We have a surplus of blog authors at Atlassian, and that makes us lucky.
But many companies have people who like to contribute to the blog, writers and non-writers alike. Folks on the marketing team, HR folks, software folks… it’s a regular content-creation hoedown.
The kicker is, while some of these authors are also darn good writers, writing often isn’t their main bag. What’s more, regardless of any contributor’s talent or experience, all your blog authors need guidance. Things like:
- Company voice and tone
- Format, length, style
- Focus keywords and SEO
- CTAs, subheads, pro tips, call-outs
… and everything else you’ve spec’d out for your blog. We have loads of specifications for our authors and contributors. Not to mention the fact that with so many writers offering up content, and a tight publishing schedule, we’re often scrambling to find space on the blog calendar.
So, how do you make sure every author knows your guidelines? And how do you create a baseline for consistency, especially so trickier elements – SEO, headlines, tags – get the attention they need before a post is submitted for review?
This article talks about why it’s important to create blog guidelines and make them available to everyone, and about how creating a blog page template will help your writers get started. It also covers why Confluence (as opposed to another tool, heaven forfend!) is ideal for this effort.
Create a page that outlines your blog authoring process
Here’s our Confluence page called “How to write a blog post for Atlassian.” It gives our blog authors the information and guidance they need up front, before they begin to write. It uses a simple page format and employs a few macros to help organize the content. (If you’re unfamiliar with Confluence terminology, don’t flinch at the word macro. Macros are easy-to-use chunks of awesome that help add functionality to your pages.)
Below is the same page in “edit” mode. See how the page includes lots of information that isn’t shown above? That’s because it’s contained inside the Expand macro, and it keeps your page from looking cluttered and overwhelming. But all a reader needs to do is click the link and boom, all the content appears.
Use a page template to get blog authors started and ensure consistency
Now let’s go to Step 2 – Draft your blog. When our blog authors are ready to get their Hemingway on, they click the button “Create public blog post from template.”
A page template – that we’ve set up – appears auto-magically.
On this page, authors can add a title (where it says “Page title”) and start writing in the space provided (Draft your post here…). There’s more instructional content (Pro tip), and there’s also a place to add a JIRA Core issue link so it can be linked with the page. When the author clicks “Save,” this becomes his draft document. He or she won’t have to create one from scratch, we’ve already done it.
So, why use Confluence for blogging and to outline your blog process?
Sure, you could create an outline in Word. Heck, you could even create an outline in email. (Don’t do that.) And using those tools for a reusable template? Fuhgeddaboudit.
Confluence helps you centralize this information for easy access by anyone in the company. In our example, it means that anyone at Atlassian can find the page “How to write a blog post for Atlassian.” All authors can read the guidance and start a new blog draft with the information they need.
Confluence also enables teammates to review posts and give feedback right on the page with comments. Blog posts are iterative; each goes through the process of drafting, reviewing, and editing. And I know you’ve experienced how painful this process can be, the scattered feedback (often in different places like email) and not knowing if someone has seen the post. Comments in Confluence are the height of content review and collaboration for a piece of writing.
And, using Confluence lets you standardize your blog posts for consistency and reduce needless repetitive effort. By creating a page template that everyone can use, an author doesn’t have to create a new page every time the muse makes an appearance. Plus, he or she knows all the requirements. (The muse may have appeared, but the muse don’t care about no SEO.) This frees up time for the author to help with goal setting, to think about headlines and focus keywords, and to complete required fields. Trust me, this will make your content manager or Editor-in-chief… HAPPY.
Rest easy by outlining your blog process and creating a blog page template
By using a page that outlines our process and requirements, and offering a page template to get our blog authors started, we rest easy (or easier!) knowing our authors have the information they need and that the blogs we receive will have a high level of consistency. Plus, we get these immediate benefits!
- Eliminates repetitive back-and-forth questions (self-service FTW!)
- Educates authors and familiarizes them with *all* publication requirements (feel our pain!)
- Allows much more time to review, edit, re-write, rinse & repeat (“Writing is REwriting.” – Robert Kelley)
How do you help your blog authors and advise them about your process? Leave us a comment below and let us know!
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