Do I need an editorial strategy for my business blog?

If you’re anything like me, ‘editorial strategy’ invokes images of a news board room.  Clark Kent and Lois Lane running around in those news hats with little bits of paper sticking out of them, trying to put the paper to bed for the night.

But believe it or not, an effective and well thought out editorial strategy will play a key element in the success of your blog.

At ProBlogger event, Darren brought out some heavy hitters to talk strategy with us.  Sonia Simone, (who I raved about back here), Sally Bagshaw (owner of the brilliant copywriting business Snappy Sentences) and Lucy from The Design Files – all who know a thing or two about creating great content.  (and have probably already found several grammatical errors in this post already!)

When you first start your blog, often there is no strategy or direction.  You start writing, often without any clear idea of where you’re headed.  And while you can get away with a few posts at the beginning that set the scene, eventually you’re going to need a rough idea of where you’re headed.  Skip this step, and you run the risk of ending up like 2,478,562 other blogs that are abandoned each year after only a post or two.  (That number’s an Emma Estimate, by the way.)

Usually your first mistake is to assume that your reader is you, and likes exactly the same thing as you.  That good old ‘Assume makes an ass out of u and me’ saying definitely applies here.  Don’t make assumptions – survey!  Surveying your readers to find out about them, what they like, who they are.  This will allow you to tailor your content to your reader base – and it can also help steer any advertising decisions (if you decide you’d like to run advertising on your blog).  To know who is going to receive that post is a really valuable thing, and it helps elevate them from an anonymous mass to a friend.  Learn what your popular topics are, and generate content to appeal to your audience.

And don’t forget to create routine.  People are creatures of habit, there’s an element of security and comfort in knowing what they will get from you every Friday at 9am.  Lucy from The Design Files does this particularly well, she has ‘themed’ days throughout the week, ensuring there’s content consistency, and an element of routine.  Make sure that whatever routine you set, it’s one that you can easily stick to.

Always tweet your content.  Sending it out via social networks allows people who don’t necessarily want a regular email or update from you to follow you in an ad hoc way.  This way, they can click through whenever something grabs their attention.  But be careful not to put your best stuff on social networks!  Save some of it for you blog, and use well worded headings to entice people across.

And make sure you have some topics in mind!  Creating a group of topics can help steer content decisions – and help improve your SEO.  Make sure you’re creating content for each topic regularly.  You should also

Stay on the ball!  Make sure you’re keeping your content fluid and newsworthy – if something is two weeks old and you’re not excited about it anymore, how do you expect your readers to be?  Your calendar should also allow for flexibility, ensure you can move with the times and remain spontaneous.  One of the best received posts we’ve had here on The Pulse was our review of the Gasp social media storm – and the traffic it received was largely because of our ability to be one of the first to get commentary live.

If you’re also considering guest posts for your blog, make sure you write up clear guidelines so that people know what you expect, and that all your external content still contributes to your blog’s goals.  And don’t be afraid to let external contributors in!  Particularly if you need to get something up fast, they can allow for fresh content, even if you’re smack bang in the middle of a big project.

Don’t forget to include seed content, to get your readers in the mood for whatever you’re releasing!  Much like an appetiser, you prepare them for your latest product or service offering, so that when you’re ready to talk about it, they’re in the right frame of mind.  For example, if you were about to release a new range of baking tins, you could share some recipes and review bakeries in your local area in the lead up.

An editorial strategy doesn’t need to be hard work.  A simple Excel spread sheet outlining what you have coming up and when is a great place to start, and will help you stay on track.  If you’re using WordPress, there’s even an Editorial plug-in that will allow you to easily manage this from your dashboard.

Do you use an editorial strategy?  How do you plan out the content for your blog?


Emma Mulquiney | Online Editor – MYOB