I initially created the Tuesdays with Media blog for my New Media Studies Proseminar class. Bringing the assignment full circle, the professor asked that I explore the evolution of the blog and its future by crafting editorial guidelines. I won’t bore you with the details that span from revision process to hyperlink policy, but I will take this opportunity to encourage other bloggers to perform this exercise.
Starting a blog can be a bit chaotic – you’re exploring topics, design and writing style to see what works for you and your readers. Throughout this trial and error, you should be establishing standards to cultivate a cohesive and consistent experience for your target audience. I playfully refer to this as wrangling the blog.
Editorial guidelines reinforce blog wrangling. You may say that you have a clear vision of blog purpose and process in your head. That’s great but now put it in writing. Translating your developing standards to precise guidelines forces a deeper consideration of blog:
What is the purpose of my blog? Has this narrowed or changed over time? How does the blog serve me and how does it serve my audience? What is the objective of my blog content? Are my posts meant to simply inform or drive a particular action?
Undoubtedly, you had a reason for starting your blog. Be sure that this objective is reflected in every aspect of your blog – including design, channel sharing and topic selection. Also define your content objective separately. For example, my overall blog objectives center around professional growth, but my content objective is to incite further consideration and discussion.
How often do or should I post? What is the appropriate length for my posts? Do my posts follow similar formats? Do I include photos, videos and/or hyperlinks? Do I use headers, bullet lists and/or bold font to emphasize points? How does tone or voice vary from post to post?
You’re putting in the time to cultivate a community and generate fresh content – don’t ruin the reader experience with shifting formats and styles. Establish guidelines to provide a cohesive product and drive reader loyalty.
Which posts have the most comments, likes and/or shares? Which posts are associated with follower growth? Which posts best reflect blog and/or content objectives? How can I apply the success of select posts to all posts?
With creating guidelines, you’re reflecting on what works and what doesn’t. Successful posts can be identified by your audience, via shares and likes, and by you. For example, part of my content objective is being applicable to a varied audience – including a broad range of ages, education, roles and expertise. Within the guidelines, I highlight my Attention! Sacrificing Quality for Quantity post as a good example because it is applicable to all members of a communications or media team.
You will need to return to your editorial guidelines throughout the life of your blog. Objectives, policies and measures of success should continue to evolve with you and your audience.
Have you created blog editorial guidelines? What other important questions should be asked to wrangle the blog?