How to Manage Your Blog the CoSchedule Way 74
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Running a high-traffic blog isn’t easy. It takes a lot of persistence to build and retain a loyal audience. Just getting started can feel like pushing a boulder up a mountain. Then, once your blog does start to grow, the day-to-day work of managing content and deadlines only becomes more challenging.
So, how do you do it?
That’s a question we get asked a lot, and there’s no short and simple answer. However, we can share our own strategies and processes we use to manage our own blog. In this post, we’ll let you in on how we successfully manage a blog that receives over one million page views a month.
Start By Getting Your Ideation Process Together
It’s good that they’re so cheap and plentiful though. You’re going to need a lot of them to keep your content calendar full.
You don’t want just any ideas though. You want tons of ideas for blog posts you know people will want to read.
Now, getting those kinds of ideas is easier said than done.
Sure, everyone has ideas. Ideas are also completely worthless until you put them into practice and see what they can do. But, when you’re under pressure, generating ideas worth acting on can be tough without a solid process in place.
Here at CoSchedule, we use what we call our 30-minute brainstorming process. It’s broken down into three phases:
By the time you’re done, you’ll have around a month’s worth of ideas for your blog. Run this process once a month, and could spend just six hours a year on brainstorming.
That’s what we call efficiency.
Once you’ve got your ideas down, put them straight on your content calendar. That way, they won’t get lost. You’ll also quickly have a plan in place for what you’ll write, and when.
Planning Out Themes
Sometimes, if we need content on a specific area or topic, we’ll go into our brainstorming meetings with a particular theme in mind. This can help keep the meeting focused and structured while making sure we end up with the content we need.
Some examples of themes might include:
- Posts on how to complete particular tasks
- Posts that appeal to particular segments of our audience
- Posts that target readers at certain skill levels
- Posts around certain seasonal themes
A theme just needs to be a batch of content that’s all wrapped around one core topic. These are just some ideas you can borrow, but you can certainly think of more.
Adding Additional Content
Beyond our core educational blog posts, we also have the following types of posts:
- Feature announcements
- Event announcements
- Company news
- Webinar and demo recap videos
When we know that a feature is launching, we add complementary posts to the calendar right away. The same goes for demos and webinars that we have planned. That way, we’re able to keep everything orderly and organized.
Assigning Content to Team Members
Once we’ve got all our ideas on the calendar, the next step is to figure out who will write them. We save a lot of time on this process by pre-determining who will write particular types of posts.
Here’s how we have things broken down:
- Posts about our product fall on our Product Marketers
- Educational how-to posts fall on our Blog Manager (yo, that’s me) or Content Marketers
- Anything that helps show to use CoSchedule falls on our Customer Success team
- Posts about our culture and philosophies fall on whoever is best suited to write them (sometimes that’s a marketer, and sometimes that’s our CEO and co-founder, Garrett Moon)
As you can see, content isn’t just the responsibility of one single content team. Instead, we assign content to the person most qualified to write a particular type of piece. That helps us maintain a high publishing volume while adding more voices and perspectives to our blog.
Keeping Ideas Organized
We have a two-pronged approach to keeping our content calendar organized:
- Certain types of blog posts always publish on certain days of the week
- All our blog posts are color-coded by category
The keys here are simplicity and consistency. Here’s a quick look at our publishing schedule:
- Mondays: Content and Social Media Category Posts
- Tuesdays: Product Promotion Posts, New Podcast Episodes
- Wednesdays: Content and Social Media Category Posts
- Thursdays: Product Demo Videos and CoSchedule Culture Posts
- Fridays: Content and Social Media Category Posts
We’ll add other things in from time to time, but this weekly schedule stays mostly consistent week to week. We then color-code posts like this:
- Gray: Content and Social Media Category Posts
- Purple: Product Posts
- Magenta: Culture Posts
- Teal: Product Demo Videos
- Blue: Podcast Episodes
That’s all there is to it. Keeping these two things straight helps prevent our calendar from descending into chaos (and ensure that I don’t lose my mind).
Managing Guest Writers
That covers how we handle blog content internally. What about managing guest authors, though? We’ve got a process for that, too.
Create a Detailed Write For Us Page
It’s frustrating for editors and blog managers to get pitches that fail to follow simple directions. One way to get ahead of this problem to write a detailed Write For Us page. For an example, here’s ours.
Be sure to include:
- Your style standards. This includes how you want documents formatted. You might even consider providing readers with a content template to follow.
- How you want posts delivered to you. Google Docs? Microsoft Word? Whatever your preference is, let people know.
- Your policy on linking. Can guest authors include links back to their own content?
- Whether or not you’ll respond to every pitch. In the interest of saving time, we only respond to pitches we accept. If you follow a similar approach, give people a time frame on how quickly you’ll get back to them.
- Which topics you’re looking for. You might also want to specify topics you won’t cover, too.
- How long you’d like posts to be. Give people a range.
- Whether or not you’ll accept pre-written posts. This will save you and your writers a lot of time.
Determine How Pitches Should Be Submitted
Our Write For Us page includes a link to a simple Google Form for prospective writers to pitch us through. If you receive a high volume of pitches, submission management software like Submittable might be a better option. It isn’t free, but their prices are reasonable, and their service offers several benefits:
- It lets writers know when you’re reviewing their pitch (and whether they’ve been accepted or rejected).
- It keeps all your pitches organized in one place.
- It has a more professional look and feel.
Another option is to set up a specific email address for submissions and include a link on your Write For Us page. Whichever approach you go with, make sure you ask for the following information:
- Email Address
- Company / Job Title
- Links to Previous Work
- Target Keyword (Optional)
- Blog Post Idea Summary
- Prospective Blog Post Outline (Optional)
- Time Required to Write
We’ve found that asking guest authors to provide a target keyword and outline up front helps save a ton of time in the long run. It also shows us whether or not a writer really knows what they want to cover before we accept their pitch. In turn, that can cut down on editing time later.
Asking how long they’ll spend writing their post also helps us set clear deadlines. You don’t have time to twiddle your thumbs nor hound writers when their posts don’t show up. Hold them accountable for getting stuff done on time.
Set Your Acceptance Criteria
We have certain standards for our blog that determine which content we’ll accept. For us, guest blog posts must be:
- Actionable. If a post tells readers what to do, it should show them how to do it, too.
- Comprehensive. No details should be omitted. Readers should be able to read one post and come away with an in-depth understanding of that topic.
- Keyword-driven. We don’t overly stress keywords, but there should be a thoughtful strategy behind the keywords a post targets.
- Topical. All posts must focus on a topic our core audience is interested in.
If a pitch doesn’t convey the end result will meet all four of these pillars, it goes in the trash and we move on. Ruthless efficiency wins the day and ensures we only publish the best content we can.
Determine what successful content looks like to you and accept nothing less. If you consistently deliver quality content, your audience will reward you with their attention, and more reputable writers will want to work with you.
Editing Guest Content
Determine upfront how much editing you’ll do on guest content. Some editors and blog managers like to offer writers extensive feedback to help them improve their skills and work. Others prefer to handle edits on their own.
Whichever approach you choose, we recommend using collaborative writing tools (like Google Docs or the cloud-based version of Microsoft Word) for easy real-time editing. It makes passing along edits and suggestions much easier than emailing documents back and forth.
How Will You Manage Your Blog?
That covers our blog management process from start to finish. Do you have any questions or tips you’d like to add? Leave us a comment below and help get the conversation started.
February 9, 2017