Content creation & strategy w/ Stephanie Morillo

product manager and content strategist, Stephanie Morillo. Who's also the author of the developer's guide, the content creation and the developer's guide to book publishing, teaches us about creating more engaging content and more useful documentation.

Stephanie Morillo
@radiomorillo

More of Stephanie's work: 
Links from the show: 
Transcript

Glenn Stovall: [00:00:00] hey everyone. I'm here with product manager and content strategist, Stephanie Morillo. Who's also the author of the developer's guide, the content creation and the developer's guide to book publishing. Can you do today, Stephanie? 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:00:11] I'm doing well. How about you Glenn? Pretty good. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:00:14] And today we were going to talk a bit about writing and content strategy for devs, but to start, could you tell me a little bit about, what you do currently in your history as a writer and content strategist?

Stephanie Morillo: [00:00:24] Yeah. so I have been a writer for the bulk of my 12 year long professional career. I started in communications and marketing and around the four year Mark decided that I want to learn how to program. So I learned Ruby with the help of a friend spent about a year at it, just dabbling. it wasn't very structured.

It was like we'd meet once a week, once or twice a week. And I learned that way and, Through that I started working in tech, so I moved into the startup space. I worked at general assembly. and then. Over the course of my time there, I realized that I wanted continue working around developers, but I didn't want to be a dev.

So when I was trying to think, okay, what could I do? I decided to go into writing, thought technical writing would be my, the path that I would go on. So I was like, I really want to be a documentarian, the kind of person who's responsible for producing, highly technical documentation, but instead find myself in copywriting.

I was writing marketing and product carpets. Copywriting at digital ocean. And then just through them, I started moving up the ladder content-wise de content management did the same thing at Github. And then most recently I was a content strategist at Microsoft cloud advocacy team before pivoting completely.

And now I am a product manager on an engineering team here at Microsoft. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:01:44] Oh, cool. Awesome. And what kind of content you said your documentation, what sort of content did you do over at get hub? 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:01:49] So I did do documentation AdvocateHub at GitHub. I was responsible for managing the company blog. So I was essentially the managing editor.

I was. I was copy editing blog posts. I was managing blog operations, which sounds about as interesting as it is. at that time get hubs blog was actually built on Jekyll. it was hosted on GitHub pages. There was a lot of, a lot of having to ping site engineering, whenever something went down.

And then of course, China work with good hovers who were interested in writing blog posts for the blog. So I was constantly sourcing stories, trying to find interesting angles and things that the audience would be interested in reading. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:02:29] Yeah. what were some of the interesting angles or kind of stories you look for at Github?

Stephanie Morillo: [00:02:34] I was at Github only for a few months before I moved to Microsoft. So I think the better. The better example would be digital ocean. I managed their company blog for over a year. and some of the stories that I published, one of them was, about how the company managed a go mano repo.

So one of the libraries, so basically the engineering team created a goal library that was open source and the whole thing was a mono repo. And I pinged one of the developers after seeing him talk about it in Slack. And I was like, Hey, would you like to write about it? He did. I pinged an engineering manager who had given a talk at Ashcon about managing a remote teams, got him to write something for the blog.

one of the internal infrastructure teams was doing something really interesting. They had an apprenticeship program where they allowed folks from other engineering teams at digital ocean to shadow infrastructure engineering there's to learn more about the organization. And then they actually took on some work.

So it was like a two week program. And the whole point was to help build out the infrastructure team and to get people interested in wanting to make a lateral move. So that was another story, but basically we ran the gamut. I published this, we published a story on. How one of the teams designed object storage.

So pretty much I trolled all of the Slack channels, seeing what the engineers were talking about. And I was just like, yo, you should write this as a blog post. And people were more than happy to oblige most of the time. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:03:56] Awesome. Cool. And then how was, what was the goal at digital ocean? Was this just trying to build brand awareness and , get engineers more interested in digital ocean?

Stephanie Morillo: [00:04:07] So digital ocean actually had a very solid content pipeline on the tutorial side of the house. So digital ocean publishes a lot of open source tutorials on how to do anything related to cloud infrastructure. Obviously, digital ocean is generally the. The hosting platform that's used in a lot of these examples, but these are all just, how to create something with the modern stack on digital ocean or on Ubuntu or whatever.

And they managed to get a lot of brand awareness through writing those kinds of tutorials. The blog was actually a channel that no one really, it was like an orphan. Nobody really owned it at digital ocean and they were using it like to publish a. A product announcement once every two or three months or something, or, Hey, we opened up a new data center.

So the blog was pretty much. Nobody. Nobody knew what to do with it. Nobody had any, concerns or anything. So I was like, you know what, I'm going to take over the block and I'm going to do whatever I want with it. while most companies have a very solid strategy, they have very clear metrics.

they're trying to, they might not even, it might not even be like just generating awareness. There might be other objectives that they're trying to meet through blog content. I really wanted to tell stories about how the, how we got things done at DOE to get engineers excited about DEO as a company, but also excited about.

Seeing themselves a deal. I wanted engineers to write the kinds of stories that they as engineers would like to read. just to give people another look into the company. People really liked the products. People really liked the UX, but they didn't know much about us. They didn't know much about our internal teams.

And we had a lot of platform teams that were building tools for internal customers. And they didn't really have the opportunity to shop, shine or highlight what they were doing. So the blog was a perfect way to do that. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:05:53] Yes, that's all it cost. It's definitely a frustration I've had before where you're building a building internal tools and it's I can't put this in a portfolio or anything.

and then you also do a lot of writing on your own. 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:06:04] Yeah. Yeah, I do. I do. I've been blogging pretty frequently, I would say over the last eight to nine months. prior to that, I didn't, it's funny because I spent most of my days writing and editing that at the end of the day, I was like, I don't really want to write on my blog, but since I've moved into a new team, I've.

My blog is like my creative outlet. So a lot of the blog posts that I create are around, like some of the essentials of content creation. So I have blog posts on the introduction and introduction to technical writing, but also blog posts that explains, audiences, right? what's a primary audience.

And why would you want to write for them? I have blog posts on things like. why the developers not like soft? Why don't developers like marketing or, like writing internal documentation. So any, I look for angles that, basically we book for the kinds of things that engineers asked me about.

Or things that I've done that have helped me with my own work. And those generally are the, that's the fodder for a lot of my blog posts. why 

Glenn Stovall: [00:07:11] don't developers like writing internal documentation? 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:07:15] Because it's hard to get feedback from internal docs, right? Like you're writing until you write something in a Wiki and then it's in the either and you don't know whether or not anybody is actually using it or not.

So in that sense for a lot of people, it might be. Feel or seem like a time suck. and also because writing documentation is generally an activity that most people undertake at the very end of a project, as opposed to writing continuously while the project is going on. So it's almost like one thing you have to check off your list before the project can officially ship, which you know, it's not always the most fun, but it is.

In my opinion, some of the most valuable form of writing, especially when it comes to things like onboarding new people, training, new people, they want to be able to, and to be able to do that in a scalable way, it's not scalable to have, a bunch of training sessions with every single person that joins the company.

Or if you're trying to. Build out a huge team, like when you're thinking about scale. and yeah, and you're thinking about, and you're thinking about access. I think internal documentation is the way to go, but I understand the frustration with having to write it, if you're not getting feedback and you don't know if people actually find it useful, It can be, it can feel like an activity that you're just doing to check off some boxes.

Glenn Stovall: [00:08:28] Yeah. And that's something I've struggled with too. Or I, again, I've blogged in for, I don't even know how many years at this point, but that is something where someone's, that does feel like a bit of screaming into a void in the internet that you don't always get. 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:08:42] Yeah. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:08:42] Feedback or no, if the stuff you're doing is working or not.

So I'm curious in your experience, what, or how have you gotten feedback positive or negative from some of the stuff you've published 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:08:55] in terms of internal documentation, or just general 

Glenn Stovall: [00:08:57] documentation, blogging, whatever. 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:09:00] I ask people when I, when I publish blog posts, I like to have conversations about it on my own blog.

I don't have Oh, comments section, but I tend to syndicate a lot of my blog posts on DEV community and DEV community does it does have a chat, a comment function. So I will generally ask people to share their thoughts. let me know if they have any questions and I will actively engage with each and every single comment.

So even if somebody is this is great. Thank you. I will respond. Thank you so much for reading. If people have questions, I'll try my best to answer them with internal documentation. I've actually not had a problem with it because I'm in a lot of my capacity over the last two to three years, it's been, I've been the only person in my function, or I've been responsible for doing work that plugs into other work streams.

So my documentation does get read. and the best example of that I have is when I was transitioning out of. The developer relations team and into engineering. I was able to train up the person who was gonna take over my position just on the basis of the kind of documentation that I created alone.

I did a lot of recordings. There were decks, but there were also long Wiki articles. and their manager said that it was the best transition plan that they'd ever seen because they had all of that reference material already. So I always try to. Basically communicate out documentation of people.

Internally. I have a question that I've already answered in an article. I will send them the article. People are like, great. This is awesome. It answers my question. Great. If it doesn't I asked what it's missing and then I'll try to incorporate that in the article. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:10:32] That makes sense. And I'm curious about some of your tools and process.

what did y'all use it Microsoft for internal documentation? 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:10:39] we use Azure dev ops, which is, which is our productivity tool. It's similar to JIRA. So we have, we have wikis internally and we use those heavily. So that's where we host all of our documentation internally.

And then I'm on the cloud advocacy team. We relied heavily on one note. So yeah, Microsoft 

Glenn Stovall: [00:10:58] makes sense. And, I'll speak to you just to hear about your, both the tooling and the process for. How you're writing, write some of your blog posts and stuff now. And I know you touched on this a bit on your book, the developer's guide to content creation, but maybe you could walk the listeners through how you go from coming up with ideas to then ending up with a finished published article to, getting eyeballs and comments on that article.

Stephanie Morillo: [00:11:23] Yeah. There's I'll tell you this. There are a lot of different, there are multiple steps to getting there. I'll try to focus on some of the most top of mind ones. first of all, my first recommendation would be for anyone who's interested in writing a blog post to, work in time boxes.

So often I hear. From folks that they don't have the time to write, or they want to know how to find the time to write. I've seen folks work in 15 minute time boxes per day. I prefer the 30 minute time box. And I'll just usually schedule that in three to four times a week. It doesn't really matter the cadence, but just know that when you have that time box, that's when you're working.

Secondly, it's not just sitting down to write that's part of. producing a blog posts, the research and the refinement or editing phase after you write are also activities that are, part and parcel of the writing process. So think about it like, you're doing your front research, then you're doing the drafting and then you're editing before you press publish.

then I would say when it comes to ideas and if you've read a book before you'll, this'll be familiar to you, but. I find that there are four sources of finding content ideas. The first one is to write about things that, things that people come to you about or things that you feel really confident in that you're like, yes, this is something I want to write about.

The second, source of content ideas is look for existing things that you have that you can repurpose. So if you've written or if you've produced, I don't know, like a conference talk like a year or two ago on a particular topic. Maybe there's aspects of that talk that you can refresh, that you can then produce.

Similarly, you gotta mind basically you're mining existing content that you have to repurpose it and refresh it. the third source of finding a content idea. Is looking out for what people need. Glen, since you've done 30 by 500, you're familiar with sales Safari. And for a lot of folks who are on the call who don't know about buy 500 or sell Safari, you can think of sales Safari as a, like a research methodology.

you're the role of a researcher. And you're going to the communities online, where your audience lives. If you're a web developer, for example, and maybe you're targeting early career web developers, you might go to places like dev community hash node. Of course, Twitter. You might even go to, I dunno, free code camp, just to see what people are talking about, what people are interested in.

that kind of stuff. So you want to find out what people need, what questions are they asking? What are their pain points? Are there specific themes that I've identified here? And then that makes it's for really good content. And then lastly, the things that you, I want to learn, if you have a list of things that you want to learn and almost.

All of us do make a list of all those things and start writing about them. It's a great way for you to crystallize your own learning, for you to process your own learning and also teach someone who is similarly, a beginner in that particular concept, helping them walk through it. . So that's the ideation phase. and then, yeah, it's really just a matter of sitting down at a sitting down like. During your time box working at chipping away a particular topic, and then figuring out what your publishing cadence is. So if you're like, you know what, it takes me a really long time to write.

It takes me 20 hours to write. Maybe all you can do is one block. It was for a month and that's totally fine. As long as you commit to that one blog post per month. So I tried to tell folks, pick a cadence. There are four ways of finding content ideas. And create a time box and those are some basic ways to get you from ideation to published.

Glenn Stovall: [00:14:48] Yeah. so why is it, that, do you think a cadence is so important? Why not just write whatever? I think I have just whatever inspiration or the mood strikes me 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:14:59] because. inspiration is a finite resource. I found oftentimes in my own work that I will have moments when I'm really inspired and I will produce something.

But then after that, I have a dry spell. I've seen folks who are really excited and enthusiastic and motivated in the beginning and they produce content. Really frequently, but then after two or three months, they've run out of steam and they don't have anything around. They don't have any, anything keeping them going.

So I think if we rely on motivation and inspiration, you'll find that you're only going to be able to do things in short spurts. And if you want to write or create content consistently, you have to push through the times when you're not actually motivated to write or when you're like. Or when inspiration strikes a lot of my blog posts.

it has, they haven't been produced necessarily because I felt particularly inspired. I was like, yes, I have amuse, and this is what I'm going to write about. it's frankly been because I have told them myself, this is, this is my cadence. Like I know that I need to produce one blog post per month.

So I know that's already a task that I've decided that I would do. So it's. For me, just a matter of finding the content that I want to write about and then spending the time to write about it. And I can do that. Whether or not I'm motivated to write or inspired to write, but I can produce consistently, which is important.

Glenn Stovall: [00:16:18] Yeah, I think it's, I think it is a thing. A lot of people get backwards that they think, you'll get the inspiration and then you'll get the motivation to do the work when it's actually often the opposite is you do the work and that's, what's going to get you the. Inspiration and motivation. Like a, one of my favorite books is the war of art, which I don't know if you've ever read it.

Stephanie Morillo: [00:16:38] I haven't read it, but everybody's mentioned that to me in more than one occasion. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:16:41] I think one of my favorite quotes, the author of a story says, yeah, when I write, I'm just waiting for the muse to strike, but you can tell them, use them at my typewriter every day at 7:00 AM so that she knows where to find me.

Stephanie Morillo: [00:16:54] Yeah, that's a good one. And I think it'll help a lot of folks if they realize this, like a lot of authors or novelists, or just writers that we admire, we read the finished product and we assume that they are inspired all the time and they're motivated to write all the time. And every word that they produce comes up perfectly.

When in fact it's the opposite, it's really just sheer discipline and willpower that gets them through from that first draft all the way to a publish book and. During that journey. They're often working with other people to help them refine their content, make it even better. It's not, no one sits down and produces a perfect first draft, no matter.

No matter how talented the writer. So a lot of these writers, what they did, they create systems and processes. there's no shortcut to writing, but just sitting down and actually writing. And to your point and something you mentioned earlier, the more you do it, the more motivated you become and the easier it gets in that you don't feel like you're constantly pulling your own teeth just to find the right word every time.

even if you. Produce a first draft that needs a lot of refactoring. You still feel like it's not taking you as long as it did when you first started a blog maybe a year ago or two years ago. so I think it's, the more you do it, what you're actually doing is that you're creating quick wins for yourself.

Which then motivates you to continue, which, helps you stay on track. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:18:22] Yeah. I love that you call it re factoring it too, because a good thing is if we're posting online, it's not like a printed book where you printed it. It's done. 

 

I have very frequent, like I've written an article and then I get some comments or someone's Oh, you forgot about this.

Or. You didn't consider this case. I'm like, Oh, you're right. I'll just go rewrite that section. 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:18:43] Yeah. Yeah. That's true. It's and the refactoring is true. Whether or not it's a print article. a printed article or not. with a printed article, it'll likely go through multiple rounds of editing.

So if you're writing for a publication, you'll have an editor and that editor will go through everything with a fine tooth comb. Just making sure that that everything looks as polished as possible. And. Before we publish a blog post, we should just, we should do that on our own. We should do some kind of refactoring on our own just to make sure that things look polished, that it's, that it's readable.

That it's understandable that it's something that a reader can comprehend. And of course, like you said, we always miss things. Like I will publish a blog post after having edited it a bit. And I'll always find a typo, or I might even find that I can say a sentence better. I can reword it, rephrase it. And it'll sound better and I'll go in and make the change.

And then, yeah. And people will say, Hey, by the way, I saw this, you might want to update that. And that's something that you can do quickly. So it's never just a finished static product, especially if it's online content. It's something that you can and should update and maintain. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:19:46] so that companies will be sent melts.

I wanted to dive in a bit, when you were talking about ideation and reusing old content, that's doing content audits because that's a word I've heard a lot, but I've ever really been clear, like what exactly a content audit is, or if I wanted to audit. My own content, because like I said, I've been writing stuff for number of years. , how would want to approach a content audit? 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:20:10] So it depends on the number. On the amount of content we're talking about. So I'll give you an example. When I was a writer on bumbler, so bundlers the dependency manager for the Ruby programming language, I was responsible for, managing their concent strategy for their online documentation site.

So I decided to do a content audit to better understand what content we had. What state it was in. we just, I didn't know what we had and, what I ended up doing was that I actually ended up downloading an SEO site crawler. So the site crawlers are really cool. They will. It sounds like what it is, right?

There's a spider that crawls your site and then it'll spit all of the metadata into an Excel spreadsheet. And the metadata that it usually grabs are things like the URLs, the page titles, header, tags, any other kind of meta-tags that you have in there? if they can find information about when this was last published or updated, that kind of thing.

So you use that almost as your. As your skeleton. And then what that allows you to do is to go through each piece of content, one by one to determine whether or not it's something that is, is something you want to keep. So you might actually want to use that site crawler. And then in addition to that, look at your site analytics data, and you might decide, okay, this is a, an article that I published in 2012 and it gets no traffic.

In fact, this is something that. This is the kind of content that I wouldn't even write about anymore. So you might want to decide whether you want to update it. you want to keep it as is, or if you want to remove it. So a content audit is you first, you're basically creating an inventory of everything that you currently have.

You're trying to understand the state that it's in. And you're trying to understand if this content is something that is actually not just driving traffic to your site, but it's something that's actually relevant to readers. I don't know, five years ago, maybe your blog focused on one particular topic.

And over the course of time, your audience changed. maybe you pivoted your business or something. And as a result, the content that you've produced over the last three years, it looks vastly different than what you produced five years ago. She made that pivot. You might want to say, I got to figure out what to do with all this older stuff.

It's still on my side. It's not really, it's not really doing anything. It doesn't matter if I keep it, but I really want to track certain kinds of  and all of this old stuff is not really helping me. So that's what it is. It's just, it's an inventory. You're trying to go through, determine the state and determine whether it's something that is meeting either your objectives or your readers objectives.

It's very tedious as it's as tedious as it sounds. but it's, it's a worthwhile exercise, especially if you happen to have a big blog or a big website. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:22:45] Yeah. Okay. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So just going to inventory and figure out. Where to go from there. And that's something else I've wondered too, is about content strategy, which is another word I hear thrown around a lot at night and be particularly curious.

I know you've done a lot of work at big companies, but how you see content strategy, big companies, and also. if I'm just an independent developer and I want to start a personal blog, how much should I think about content strategy? What would that look like? 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:23:14] So content strategy, a definition that I like that was coined by a content strategist named Christina Halverson is that content strategy is the planning for the creation, maintenance, and governance of useful and usable content.

It's not the same as content marketing. So content marketing is, our. Art is content that is created specifically to, to, to like address or attract, a customer need on a site. if you're trying to attract a specific type of customer, you're trying to get them into your funnel.

You might use content marketing to address that, so that customers at different stages of the funnel, you're trying to get them as close as possible to like the purchase decision. Content strategy is. All is looking at content really holistically. It looks at your product content. It looks at your marketing website.

It looks at everything that you have that is meant to be consumed or used by users and trying to determine whether or not it's actually aligning to a need. So content strategy is important because it asks why. Why am I doing this? Why am I creating this video? Why am I creating a podcast? Does this article actually fulfill a need?

And it's, in that sense, okay. For a larger company, as you might imagine, concent strategy can be quite a beast. universities have concent strategists, and they're wrangling sites that are like 20, 30,000 pages, deep trying to determine whether or not. the content is find-able, people can find it, people can use it, that it's actually relevant to them, but for somebody such as yourself.

So you're. you're an individual developer and you're a business owner, right? You're a freelancer. When you're thinking about content strategy, you might want to think about things like what kind of content channels do I want? So one thing that we, it's not unusual, it happens to all of us is that we jump on the shiny new toy.

Thinking that, Oh, maybe this is a way to attract an audience. I've seen people create podcasts because that's the du jour thing to do or create a screencast or to start Twitch in addition to blogging. Now, while that might be tempting for you, as a freelancer, you want to, you shouldn't do that. This is where constant strategy comes in. You shouldn't do that without really understanding if this meets the needs of your audience. Is it something that your audience actually wants? And thirdly, if you can actually. Maintain the thing. Is there a governance model around your Twitch stream, your, this, that, and the third, because if you find that you are overwhelmed by all of these different types of content that you're creating, then you like, what's the plan for maintaining it and keeping it going over the long haul.

So it might be things like. Okay. I need to determine what specific types. So if content I'm actually going to create, so I don't know the nature of your business, but for my business, I try to focus it on content strategy, content creation, writing, things like that. I'm not going to talk about.

I'm not going to talk about visual design. I'm not going to talk about, I don't know, I'm not going to talk about, engineering management, because that doesn't align with my goals, As a business owner, but also what my audience needs. They don't need that for me. There are other people that do that, but what they do need from me are the things that, I've carved a nation.

So that's what you have to think about is You don't want to create content for content's sake. that a lot in content marketing. it's not everyone that does that, but that a lot, right? Oh, for SEO, we're just going to write like this beginner article. That's great. But is that something that people really need from me?

Are you actually addressing what they need? So your goal is to understand your user very well to know how to find out what it is that they need. From you, even if they can articulate that yet, and for you to present that solution and you're doing that, and you're trying to be as relevant and as close to the customer or the user as possible, as opposed to just blogging about like how beautiful the dandelions were outside and have that live aside, Next to a blog post that you're writing about JavaScript, for example, huh? 

Glenn Stovall: [00:27:10] Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of people hear blogging and they think about how some people do it or how it used to be like very early in the internet where it was just like, literally like my journal, but I'm going to publish it.

Stephanie Morillo: [00:27:24] Where now it 

Glenn Stovall: [00:27:24] can just be, it could be something where, like you said, you can build up a brand, build up, help serve an audience, actually help people. And actually, could be something that if you're strategic could help you improve your business or career. 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:27:39] Oh yeah, absolutely. I think, Early on in the internet, it was very much like a journal, Blogging was like a journal and it was like a trash can for all of your ideas. if you're, and it's not just if you're trying to build a business, but if you're trying to use your blog as a way of getting people to know who you are, what you're interested in, staying as close to staying.

Basically staying as close to topic to your main topics as possible is important. So one thing that I'll do, for example, with if we look at a content, got it, I'll go through my blog and I'll look at the blog posts that I've written in the past. The ones that high-performing the ones that aren't, and I will actively unpublished blog posts.

I've done it, especially because you know what I cared about, what I was interested in three years ago, doesn't necessarily all of it doesn't necessarily apply to what I'm trying to do today. So I want to make sure that the content that I do have there, all of it is useful no matter when it was published.

And that it's something that aligns with. With my brand, with my messaging, with my value proposition. if it quantity, isn't the thing with content strategy or even with blogging today is that I really believe that it's not about quantity, that it really is about quality. And for you to get to that quality, you just have, you have to know your audience very well.

And what your value prop is. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:28:57] So that led to another good question. What would you say are some of the things that. Can differentiate between low quality and high quality content. 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:29:06] Yeah. Low quality. as when it comes to writing or anything content, it's all really subjective, right?

Like it's hard to, there aren't any hard measurements. but I think that there are specific aspects of writing that. That can for example, like posts that, that don't have any structure, that to me is something that's indicative of low quality or something that reads like it was stream of consciousness, where there are a lot of typos where, there are missing steps.

What that indicates to me is that the writer, was that the writer did not spend enough time after the initial drafting phase, trying to make sure that. What they created was something that was, that could be readily read it readily consumed by a user readily consumed, sorry, by a user. I find that posts that have been written really quickly where people don't check for like basic spelling or grammar, where you don't find headers or where the writer doesn't indicate what kind of, prerequisite knowledge somebody needs before they look at the article that tends to signal, something that, that was just quickly put together and put out.

So I always, I really strongly advocate that a lot of writers, They have somebody, it could be a friend even review a post just to help you get the perspective of the reader. what was somebody who did not know anything about what you wrote? How would they react to this if they were looking at it for the first time?

And I think that's an important thing for the writer to keep in the back of their mind. Oftentimes writers are very much in with reason, consumed with actually getting their thoughts to paper that they, are, they don't have enough. They don't actually save any kind of mental bandwidth to think about what this looks like.

From the readers perspective and getting someone who is looking at it with a fresh set of eyes, I think lends a lot of value and can actually help you improve your quality because they might not just spot typos and stuff, but they might actually find that you're missing information. That's crucial for the reader.

There are areas that are not very clear at all, that they were very confused by or frustrated by what you're trying to do is limit the distractions in your piece so that someone can read it and comprehend it and do whatever it is that you want them to do, which is why they're reading it. So if you're creating a tutorial, And it's hard.

This is easier said than done. You basically want to make sure that the writing you're creating, you're not actually creating any obstacles or roadblocks. You're trying to remove them through the course of the piece. those are just some things formatting and stuff like that. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:31:50] that makes a lot of sense or like that model of removing the distractions and removing the roadblocks.

 who are some writers that you read a lot, that you find that you are really enjoyable, that really inspire you? 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:32:04] Wow. Any kind of writers or folks in the tech space, 

Glenn Stovall: [00:32:06] any kind of writers, 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:32:08] I'm a big fan of Paul Ford's writing. Paul Ford wrote the, the Epic article. What is code five years ago and Bloomberg.

And any time I read his writing, I quite enjoy it. the folks at his agency, pulse light, I find that they write really great content. That I enjoy reading. I enjoy reading a lot of Amy Hoy's writing. It's a lot of personality in her writing. And I find that her writing is very conversational, which is excellent.

It takes you, it's like it's a narrative. A lot of her writing is very much a narrative structure and it's almost like she's talking to you. And she does that in a way. That's really excellent in terms of. Technical content. they're not specific writers, but specific companies that I like. I really like mode analytics.

I looked at mode's SQL documentation a few months ago when I was trying to learn SQL myself. And I found that there, their cul basics tutorial was just fantastically we're in. And I felt I. Understood a lot of concepts that I had trouble understanding with other tutorials with them. And I will always go back to digital oceans tutorials.

I haven't worked there for two years, so I have no skin in the game, but I will tell you that their technical writing is absolutely top notch. and I always point people to their writing. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:33:22] Yeah. And I th I think it's in your book. We'll include the link here. I think they have some guides on how they ask people to write.

There are two doors lock invitations that you can use yourself, which are super helpful 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:33:34] for sure. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:33:35] Yup. Something else I'll throw out to the user. There's a lot of companies out there you can find they'll have some documentation on their writing or their style guides to, do they use internally?

I know, I don't know if it's still up. I know MailChimp has a, they had a style guide up. That was a really fascinating, great it's incredibly well thought out and they're known for it. 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:33:57] Yeah, it was the MailChimp content style guide. And that was a, that was actually considered like a, like the golden state standard, even if for a lot of content strategists because of the, just the nature of their style guide and how they broke everything down.

the fact that they made that available to the public, which is also really awesome. It's a lot of times companies will make style guides proprietary and they'll keep it internally. So it's nice to see how other companies approach their style guides. in terms of like technical documentation, get lab also PR also publishes their style guide.

Microsoft does, and Google also makes their technical writing style guide available to the public. So there are quite a number of style guides out there already that. Are awesome for folks who are just trying to understand the, or see some examples of really good writing and apply that in their own writing.

And the great thing is that because they make it available, you can apply those same, those same concepts and those same writing styles to your own work. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:34:55] Yep. Sounds good. All right. we'll, for the listener, I'll be sure to dig up as many of these as I can. We'll listen to them all be in the show notes and also that Stephanie, people want to find out more about you and what you're doing, where can they find you online?

Stephanie Morillo: [00:35:06] You can find me on Twitter @radiomorillo that's R our ADI O M O R I L O. And you can find me at stephaniemorillo.co

Glenn Stovall: [00:35:14] Alright, and then, did you have anything else you want to plug at this time? 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:35:18] Nope, that's about it. I'm always welcome to. Chatting with folks online. So if you have any content questions and such, please feel free to reach out to me, I would be happy to help.

All right. 

Glenn Stovall: [00:35:27] Sounds good. Thank you very much. 

Stephanie Morillo: [00:35:29] Thank you. 

 

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