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Content Matters

When I began writing professionally, it was a natural extension of the writing I was already doing for college newsletters and my own personal website in the pre-blogging world. I found my first few projects based purely in topical interest – technology. From there, my writing and editing expanded to other topics, but the vast majority of the content I developed was about tech. I had written papers and poetry published in high school, and I had written many more papers and studied playwriting and screenwriting in college, but I never took a journalism course. Everything I learned about writing articles and blog posts I learned on the job, through trial and error.

After about ten years of writing professionally (including working in tech), I finally started calling myself a writer. I’d had no problem calling myself a techie or a coder since day one, but for some reason I had trouble identifying as a writer. It took a while to figure out why, but eventually it became clear to me — everybody writes, but not everybody codes. And when it comes to digital content, it sits at a place between the science of tech and the art of writing. The content that helps, teaches, and inspires people isn’t just well-written; it’s also formatted and presented so it is readable. Those of us who are content creators learn to blend the art and science together so we can present material in the most useful way to readers.

From there, the devil is always in the details. Creating high quality content to me has always been more important than quantity. There are those people who will tell you it’s essential to blog daily in order to get a following. That’s the science of gaming the SEO system and it’s not wrong, but traffic isn’t the same as readership. Quality must be there if you’re going to attract and hold the attention of a reader, or if you’re creating audio/video content, a listener or viewer. Content quality matters more than the average content consumer realizes. When you sit down for coffee with a friend and say “did you see that article about…” or “did you watch that video that was going around yesterday,” you’re essentially acknowledging something special about the content itself.

So for those who are considering becoming content creators — whether it’s through something as simple as an Instagram account or as complex as starting your own podcast — I say think first about the content and the rest will follow.

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