Write Now. Format Later.

Things online change so fast.

Each new method of communicating feels like one more thing rather than an improvement. So we feel weighed down by learning something new instead of encouraged to interact more.

There’s social media, email marketing, Snapchat, traditional email; there’s blogging, there’s video blogging, there’s podcasting.

There’s all the regular ways we communicate.

And it all seems like too much because there’s always something more to learn.

It is too much. It’s true. Accepting that we won't ever know everything about every new way of communicating, there is one habit that can help you stop pulling at least some of your hair out.

Writing in Plain, Unformatted Text First

Write. And that's it. Wait to format.

Extra credit: learn Markdown

If you need formatting to help organize your writing, use hashtags (#) to set headings apart and make lists with dashes (-).

So there's plain text and there's formatted text. We usually write and format at the same time. I'm encouraging you to just write your blog post, your newsletter, your speech, your monthly address—write it in plain text first.

When plain text is your first and most basic ready-for-publishing building block, you have the flexibility to publish to whatever platform makes the most sense. You can post it, email it, or send it in the mail.

Let’s take newsletters for example:

A lot of people send a printed newsletter and maybe they upload the PDF to their website. Great experience for those who get it in the mail, but PDFs are terrible online.

And another thing

And PDFs and Word Docs all treat text differently so if you copy/paste sometimes you get this monster-terrible-situation with a million spaces between paragraphs... it gets bad quite.

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get someone to take the text from a PDF and post that instead of the PDF document.

Whoever is making the document feels finished with it by the time it is ready for some form of publication—whatever form that might be.

People typically open up Word and start making (not just writing) their newsletter. This stunts their potential immediately, because the project feels over once they’ve finished the newsletter’s layout. It’s understandable why also adding the newsletter information to your website or to an email seems like extra work. Doing things this way, it is extra work.

It's not extra work when you write the text first.

When the first and finalized form (meaning you do your editing in plain text too) of your information is text you can go anywhere with it.

Now dress it up a little and you’re on your way.

Still on newsletters—this allows you to create your printable newsletter (for those who want it) but at the same time post the information to your website or send it in an email to the rest of your customers or congregation.

The key here is to divorce the content creation from the publication. You have publication in mind, but you split the steps. This is major workflow change for some, but it does result in less friction getting content online.

 

You need relevant and useful information online for your customers or congregation.

If you don't have it or haven't thought about it, you're turning people away. Trust me on this—well talk about how people find your website. We'll talk about SEO and how search engines work.


I want to answer your questions:

What do you want to know about SEO and how search engines work?


Who do you know that is doing good in the world?

Share this. People focused on doing good often don't keep up with how to communicate best online—things change fast and their focus is elsewhere. We can help them reach more people.

If you have any questions please comment below or contact me and I'll get back to you.