads of other stuff, they’ve got a big feature table on their website that you can check out. So that’s another good writing tool. Just another thing to throw into the mix is one of the things that you want to be doing as a blogger is collecting blog ideas and there are some great tools out there for collecting ideas and making outlines and stuff like that. Now you could do it straight in Ulysses but there are tools obviously like Evernote which is well known as a tool for doing that kind of thing. An increasingly popular one is called bear as in bear–writer.com which is a lovely very clean app for doing that kind of work in. But one that I have personally adopted recently is the one that I am viewing right now because it has my show notes in which is called Notion. This is like a personal wiki. I think wasn’t that mentioned on last week’s show? Yes, Colin mentioned it. So there’s that as well. So a whole load of tools for you to check out there. That pretty much wraps up this week’s show. Have you got a joke for us Marcus?

Marcus: I have. Two fish are in a tank, one says to the other “It’s a bit wet in here.” The other says “Blimey a talking fish.” You weren’t expecting that were you? The two fish in a tank joke has been around for a while.

Paul: Very good, I liked that one. All right, good one Marcus.

Marcus: Please, please, please send me more jokes. [email protected], please.

Paul: Please, please, please. So we need to push it again on the slack channel, have you actually pushed it on there? You ought to do that.

Marcus: Yes, it goes in waves, but yes I will go on there.

Paul: Yes, sort them out. So next week we are looking at SEO with Andy Kinsey and how SEO affects your content marketing so join us for that one but until then thanks for listening and goodbye.

Marcus: Goodbye.

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