This week s installment of the editorial standards series outlines three digital publishing best practices you can implement right now.
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In this 13-minute episode, I discuss:
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Stefanie: Hello there, Editors-in-Chief. I am Stefanie Flaxman, and you are listening to Editor-in-Chief, the weekly audio broadcast that delivers the art of writing, updated for marketing in the digital age, to help you become the Editor- in-Chief of your own online business.
We are in the middle of my Editorial Standards series. Last week’s episode was called “How an Editor-in-Chief Creates Editorial Standards.” This week’s episode is the second part of the series. How many of these I’m going to do is still unknown, but I really am hoping to go through, in each of these episodes, specific things that you can take away into your work because editorial standards is a big passion of mine. Little ways that you, as the Editor-in-Chief of your business, can create excellence.
It all comes down to editorial standards. If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode you can go back and listen to “How an Editor-in-Chief Creates Editorial Standards, Part One“, to give you a little bit more background information about where all of this is coming from. The week before that it was “The Anatomy of an Editor-in-Chief of a Digital Media Business” to give you just a little bit more background about how this series came about, a little more about what an Editor-in-Chief is, and what my intentions are for helping you create editorial standards.
If you’ve already listened to those episodes, you are all caught up so I’m going to jump right into today’s editorial standards lessons. There are 3 of them and they’re all about writing. I’m getting into really specific things that isn’t always going to be the case. There are lots of different things that you could be writing, but these are just 3 things to keep in mind when you are creating pieces of online content.
The first thing I want to talk about is links. Links, we all know, are great online for a number of reasons. They can serve SEO purposes, they help connect different pages and content on your website together, help you reference outside sources. All of that is great and that’s very vague, but I guess what I’m trying to get to with links is sometimes we get a little lazy because we can link to everything. This is kind of a pet peeve I have of online content.
I like, and in a past episode of Editor-in-Chief I talked about this, I like it when online content can really be a standalone piece. It’s something that you could rip out of a print magazine and put on your refrigerator because you love it, and you don’t need all those links everywhere. Links really help support your arguments, and they can help people understand what you’re talking about or where you’re coming from, but you just don’t want to overdo it. You don’t want your piece of content to not make sense without people clicking everywhere because they need to look at this link to understand this and they need to look at this link to understand this picture.
You can just go overboard with the links and then create what I would call a not standalone piece of content . It’s very dependent on the links. It’s not something that, really, the reader can sink into and focus on because they have to be clicking everywhere. It’s a little pet peeve of mine about links. When you do use links in your online content, you want to be very careful about not overdoing it. Create that standalone piece of content. When you do use links, make sure they work. As simple as that. That they go to the right place. This is, oops, I don’t know if you heard that water bottle fall over. Good to stay hydrated, but not when you’re recording a podcast because it will make extra noise. That’s a bonus tip on today’s episode.
My next piece of advice about links is really simple. If you are linking in your content, make sure it goes to where it is supposed to go, that it’s not broken or it goes to some web page you didn’t intend. If you want it to open in a new window or tab that you set that properly. You’re not taking visitors directly away from your website if you don’t want to do that. Yep. Watch your links. Every time you create a link you can create an editorial standard for your content that is going to take someone to high quality, valuable content that supports your point and will help your audience further. It’s not just in there for a link.
All right. Moving on. The next item I want to talk about in your content is valid sources, which actually compliments links. When you are making an argument or a point, really evaluate the references that you are using to make your point in your content. Can the source be trusted? How recent is it? Is it 10 years old? Has there been a more recent study that maybe contradicts it? Do your research. We love talking about it on Copyblogger. The value of research. It really sets you apart from all the other content creators out there, because if you do proper research and connect in a way that no one else has looked at a topic with your specific angle, the way that you’re approaching it, that’s how you create unique content.
All the researchers out there, it’s your unique, creative mind that creates something different that really intrigues people and gets people hooked on your specific voice. Do your research, and make sure all of your sources are in your content and valid, and that you feel 100% confident that what you’re sharing with your audience is true to the best of your knowledge because you’re using very credible sources and they’re all laid out. If you reference a statistic, you need to make sure that people can actually go to that study that you’re referencing and see that it’s a valid study, and there’s a huge sample in the study so that it’s not just “Oh, we surveyed 3 people and found out 2 of them feel like this, so we made a conclusion.” It should be a large sample size for any study that we’re referencing.
I don’t want to contradict myself because I just said don’t link too much, but this is a very clear example about where you do want to include links and how they do help your online content. You’re not abusing the links if you reference a study. Referencing studies that are valid and referencing more supporting points are a great opportunity to use links in your content, but it all comes back to being, jeez guys, I lost my train of thought there. You know I’m very transparent here. I don’t like a bunch of fancy edits where I act like I don’t make mistakes sometimes. It’s not about not making mistakes. It’s about moving forward and correcting them for the future. Yeah. I don’t really remember what I’m saying right now, but we’re going to bounce back. That’s no big deal.
Everything that you do needs to just be verified. I think verification is the theme of this episode. I probably should have said it at the beginning, but you just want to verify what you’re doing. That is the way you create editorial standards. You’re checking your work. You either have someone else do it, a separate set of eyes, or you take the extra time to go through every little detail and make sure that you feel confident about the information that you are putting out to your audience.
The third editorial standard for today’s episode is consistency. You need to step back from you writing and make sure that if you say something in the first paragraph, you don’t contradict yourself in the fifth paragraph. Along the same lines, you don’t want to repeat yourself too much. If you have the exact same sentence in the first and third paragraph, you need to have the bigger awareness to realize that that’s excessive information. You don’t really need it there in a piece of writing. The reader has already read it.
I would just say the best tip to help things be consistent and to make sure you don’t repeat yourself is to leave time to step away from your work and then come back to it and look at it with fresh eyes because when you have those fresh eyes you will see the content mistakes, or just the sub par work that you can’t really spot when you are doing it in one draft.
I lost my train of thought a little bit ago. I’ve had a long day. It’s been a long, busy day for me. That’s why I lost my train of thought. If you’ve been working on a piece of writing all day, and you’ve had a long, busy day, then you really want to make sure that you take the time to go back and look at it from a bigger perspective.
I’m putting out the audio. This is what I’m doing. I don’t really have a chance to do that now. Do what I say, not as I do. No, I try to really follow my own advice most of the time and I always leave time when I am writing to go back later with fresh eyes, to spot where I’m being inconsistent, to spot where I may have repeated myself. That is creating the editorial standards. I hope you’ll forgive me for my little goof earlier in today’s episode. Those are some tips of how you can create editorial standards in your own content business, in whatever you are the Editor-in-Chief of.
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Thank you for joining me today, warts and all. What’s the audio equivalent of a wart since you can’t see me? I don’t know. Verbal goofs and all. If you can stand me even with verbal goofs, please go over to iTunes and leave Editor-in-Chief a rating or a review. I would really appreciate it.
I will continue to next week with my Editorial Standards series to give you ideas about how you can create editorial standards for your own digital business. As always, thank you so much for joining me. I so appreciate that you’re listening and, yep, you guys are great. I am Stefanie Flaxman. You have been listening to Editor-in-Chief. Now go become one.