Interested in The Business Blog Handbook? Here’s a sneak peek at Chapter 1.
Chapter 1: Who Is the Managing Editor in the Big Scheme of Things?
Say the word editor, and any number of images come to mind. Word nerds with an uncanny ability to spot bad writing, misspellings, and awkward phrases. Grammar Nazis who delight in marking up manuscripts. Gatekeepers who relegate your best work to a slush pile a mile high.
That’s if you’re a writer. If you’re a business owner thinking about starting a blog, you may have a completely different image. Perhaps a creative-type with his head in the clouds, ink stains on his fingers, and no business sense at all. Perhaps a professor type, secretly laughing at everyone’s misspellings and grammatical mistakes.
Either way, the intimidation factor can be off the charts.
That said, managing editors can be everyone’s best friend.
For writers, they make sure your work has no embarrassing errors. They catch the factual mistakes and inconsistencies that can make you look less than intelligent. And they elevate your work to another level, so you can be proud to put your name on it.
For business owners and directors, they give your brand a spit and polish that can be truly impressive. They help you attract your best customers, drive traffic to sales pages, and build goodwill with readers and fans.
For fans and followers, they create the information you seek. They help you find simple solutions when you need them most, and it’s their work that makes the information easy to find and easy to consume.
They’re much like the publishing house’s copy editor, who, as LynnDianne Beene writes in Most Bang for the Buck, “are not just the police officers of publishing. They are, in many ways, the glue that holds the entire publishing process together. They bring together language, information, design, and organization to create a document [in our case, a blog] with credibility, style, and reader appeal.”
As managing editor, you have one of the most challenging assignments possible, that of advocating for both your brand and your audience at the same time. You choose articles that will help your brand attract traffic from qualified prospects, nurture relationships, and point toward relevant offers. You also strive to fascinate your readers, challenge their thinking, and answer their questions. And you take what might have been mediocre content at best and transform it into a valuable asset for everyone involved.
What You Do
On the surface, a blog editor’s job is to publish content. But that’s a shallow definition, and you can easily spot the blogs that buy into it. The result isn’t quality or value. It’s content for content’s sake.
As an editor, your job isn’t merely to publish a blog post every day, every other day, or whatever your schedule happens to be. If that was your only responsibility, a trained monkey could do it.
Accept a pitch. Upload it to the blog. Click “Publish.” Done.
But few posts are worth publishing without a little work. Even the best writers have blind spots when editing their own material. They see what they think they wrote, not what their fingers actually typed. They miss redundancies or mistakes—if they thought it was right when they wrote it, they may still think it’s right when they edit. And they overlook their pet phrases and stylisms.
Similarly, articles often promote agendas that may or may not suit your brand’s mission or message. Writers want to build their own reputation. Thought leaders want to sell their newest product. Even your internal writers, in pushing the brand message, can write a post with no point at all.
It’s the managing editor who keeps the blog content on track and on topic, providing value and interest. Generating desire for products without going so far as to sell overtly. Toning down writers’ self-promotion. Weeding out anything that’s off-topic or unnecessary.
Anything less can easily turn into content for content’s sake: recycling existing ideas, adding noise to the ruckus of industry content, raising the volume of the echo chamber rather than adding thought-provoking or helpful ideas to an online conversation.
The Real Question: Why Create Content in the First Place?
One of the biggest hits in 1990s television was Seinfeld, a show about nothing in which nothing ever changes. After reading the first script of the show, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Elaine, shared her first thought. “Nothing had ever been written like that before, like it was just a conversation as opposed to a setup, punch line, setup, punch line.”
Just a conversation. No movement. No real change.
As successful as it was on television, this format won’t work on your blog. A blog is the hub of your content marketing plan. It needs to communicate what your brand is about and how it helps your customers. But you can’t communicate anything without advanced planning, including measurable goals.
Here are just a few of the goals you might aim for in your blog.
Provide value to a specific audience. Your blog can answer questions and walk people through the steps of solving common problems. This makes it a first-stop for customer service.
Broadcast your brand message. Through your blog, you can share and expand on your core message, the statement of who you are and how you make a difference in your customers’ lives. This is how you make your brand relevant.
Attract qualified prospects. No business can be profitable without a steady stream of prospects. Your blog is prime real estate for attracting traffic and turning visitors into leads.
Generate interest in your products and offers. While you should avoid overt selling on the blog, there’s no better place to talk about the topics related to your promotions and offers. This builds interest and drives traffic to your sales pages.
Create community. The gold standard in blogging is community, readers who not only read your articles, but comment on them and share them. This builds engagement with your brand that can make your brand the industry leader.
Become a habit. When people love your content, they click through to read anything you write. That’s brand loyalty. Nothing builds it like high-quality blog posts.
Test new ideas and offers. To stay relevant and habit-forming, you need to keep tabs on the topics and ideas your audience is interested in. Your blog is prime real estate for testing new ideas. Done skillfully, you can use your blog to lead to growth and higher profits.
So who is the managing editor in the big scheme of things?
You’re the person who maps the journey of both a brand and its followers, finding points of intersection, topics worth discussing, questions that need answering. You’re the “human” behind the business.
You’re someone who reframes offers, transforming them into conversation pieces. You’re an idea person, often the only one who sees the ironies, the humor, and the story behind your products. You’re a creative and a technician, an artist and a scientist, a translator and a storyteller.
In the big scheme of things, you work for the brand and for its audience. You sell by telling. You inform and entertain. You ask the questions, and you answer them too.
Ultimately, you’re a rare bird, made more exquisite by the value you deliver on both sides of the blog. But to fully show off your plumes, you need to refine your editor skills. We’ll talk in-depth about these skills throughout the book. But in the next chapter, we’ll touch lightly on them to give you an idea of their scope. I think you’ll agree, it’s a rare bird indeed that can pull them all off and make it look easy.
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