Many business bloggers have learned that their blog is one of their most crucial inbound marketing assets. Not only do companies that blog generate 55% more web traffic, but 57% of businesses have also won a customer through their blog. So if you've decided to give your blog content a little more love or you'd like to increase the frequency at which you post content to your blog, adopt the mindset of an editor-in-chief to ensure that you can scale without losing focus on quality.
Even sans an editorial background, you can be your blog's editor-in-chief by simply drafting some editorial guidelines to share with all writers and contributors. While some companies use editorial guidelines to cover stylistic and grammatical expectations, we believe in transparency, and thus extend them to also include strategic objectives for the blog. If you can adapt these editorial guidelines to your business blog, you'll see less editing and proofreading time, better quality content from internal writers and external contributors, and as a result, a better reputation, a growing readership, and more leads coming from your totally rockin' business blog.
11 Editorial Guidelines to Enforce for Your Business Blog
1. Explain the blog's objective. Writers and contributors should know how your blog fits into your business' overarching inbound marketing strategy. Is it a lead generation mechanism? Do you use it to drive traffic to other parts of your website? Does your blog help you gain more social media followers? It may seem obvious to you, but to those less familiar with your blog, it provides some much needed context.
2. Explain the content's objective. What you're trying to achieve with the content on your blog is different than what you're trying to achieve with your blog as a whole. Explain to bloggers what your content should provide to readers. For example, HubSpot wants every blog post to give actionable advice. That means each piece of content should have at least one takeaway that readers can apply to their business' marketing strategy. List these content objectives out so bloggers know whether their blog post hits the mark.
3. Describe your audience. Have you crafted specific marketing personas that describe your business' ideal customer(s)? Explain who your target customers are so writers can create content tailored to the needs and interests of your blog's target audience.
4. Require topic approval. Ask new bloggers to run topic ideas by you before they begin writing. The best content begins with an awesome topic; if a topic is weak, no amount of editing can save it. When writers send you topics before they begin writing, you can tell them if their topic rocks, or if it needs some more work. Writers will appreciate this feedback up front, as it saves them time they would have spent drafting a blog post that ultimately would have been rejected.
5. Provide examples of high-performing blog posts for reference. Provide your guest bloggers with a few examples of blog content that performed well and point out the strengths of that content so they have something to emulate while writing. You can also include examples of bad content and highlight that content's weaknesses to further clarify the difference between remarkable content and snooze-worthy content.
6. Explain your linking policy. Do you link to outside blogs and websites? If so, are there any competing publishers or companies that are off limits? Do you expect internal linking? If so, how do writers determine to which posts or landing pages they should link? Or, will you handle the internal linking for them after they draft the blog post? Can guest bloggers link to their own company’s website? How many of these links do you allow per post? Set all of these expectations up front.
7. Share your photo expectations. Should writers include images in posts? Unless you plan on doing image research yourself, tell your writers where to get images and how to cite them, if necessary. If you have a subscription to a stock photo site, share that with writers if that’s where you prefer to pull images.
8. Give style and formatting tips. Offer tips such as "write in short sentences," "break up large blocks of text with bold headings," and "bullet your major points." Blog writing isn’t like writing a business plan or even a feature article for a newspaper, so depending on the industry your writers come from, blog writing may be a brand new beast. If you can teach new bloggers how to style their content, it will save you formatting time during the revision process.
9. Help with headlines. Great headlines draw more traffic and generate more social media shares and click-throughs. Include examples of awesome headlines, and be willing to work with writers on titles since it's not everyone's forte.
10. Explain your content review process. Quality content takes time to edit and prepare, so explain the length of your review cycle up front to writers and contributors. This explanation should include when you expect their content to be delivered, how long your review and editing process takes, how many revision cycles you go through, and the final publishing date.
11. Be clear about your re-posting policy. Decide up front whether or not guest contributors and freelancers can re-publish their content on their own blogs. Be clear about when they can do it, and how they should link back to your blog if they re-post.
To some people, such guidelines might seem a little strict, but think of it this way: if that’s how it seems, they're not right for your blog. You may also find enforcing the guidelines is difficult, but it's crucial not to waver on the standards you've set. Being steadfast with your editorial guidelines will not only improve blog performance, it will also save everyone time because you've provided clear directions on how to write killer content for your business blog.
Have you written editorial guidelines for your blog? What guidelines have you included that help set expectations for writers and contributors?
Image credit: rahego