My Whirlwind Week as an Interim Content Director

The School of Information Studies is known for innovative immersion experiences. Students can tour Silicon Valley tech firms, scout New York City startups, and take in global IT operations in Europe and Asia. As an iSchool student, I’ve never done an immersion trip, but I have had my own “immersion experience.” This week, I filled in as the interim content director for the iSchool’s official blog and its social accounts.

I’m a communications specialist for the iSchool. That entails writing for the web site and alumni magazine, and in the past year, filling in for the Information Space executive editor.

infospace photo

Information Space, official blog of the iSchool at SU

Usually, I’ve done that for a day or two at most. This time, I filled Kelly Lux’s shoes for a week, while she took a vacation free from online and social media responsibilities.

Because my “immersion” coincided with the start of #ContentStratClass, that’s informed my lessons (and provided good material).

Kelly Lux via

Kelly Lux via

It’s been a whirlwind of a week! Here’s why (and what I did as the fill-in InfoSpace editor and iSchool community manager):

  • Reviewed 14 student-contributed posts, for formatting, grammar, spelling, accuracy (I felt a little like the way Yvonne Lyons described her blogging work, here)
  • I had to assess: was the content exciting? lackluster? Was it a “sea of gray”? Were links included? (The guidelines Lyons provides were a big help!)
  • Assessed topic timeliness–gauging which ones to use each day
  • Reviewed photo captioning/citations
  • Sourced photos for bloggers who had none in their posts
  • Un-did the inadvertent “published” status of some of the authors
  • Worked with IT to insert a blog poll
  • Researched a photo copyright use issue (so not to be a bad example of copyright violation).

I also tried to be a supportive presence for these new bloggers, by:

Information Space - editing on my computer

Information Space – editing on my computer

  • Helping brand-new bloggers learn the ins and outs of WordPress
  • Responding to questions on the Facebook group and email
  • Enhancing a featured photo by designing a Canva photo frame
  • (Hopefully) providing some fill-in as a supportive editor


And as for the social content, I managed to:

My Canva background featured with the GoPro Fetch photo

My Canva background featured with the GoPro Fetch photo

I estimate that all of this was probably the work of several content team members (content editor, photo editor, graphic artist, social content curator).

But really, how many places (except the big-league guys) ever really operate with optimal staffing?

The InfoSpace blog is an important tool in the iSchool’s marketing and image visibility. As Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute, notes:

“Blogs are so popular because they are the optimal choice for your content marketing hub – acting as content chameleons that combine the strength of social media with old-fashioned print-publishing functionality.”

 So…as the end result, I discovered:

  • The week was fun!
  • I learned a lot about being a content curator and director
  • I gained new insights about new bloggers, and know which elements to highlight in the info session to be developed for new bloggers
  • I discovered what I like and don’t like about that kind of role on an ongoing basis.

It was a great opportunity overall, and I’m honored that I was trusted with this significant responsibility!

Have you ever had charge of a blog? How did you manage all the necessary components? Leave your comments here!



4 Steps to a Killer Blog Post

4 Steps to a Killer Blog Post

You’ve got this awesome idea for a blog post, right? Now all you have to do is write and publish the post then you’re going to get thousands of views and incredible engagement. Man, I wish it was that easy.

Actually, there’s quite a bit that goes into a blog post and it’s not just about the writing. It all revolves around having an excellent content strategy.


1. Develop Your Organization’s Content Strategy

First thing first. You need to make sure your content strategy for your organization, company, or personal blog is good to go. According to Margot Bloomstein, “content strategy is the practice of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content” (2012). Oh, and while developing your strategy, make sure you’re addressing the following:

  • Creation: What will it consist of? Why? Where will it come from? Who will be in charge?
  • Delivery: Where will your new content go? How are you going to post and share this with your users?
  • Governance: How are you going to update your content and keep it fresh? How are you going to evaluate its effectiveness?

2. Design Your Website to be Easy on the Eyes

The best content you’ve ever created is worthless if no one spends time on your site. So make sure your website is easy on the eyes and easily navigable. A mess of unrelated advertising, too many colors, and too many links (just to name a few) can easily distract the reader and get him or her lost within your site. When that happens they’re going to quickly click away. And no one wants that.

Great Blog Web Design

Keep it clean and easily navigable to keep your readers interested.

3. Write an Easily Scannable, Highly Engaging Blog Post

Yes, a well-written blog post is still critical for success. This is going to be what keeps your readers coming back for more. When writing a post, keep these ideas in mind:

  • Keep it short and scannable. Because we’re all short on time.
  • Mix up your content a bit. Words are awesome, but don’t forget about video, photos, graphics, polls, podcasts and more.
  • Keep it engaging. Pose a question or call-to-action (CTA) at the end of your post.

4. Follow-Up With Your Blog Post

Lastly, your new piece of content that you just published needs a bit of help to push it over the top. The proper distribution, search engine optimization (SEO), and following up with some analytics will ensure that you’re getting the most out of your posts. Come back to your content regularly and actively engage with those who post comments on the article and your social profiles. You can also refurbish any of your content that isn’t time sensitive. If that lengthy article you posted 6 months ago can easily be turned into a sweet graphic or video that can easily be consumed and shared, why wouldn’t you do it?

Share Blog Post on Social Networks

Great content will want be shared—make it easy for the user to do.

This will surely get you on your way to writing a killer blog post. Each of the 4 steps must all work together and none can stand alone. Start by focusing on your content strategy and when in doubt, always refer back to it. This will help to ensure you’re creating useful and usable content for your users that’ll stand out among the rest.

Think you have it down? What other steps do you take to create a killer blog post?


3 Reasons Why Your Blog Posts Blow

(Image courtesy of George Redgrave)

If the only comments on your blog are from spammers advertising the latest scams, there may be an opportunity to improve the quality of your blog posts. Only the blog and its postings should be doing the advertising. Fortunately, the very nature of a blog makes it an inexpensive, 24/7 online marketing campaign for a company or organization. Unfortunately, just as there are brilliant marketing campaigns, there are others that make you ask yourself, “What were they thinking?” Don’t let your blog become the latter.

5 Ws

Remember when we learned the Five Ws in school — who, what, where, when, and why? Just as these 5 questions are used to tell a story, they can also be used to create a better blog post:

  1. Who is your target audience for the blog post? Author Yvonne Lyons noted in “Blogging: 34 Things that You’re Doing Wrong” that you cannot create content, if you don’t know your audience,
  2. What is the story you are trying to share? In the “The Ultimate Guide to Blogging,” author Joe Pulizzi recommends creating useful and interesting content that moves the reader to respond. Such Calls to Action include commenting, sharing, or connecting through social media.
  3. Where does the blog post fit in terms of the content categories? A regular column may result out of frequent topics and/or posts.
  4. When do you share your content? The latest trending topic will not always apply to your brand so developing an editorial calendar will help you schedule relevant content continuously.
  5. Why are you sharing the blog post? If the post, doesn’t relate to your brand, then focus on one that does.

TL;DR ( Too Long; Didn’t Read)

(Image courtesy of Clint Hamada)

I’m sure that this phrase has appeared in the comments section of a few blogs that you visited. The fact that someone would rather respond to his/her fellow commenters than read your blog post is a bad sign—especially when the commenter clearly states that one issue is the post is too long. As Dotmarketing points out in their best practices piece “Writing for the Web,” a person tends not to read every word that appears in a blog post and instead scans it. Yes, the hours spent agonizing over writing the perfect post will most likely result in only a quick read through by the intended reader. So keep your post short (between 400 – 1000 words) to allow the reader to enjoy your post during a break. If a visitor is willing to take time out to scan your blog for a few minutes during their busy day, then honor his/her time.

Like, +1, RT

(Image courtesy of Melbourne Streets Avant-garde)

After following my earlier recommendations, you have created your best blog post yet. You post your masterpiece on your blog, pat yourself on the back, and call it a day.

Not so fast.

Remember your only previous commenter was some mother from Springfield who makes $77 an hour on the Internet.  I’m sure that she’s a lovely lady, but she’s not your target audience. You need to find your true audience.

  1. Help Google find your blog post.

Find out the most frequently used search terms that relates to your blog post and then incorporate these popular terms within your blog post title, content, and tags.

2.   Use social sites to spread the word.

The Ultimate Guide to Blogging,” author Joe Pulizzi suggests doing things like asking people on Twitter to help promote your blog. Another suggestion was to use social bookmarking sites like Digg to post your content, which will hopefully be shared by others.

3.  Post helpful comments on similar blogs.

A quality comment can help you develop relationships within the same community (fellow bloggers and commenters alike), generate traffic to your blog, and will hopefully create a new audience following.

My hope is that these tips will help get the word about your great organization or company. With so many blogs currently out there with new ones continuing to be added, it is getting harder to be seen on the Internet.  However, if you follow the 5 Ws, keep it short, and then spread the word, you can develop a faithful legend of followers and not just spammers.

Three Tips for Writing a Fantastic Blog Post

2312596915_dea8339cf2_zA blog can be a fantastic asset for a brand. Among other things, it allows the brand to control its own message, boost search engine optimization and helps craft an identity online. But a blog is useless unless its updated frequently and effectively. A blog post needs to capture the audience’s attention and hold it throughout the entire post. It also needs to deliver some sort of value to the brand, which is often easy to forget. It’s important to know company goals and values before embarking on a blogging journey so that you know what direction to take every post. But you can’t accomplish any of these things if your blog isn’t properly structured.

Here are three easy things you can do to help create a great blog post:

1. Think of a catchy title.

A catchy blog post title is the best way to capture your audiences attention. Your blog post can’t be great if no one is reading it, and no one is going to click on it if your title is boring. It’s the first thing people see, so it sets the tone of the entire post. The title shouldn’t be ambiguous. People should know what they’re in for the moment they click on the post. This makes it easy for the people who know what they’re searching for. This blog post, for example, is targeted at people writing blogs. Those blog writers are likely to search for ways to improve their blogs and when they see the title, they’ll know this post will help.

2. Link to other bloggers.

Why would I link to a competitors blog? Then all my traffic will also go to them and I wont be setting myself apart. While that type of thinking made sense at one time, in the world of online blogging, linking to other blogs is a great thing.  The Internet, and especially blogs, are all about an open exchange of ideas. If you’re not linking to other blogs, you’ll be seen as less reputable. It would be like writing an academic paper without sources.

3.  Don’t write a novel, but tell a story.

According to Anagard, the average Internet user’s attention span is just six seconds. Of course, that attention span will expand if you’re distributing great content, but it emphasizes the fact that audiences are no longer interested in long-form writing like they once were. Try to write in a concise way and get your point across in as few words as possible. But just because you’re not writing an extremely long post doesn’t mean you can’t still tell a story. The story is what is going to keep the reader hooked. Don’t sacrifice your story by using too few words.

Photo via P4BLoX

You Never Know Who’s Actually Reading Your Blog

A poorly written blog makes you look bad on so many levels.  It doesn’t matter if your blog is on jellybean flavors or international affairs, if there are grammatical issues you’re done!  With that in mind, you should treat your blog post like you would a resume or cover letter for the job of your dreams.  Your resume is a selling tool for yourself just like that blog post is for your career.

So what seems to be the most important rule when creating a blog??  Editing!  But not just editing…  I think you need to add the word polish as well.  Editing for spelling and grammar of course but adding that coat of polish to a piece that you’re putting out for any and all to see is just so crucial.

This advice is coming from someone who is not a professional writer and I’ve never blogged a minute in my life.  BUT, I know I’m on to something.  I can only use my current knowledge base to refer to and right now I’m trolling through hundreds of applications for a job I need to fill.  First I start with the resume.  I look for a clean format, appropriate spacing, font that’s legible and I can’t stand when people use odd colors.  As soon as I hit a spelling error or something that’s off…I’m done.  If they make it past my resume test, the cover letter is next.  I look at the date to make sure it’s correct and whom they address the letter to.  Also, if the person has taken the time to look at the position and the company then I’d say they would get to the first interview stage.  Correlate that to someone who’s reading your blog.  In the world we live in, it’s takes a lot to grab someone’s attention.  Once you’ve got them to your page, why screw it up with stupid mistakes?  Why lose your chance at that one reader who might start reading your blog religiously?


Here are the tips I see as most important for blogging (or the perfect resume):

  • Have someone else edit your work.  You need to have an extra set of eyes on the document because you’re rarely going to catch your own mistakes.  You could pay someone to do it, or your mom might be the next best.  She’s got your best interest at heart.
  • Take your time to truly polish the work.  Sometimes things sound funny or impressive one day and then suck the next day when you reread your work.
  • Have a true and deep-down love for what you’re blogging about.  That’s the only way you’ll come off as being authentic.  If you’re trying to create a following, you need to have passion.
Alt Stages of Blogging

Again, this is all coming from a complete novice but if you read the tips again you’ll see that they will work for blogging but maybe even landing that dream job too.

The articles in this week’s reading were incredibly enlightening for me.  The article on all the things not to do,  34 Things You’re Doing Wrong, made me realize that there’s a lot more to know about this than I’d originally thought.  But again, it’s all about how much you want to put into it.  And/or how successful do you want to be.




Theres a lot that goes into a great blog. Writing a blog is easy… writing a GREAT blog is hard. Very hard! A great blog contains a unique writing style, a great catchy title, an easy to read format, and important content that your readers will care about.

Here are 4 must haves for your blog:

  1. Obviously a catchy title is crucial. This was mentioned in every article that we read this past week. An extremely interesting fact that I read was from the article, “Blogging: 34 Things Your Doing Wrong,” written by, Yvonne Lyons. She said, “Eight out of 10 people will read a headline but only two out of 10 will continue after that, so that headline better be good.” It is so important to have a title that makes the reader say, “I must read that,” because without a great title, the reader will never get to read your great content. I feel Elite Daily does a  very effective job at creating catchy titles. Take this blog post title from Elite Daily for example. “17 Things Weighing You Down That You Need To Let Go Of If You Want To Fly.” This title makes me curious and even excited with the ending, “If You Want To Fly.” Obviously I would want to fly, so this article is very interesting to me.

    Great Title Example From Elite Daily

    Great Title from Elite Daily

  2. Your writing style must be written in web format. When writing a blog, people often forget that blogging is a unique style of writing. Paragraphs should not be long and word choice should not be complicated. In “Blogging: 34 Things Your Doing Wrong”written by, Yvonne Lyons, she explains that it is important to make a clear point, have an organized structure, split up by bullet points or images, and to write about an exciting topic. In “DM Best Practices Writing for the Web,” written by DM Consulting Services, it says that having a scannable layout can improve usability by 47%. So what should you make sure to do in order to have a great blog written in an effective format? Dm Consulting Services explains that web users “scan pages,” “pick out key words and phrases,” and are “action oriented.” Therefore, users should make sure to divide their content up in an organized fashion and include bullet points and pictures.
    Layout on Elite Daily

    Layout on Elite Daily

    Take this image above for example. This is a great layout on a blog that jumps from action based content, an image, and then remaining content.

  3. Have Focus. It is so important to have focus in your blog post. You can’t capture a whole target market, so have extreme focus and try to capture as many readers as possible who enjoy your content. For example, if my blog post will focus on improving your quality of life, the blog should only focus on this! There should not be any other unnecessary content. In the article, “The Ultimate Guide to Blogging” written by Joe Pulizzi, Joe writes, “Figure out who is buying what you’re selling and write a blog post for them. Now, you may have different audiences you’re trying to reach, so you may need to change who this target audience is from post to post. But be sure each individual blog post is consistent from start to finish.” I think this is so important as many writers try to capture everyone in one story and that is just not going to happen.
    A very Focused Blog

    A very Focused Blog

    Clearly the blog above has extreme focus and is targeted towards males or females who have been cheated on. In this blog post you won’t read anything that doesn’t apply to just that. All blogs need to have that type of focus to best impact the reader.

  4. SEO and Keyword Integration are crucial. “Keyword research and integration can have a big impact search engine rankings and traffic” says, Joe Pulizzi.  It is important to search for the most popular used words and apply these to your blog for maximum readership.