The Secret To Writing A Practical, How-To Blog Post

3227-2744489459_50dc4a938c_m.jpgWe get told to write “how to” posts and “practical” posts, but ever sit and wonder what to do a practical, how to blog post on?

That’s what Mark Dorey asked in one of our conversations this week, and I’ve got to say, it challenged me to think through what the secret is to it – if indeed there is one!

What follows is a padded out version of my reply to Mark in the comments – I trust it’s a practical tip to help you write more practically!

The Secret: What’s Common Sense Is Only What’s Common To Your Senses

Everyone knows the saying that common sense isn’t that common. That’s the trick here – well, kind of. For me, it’s common to use my iPad in a certain way, or common to use Social Media or run events in a certain way, or clean my house or cut my hair a certain way. And this is common sense to me because it’s common to my senses.

And guess what? We don’t write what is common sense because we think it’s common and not that special.

So the secret is to begin rethinking what is common.

Think about the way that YOU use Twitter, the way that YOU are productive everyday, the way that YOU get on with people. All of these things, and many, many more, are great how-to posts in the waiting and add that practical takeaway value that every blog needs because everyone needs it!

Start taking what is common and make it practical!

Your Leading Thoughts

  • Let’s make this your blog clinic right now: what things could you start writing about right now? Post them here and let’s discuss them together if you need help.
  • What other ways do you know of to extract that much needed practical knowledge?

Photo courtesy of Notions Capital

Archived Comments

  • Emma Ranson Bellamy

    Hi Scott, great post, and quick, so I always feel I can just dip in without taking too much time out.
    Here’s something I’ve been mulling over recently about blogging. As a ‘practitioner’ people come to me expecting (quite rightly) that my services will be able to help them. Sometimes I feel like writing a post which is a bit of a confessional, or exposes something about my past to make a point and could be misunderstood and be used against me in the future.I do however feel that written well these could really benefit me and also help and probably entertain others. Did you mean this to be an agony uncle column ;)

  • http://dr1665.com Brian Driggs

    Lately, I’ve been posting some thoughts on higher education – how the focus seems to be finishing and getting a job moreso than learning and growing. This afternoon, I read one of Umair Haque’s posts detailing fundamentals of a “Meaning Organization” and saw they parallel our ideals at Gearbox, so I’ve sent myself a note to revisit the post and write something tying the two together.

    I guess my personal blog is something of a melting pot of random ideas. Right now, the theme is mostly divergent ideation, with an emphasis on “behind the scenes at Gearbox Magazine.” Because I’m so tied up with Gearbox, however, it can be a while between posts over there.

    As for extracting knowledge, I love the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words, but a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures.” Metaphor ties new concepts to existing knowledge, facilitating understanding.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Emma

    Sorry for the late reply!

    I think writing confessional material is good. “Showing your wounds” is a very powerful way to help people because we learn from failure just as much as success. The key though is to ensure you don’t loose your authority when you write like this. You can do this by writing about things that are in the past, or when writing about things that are recent, show how quickly you have learned from the mistake.

    And yes – happy for this to be an agony uncle column!

    Scott

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Brian

    Love your additions here – keep adding them. I’m certainly seeing that there is far, far more to you than Gearbox……. some very good insights in you actually. I’m working on a way to get you to Like Minds… :-)

    Scott

  • http://dr1665.com Brian Driggs

    Thank you, Scott. That means a lot to me.

    Yes, there is more to me than Gearbox, but Gearbox is my muse. It is the frequency at which many of my ideas harmonize and come into focus, allowing me to further translate and adapt them elsewhere.

    Many of my insights stem from conversations we have right here. I won’t give up if you won’t. “What one man can do, another can do,” right?

  • I love the way you look at a subject and life. Like a systematic android with insane levels EQ (the emotional equivalent of IQ)

    I guess the problem is, you don’t know a lot of things you do by reflex.

    My blog is a series of braindumps about things that interest me. At the higher level, it needs breaking into subject areas better, so people can focus on it as something other than a stream of conciousness.

    The reason I love Quora is because it gives me a question to answer. I guess the question is for every blog post, what question am I trying to answer?

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Sy

    That is a cool way to look at things – what question am I trying to answer?

    BUT

    I have been thinking that blogging is too often about needing to distill information to others – sometimes it doesn’t need to be about saying something new or answering a question – but just about sharing an experience… right?

  • The experience sharing part is an interesting one. Goes to the idea of “telling a story”, which is good if you have a particular message in mind. I’d hope to be collaborative and engage. There is nothing better to me than having an idea fleshed out by those who are smarter than me, or have a missing piece of the jigsaw.

    I like the reframe though. I doubt I’m ever going to be close enough to a single subject to be the blog that is the leader in that given subject… but at the abstract level drawing patterns and distilling subjects for a wider audience is a role I could fulfil. Will keep that frame in mind next time I come to write. See how it impacts things.

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