We’re proud to present Michele Linn, editorial director at Content Marketing Institute (CMI). She oversees all of the content that CMI creates; she decides what kind of content they should run, and then she works with CMI internal team as well as freelancers to get this done. When CMI launched in May 2010, Michele was managing the blog, “But it’s quite time-consuming to coordinate all of our authors and posts, so we hired a dedicated person.” CMI blog is now run by Jodi Harris, CMI’s editorial content manager.
Michele, do you approach writing for and editing a blog differently then you would any other communication channel content needs to be distributed via?
I think writing for a blog is different than writing for other mediums. For instance, here are some of the ways I would approach writing for a blog differently than writing for print:
- When writing for print, you can be more clever with your headlines as that is not necessarily the thing that is drawing the reader in (think images and call outs). But, with blogging, the headline is essential as that is something that is often socially shared. Instead of choosing something clever, it’s more important to have a title that includes keywords your potential audience is monitoring and something straightforward so people quickly know what they will be learning.
- With blogging is that you need to write in a way that makes it easy for readers to skim. Headers and bolding key points really helps. In magazines, you can often use callouts and different text treatment.
- Blogging is so immediate so you can cover topics that are trending. This is a bit more difficult with print becasue of the long production times.
- It’s easier to include more interactive elements in blog posts than it is in print. Of course, it’s a good idea to include internal and external links in blog posts, which is something you can not easily do in print.
What can you tell us about the whole process from idea to post to promotion?
Our process for publishing our daily blog has evolved over the past two years. To answer your questions specifically:
- Recruiting bloggers: When the blog launched, we were actively recruiting bloggers we had relationships with to write for us. Once our blog and brand became more established, we have had a steady stream of writers reach out to us to ask about blogging. (For the record, we welcome new writers to our blog; check out our guidelines.) Jodi and I also actively follow other blogs in the industry, and we’ll reach out to people as well. We also have contributors who write for us regularly.
- The editing process: Most of our authors submit posts to us via Word docs that we edit. While we edit for grammar, we also edit for logic, flow and cohesion. We also want to make sure the author is clearly driving at a point that readers can actively “do” to improve some aspect of their content marketing program. We use the commenting feature of Word to communicate questions and thoughts about the post. We then return a “clean copy” of the post to the author with comments, and the review continues. New authors may be surprised at the level of edits we provide, but we have had a lot of positive feedback about the approach.
- Promotion: In addition to whatever promotion the author does, we promote our posts via our corporate Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. Our team is also encouraged to socially share as well. To increase the life of our posts, I’m working on a number of ideas to help our readers better find posts on topics that interest them.
What is a great blog post?
This is a tough question to answer because it depends on your goals. For CMI, great posts are those that people actually use to help them with their content marketing. For instance, Brody Dorland wrote this post about 12 things to do after you’ve written a blog post that I know our readers have followed (I have as well). Our readers also love templates that walk them through a process. Our post about 10 must-have templates for content marketers has been one of the most popular posts we have published.
Do you consider yourself a blogger? If yes, what makes someone a blogger?
Even though I don’t have a solo blog, I definitely consider myself a blogger as I write regularly for CMI and Savvy B2B Marketing (and I used to write for others when I had a bit more time). I think anyone who regularly blogs is a blogger.
How did you start blogging? And why?
I started blogging in March 2009. Very long story short, I connected with some fellow freelance writers at an online conference, and we decided to start a blog about B2B marketing for our prospective clients. Savvy B2B Marketing was born.
As a writer, I was interested in blogging, but I didn’t know how to get started. Being part of a collaborative blog was one of the best things I did to help my business as I learned the basics of blogging basics and social sharing. And, because there are six of us, we have always shared the load and our expertise.
Then, when I connected with Joe Pulizzi and he asked me to help him launch the Content Marketing Institute two years ago, I had the experience on how to run a collaborative blog. Of course, I have learned much since!
Can you share any blogging tips?
- Have a focus: If you are a business blog, be clear about what your readers will get from your content and stay focused. For instance, at CMI, all of our posts have a how-to element about them.
- Have an editorial calendar: Blogging is A LOT of work, and if you want to be consistent, you need a plan. An editorial calendar not only helps keep you on a schedule, but it also helps you keep track of your ideas.
- Be a guest: If you are new to blogging, start by submitting guest posts to blogs so you can get a feel for the process and time commitment. My guess is that you are underestimating the time it will take to maintain a consistent blog.
- Get help: Writing a blog can be grueling as the pressure to create never stops. This is even true when you have other writing the posts as we do on CMI. At the very least, get someone who can review your posts for typos. Even better, find someone to collaborate with so you can bounce ideas off of each other.