Write like you code. Refactor.

I starting writing when I was 4. I started programming when I was 12. I’ve always liked programming but I only enjoyed writing when word processors freed me from my (still awful) handwriting. Maybe I just like using computers.

As an entrepreneur I do a lot of both programming and writing. Writing has made me a better programmer and vice-versa. But I was never able to describe why until I read I read Write like a programmer by tieubao. It is a 2-minute read and great advice for any aspiring hacker-founders.

(nerd bonus: it is on Github!!)

Writing is a game-changing skill for founders — a chance for us to sell ourselves and our products in our own unique way. You can copy my products but my voice is my own.

Almost every successful founding team has a good writer. My personal favorites are Paul Graham and Joel Gascoigne — programmers whose essays have changed our industry.

As tieubao eloquently advises, programming can teach us a lot about writing better content. But I think the most valuable programming skill you can to your content marketing is … refactoring.

Why refactoring is the key to your content marketing strategy

Strictly defined, refactoring means “improving the non-functional parts of software”. But practically speaking, all but the simplest refactoring efforts improve on the functional aspects as well.

Why refactor? To make it easier for other people to understand, modify, and improve our code. Lots of engineering solutions are hard or impossible to refactor. I can’t imagine a structural engineer standing on a bridge saying, “well, this design is sub-optimal. We need to refactor it”. Not even this bridge.

But software is always changing, new features are always added and programs can be re-written to make them more efficient. Like most programmers, I love refactoring. Refactoring is a programmers true power — the next version can always be better.

A lot of programmers instinctively hate writing because of their experiences in school when they had to turn in assignments. Writing assignments … school application essays … area all like bridges — you can’t easily make them better.

But your startup blog isn’t a bridge. It is more like software. You can’t possibly get it right when you start but you can always make it better.

So you just have to start, do your best, and keep making it better. You have to refactor.

Build on your best

In time you’ll have blog posts that do better than others. Likely 5% (or less) of your posts will generate 90% of your traffic and leads. The key to content marketing ROI is refactoring your blog to emphasize your most effective content.

So start with your best content. Re-write it. Update it. Expand it. Turn it into another piece of content like a slideshare or video.

The other 95% of your content? Just let it ride — sort of like old

I don’t know how to end this post

Alas, I’m out of time. I started writing the previous paragraph and suddenly realized this post would start to ramble. But then I didn’t know how to end it.

So I decided to just stop here. I can always refactor it when I have a better ending.


Originally published at ScribbleIQ Blog.