Content is Community; so is Your Website


Content is Community; so is Your Website

July 24, 2012

Publishers know that content is everything, but content is changing. You need a lot more of it to keep up with the pace of digital publishing and you need to engage your audience IN it. In fact, online readers want to be part of the community that creates, generates and talks about the content that manages to stick with them while information flashes across their screens (large and small) throughout the day. 

If you are in digital publishing, this is not a news flash and you are likely already taking steps to transform your website into more than a repository for content. You want it to be THE PLACE where people engage with your area of expertise.

There are numerous ways to do this. As we’ve discussed before, providing fresh content is one of the most important. You know the value of fresh content in driving traffic and building community—but sometimes the requirements can get overwhelming.  Especially when you read about Forbes and the success they’ve had with their content model. They produce 400-500 posts a day.

It’s important to remember that Forbes staff doesn’t produce all that content themselves. They’ve become adept at utilizing guest contributors and they are not limited to blogs and articles.  The point? Even with a small staff, you can increase the quantity of your content without compromising the quality.

Contributors can also provide a greater variety of content in the form of classifieds, event listing and buyer’s guides. This content creates revenue opportunities for your advertisers and sponsors and can be self-serve—so they can submit content, pay for it and manage their account on an ongoing basis, without requiring your editorial resources.  In essence, you gain more content and they create their own storefront or microsite.

Regardless, remember a few key steps for finding strong guest contributors:

  • Identify where your content vertical needs to be fleshed out and look for writers to fill those gaps.
  • Make sure you are covering the range of ages and work styles in your readership.
  • Study contributors who provide a strong presence in your field and look for writers with similar qualities—but with a unique voice or perspective. You want concise writing that demonstrates credibility and authority.
  • Look for people who comment and engage regularly in the forums you are part of and let your contacts know you are looking for contributors.
  • Provide a visible link on your site where you can encourage people to query about writing for you.

Make it easy to keep your guest contributors:

  • Even if you are not offering payment, you can offer incentives that include opportunities for greater exposure through your website and readership. Provide them with a profile page and also with the ability to create a niche for themselves on your site.
  • Utilize a SaaS CMS that makes it simple for contributors to post and edit their content, from anywhere, anytime.
  • Provide clear goals, guidelines and standards to keep your branding and the quality of your content consistent.
  • Provide a solid list of keywords to help support your SEO efforts and update it regularly.
  • Give feedback and gratitude—especially in the beginning.
  • Share topic ideas with them as those ideas surface.

Investing in a good foundation with guest contributors will enable you to generate fresh content without having to worry about the quality, down the road.