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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?”

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.

To answer a common question, a post doesn’t need photos to be Freshly Press-able. This toilet paper post, for example, doesn’t rely on images.

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?

For more on our Freshly Pressed content, check out last week’s Freshly Press-able post, read the roundup of July’s top 10 posts, or read So You Want to Be Freshly Pressed?

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  1. Lovely subject!
    Creativity brings out interesting points from ordinary things. I love the idea of writing about what makes a post freshly press-able, I’ve really been curious to know! I hope my honesty isn’t subtracting any of my reputation? Oh! I should have asked if I have any left!
    Please don’t mind my rantings, I’ll be glad to read more on the subject.
    Good job!

    1. Honesty is the best policy. I believe blogging is all about honesty; your personal rant is what makes your blog ‘your bubble’ or ‘space,’ if you know what I mean.

  2. Toilet Paper is an excellent topic of choice. How do we make sure that the editorial staff actually gets to know what we have written about? Obviously, they can’t keep track of so many simultaneous posts…

    1. You’re right — there are so many posts published each day, many exploring the same topics. We search for content often by topic and come upon selections this way, but as we’d mentioned in our inaugural “What Makes a Post Freshly Press-able?” post, we simply can’t read them all.

      If you’d ever like us to consider an excellent post (or blog), drop us a comment.

  3. Such a fantastic title is what would attract myself to that article.
    A good title, in my opinion, juxtaposes concepts or objects such that the reader is so intrigued to what the possible link could be. Human curiosity is your friend when promoting your work!

  4. I am thoroughly enjoying your Freshly Pressable posts series. At your suggestion, I did read Michael’s toilet paper treatise, and found it as interesting and well-written as you purported it to be. As to whether I’ll continue to follow that blog – that’s still up in the air. I’m trying to keep up with following my loyal followers and commenters, and though Michael’s blog was delightful, it seems to not be a quick read. I’ll have to debate whether I have time to add reading yet another blog to my daily routine.

    This raises a point that perhaps other bloggers struggle with – how much time to spend blogging, reading blogs, following blogs, answering comments and so on. Have I created my own time-eating monster by starting my blog and following other bloggers? Discuss if you like.

    1. Indeed, blogging involves not just posting content on our own blogs. We certainly don’t *have* to interact with our readers, answer comments, and keep up with other blogs regularly, but it certainly enriches the experience and allows us to build, organically, a following and our own little place in this online space.

      I think others will have different opinions here, but for me, I feel overwhelmed sometimes with “keeping up.” In terms of reading/following other blogs, I generally read blogs that really speak to my interests. It’s not that I don’t pay attention to anything else — as I love reading about new things (like toilet paper!) — but I’ve connected with likeminded people/bloggers in general via carefully seeking out blogs I truly enjoy.

  5. Saar Grepz – I’m sure many of us do what is outlined above…but the stars gotta be aligned in the right position too!!!

  6. I compliment your approach about letting all know why freshly pressed posts are freshly pressed. I learnt alot from this post and it makes me write better too. Thanks alot.

  7. Ok, I have to give Michael a “High-Five” on this post. Creative, witty and all around very well written :-)
    Will I read more of his blog for sure. Thanks for these “Daily Posts”!

    1. Thanks for your feedback on the Freshly Pressed process. I think the feature highlights and shares great content on the WordPress.com community. It’s also a way to encourage bloggers to post more, and inspire others with examples and ideas that may (or may not) be of interest to them.

      1. I respect your opinion but wouldn’t you agree that most of what I said has merit and you can’t just claim that .002% of posts are the best and that people need to follow their lead and change their style just to conform to what you consider high standards?

      2. Instead of wordpress editors just controlling the system, if you claim that there has to be a section called “freshly pressed” why not expand the number to way more than 19 and let every blogger choose a set number of their favorites everyday. at least that would be more democratic. you would get a better variety and better discussion. it makes a lot more sense.

    2. If you don’t want to be freshly pressed, then don’t worry about it. Just as if you don’t want to be published in the real world, you don’t listen to what agents or publishers say about the sort of things they generally look for.

      Freshly Pressed is very like the publishing industry. Nobody absolutely needs books to be published in order to get at them. They could all be photocopied and distributed, or now emailed around as a pdf. But that doesn’t mean that publishing isn’t an enormous boost to the writer. And yes, publishers are “controlling” what is out there, because they have to choose out of the vast amount of stuff that gets sent their way, most of which will be either genuinely bad or not their cup of tea.

      I am just delighted that WP take the time to highlight blogs which otherwise I would miss, and I’m quite happy that I am unlikely to ever be selected given that there is quite a bit of erotic content in my satire.

      Keep up the good work, Cheri and the team.

      1. “Freshly Pressed is very like the publishing industry”. This is indeed a very apt comparison. However, the one thing that I find especially problematic with the Freshly Pressed section is the blurb which says “The best of xxxx bloggers, xxxx new posts…”

        This is very misleading to say the least. It conveys that FP editors have reviewed thousands of blogposts from which they have selected the cream of the crop–the 19 WordPressers who get to be featured on Freshly Pressed. The truth though is that FP only has a handful of staffers who can only review a limited number of blogs.

        My point is that this blurb should be revised for the sake of transparency. Heck, FP is good at churning those impressive stats anyway so why not something like “the best of xxxx number of new posts reviewed by WordPress Editors today”?

        http://galangpusa.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/freshly-pressed-and-all-that-blah/

  8. That’s what you say. The process looks, frankly, rather arbitrary to me, considering the millions of posts out there. I’m guessing luck is the greatest single factor in getting pressed.

  9. As a complete Noob to blogging, this post is especially helpful. Thank you so much and please keep the tips and advice coming.

  10. Thank you! You answered a question I have often wondered about! But of course we all believe that everything we write should be freshly pressed. I’mmm kidding, well, not really.

  11. I always wondered how they got chosen. I thought maybe it had to do with popularity, but in fact the popularity would come after making the FP page. i guess it comes down to being a good blogger, writing interesting stuff, and having a catchy title.

    That being said, my boring “me” blogs will never make the page. Got it.

  12. This post has really “cleaned up” a lot of issues for me about freshly pressed. I think one needs to really “roll” with the punches and give the reader the “Royale” treatment (sorry about product placement here). Funnily enough, never thought about the posts as though I was speaking directly to someone – always thought of them more like “reflections” rather than anything else. Merci! TTFN

  13. Thanks, WordPress, for Freshly Pressing me! It was cool to read all the comments and make some new WP friends!

  14. I wrote a post every day for a year and never got Freshly Pressed. :/ But then again, I suppose pleasepresshere.wordpress.com wasn’t much like anything I’ve read on WP.

  15. Is there any hope for us “oldies” who have never seen a Seinfeld show or think that the current pop culture is not all that entertaining? Believe it or not, there are many of us who still don’t “text’ on those new-fangled phone things! In short, is there a senior citizen blogging outfit? Thanks. (Now, back to my oatmeal and bran muffins)

    1. Hey Mark — while this particular post uses Seinfeld as its hook, a post doesn’t have to rely on current pop culture to be attention grabbing at all. You could begin with a famous quote from ancient Greek philosopher; you can craft a short scene conjuring up an incident from your childhood; you can link to an interesting news story you recently read (that has nothing to do with contemporary entertainment!).

      As mentioned, a “hook” comes in many forms.

  16. This is really awesome. I’ve never watched Seinfeld, but the main framework can be used for anything. Thanks to FP for bringing this to my attention! It’s a really good post :D

    1. “I’ve never watched Seinfeld, but the main framework can be used for anything.” Exactly. In these Freshly Pressed analyses, we hope to offer tips and provide examples that illustrate different techniques with which you can experiment on your own blogs.

      That said, not all techniques will work for everyone — we all have different styles, approaches to blogging, and interests.

  17. It’s so great to see creative writing be rewarded with exposure. Kudos to you guys at the Daily Post on also sharing your logic of selection! Hopefully one of my posts will be featured on day :D

  18. With all due respect, Ms. Lucas, I could do without “a phone or a fax machine” for a day, or two, or three if needed. But toilet paper? My family literally goes into a panic when one of us is — pun intended — caught with our pants down and no paper. We then go into cop/robber mode as another family member gently places the paper roll on the floor and kicks it towards the bathroom door. Unless, of course, no one is home. Then, you begin your pants at the ankles stride to find the holy grail of flushable tissue. Great topic for a blog, great review, and thanks for the tips. That reminds me, on my next trip to Costco.

  19. A general question that interests me, and applies to this as well:

    Is there a best time to post something? I know when I used to do sportswriting, we’d aim for sunrise on the east coast (U.S.A.) to get in the headlines, but I was wondering if you had any data to recommend the best time to post things?

    1. Hi Dave — on my blog, I either publish in the morning or late at night. From my personal experience, the response to a post — regardless of when it was published — is similar, given that I do everything the same (sharing on Twitter, Facebook, moderating comments, etc.). As for day of the week, I like posting Mondays or early in the week. Sometimes Friday, too. I try to avoid weekends (though it’s not the end of the world if you post on a Saturday/Sunday!).

      Please note that’s just my experience — I hope others will chime in.

    2. @Dave, +1 to what Cheri said – my weekday posts are all over the place and tend to get about the same traffic, and weekend posts are lighter. For me, frequency and consistency of posting impact traffic much more than time of day.

      (As far as being Freshly Pressed, though, timing doesn’t matter. We’re all searching the topics for Pressable posts daily, scrolling back through hours’ worth of posts.)

  20. Enlightening. Do you really, read ALL blog posts? I can’t imagine that’s possible. I’d love to be Freshly Pressed some day. Maybe I will make that a goal. I started my blog one month ago today and lately have been trying to reach a “purpose” or “goal” in continuing this fairly arduous endeavor. I’m job hunting, but not in any sort of writing field or capacity, so maybe FRESHLY PRESSED is the goal, following the precepts you seek in a posting, executing them as best I can, over and over until I PRESS OR DIE (figuratively die just to be clear!)

    1. “I’d love to be Freshly Pressed some day. Maybe I will make that a goal.” Love that you’re motivated, although I don’t think becoming Freshly Pressed should be a blogger’s main “goal.” We should write, ultimately, to explore our interests and find our voices, and experiment with the techniques shared in these “Freshly Press-able” posts in the hope of improving our craft.

      And no, I don’t read all the blog posts out there — I *do* sleep sometimes! ;)

      1. Thank you for the “wake-up”. You are right, making being “Freshly Pressed” should not be the driving force behind my commitment to blogging. In the month since I started blogging, actually writing creatively about topics I chose, as opposed to the years spent writing research papers or on issues provided by an employer or professor, I have felt more free and have learned a lot about myself. Those are accomplishments in their own right. Thanks again for responding!

  21. Loved your pick and take on the TP post. I must have missed that the day it was featured, so glad you featured it again here so I could read it. It was pretty humorous.

  22. I always thought that going self referential would insure Freshly Pressedism (Yay! Big words!) so to that end I’ve started writing posts in which I mock the titles of Freshly Pressed posts. (I’ve called it Freshly Riffed)
    Does going self referential work or should we all start writing about toilet paper?

    1. Not quite sure what you mean by “self-referential” — and I don’t think it’s accurate to say that a specific approach to a post guarantees Freshly Pressedism (Pressdom? Pressedness?) :)

      Humor is a topic we search in the reader, and humor, when appropriate, is Press-able. I don’t think we want to promote writing that mocks other people’s work, though.

  23. Thanks for sharing the official view on what gets the ‘Freshly Pressed’ seal of appreciation. The quality of writing and the analysis on some of the selected posts has been amazing. Putting these posts in the spotlight definitely gives other bloggers a chance to improve their own writing and presentation skills.

  24. You know what? Of course the poor ol’ WordPress peeps can’t read every blog. But it’s not up to them to do the discovering on our behalf – we’re lucky they actually choose a few things to put out there. Imagine if FP was like Etsy’s front page seems to be, and robots picked what went up? I’m stoked there’s real people and a qualitative system in place behind the thing, I had no idea.

  25. I have a question — how do you choose the post or posts to be reviewed? I understand what you do with the chosen post, but bloggers need to know how to get our posts into the group from which you choose. Perhaps you could write a post on that. Thanks!

  26. I have to say that sometimes I get quite depressed when I see the Freshly Pressed page. No matter how hard I try to write from the heart, on subjects that drive me wild and even sometimes chucking in cool photos, it seems that to graduate to the Freshly Pressed elite is one of those things that require a good dose of luck too. And possibly a commenting spree on other peoples’ blogs to get your name a bit better known. The balance between writing for the sake of reaching out to the world, and writing in order to ‘be known’, is a really tough one. Authenticity vs. popularity content. I think I would rather just write even though nobody read my work…or maybe I’m just sore at not being FP’d =).

    1. “The balance between writing for the sake of reaching out to the world, and writing in order to ‘be known’, is a really tough one. Authenticity vs. popularity content.”

      Great insight. As a blogger, I too think about this. We write because we love it, yet in that public, outward-facing dimension of blogging — or really any online/social media platform we’re on — we hope that our words and ideas are read by others.

      1. Very true Cheri! I guess that’s the challenge of the blogosphere, like all writing that’s destined for other eyes: staying true to who we are and accepting the criticism (even if it be in the form of a lack of attention) without letting it daunt us. I’ll be sure to read your blog too!

  27. Handy to know. I do enjoy checking out Freshly Pressed once or twice a week to see what else is out there. Like others, though, I take issue with “The best of 380,770 bloggers, 1,134,781 new posts, 1,299,340 comments, & 314,775,167 words posted today on WordPress.com.” Because “best” is arbitrary.

    I read blog posts every day that are better than what is selected for Freshly Pressed. And by better I mean more interesting to me, or more entertaining to me, or in many cases just better written.

    And I appreciate the categories, but to say that there is always a food blog that is in the top twenty best blogs of the day? I will never click on a food blog. I have no interest in them. I respect their authors, but they aren’t the BEST by default.

    All you have to do to fix that is change it to “a selection from 380,770 bloggers, 1,134,781 new posts, 1,299,340 comments, & 314,775,167 words posted today on WordPress.com.

    1. Thanks for your feedback! But oh, poor food blogs — let’s not pick on them :) We could be talking about any type of blog. You’re right — some may not click on a food blog, or a politics blog, or a technology blog. Ever. But as we search for various topics each day, it’s important to showcase the quality ones that stand out within each type/niche, including food blogging.

  28. Well, I linked parking tickets to sacrificing virgins. Maybe I should have explored that a bit more. :) Congratulations to Mike, and thank you OP for these insights.

    1. Just wanted to add that quality is subjective. My blogs are very high quality, but likely not that many people can relate to them. The same people have been checking in regularly for months, small though, that group may be.

      Getting freshly pressed has never been my objective, if it ever happens it will be a nice surprise. The main objective of my blog is to sort out my own position regarding the topic I am exploring. It may turn into a book one day. The book may sell, even if my words never see the freshly pressed light of day.

      I would suggest replacing “quality” with “favorite picks” or something to that effect, since there are many excellent writing styles – even if most of them have a limited appeal to the general audience.

  29. My blog is very specific – healing from the loss of a parent. It is a tribute to my mom, and my words are those of pain and healing as I’ve worked my way through all the feelings associated with losing my mom to pancreatic cancer. I’ve read posts about what it takes to get Freshly Pressed and tried to follow the suggestions. I would love to get Freshly Pressed one day, but given the topic of my blog, I don’t see it happening. The greatest accomplishment from my blog is that through comments I’ve received, I know I have helped others who are walking a path similar to mine.

    1. Hi Kathy — we don’t overlook blogs that focus on specific topics. Some of the recent posts we’ve promoted to the home page have covered particular issues/ideas, from algebra to the “death” of a video game magazine to someone’s musings on Bigfoot! We look for quality content across all fields and niches.

  30. WordPress continuously sends my worst post to people when I’ve liked their posts. I don’t want to get rid of it because it is useful to beginning guitarists, but I did it without any prep, and although none of mine are of general interest, I wish they wouldn’t send out as the main post, my John Fogerty – Swamp Water post. No end to seeing people “like” it….

    I suppose I can take refuge in the fact that as a blog of very defined interest, “Swamp Water” won’t be freshly pressed. Thank god for small miracles…

    1. Hey Richard — re: “WordPress continuously sends my worst post to people when I’ve liked their posts.” Can you clarify what you mean by “send”?

      I took a peek at your blog and looks like you have a fair amount of “likes” across your posts in general, so I’m not sure what you mean when you say WordPress is “sending out your Swamp Water post as the main post.”

      1. Sure. When someone likes my posts, I receive an email telling me: [ ] liked your post on guitarlicksandtabs

        In the email, WordPress suggests to me three posts from someone who “liked” one of my posts. The same thing happens when I like someone’s post; they receive an email telling them I liked it, and suggest several posts, and Swamp Water is always number one. That post was searched for on YouTube and google because it is the theme for a new show, and it seems I had the first quick demo of how to play it, so it gets lots of hits. WordPress noticed it had a lot of hits, must have (in the algorithm) decided it was popular, and started sending it in suggestions to other people.

        I’ve made my “Little Martha” by Duane Allman post, “sticky” as it is one of the few full songs rather than just a lick or solo. That way, when someone who isn’t a guitarist looking for tips on how to play certain licks and solos, visits my blog, they at least see a complete song.

        As it is, Swamp Water shows how to play the lick, and the tablature I wrote for it is accurate, but it is the worst-video I have.

        Hope that clears it up. I’m quite happy with the progress of the blog. I’ve had over 22,000 views since I started this January, and my Youtube channel has over 58,000. No complaints other than that post being the top suggestion.

      2. Aha. Got it. Thanks for clarifying, Richard. Someone else from our team may chime in here. But for now — since this thread is specifically for responses to this particular Freshly Pressed analysis (and the featured toilet paper post) — you can discuss/add a suggestion about this in our forum: http://en.forums.wordpress.com/forum/ideas

        Thanks, and glad to hear you’re happy with the progress of your blog.