Not too long ago I was asked a variation of this question over the phone from an eventual customer.
"I'm going to run out of things to write about," she worried. "At that point, what do I do? Curate? Just pump stuff out to fill slots?"
It's an inevitable realization for anyone who has finally come to grips with the reality that they are indeed publishers now. We all are. So where is all this content supposed to come from? And most importantly, how are we supposed to ensure quality at a high volume? Is this even possible?
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Is quality a repeatable process when it comes to posting blogs at a high frequency?
Donuts are proof that quality is repeatable.
Think about the last time you had a terrible donut. Sure, some may be better than others, but for the most part, they're all good.
Why can't our blog posts?
With the right process and approach, they can be. All of them. So while the above question is certainly valid, it's also inaccurate. People are quite complicated. Their motivations, schema, and ways in which they're influenced are constantly changing.
As a result, you should never be running out of things to write about. But just in case, here's how you should approach your editorial process if you ever do find yourself stuck.
Every blogger has heard one of the following:
Any chance you could whip that post up quick?
How much time have you spent on that post?
Can we push out more volume?
Try to make this one go viral.
All but the latter are only possible with a clearly defined process. (Virality is an effect, not the cause of writing.)
Before you can ensure quality or quantity, you first need to ensure your contributors are operating in an ecosystem where this is possible. Work with writers to determine their capabilities. Let them develop their own deadlines so long as they align with the goals of the organization.
The takeaway: Chronicle the process from beginning to end with one of your most trusted contributors. What should an outline consist of? When should drafts be submitted for review? Who has final approval? No one should be guessing at any point of the process. Guessing takes up valuable "doing" time.
Think like a journalist
Journalists don't look for topics, they look for stories.
The reason is simple; every conceivable topic has been covered on just about all subject matter after literally hundreds of years of coverage. (The first newspaper to be published in the United States was in 1784.)
Crime. Tragedy. Tales of triumph. Love. War. Human interest. It's all been covered before. If journalists chased topics, no one would be interested. But when journalists chase stories that relate to these topics, now you have people’s attention.
Stories breathe life into subject matter.
Look at it this way: what would you rather read, a blog post on the importance of solid grammar? How about the story of a pop artist whose newest viral video managed to explain the entire English syntax to the tune of Robin Thicke's smash hit Blurred Lines?
Both of these posts cover the same subject matter, however one is widely read while the other rots in obscurity.
Why? Because one told a story as a mechanism for ensuring retention, both in readership and information.
Think back to your high school history class as your professor droned on about romanticism and the revolt against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment. Chances are you didn’t retain much. (But you surely became en expert doodler.)
Compare that experience to those with the English professor who relates the musings of Shakespeare to his adolescent love life and you’ll see a much different level of engagement.
The takeaway: What stories can you uncover, either through experience at your company or through the success of your clients, that can be used to breathe life into the subject matter? Approach blogging as a reporter, it’s your job to find the stories. You already know the subject matter. Now it’s time to bring it to life.
Print like a publisher
So we’re not actually printing anything. But we have to talk the talk if we’re to truly approach blogging like a successful publisher does printing.
As we talked about earlier, you are a publisher now. As are we. Your posts represent you and your company to a degree in which you haven’t seen. They encompass your entire brand. You can’t afford to be phoning in your content.
The difference between your company and a leading publisher is that they have invested in the people and resources needed to continually put out great content. Most companies have not. In fact, most companies aren’t even structured for it.
The takeaway: Approach blogging in the same way your favorite magazines or online publications approach their content. Print often, but more than anything, print great material. To do this, you’ll need to fully invest in your content strategy and devote more time and resources to building it up. Whether this means new hires or simply an organizational shift, you’ll need to make the investment.