What Makes a Post Freshly Press-able? The Frailest Thing
Every day, 19 WordPressers are featured on the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress.com. And every day, many more wonder, “What do I have to do to get Freshly Pressed?”
Well, it’s time to reveal what the folks who push the launch button are thinking. Each week, a member of our editorial team will do a close-up on one post and why we thought it was Press-worthy. We hope we can provide insight into the process and give you tips and tools to make your blog the best it can be.
Recently, we promoted The Frailest Thing to Freshly Pressed with the post “Toilet Paper: A History.” On this blog, Mike writes about technology and how it intersects with culture, philosophy, and even religion. In this post, we especially liked how he breathed life into a seemingly mundane topic—toilet paper.
Here are three ways he accomplished this:
A hook reeled us in.
This post comments on how all technologies—even those we take for granted, like toilet paper or the refrigerator—have their own histories. It’s a sprawling topic, but Mike’s “hook”—a pop culture reference and episode from the TV show Seinfeld—introduces the big idea he’s exploring, and does so in an entertaining way.
We read so many posts on WordPress.com every day, so an opening that piques our interest and makes a subject accessible and relatable is a good start. A hook comes in many forms: a famous quote, a personal anecdote, an account of a conversation you’ve had that has resonated with you, and more.
The blogger acted as a narrator.
In the middle of recounting the scene from Seinfeld, Mike interjects in order to steer his discussion about toilet paper—but also to reconnect with his reader:
Now stick with me. I know you’re probably wondering why I’m writing about toilet paper, but there is a point here.
In a post like this, which dives into cultural commentary and history, don’t lose your voice. Mike speaks directly to his reader throughout, and in occasional asides in parentheses, while allowing his more historical discussion to unfold:
Toilet paper has a history. Of course it has a history. But who thinks of it? Like George, we take most of our technology for granted.
You’re the storyteller, so talk to us. Ask questions. Or crack a joke, if appropriate. Be authoritative, but don’t distance yourself: interact with your reader. Engaging nonfiction writers employ narrative techniques—just as fiction writers do—and experiment with elements such as point of view, persona, and tone.
The subject was so common—yet so unique.
Who knew a post about toilet paper could be interesting? We give Mike props for exploring a topic in which we all have personal, tangible experience, but probably have never considered in a thoughtful, intellectual way. (And likely never outside of the bathroom!) He could have investigated the history of another kind of technology—something more obvious, like a phone or a fax machine, to illustrate his point. But by choosing to highlight this unglamorous household product, he creates a unique discussion.
One way of improving your own writing is to look at how other blog posts cover topics in which you’re interested. What different devices or distinct perspectives does the author use? If they approach a topic through Door A, try going through Door B. Experiment with an unlikely example. Transform the mundane into something meaningful.
What do you think of this particular pick for Freshly Pressed? Will you read more from this blog?