Recovering From Content Overload

Getting Outdoorsy Out Of The Woods

 
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Needed: A way to manage content and find a return on their investment. 

Result: 

  • Editing, updating, and uploading of dozens of articles through the Wordpress CMS

  • Management and coaching of a freelance writing staff

  • Installing a plan to leverage a sustainable content model.

The Story

Outdoorsy.com - a website that specializes in the rental of privately-owned recreational vehicles - had contracted me to write regular content for their blog. The volume of content I alone producing, plus contributions from other writers, proved overwhelming for the Senior Editor - April. The company had assigned April the task of uploading two new articles or blogs, every day, for well over a year. 

Before long, April was sitting on top of over 1,000 posts from a dozen freelance writers at various stages in the publishing process. Some needed heavy editing, others needed to be uploaded to the Wordpress site, others still had never been reviewed. Every piece of content, though, had been paid for. 

April needed to regain the value of what the company had already paid for. Hundreds of articles from dozens of writers over the years added up, did they see the return they were hoping for on each article? Were the stories she commissioned driving leads, getting the company exposure, finding new audiences and markets? 

Outdoorsy’s content had taken over, grown wild, and the Editor was frustrated at how difficult it was to get back on top. Other demands in the company were taking priority of her time and attention. 

I was more than happy to help her get back on top. 

David is the epitome of the saying “to be a strong editor, you first need to be a strong writer.” He is both of those things and more. I would go as far to say he is the strong coach that the strong editor needs in order to coach the strong writer.

Assessing the Situation

Over several years, Outdoorsy had nearly 1,000 blog posts of varying quality. A dispersped team of freelance writers, paid by the peice, created a majority of the posts, each submitting 3-4 posts each month. 

Stemming the Flow

Firstly, we had to control the timing and quality of the incoming content. If Outdoorsy was going to pay for content, an editorial review was essential to ensuring the content was worth paying for. In the first weeks of our working together, we:

  • Ceased assigning stories to writers who were infrequent in their submissions.

  • Cut out writers who consistently submitted low-quality work.

  • Created a submission process that placed more responsibility on the writers. From checking their work, formatting links, providing meta-data, and photo-resizing - if it was a time-consuming task, the writers were responsible for it.

  • Issued a refreshed style guide for the website. 

I worked independently over several months to edit, format, and upload hundreds of blogs to the Outdoorsy Wordpress site. Getting their content calendar up to date with regular, fresh content provided a resource to other departments who needed something new to present to interested audiences. The social media and email engagement teams were thrilled to have something new to share. 

In this time I was also working regularly with writers to improve the quality of their submissions. Asking for reviews, rewrites, and additional information to elevate the value of their work. 

Forward Planning

My work with Outdoorsy was alwasy intended to be short-term. Relying on what I observed through their editorial process and the style of content in their archives, I developed a long-term plan for Outdoorsy to consider.

I advised their goal should not be to produce infinite content, but to consistently improve and enhance the wealth of content they already had. Highlights of this plan included:

  • Restructuring tags and categories to improve browsing, searching, and indexing

  • Reviewing the highest-performing content and linking to other in-house content, higher-quality photos, and refreshed information.

  • Developing travel guides by curating in-house content to drive traffic through targeted, paid campaigns.

A Note From April, Senior Editor of Outdoorsy’s Never Idle Blog

“David is the epitome of the saying "to be a strong editor, you first need to be a strong writer." He is both of those things and more. I would go as far to say he is the strong coach that the strong editor needs in order to coach the strong writer.

“I can always trust he'll bring ingenious problem solving, error-free prose and witty storytelling to the table. He is always quick to communicate, quick to forgive those who are slow to respond (guilty), incredibly reliable on deadlines, and somehow always finds a way to impress and go the extra mile.

“ I highly recommend working with him in any realm of the creative writing, editing or strategy process — even if you just need a patient, encouraging coach to help give you a laugh and see the light at the end of the tunnel.”