The Challenges of Writing About Beauty is one of my top performers here on Cities of the Mind. That being said, it’s really at the same level as some of my more recent content, visually or on a purely content-quality metric. So I’m giving it a step-by-step post revision. For a look at how I figured out it was one of my best organic traffic draws, and why I’m revising three of my most liked posts, check out the blog on the subject.
The process is really very straightforward: Take something people are already looking at, research what makes people like things more, and then make improvements. Super-charge it.
Okay, enough about that, let’s get to it.
Step 1: Fixing Errors in Existing Content
The first thing to do is find typos and glaring embarrassing mistakes. For example, can you spot what’s wrong here?
I don’t worry too much about errors in my posts here. This is a side project, and my time to blog is limited, so I allow myself one single read-through of completed material. In other words, I write it, I read it, I fix any errors I found on the first pass, and then I put it in the posting queue.
This means some things slip through. At a guess, I’d say what I did here was write the header before I decided if this post was going to be in first, second, or third person. Then forgot to add the pronoun when I finished writing.
Anyway, the long and short of it is that I need to read through it again anyway, because it’s been awhile since I wrote it, and I don’t have perfect recall of what I wrote. However, you should never miss a chance to fit more work into the same investment of time and effort, so as I’m proofing it I’m doing two others things:
1: Looking for points I’ve missed and should expand on.
2: Figuring out the key points I want to use for my expanded multimedia approach to the topic.
Step 2: Implementing a Multimedia Approach
People like their text broken up by pictures on the internet. Since this original post contains zero pictures, I’m going to fix that. I do that by looking for some of the most powerful imagery in the post, and basing some artwork on that.
I’m doubling down on this, too, though, because I’m going to combine the key points of the original post with the new art to make an infographic. Remember, the whole reason I’m going through this is to get more out of post that’s already doing well for itself, right? We’ll circle back to that later.
I really enjoyed doing this piece of artwork, because it’s at the far end of my meager talents. I even made an effort to check out a rainy sunrise, since I was lucky enough to experience on in Phoenix while I was working on this. I’m firmly convinced that the color of sunrise doesn’t actually exist. Still, I think I managed to pull together the gray, the dreary, and the way the light caught the wires well enough to augment the text description at the beginning of the article.
I tracked down an old photo I snapped at what consider to the most beautiful scene I’ve ever been part of. I found it fell short of the moment, and was inspired to write a bit more about it. This actually ended up being a great thing, because I not only added an entire section giving a real example of the problem faced in writing about beauty, but found I had written a much better conclusion for the article as well.
Here is a picture I took during my walkabout days, of the single most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced. As you might expect, a picture, even if it weren’t the product of a cheap digital camera, falls far, far, short. And that’s the point. Read the article if you want to know more, I’m not going to rehash it here.
I considered doing a podcast on this topic, and eventually decided to settle on a video–actually two videos! One for this blog, and one for the Beauty article itself!
The last step was to create a nice shareable version of the content, call the “light” version of the post, using mostly text and images generated for the post. I also pulled a little artwork from other posts, like the bird from the title card for the Make Your Twitter Bio Interesting guest post by Ash Sanford.
I wanted to keep that sort of dreary feel from the electrical wire art, because a central point of the article is that beauty is largely a matter of framing.