The Blog Manager’s Guide to Getting Sh*t Done

January 28, 2014
Blog manager’s guide to publishing articles

Managing an effective blog is a long-term effort, and a challenge. It requires the patience of Job, the ability to plan flexibly, and more dedication on day 1,000 than on day one. If you’re ever going to get your team on board and build a successful blog, there are five things you must do.

Create an editorial calendar

It doesn’t matter if it’s an Excel spreadsheet or a handwritten document taped to the office fridge, a detailed list of assigned topics, or just a name and due date; creating an editorial calendar is crucial to a blog’s success.

Having this schedule is particularly important when — as with Digett — there are multiple writers contributing. It’s easy for you to keep track of who is posting when, and having the calendar available to the team promotes individual accountability.

Pro tip: I always send email reminders to writers the week before their article is due. No one is ever able to say they forgot about their deadline. This may feel like micromanaging, but it can be the only thing that prevents blogging from being pushed to the bottom of everyone’s to-do lists.

Develop a style guide

A style guide is a way to ensure consistency across articles without destroying individual writers’ personal voices.

Use the style guide to lay out your rules on article structure and tone, including:

  • Whether or not writers should use the Oxford comma
  • Whether blog titles should be title case or follow regular punctuation rules
  • Preferred spelling of common words (e-mail or email, for example)
  • Whether article tone should be formal or informal, humorous or serious

Making the style guide available to writers means you don’t have to answer the same style questions or make the same edits over and over again; when a writer is in doubt, they should visit the style guide.

Edit mercilessly and fairly

There’s enough garbage content out there to last eons; make sure the content your company puts out is of the highest possible quality.

  • Cut the fluff - There’s always extraneous content — find and eradicate it.
  • Triple-check spelling - Spell check doesn’t catch everything.
  • Provide value - If the article doesn’t make sense or is fundamentally flawed, send the writer back to the drawing board.

It’s not enough to tear a writer’s article apart, however — you must work together to improve it. Not only does this result in a stronger single article, it creates stronger writers.

  • Explain your reasoning - “Change this because…” instead of “Change this.”
  • Force writers to defend their writing - If they’re not proud of it, why should it be posted?

If you’re doing this right you should over time see a decrease in the amount of edits you make to writers’ articles.

Lead by example

Do just as much — if not more — writing than everyone else, and hold your writing to the same standards.

Share successes

Getting a team to write regularly without hating it is difficult. It takes time to build up a blog’s reputation and readership, and for the first few months it can feel like you’re sending your content into a black hole.

As blog manager, it is your responsibility to share the results of writers’ labors with them. Was an article shared more than usual, or did a prospect contact you because of a particular piece of content you published? Share these successes with the writer and the team — show them that their efforts are bearing fruit.

This lesson is one I’ve learned but have yet to act upon; from now on I’m going to do a better job of letting the team know their efforts are valuable and appreciated.

More blogging resources

[Image: Beth Scupham, cropped/resized]