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Technology vs. Content, or Why Teaching WordPress Is Frustrating

Nov 29, 2010 • blogging, general, wordpress

Over the past several years, I've trained a lot of people on WordPress, through individual one-on-one training, seminars, workshops, and conference events.

Most of the people who want to learn WordPress have plans for blogging. They think blogging requires you to understand the technology before they can jump in. But the technology is easy -- learning how to navigate and publish content with WordPress is a no-brainer. The hard part is creating regular, interesting content. I'm not sure how to teach content creation. Here's a graphic comparing the two processes.

Managing the technology is easy; creating the content is much more complicated.
Managing the technology is easy; creating the content is hard.

While managing the technical aspects doesn't have to involve more than a five-minute registration process at wordpress.com for a new blog, creating post after post involves much more skill.

For example, if teaching someone how to blog, here is some advice I would give: Focus on story. Don't shy away from transparency. Avoid posts that are too long. Stick with a consistent focus. Give your opinion, not just the facts. Incorporate voices from various sources. Publish during the work week. Respond to comments. Reinforce your main ideas through visual graphics. Write for yourself. Find a higher purpose in your activity. Choose a topic you're passionate about, but also something you regularly do. Don't expect a lot of visibility early. Read a lot. Ask questions to brainstorm ideas. Follow your gut feeling. Keep the ideas simple and straightforward. Find a financial ROI. Write everyday, but don't necessarily publish every day. Explore alternative points of view. Let posts mature a few days before publishing. Structure text with subheadings and lists. Use catchy but descriptive titles. Push boundaries but don't violate confidentiality. Be consistent in publishing. Somehow find time for it all.

I could go on and on. Blogging is all about the content, not the technology. That's why my workshops on WordPress are frustrating. I know that what I'm teaching isn't the hard part. The technology is easy. It's the content creation and production that's tough. But I can't really teach that. I can share my writing techniques, but my techniques may work only for me.

I'll grant that creating a blog theme from scratch, or making heavy customizations to the layout and style of a theme, is more difficult. But in my experience, people care much more about the content than the design.

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.