I’m a “go big or go home” kind of gal. And when it comes to content marketing today that translates to “have editorial standards or don’t publish.”
If a reader, listener, or viewer begins to like you, but you fail to earn their trust, your hard work will feel like a waste.
With the ongoing rise of AI, content editors have an opportunity to stand out. They’re writing professionals who know how to effectively review drafts written by other writers (human or AI). Editors then turn those drafts into content that’s engaging and valuable enough to grow an audience of interested prospects.
What are editorial standards?
Editorial standards are essentially rules that help you establish and uphold your reputation as a trustworthy resource for your audience. Instead of having an “anything goes” approach to your editorial department, you decide ahead of time what is appropriate or not appropriate for your publication.
I’m particularly fond of this other cool part:
Editorial standards also give you the freedom to be creative, or straight-up weird, as long as your content is built on a foundation that serves your audience.
These could be the winning details a robot could never compete with …
So now it’s time to meet the first cousin of content editing. These are the 3Fs of editorial standards you can use to evaluate whether or not a piece of content is a proper reflection of you or your client.
A simple question used to work for a fitness assessment: “Is this information relevant and useful for the audience I serve?”
That’s not enough anymore, because there’s no room for “Captain Obvious” content that might have passed that test before.
Don’t be afraid to address topics other people in your niche cover. But saying the exact same thing in the exact same way will make you think content marketing doesn’t work.
Editorial standards in action
Remember the movie Legally Blonde?
Peppering your content with some “Elle Woods” shows visitors that you’ll help them in ways your competition won’t.
When you’ve crafted a relevant, useful presentation that demonstrates an aspect of your winning difference, it’s fit to publish.
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Fact-checking is an editorial standard that helps you always share solid information with your audience.
With this step, you review the details that sloppy content creators fail to verify.
Here are five of my favorite items to fact-check that elevate the quality of your writing:
- Hyperlinks. Do all hyperlinks go to the correct sites, and do you want to direct readers to those sites?
- Spellings. Names of people, businesses, products, locations, and publications should all be double-checked. To add an extra layer of polish to your editorial standards, note the style of spellings. For example, it’s “Copyblogger,” not “CopyBlogger.”
- Days and dates. Make sure days of the week correspond with dates mentioned. If the text said an event was on Thursday, March 31, 2023, you’d need to look up when the event actually takes place: Thursday or Friday? Because the correct day and date is either going to be Thursday, March 30, 2023 or Friday, March 31, 2023.
- Start and finish times. If you’re publishing details about an event, check that the start and finish times match the official event information to avoid issuing a correction later.
- Discount codes. If you provide a discount code for a product in your content, test it on your checkout page.
Everyone accidentally publishes mistakes every once and a while, but consistent accuracy brings visitors back to your site.
Formatting may sound boring, but it’s a classic part of print publications that benefits digital publications as well.
You’re able to offer a variety of voices through different pieces of content because formatting helps each article look like it belongs to the same publication.
It’s a way to tie together perspectives that all serve your target audience.
If you have guests on a podcast or video channel, establishing a format for your interview segments is a version of editorial standards. It provides a familiar environment for listeners or viewers. (For instance, Between Two Ferns is instantly memorable.)
Content that builds an audience has editorial standards
If your blogging and content marketing aren’t getting you the results you’re hoping for (i.e., no one pays attention to your writing), you might like to learn more about editorial standards in my Content Writing Masterclass inside Copyblogger Academy.
The in-depth course is for writers who want an insider’s view of how to build an audience of interested prospects who know, like, and trust you.
You’ll discover practical techniques you’ll be able to use right away, so you can start creating content that attracts traffic, builds an engaged audience, and primes them to buy.
Sign up below to learn more about Copyblogger Academy …
Reader Comments (4)
Jane Rucker says
More rock solid information from Stefanie! This is just so “right on” for anyone and everyone. Keeping things relevant by adding your own specialty that brings that winning difference is so important. On top of that, the care you give to details when it comes to accuracy and formatting pays off in valued trust from others. Great work once again! Thanks for the reminder!
Julian Vargas says
Does the writing match the tone and voice of the organization putting it out? This is especially important to check when you’ve got folks from outside your org supplying content. A mismatched tone really sticks out like a sore thumb.
Also, when I hurt my thumb in a doorjamb or stub it on something, I curl it protectively into my fist. I don’t stick it out to get smooshed again. That saying just doesn’t make sense to me.
Stefanie Flaxman says
It’s natural for readers of a publication to take a consistent tone, voice, and style for granted … but editors know how much work it takes to achieve that cohesiveness. 🙂
LJ Sedgwick says
I read mine aloud. It’s amazing the crap I spot when a different part of my brain is processing it!
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