One thing that’s so interesting about being a web editor is the way the job is so similar to and at the same time different from our previous roles as editors of print publications. An editor completing a copyedit for a print publication is editing for clarity, style and grammar just like a web editor does for web content. The difference, as our blogger Anne very aptly describes in this post about web editing, is that you must edit with the goal of traffic to the article first in your mind.
Another example of this similar-but-different characteristic of web editing is blog management. Blogs are a facet of your web publication just like an editorial, feature article or column, and you’ll see better success if you give them just as much attention. There are so many different purposes for a blog that some publications have many of them. If you visit the blog directory of the New York Times, you’ll see they maintain a whopping 66 blogs at the moment. In addition to writing for a staff blog, I manage seven other blogs for my publication that are written by contributors. Most of those blogs have multiple authors. It can be overwhelming at times, even for just a handful of blogs, when you think about managing that many authors and trying to stick to a plan.
It’s important when managing multiple blogs to create a calendar. There are lots of tools available to choose from that can help you with this (one example is this WordPress blog calendar plugin and another is this Excel blog editorial calendar created by tech blogger Michele McGraw). Take into account the amount of time you’ll need for the blog posts: Will you be writing? Copyediting? Posting press releases? For myself, I’ve needed to create different systems based on the way each blog works, but in general I use a spreadsheet to work out a calendar for each blog. An overall editorial schedule that sets out the topics you’d like to see in the blog can help you generate traffic and keep things interesting. If, for example, you can coordinate posts to cross-promote other articles on your site or to coincide with events that are important to your readers, you can increase traffic to your blog and your site. When you’re establishing a new blog, ideally you should post at the very least once a week to make sure content is always fresh and to become a trusted source of information in your niche.
When you’re managing multiple authors, finding those authors for a contributed blog is the first hurdle. Social media (like Facebook and Twitter) and e-newsletters are good avenues for recruiting bloggers if you want to open up the invitation to your readers. We took applications for a student blog we recently launched, and requested that potential bloggers tell us about their motivation to write and their plans for topics, so we could choose the bloggers we thought would be reliable and interesting. When you’ve assembled your list of contributors, remember that each author has his or her own style, schedule and strengths. You might want to give bloggers the freedom to post on their own, or you might want to request that they send posts to you so that you can publish them after proofreading. Try developing a tip sheet with any special instructions and style points that your blog authors need, so you can send it to the bloggers before they begin writing.
And have fun! I’ve developed great relationships with bloggers as we got to know one another better, and I’ve learned a lot from them.
My next post will be a discussion of a FOLIO: webinar I attended on creating mobile apps for publications.