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3 Lessons They Didn’t Teach You in Blogging School

Online publishing and audience development tips for forward-thinking editors and marketers

Most colleges are only beginning to teach their marketing students social media as an audience development strategy. If you’re an editor who went to school for journalism, you’d still be hard pressed to find any type of curriculum that combines the editorial and marketing skills it takes to be an online editor these days.

Luckily, our friends in the field are being tossed to this conference and that conference trying to update older editors in order to keep them updated with the newest trends and techniques. Still, some editors use their own time to learn SEO, social media and other online marketing techniques simply to stay ahead and make themselves invaluable to the companies they’re at.

The following lessons I’m about to dive in to should be passed on to your new editors and old editors alike. They should be passed on to your kids and nieces and nephews that are still in college. All in all, they should serve as a reminder to everyone that in 2011, an editor is a marketer and an editor. There’s no such thing as “blogging school”, but there will be.

Blogging School Lesson #1: SEO is as important as quality content.

Students can be taught how to write creatively, with a compelling story and plot that bring the reader in and keeps them entertained for the whole article. They might also be taught how to use social media tools to spread their content.

But what happens a week after the article is published? How about a month after it’s published? A year? Two years? What happened to all of those hours of hard work and dedication put into the article? Without SEO, it has effectively taken a dive into the digital black abyss, only to be fished out once in a while via an inbound link or as a related story on the blog.

Adding long-tail keywords (aka niche keyword phrases) to your articles keeps them coming back again and again in search engines. Your article now becomes the answer to a question rather than a novelty item for the day at hand.

Blogging School Lesson #2: Social Media makes you a more informed editor.

Social media isn’t just about marketing. It’s not just about sending traffic to your blog or, as many companies see it, about being on a popular platform. Just because Twitter exists and Oprah says it’s cool, doesn’t mean you should be on it.

Editors can use social networks like Twitter to further their careers. By sharing their own articles and being proud of the content they create, they are doing a favor to themselves by looking good, and a favor to their companies by driving website traffic. They’re also gaining rapport with potential future employers.

Even more importantly, they’re creating a playground for ideas. Once they’ve established themselves in their niche on Twitter (simply by tweeting about their articles), they are then able to converse with others in their industry. They can grow future stories this way and they can also create the contacts needed for credible quotes and inside analysis needed in the future. An editor with a contacts is more valuable than an editor with a spreadsheet full of PR addresses.

Blogging School Lesson #3: Blogging isn’t just about the words.

If you think blogging is only about writing well-informed and masterfully crafted articles, then you’re wrong. What many companies didn’t realize when they joined the online publishing realm is that bloggers already had their own communities. We came at them unleashing all of our killer content and years of credibility and expected to take over.

This just isn’t the case. In 2005, The Huffington Post made a bang when they launched, offering an alternative news source and commentary online. In 1995, The New York Times was also getting started. Today, the Huffington Post gets around 13 million unique visitors per month, while the New York Times is barely in the lead with 15 million.

We also have bloggers out there that have millions of unique visitors per month that wouldn’t survive in print. Their audiences are so niche that print publishers never even thought to create a magazine, newsletter or newspaper around them. Bloggers have a serious advantage and they were here before us. They have much higher profit margins than publishing organizations and should really not be taken as lightly as they are.

To get to my point… bloggers are innovators. They are video blogging when words aren’t enough and they are tweeting when words are too much. As companies, we surround ourselves with hypothetical walls that portray us in suits and ties. Bloggers sit in their computer chairs eating Fruit Loops with bed head and still manage to make millions of dollars.

This isn’t to say that CEO’s should start going to work in their PJ’s and video blogging about it. We have images to uphold and credibility isn’t taken lightly. What we can do, however, is pay attention to bloggers and watch their innovations. If their YouTube channel about their travel adventure get millions of hits, why can’t your travel magazine do the same? If they write a blog that features their kids wearing hand-knit scarves, why can’t your knitting magazine try a similar approach? Heck, those are images you don’t have to pay for!

In any case, welcome to your first day at blogging school. Do you have anything to add? We’re accepting applications for after-school tutors. Leave your own teachings in the comments!

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