This this episode, Allie and Michelle chat with Maddy Osman of The Blogsmith! Maddy just launched a brand new book called Writing for Humans and Robots!

Episode Transcript

Allie (00:02):
Welcome to the “Underrepresented in Tech” Podcast, hosted by Michelle Frechette and Allie Nimmons.
Underrepresented in Tech is a free database, but with the goal of helping people find new opportunities in WordPress and tech, overall.

Michelle (00:16):
Hi, Allie.

Allie (00:18):
Hi, Michelle. How are you today?

Michelle (00:20):
I’m good. How are you?

Allie (00:23):
I’m great and I’m even better than usual because we have a very, very, very special guest on the podcast today.

Michelle (00:31):
I know, I’m so super excited. This is somebody who I’ve invited for webinars before and certainly connected with on multiple levels across Twitter and in real life. This is somebody whose enthusiasm and whose energy levels I would just hope that I could somehow get to those levels of enthusiasm and energy. It’s probably already in the notes and you’ve already seen who it is, so we’re making like it’s this mystery guest, but… Maybe there is a little bit of mystery to you, I don’t know.

Maddy Osman (01:08):

Michelle (01:08):
But welcome Maddy Osman to the show. Maddy, we’re so excited to have you here.

Allie (01:14):
Yay welcome.

Michelle (01:18):
And congratulations. [crosstalk 00:01:18].

Maddy Osman (01:19):
Thank you so much for having me.

Michelle (01:19):
You just launched a book, and books are not easy. A whole book…

Maddy Osman (01:23):
They are not easy.

Michelle (01:24):
Not even just a pamphlet. It’s not an Ebook. It’s not a pamphlet. It isn’t a “Hey, a light paper.” It’s a whole freaking book.

Maddy Osman (01:32):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Michelle (01:32):
It’s amazing.

Maddy Osman (01:32):
It’s a book.

Michelle (01:34):

Maddy Osman (01:35):
Thank you so much.

Allie (01:36):
Tell the people what it’s called.

Michelle (01:37):
Yeah. Tell us about the book.

Maddy Osman (01:39):
So the book is called Writing for Humans and Robots: The New Rules of Content Style. And to kind of make it relevant back to people who like books about writing, it’s a take on The Elements of Style, but of course, The Elements of Style was written in 1918. They didn’t know about WordPress or the internet. And so, the book is trying to bridge the gap between everything that they said, which is still very relevant, but they didn’t know about the internet.

Michelle (02:12):
Yeah, there was no Twitter. There’s nothing in The Elements of Style about 280 characters or less.

Maddy Osman (02:19):
No, nothing that I have seen.

Michelle (02:23):
Exactly. Well, how exciting. Congratulations. It’s been a whirlwind. You’re now on your virtual book tour.

Maddy Osman (02:31):
Yes, yes. This is part of it.

Michelle (02:34):
That’s the COVID way, right? We don’t have book tours anymore. It’s a virtual book tour. So you could basically do this anywhere, which is super cool.

Maddy Osman (02:43):
This is true.

Michelle (02:44):
So, this is a podcast about underrepresentation in technology, and we’ve never actually talked about robots before.

Maddy Osman (02:50):

Michelle (02:52):
We’re still actually going to focus this on humans, though.

Maddy Osman (02:56):
Just like the book; it’s interesting when you say that phrase, “Writing for Humans and Robots,” the visceral reactions that people have to that. “Oh, well, I think you should only write for humans.” And it’s like, “That’s the point, but the robot is the vehicle to which you reach the humans.” And so, we’re not talking about changing your writing so much that it only appeals to the robot; we’re just saying, if we can balance the needs of both, then let’s try. And if we can’t, then I’m going to default to the human.

Michelle (03:29):
Yeah, because the robot part is what you’re all reading anyway, so it’s delivered like Twitter and LinkedIn and all those places. Those aren’t humans that are calling you all on the phone saying, “Hey…”

Allie (03:43):
Curating it, yeah.

Michelle (03:44):
Did you hear this tweet?

Maddy Osman (03:48):
And that’s a great point too, which is that we think about robots in terms of maybe like the title of the book as the Google search engine spiders, but there’s also the robots that curate your social news feeds; there are the robots that exist in gpt-3 copy generation tools, which is something that I think too, people are kind of wondering what that’s all about. Is it something to be scared of? But for me, I don’t think that they can take over all of those uniquely human elements yet. Things like formatting, art direction, tone of voice. I do not think we have a gpt-3 robot that is uniquely skilled in all of those things, or even one of those things.

Michelle (04:31):
No. And when we do have a book that’s writing for robots by robots, then we should worry.

Maddy Osman (04:38):

Michelle (04:38):
But right now we don’t.

Maddy Osman (04:39):
Watch out for that.

Allie (04:40):
Yeah, Maddy, you’re not a robot, right?

Maddy Osman (04:43):
To be determined.

Allie (04:44):
Oh no.

Maddy Osman (04:46):
We’re going to have to fill out a captcha. Show me some pictures of bridges or something, see how I do.

Allie (04:53):
Yeah. Other that I was thinking [crosstalk 00:04:56]
I was just going to say other thing that I was thinking about, that argument that you just brought up right, is the robots were created by humans in order to more effectively talk to and market to and help other humans. So knowing how to communicate with those robots is still a very human endeavor, I think, because… I don’t know, my mind ended up going in this loop of “Well, the robots are here for the humans who are here for the robots who are here for the humans, right?” It’s all connected and it’s all very much worthwhile if you’re doing content marketing or anything like that online, it’s very worthwhile.

Maddy Osman (05:40):
Yeah. I think, too, the robots are starting to maybe take on some of that human empathy, not because they actually have it, but because it is a reflection of how we’ve programmed them. One of the things we talk about in the book is the BERT algorithm update, which made it so that Google could process a text search query both the way you wrote it, but then also backwards. It used to only be able to do it one way, which means that you would get… They have this excellent article on Google about how that used to be a problem where unintended intent was derived from that query. So, you would type something in and Google would get something kind of close to it, but not really the exact thing you were looking for. But now, because it can process all the words in the query as they relate to each other forwards and backwards, now that has created a better robotic understanding of humans, really.

Allie (06:42):

Michelle (06:43):
It’s fascinating.

Maddy Osman (06:44):
It is.

Michelle (06:45):
It really is. The part of the book though, that we wanted to kind of pull into the discussion here, to make it relevant to Underrepresented in Tech, although honestly, just having you here is enough, but…

Maddy Osman (06:58):
Let’s take it to the next level.

Michelle (07:00):
Let’s take it to the next level. Let’s really apply it because you have a style guide on “Inclusion”. So tell us a little bit about that, that’s super cool.

Maddy Osman (07:09):
Absolutely. I have to give credit where credit is due here. Stephanie Holland is one of the editors on my team and this is her baby, this is her big focus and project. All the editors that work with the Blogsmith have contributed to the Blogsmith style guide and helped it to become the document it is today, which is a little bit overwhelming to look at. It’s 36 pages long, but it’s also double spaced, so part of it is readability, right? But Stephanie, she is just one of the most thoughtful and careful editors when it comes to language around word choice, and one of the first chapters in the book is about word choice and being thoughtful with it, and it’s one of my favorite chapters. It’s one that’s also available for free if you go to, so you can check it out to kind of get a taste of the book. But this style guide was… Again, she championed this project. We had some guidelines in the style guide already, but we recognized that there was a lot more that we could expand on. It’s probably not something that’s going to come into play for every single client. If we’re writing about web hosting stuff, it’s general language audience. The things that we talk about are still applicable, but they don’t necessarily come up. But we have some clients that work in very specific spaces. One that comes to mind is we’ve been working with this company called Lace and they do this auditory… They help people who have certain hearing processing disorders. So when we’re talking about people who have some sort of issues with hearing in general, we want to make sure that we’re referring to them the right way without alienating them because they are the customer, for example, this client. So in situations like that, language is so important; it’s almost more important than the topic itself. That’s really why these guidelines came into being; it’s partially because the Blogsmith; we are a global… We have people in different continents, we work across different cultures and we want to, of course, start by respecting the people that work for the team and referring to them correctly, but it’s also because we do have clients that are trying to reach very specific types of people, and in order to effectively market to them, we have to address them correctly.

Michelle (09:40):
Yeah, absolutely. Different groups of people have different vernaculars, there’s different terms of phrase and things like that, too. One of the things that Allie and I have talked about on the show in the past is the use of AAVE in current language. And I read somewhere online and honestly, I can’t remember where I saw it yesterday, it might have…

Allie (10:01):
Really quick, AAVE means African American Vernacular English, just for people out there who don’t know.

Maddy Osman (10:08):
Always got to define those abbrevs. Here for it.

Michelle (10:11):
Yes, I appreciate that. Thank you so much. I saw somewhere yesterday somebody had posted, and it was probably an anonymous thing, in Reddit or something, where they can’t stand people who say “aks” instead of “ask”. And I thought, “Oh, you poor misguided racist.”

Maddy Osman (10:30):
Yeah. Maybe that’s an argument that you shouldn’t get involved with.

Allie (10:36):
I would put that in more of the “ignorant” category. My mother who is black, full 100% a black person, says the same exact thing. She hates that; she gets so annoyed with it because she sees it as a young uneducated blah, blah, blah. And I think it comes from so many different places, those kinds of assumptions, right?

Michelle (10:59):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). But there’s a difference when saying, “I hate when people say that,” and “I hate people who say that.” So there’s a huge difference in what that person had written.

Maddy Osman (11:08):
For sure.

Michelle (11:09):
But the truth is that we can, and I started reading your book, I’m not all the way through it yet, because it’s been a busy week, but we can end a sentence with a proposition. We can begin a sentence with “and”. It’s okay to have sentence fragments as sentences, especially when you’re writing for the internet, right, because we’re writing for people to read, not because we’re writing a formal dissertation, but we want to write conversationally, and that’s how people speak is conversationally. And so if we can write that way, it’s going to appeal more to the person who’s reading it.

Maddy Osman (11:47):
Yeah, and I think that also comes down to, on a bigger scale, what is your voice and tone? How do you interact with your target audience? How do they want to be interacted with? And so it does involve making adjustments from maybe what your high school grammar teacher told was important for formal writing, which they weren’t wrong about; and going back to that idea of the elements of style, I think the other thing is when that book was written, it wasn’t necessarily for a global audience. It has become something that is relevant to a global audience in terms of the foundational rules that they talk about, but I think that’s the other thing that I wanted to do with my book. You have to think about, maybe you have a specific audience in mind that you’re trying to appeal to, but realize that people from other audiences, because the internet is global, will come across it. So how do you want to show up to those people? Do you want to be the ugly American in how you’re communicating things? Or do you want to include everybody and make them feel welcome? And again, even if it isn’t necessarily a solution that they’re going to buy, but to show respect and to build brand recognition around respect, I think that’s the goal.

Allie (13:11):
Yeah. And I think all the time about if you’re writing content for the internet, so much purchasing power and decision-making power is in the hands of younger generations right now.

Maddy Osman (13:24):
Oh yeah, totally.

Speaker 4 (13:26):
And they don’t give a crap about grammar, spelling, punctuation. It is the thing with Gen Z to post in all lowercase, right? To write an all lowercase, right?

Maddy Osman (13:36):

Allie (13:39):
I do that on Twitter sometimes to try to seem cooler.

Maddy Osman (13:41):
Of course.

Allie (13:42):
I’m just going to post an all lower case. They don’t care about punctuation. What they care about is inclusive language. That’s why, if you start an Instagram account right now, in addition to your bio and your profile, it asks you your pronouns, right? These are the things that matter to them. And so if you’re looking to either, I think start writing on the internet or adapt the way that you’ve learned how to write to the internet, those are the perspectives that are really rising to the forefront right now. Like you said, it doesn’t have a lot to do with the traditional ways in which we learned to write. It’s about tone, and it’s also a lot about authenticity. Younger people right now, they know that the internet is full of lies and they know that it’s full of manipulation and they really, really care about authenticity. And I think that if you’re able to understand how to balance that with whatever marketing, selling, whatever it is else that you’re doing, that’s going to be that sweet spot.

Maddy Osman (14:47):
Totally. Yeah, you just don’t want to fall into… What am I trying to say? You don’t want to be one of those like brands that try to be your bro or whatever. I’m trying to think of what…

Allie (14:59):
Hello, fellow kids.

Michelle (15:02):

Maddy Osman (15:02):
Yeah, I think there is a Reddit sub-Reddit that’s just “fellow kids” and it’s all reposting brands awkwardly, trying to use the hip slang. See there is a line, right?

Allie (15:15):
Yeah, there’s totally a line.

Maddy Osman (15:16):
If you avoid the slang, you’re probably okay.

Allie (15:19):
Yeah. I think so too. I love those. Every year during pride, you have all of these brands that are like, “Slay into deals” and it’s like, “What are you talking about?”

Maddy Osman (15:30):
It’s so good.

Allie (15:30):
Oh man, it’s so funny.

Maddy Osman (15:33):
The best entertainment. Not good for their sales or their branding, I don’t think, but it is just A+ entertainment.

Allie (15:41):

Michelle (15:42):
I got called a Boomer recently and I had to correct them that I’m Gen X. [crosstalk 00:15:51].

Allie (15:51):
I feel like “Boomer” at this point is just like a generic term for anyone over the age of 35. It’s not helpful.

Michelle (15:56):
Yeah that’s not what it’s supposed to be though, but anyway.

Allie (15:59):

Michelle (15:59):
That’s another story.

Maddy Osman (16:02):
That’s what language has evolved to though, right? It’s like some of the things you were saying, Allie. Language, it evolves. Gen Z, they’re bringing with them all these new things that we have to think about that you might think that you can ignore or avoid because you think it’s going to go away, but it’s just going to keep adding on. That’s another reason why books like The Elements of Style have had five additions or however many it is. It’s because things change, so whenever you make a rule, understand it’s probably going to get broken at some point.

Michelle (16:39):
That’s why dictionaries weren’t published once too, right? There are new words added to the dictionary every year for that very same reason. Absolutely.

Maddy Osman (16:47):

Michelle (16:48):
Oh my gosh. The other thing, and this is not to do with your book, but this is just something that you made me think of with Gen Z and everything else is, with advertising, we’re going to have to stop using cursive writing in advertising in our fonts. Because the woman who works where my mom lives and takes their order for breakfast every day, mom tried to be helpful to her and write down everybody’s orders because they were understaffed.

Maddy Osman (17:12):

Michelle (17:12):
And my mom handed it to her and she said, “I can’t read this.” My mom said, “Why, why can’t you read?” She goes, “It’s in cursive.” And this woman’s 19 years old and she can’t read cursive writing because it’s not taught schools anymore. And my mom said, “I said, ‘that’s terrible.'” I said, “Well, why is it terrible?” I said, “Everything this woman does is online. She doesn’t need to use cursive writing.” So it’s a hard thing to switch over in your brain, but if you’re only using fonts that are cursive fonts, you might be losing customers too.

Allie (17:43):

Maddy Osman (17:44):
Right. Know your audience, right?

Allie (17:46):
It’s so funny. The only people I know… I mean my grandmother has since passed away, but she wrote exclusively in cursive, my mom writes in cursive. And I realized that I sort of write in cursive, but what I ended up realizing at one point, I was kind of comparing me and my mom’s handwriting. It’s like we’re too lazy and so we just connect the letters because we don’t want to pick up the pen, and so it ends up looking like cursive and I was like, “Oh, okay. That’s kind of interesting.”

Michelle (18:16):
I have a bit of a hybrid myself.

Maddy Osman (18:17):

Allie (18:19):
I think that’s so funny, but you’re totally right. Cursive at this point is a whole other language and…

Maddy Osman (18:26):
There are the insiders and the outsiders.

Allie (18:29):
Yeah, it doesn’t really serve a purpose anymore. [crosstalk 00:18:34]
What’s interesting about that to me is it considered more inclusive or exclusive to not include cursive because there are still people who value and appreciate that, like your mom. So are you not being inclusive by not having cursive as a part of your… I don’t know the answer to that, I just thought it was interesting.

Michelle (18:57):
I would argue that you are being inclusive to not include cursive because she can also read print. So she’s still included. And that’s just my two cents, I don’t know. Like we say every week, “If you have a strong opinion, tell us on Twitter and we’ll be happy to engage in a conversation.”

Maddy Osman (19:15):
Do you want to bring that’s cursive back?

Allie (19:18):
That’s going to be our biggest drama we’ve ever started on Twitter, is we’re going to start a war about cursive.

Maddy Osman (19:24):

Michelle (19:25):
Absolutely, absolutely.

Maddy Osman (19:26):
A battle.

Michelle (19:27):
Well, one of the things that I think too is true with your book… The Elements of Style, unless you were an English major or writing is your 100% passion or vocation, you may not have even ever heard of it, right?

Maddy Osman (19:42):
Yeah, totally.

Michelle (19:44):
But what your book does is it says, “I don’t care if you’ve ever heard of The Elements of Style.” Maybe doesn’t say it quite like that. I don’t care. Maddy cares. But if The Elements of Style has not been part of it in your past, that doesn’t mean that this book shouldn’t be part of your future because this book actually talks about how you can write better for what you are doing, whether it’s blogging, whether it’s creating ads, whether you are running social media accounts. This book helps you do that better, regardless of what your past history has been with Elements of Style and the APA and all of those other… I had to learn to write in APA style. Yeah, what is APA? It’s American Psychology Association. Why is that a style that the…

Allie (20:28):
It’s the standard.

Michelle (20:29):
Doctoral students have to write in. If my master’s thesis had to be written APA style and I was like, “Oh my gosh, does it really matter?”

Maddy Osman (20:39):
People do kind of glam onto their preferred style guides. When I wrote the book, we usually use AP style in addition to the Blogsmith style, which for those who don’t know, it’s like news journalism, it’s about timely reporting, Associated Press. But then for the book, I used the Chicago Manual style, which is very similar, but one’s maybe better to citations which is different for a book than it would be for the internet. So it is interesting. Try to find the baseline style guide that makes the most sense for whatever it is you’re writing because there are nuances to keep in mind. I think having those foundational style guides is good. It starts us off all on the same page, and then you make edits for your brand and what’s important to you.

Michelle (21:33):
The most important thing, of course, is writing for your audience, which is what you said.

Maddy Osman (21:36):

Michelle (21:36):
…at the very beginning of the podcast.

Maddy Osman (21:38):

Michelle (21:39):
So I’m going to ask you perhaps a question you don’t want to answer, but you’re a guess so you have to answer it. Regardless of the ability to break the rules, what’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to writing? Because I have one, but I want to know what yours is.

Maddy Osman (21:52):
Oh man.

Michelle (21:54):
I have two.

Maddy Osman (21:56):
Start with yours while I think of mine.

Michelle (21:58):
Okay, so the first one of mine is split infinitives. I hate a split infinitive. Although in speaking, I probably split them all the time, but in writing… But the biggest, most heinous split affinitive, and I’m going to off all of the Trekies now, is “To boldly go where no man has gone before”, right? To boldly go is the…

Maddy Osman (22:22):
Go boldly.

Michelle (22:23):
Yes, it drives me crazy.

Allie (22:27):
So, I definitely know what a split infinitive is, but in case there’s people listening who don’t know can you explain?

Michelle (22:33):
Thanks, translating for me every day. So an infinitive is when I think it’s the future tense of things like “to go,” right?

Maddy Osman (22:42):
It doesn’t have to be future.

Michelle (22:45):
Right. So it’s descriptive, but it’s the “to” words, to do something, “to run”, “to go”, “to click”. And when you put the adverb in between “to” and the action word, you have split that infinitive. So, “to boldly go”, “to actively click”, “to actively listen”. The correct way… I’m using air quotes, because I know you can’t see me, but the correct way, according to other style guides is that you put the infinitive with the adverb afterwards: “to cook actively”, “to listen actively”, “to go boldly”. That’s just one of my… Because it just always grates… I was taught, it’s so ingrained in me. The other one is that I will die holding very tightly to my Oxford comma.

Maddy Osman (23:32):
Same, one hundred percent.

Allie (23:34):
Me too. Oxford comma for forever.

Maddy Osman (23:36):
It changes meaning.

Michelle (23:37):
It does.

Maddy Osman (23:40):
And without the meaning is different.

Michelle (23:41):

Maddy Osman (23:43):
Just to add on a note to the split infinitive thing, I think it helped me to understand why that’s a problem when I got into Spanish language learning. When you start to learn another language, and I think this is just like a pro tip in general, it makes your native language so much stronger because you start to realize, “Oh, this is why it’s that way.” And we learn grammar in English class or throughout our schooling and all that. But I think it’s when you learn another language that you’re like, “Oh, okay. This is the formula.”

Allie (24:19):
You’re totally right. In Spanish, any “to” verb is one word, right? “To eat” is just “comer”, it’s one thing, and you can’t split that word in half and put…

Maddy Osman (24:31):
You can’t.

Allie (24:32):
…the adverb in the middle, you have to put it at the end. That makes total sense. So then I could imagine if you split an infinitive and then somebody whose first language is Spanish is reading your text, that might really confuse them because they’re like, “What the heck?”

Michelle (24:45):
What’s a “to boldly”?

Allie (24:48):
Yeah. What? Oh my goodness.

Maddy Osman (24:50):
Yeah. They’re like, “`I see an error.”

Speaker 4 (24:52):
Yeah. I never thought about that before. That’s really cool. I never knew what splitting and infinitive was.

Maddy Osman (24:57):
That the only way in my brain I can understand it. It’s because in Spanish, you can’t. So it’s like, “Oh, okay, so that’s why you don’t want to do it in English.”

Michelle (25:09):
Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

Maddy Osman (25:11):
I think my something that makes me angry when editing or something that I ruthlessly get rid of… A lot of it has to do with just saying more with less, which is totally like the Elements of Style center, steering guideline, and one thing that comes to mind for me is saying something like, “fortunately”, but also “clearly”, and “obviously”. Almost none of those add value because “Fortunately you don’t know what somebody else is going through” and it just doesn’t really add anything anyway. It doesn’t add meaning. And then for “clearly”, and “obviously”, you’re calling your reader a dummy when you say that, whether you mean to or not. But they’re coming to you to learn something, and if it wasn’t obvious to them, might be obvious to you because you’re writing it, that’s a way to unintentionally alienate someone.

Michelle (26:11):
Especially when you are creating advertising or documentation for customers.

Allie (26:18):
“Of courses”.

Michelle (26:19):
Yeah, because when you say to somebody, “Oh this is an easy setup,” and then they’re struggling with it, they’re like, “If it’s that easy, why am I that stupid?”

Maddy Osman (26:27):

Michelle (26:27):
It’s like, “No, [crosstalk 00:26:29]”

Maddy Osman (26:28):
It’s complicated.

Michelle (26:31):
It is, and we tried to make it sound that way so you’d buy it.

Maddy Osman (26:34):
Right. and it’s one of those things where you don’t go into it with a bad intention, I don’t think, but it can snowball into something that hurts your brand, I think.

Michelle (26:46):
Yeah. I agree a hundred percent. Allie, do you have a pet peeve?

Allie (26:52):
I can’t think of one. I have so many, I’m sure I do.

Maddy Osman (26:55):
Maybe like a word that people spell wrong.

Allie (26:59):
I literally have one eye on my Twitter, scrolling through to see if I see something. Because people post things on Twitter all the time and I cringe because I’m like, “What? God, I hate that you said it that way,” but I can’t think of any right now. I’ll tweet one out later.

Michelle (27:13):
If she finds one, it’ll probably be in my Twitter.

Allie (27:15):
Oh no, absolutely not. One thing I dislike is when people in their writing use the same idiom or phrasing many times. I moreso noticed this in TV shows. There are literally shows I watch where I know the same writer wrote episodes one, three and five because the characters say the same little phrase many, many times. And I think that we can often sometimes forget… Often, sometimes, talking about using too many words… Forget….

Maddy Osman (27:49):
It’s different in verbal language.

Allie (27:51):
That’s true.

Maddy Osman (27:51):
We make many more… It can be totally grammatically incorrect, I think.

Michelle (27:57):

Allie (27:58):
We forget sometimes when we’re writing copy or marketing language to take ourselves out of it. When I write something, I usually look back at it and try to look at it from a much more objective perspective and really… Not scrub it of my voice and my personality, but make sure that I’m not inserting too much of myself into it in those kinds of ways. That might not make a lot of sense. I don’t have a great example at the moment.

Maddy Osman (28:33):
It makes a lot of sense to me. We have a step in our process that is like, “Okay, so you wrote the article. Now, take yourself out of it. Does this answer what the reader was searching for? Will they get something that they’re looking for out of this?” So it’s the same thing. I think sometimes too, there are appropriate times to have that “me”/”I”` perspective when you’re writing, if you have a review or a personal experience and then it totally makes sense that you would share it from the “I” perspective. But I think there is a fine line to walk because you have to make sure that “I” experience is still relevant to the “You”, the person in second perspective who is reading it. That’s a hundred percent relevant to every piece of content that I think everybody should create.

Michelle (29:27):
When I was younger, my dad’s second wife, my first stepmother, she was teaching me how to be attractive, but not an attraction. She would say, “Look in the…”. I know, this is her very right wing, conservative advice.

Maddy Osman (29:40):
I can’t wait to hear this.

Michelle (29:43):
Right? I promise it applies. When she would say, “When you look in the mirror before you leave the house, take away one thing,”. If you’ve got earrings, bracelets, rings, necklace, whatever.

Allie (29:54):
That’s a Marilyn Monroe thing I think.

Michelle (29:57):
It might be, yeah. In today’s age, whatever your style is, go with your style. I’m not judging. I look at my own writing that way, too, so especially when it comes to punctuation. I love the exclamation point when I write, but I hate the exclamation point when I read. So every time I create a tweet, I go back and go, “Okay, how many exclamation points did I use? Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete.” I don’t let myself have more than one exclamation point per tweet, because otherwise it sounds like number one, you’re just yelling and nothing is that exciting that you have to yell everything you say.

Maddy Osman (30:32):
That’s true. Yeah, even if you have a baby or something. [crosstalk 00:30:36].

Michelle (30:36):

Maddy Osman (30:36):
Like one exclamation. Just one, you get one, because you got a baby, okay?

Michelle (30:42):
But especially when you’re talking about selling Plug-ins, right? your Plug-in’s great, but you don’t need four exclamation points in a tweet about your Plug-ins.

Maddy Osman (30:51):
Is it 90% off? One exclamation point. Okay.

Allie (30:55):
I remember my pet peeve. I remember pet peeve. And then we should talk about wrapping up. When somebody has a bulleted list and each bullet does not start in the same way. You know what I mean?`

Maddy Osman (31:09):

Allie (31:11):
Exactly. So if you have a bulleted list of like, “Oh, my Plug-in does all of these things” and you’re like, “automatically does this, cleanly does that.” and then the next line is… I can’t think of a good example.

Michelle (31:25):
100% off

Maddy Osman (31:25):
Something different.

Allie (31:28):
Yeah, they should all either start with a verb or an adverb or a noun, or they should all start in the same way.

Maddy Osman (31:35):

Allie (31:36):
And I always think of it… Because I just found a tweet that does it, where it’s like “Looking for”, and then there’s a bullet list of all of these things, right? So I always think, “Okay, ‘looking for’, and you take the bullet. Does that make a sentence? “Looking for” the next one; does that make a full sentence? And sometimes it’s like “Looking for, are you right for this role, blah, blah, blah.” And it’s like, “No, no, that doesn’t work. You got to put that somewhere else”. The bullet list has to be all the same thing, if that makes sense.

Maddy Osman (32:06):
We have so many rules about bullet list parallelism in the Blogsmith style guide. That’s definitely one of my pet peeves too.

Michelle (32:16):
So the bottom line is if you write, and that’s all of us, but if you write especially for other people to read it, you should get this book. It is on Amazon. I have the Kindle version. I love Kindle; the problem is I can’t write in the margins, but let’s face it, I wasn’t really going to read anything on paper anyway anymore because I lay in bed and read at night. How can people find your book? I know it’s on Amazon. How do they find it quickly? Can you give us some information on where they can find you?

Maddy Osman (32:45):

Michelle (32:46):
All of that information.

Maddy Osman (32:47):
Absolutely. So is the hub of all the book stuff, you can buy the book from there. It’s on Amazon, but you can get the link from there; you can grab a free chapter and then you can also see some of the testimonials people have written, and some of the other media features that the book has been featured in. Then if you want to chat about the book, WordPress, technology, anything like that, I’m most active on Twitter, so Maddy Osman. Then finally, if you want to learn a little bit more about the Blogsmith and our style guide, then check out and I’ve also sent Allie and Michelle a link to our style guide so you can also reference that.

Michelle (33:28):
And we will have all of that in the show notes on our website. Thank you, Maddy, so much for being here today. It’s been fun. I love talking about different things and it’s been great to have you here, so thanks for joining us.

Allie (33:42):
Yeah. Thanks, Maddy.

Maddy Osman (33:43):
Thank you so much for having me. Thanks to you both.

Michelle (33:46):
Absolutely. Next week, Allie is not available next week. And so I will be talking to Cammi Chaos from Automatic about hiring, especially when it comes to diversity and inclusion in hiring and employment that way. Make sure to join us next week where I will be talking to Cammi and thank you everybody. We’ll see you next week.

Allie (34:09):

Maddy Osman (34:10):

Allie (34:14):
This episode was sponsored by the following companies: WP Wallet. WP wallet is a free, simple, intelligent tool that helps WordPress professionals effortlessly manage all of their license keys and invoices for all sites and clients. Never forget a renewal, lose a license key or miss out on a reimbursement again. Join WP Wallet for free today. LearnDash is taking cutting edge eLearning methodology and infusing it into WordPress. More than just a plug-in, LearnDash is trusted to power the learning programs for major universities, small to mid-size companies, startups, entrepreneurs, and bloggers worldwide. If you’re interested in sponsoring an episode, using our database, or just want to say hi, go to See you next week.