I’m good at math.
If you looked at my standardized test results from when I was back in school, you’d see I scored very high in math and very low in verbal.
And yet, today I’m a professional writer and editor.
It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
Sort of. Your content needs to quickly communicate what your audience wants and needs, so my natural abilities are actually the perfect fit for content marketing.
Turning a “weakness” into a strength
Most of my English tests in high school weren’t adorned with those coveted “A” grades because timed exams to test reading comprehension didn’t fit my reading style.
I read text passages slowly, studied each word carefully, and analyzed how the writer could have presented his or her message more clearly.
It’s no surprise I’d run out of time before I finished every question. (It’s okay, 16-year-old Stefanie. The future looks bright for you.)
My poor test scores could have convinced me that the English language and reading comprehension were my weaknesses, but instead, I turned my way of reading into a career.
We’re in The Editor Age
The title of this interview on Contently’s The Content Strategist says it all: ‘You Need Editors, Not Brand Managers’: Marketing Legend Seth Godin on the Future of Branded Content.
When asked how he’d build a brand media property, Godin replied that brands often opt for playing it safe rather than thinking, “How can we be more interesting?”
Then, Godin concluded:
“That’s not what happens when you want to make a hit TV show or a website that people care about. You need editors, not brand managers, who will push the envelope to make the thing go forward.”
Editors produce enjoyable content
“Enjoyable content” sounds a bit weak, doesn’t it? It’s less serious than “effective content” or “content that produces business results.”
But enjoyable content is a prerequisite if you want your content to be effective.
Editors produce the right content experiences with refined messages that help meet their business goals.
For example, I enjoy painting, but I don’t always have time to paint on canvas, so I frequently paint my nails. It’s relatively quick, and I get to display my work every day for as long as the manicure lasts.
Essie is my favorite nail polish brand and the company’s YouTube channel has a collection of nail art tutorials. To communicate a persuasive message, each concise video required a focused vision and intentional refining.
Every aspect of the video also forms a seamless call to action — the instructive lesson makes you want to buy the products used in the tutorial so you can try the look yourself.
That is enjoyable content for a nail polish lover. I watched a number of Essie tutorials while researching this article and now have a long list of new colors I’m going to buy. 😉
So, by now I’m sure you see there’s more to becoming an editor than aiming to produce error-free content.
Let’s look at eight steps that help bring your inner editor to the surface during your content creation and production process.
Step #1: Research
In addition to optimizing your chances of connecting with your target audience, research is also the foundation of captivating content. It helps you stand out with unique ideas your audience won’t find elsewhere.
Step #2: Prepare
I prefer preparing over planning because it allows for more flexibility when unforeseen circumstances arise.
If you’re prepared, you can easily adapt. Editors prepare their content schedules in advance and adjust them as needed.
Step #3: Write
Synthesize your research into a cohesive presentation, whether it’s an article, podcast, or video.
“Don’t try to do too much” is my favorite writing advice.
While first drafts are certainly the place to let your ideas run wild, stay focused on the message you need to communicate.
Step #4: Delete
Remove repetitive and excessive content.
In the Essie nail art tutorial above, only essential information made the final cut.
For example, our guide, Rita Remark, didn’t distract viewers with statistics about how many people give themselves manicures each year. That information doesn’t directly match the video topic or serve viewers.
Step #5: Push
In the video above, Rita explains that the argyle print she’s creating is composed of diamond shapes.
Take a closer look at the bookcase in the background. Notice anything? Yep, it has diamond-shaped compartments.
The producers of this video pushed themselves creatively beyond a standard plain background to construct a complete experience for viewers.
Step #6: Refine
Once your content is complete, how can you make it sharper? Is there a more succinct phrase you could use, or do you need to explain a point with more details?
To address a possible concern, about halfway through the nail art tutorial, Rita reassures the viewer, “This may look difficult, but don’t be scared. It just takes a little practice.”
Step #7: Polish
I’m not talking about nail polish this time.
Grammar and spelling lovers rejoice; this is the step where you check for mistakes — large and small.
Dedicate time to fact-checking (even if you think you already did) and hold every aspect of your content up to professional standards.
Step #8: Publish
You don’t have the chance to make a positive impression on your ideal prospects until you release the content you create.
Confident content marketers have overcome the false security of perfectionism and publish their best efforts. They simply stay vigilant about possible ways to improve in the future.
What do the most persuasive content marketers have in common?
They’re also editors who critically evaluate every aspect of their content — like our Certified Content Marketers.
Strong editing skills help contribute to their distinct writing voices and knowledge of rock-solid content strategy.
If you also have a critical eye when producing content, now’s your chance to become Copyblogger Certified and one of our recommended writers.
The Certification program, in a nutshell, is:
- A four-week content strategy course, taught by Brian Clark and Sonia Simone. It gives you the big picture for both your own business and your clients’. We’ll also help you with the strategic conversations you’ll want to have (we include client conversation worksheets), so you can deliver fantastic results.
- Two prospecting workshops (as part of our Authority community) on how to reach out to new clients. You’ll learn how to make finding new clients a regular, painless habit.
- A year of access to ongoing education. These are sessions to keep your skills sharp that cover topics like SEO, social media marketing, automation, content strategy, and more.
- The opportunity to apply to become one of our recommended Certified Content Marketers, and be featured on the “Hire a Writer” section of the Copyblogger site.
All of the lessons include recordings and transcripts, and the course is designed for you to follow at your own pace.
Doors are now open to new students until this Wednesday, September 26, 2018.
We only open them about once a year, and this is your chance during 2018 — we won’t likely invite new students in again until late 2019.
Learn more to see if Copyblogger Certification is the right fit for you. And if it is …