As a content creator, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. We get set on a certain content process, type, platform or theme, and before you know it, our content creation process becomes less “stroke of brilliance” and more “force of habit.” It happens to the best of us – but luckily, with other content creators’ perspectives, you can refresh and spice up your content strategy and management process.
Enter Kelsey Jones. As the executive editor of one of the industry’s most prolific publications, Search Engine Journal, she’s involved in every aspect of the content-creation process.
Kelsey shares intel on coming up with content, diversifying a content portfolio, scheduling posts, time management hacks and other important tricks of the content trade. Read on to learn how SEJ does it and how you can put their tips and tricks into practice with your own content:
How do you come up with content themes?
I use Evernote and Google Docs on my phone, so I can record blog ideas whenever I happen to think of them. Usually it’s while I’m driving or doing something else easy, like grocery shopping. I try to write them down as soon as possible, so they don’t float away.
Otherwise, I try to think of the best ways I can repurpose content I already have, such as a presentation I’m doing for SEJ Summit NYC. If you create this masterful piece of themed content, how can you turn it into other pieces to make it go further? A podcast, infographic or white paper could bring in additional traffic or leads.
Do you have goals associated with the content you produce at SEJ?
The team is constantly identifying “holes” in our content calendar, meaning, “What’s a topic we haven’t covered recently or haven’t been covering enough?” One example was using Reddit in marketing strategy. In my opinion, not enough marketing resource sites are covering Reddit, so we did a webinar on it with Brent Csutoras, one of SEJ’s owners who is also a Reddit expert. We also brought on a new guest contributor who is dealing exclusively with Reddit marketing.
Our other goals are, of course, to continue to grow traffic and time on site – but for us, that usually comes when we focus on the “how” of our growth strategy instead of the “why.”
What is your process for scheduling posts?
We have used our analytics data extensively for this. We experimented with publishing times and days and have tweaked our scheduling process accordingly. The highest traffic spikes will depend on each site’s target audience. For instance, most business blogs are most popular on weekday mornings, but craft or hobby fishing blogs might be more popular on weeknights or weekends.
How do you select editorial themes?
This is also based somewhat on data, somewhat on feel. For instance, based on Google Analytics, we know search posts usually do the best (which also makes sense, since we are called Search Engine Journal). We went by gut when starting an “entrepreneur” category last year. We thought that since many of our users are independent consultants or own their own business, they would like it. Turns out it’s our fastest-growing category.
I also had an idea to have one of our paid writers, Albert Costill, do a series on tech education – for example, “Where to get a bachelor’s degree” or “Where to take a class in digital marketing.” This was mainly by feel, experience, and just being genuinely interested in the topic of where people can go to get a digital marketing education. Because I’m SEJ’s target demographic, it makes it easier to come up with editorial themes.
Is there a magic time of day that content is engaged with (shared, commented on) the most?
Definitely the morning. Monday through Wednesday are usually our busiest days, unless a big piece of news breaks later in the week.
Any time management hacks you can share?
Read “Getting Things Done” by David Allen: it changed the way I work. Another helpful book is “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy. Once you’ve changed your mindset on the way you work, getting things done faster becomes easier. I’m a big believer in delegating and remembering that “done is (usually) better than perfect.” I also play games with myself; I’ll estimate how long something will take and then use a countdown timer on Online-Stopwatch.org to see if I can beat it.
What content type performs the best on SEJ?
I mentioned this earlier, but search marketing content is the top-performing category. As types of content, usually the longer the post, the more page views and time spent on site. We’ve also found that numbers in titles do really well (e.g., “5 Ways to Succeed at LinkedIn”) or actionable titles, like “How to ____”).
What’s the number one content mistake you see?
Incorrect image attributions. If you don’t follow stock photo or Creative Commons guidelines, it can cost you THOUSANDS in fines and legal fees. It’s worth going the extra mile to make sure you are attributing images correctly. Even paid sites like Shutterstock require a specific attribution.
What was your strategy in expanding content to more than just the written word?
A lot of the growth at SEJ comes from just being curious and wanting to try it. I’m lucky to work with people who not only listen to each other’s ideas but are open to experimenting to see how things pan out.
Because many people learn differently, we thought expanding the way we share information and interact with experts in search, social media and marketing in general could be a great benefit to our listeners. While not every idea is a winner, the webinars, podcasts and video interviews have been a great way to increase our audience reach and exposure.
What resources do you use to learn the best tricks of the trade as an editor and content creator?
I love going to conferences, because there’s always something to be learn in our industry, since we are the very people making up the best practices. We also have a public book club, and I try to read all the great marketing and business books we have reviewed on there (we’re on GoodReads if you want to see what we’ve read so far).
I also think that podcasts and webinars are some of the best free education that anyone can get. Make podcasts and webinars part of your weekly routine. Whether it’s replacing music with a podcast during your commute or while you work out or promising to attend one webinar a week, I guarantee it will help you become a better editor and content creator, no matter your industry.
Finally, I’ve learned that the best editors are writers and readers. I’ve never met a great editor who hated writing or reading. Try to write regularly on a personal blog or for the publication you’re editing for. It forces you to keep up your writing skills, which helps with editing.