After randomly deciding to depend what number of articles I had written 1.5 years into my time at Buffer, I spotted I used to be about to hit 100 articles written for the Buffer weblog.
Then I additionally received a number of questions on my writing course of and motivation. The latter is fairly straightforward to reply – that is my job. I’m (and I say this with full genuineness) fairly chill, due to my want for constant inside motivation to do something that requires important effort. Fortunately, Buffer’s the form of place the place that effort feels prefer it’s price it and is all the time rewarded.
Nonetheless, there’s the primary half – my course of. I didn’t wish to repeat myself to everybody who requested – so I wrote a entire article with each reply. I’ve documented some background about my time at Buffer, my writing course of (which took longer than anticipated for one thing that’s a part of my each day routine), and a few of my recommendation for present and aspiring content material writers.
Background of my time at Buffer
Brief model: I’ve been at Buffer for 18 months and have grown considerably in my position and as a creator since I joined.
I utilized for the Content material Author position in October 2021 and began in February 2022. In between was full of pleasure, anxiousness, and anticipation as a result of
- It’s BUFFER
- The job description was actually good for me
- I hoped to maneuver in-house, away from the hustle and bustle of company life, to pursue writing for one firm in a single trade.
Nonetheless, I used to be in disbelief once I received the provide. Sure, I received via the interview course of, and naturally, I belief Hailley, the Head of Content material, and Joel, the CEO at Buffer in addition to all the oldsters who had a hand within the determination. I belief that out of all of the candidates, I truthfully was a very good match. But it surely’s arduous to shake self-doubt, which I take care of fairly often.
Nonetheless, I’m nonetheless right here, 18 months and greater than 100 articles later, so I should be doing one thing proper. My position’s additionally shifted fairly a bit. Right here’s the unique posting:
In comparison with now, my position has modified fairly a bit. I now:
- Assist outline content material technique,
- Write the weekly e-newsletter,
- Observe content material efficiency via our analytics,
- Run a guest posting program,
- Collaborate on team-wide advertising initiatives.
A take a look at my writing course of
Publishing over 100 long-form articles in 18 months (roughly 5 a month) isn’t any small feat, and I received a number of questions in regards to the writing course of that helped me obtain it. Particularly, Kuba Rogalski and Anfernee Chansamooth requested instantly about my writing course of.
So, right here’s how I take an article from concept to publishing and past.
Analysis and ideation
I fill out the content material calendar with a mix of ideas pulled from analysis about key phrases we have to goal, present developments within the social media trade, questions from our viewers, and instinctive information of our content material gaps.
After I began, I’d get content material concepts from Hailley primarily based on what made probably the most sense for me to cowl. Over time, as I grew comfy with the social media area, I began to know what would finest transfer the needle for our core metric: web page views.
Now that I perceive each the Buffer model and the social media trade/creator financial system, I function just about independently on idea generation. I’ll typically place my concepts within the content material calendar as they arrive and run them by the crew as wanted.
Outlining and drafting articles and emails
Whereas hiring for the position I’d finally fill, the Content material crew was basically simply Hailley, supported by an company, so once I joined, we needed to develop a brand new system for collaboration.
We’ve refined it effectively sufficient that the precise writing of articles is a science masquerading as artwork that goes like this:
- Outlining: I define articles utilizing the 30 percent outline format. Whereas I rely much less on this than I used to, it’s a useful body that’ll get you from concept to remaining product as shortly as doable.
- Title/H1: I’ll typically give you a number of choices for potential titles earlier than or after drafting. Generally I can solely inform the most effective title for an article earlier than I begin writing it; different occasions, it’s apparent from the beginning.
- Key phrase (if the article is Search engine marketing-driven): The key phrase will decide the ultimate URL we publish an article underneath, so it’s useful for our social media supervisor Mitra, to have it earlier than the weblog goes dwell
- Introduction: I’ll sometimes begin with one hook paragraph to seize a reader’s consideration, then end up with one thesis paragraph that’ll inform you what to anticipate from the article
- Headings and accompanying content material: I’ll break up the article into H2s, 3s, and 4s for simple skimming and the on-page Search engine marketing advantages. I view headings as a “inform them what to anticipate” then ship via the sections all the way in which to the conclusion.
I additionally write the weekly Social Media e-newsletter, which is extra “fill-in-the-blanks” than something. Essentially the most hands-on work there may be optimizing the e-newsletter by A/B testing headlines, experimenting with new sections, and incorporating viewers suggestions about our design or current content material codecs.
Enhancing suggestions and revisions
After I first joined, Hailley would evaluate my work, and I’d evaluate to make modifications; she’d look once more after which give me the go-ahead to publish. Over time, I’ve gotten higher at writing typically and for Buffer particularly, so we solely do one spherical of revisions earlier than publishing.
I proofread utilizing Grammarly as I’m writing, so modifying is often centered on making structural modifications or fixing the general tone and magnificence of an article. As soon as achieved, I schedule the article in Ghost, our content material administration system.
I lately began sharing older articles to my private social media to contribute to distribution. That is nonetheless a brand new a part of my course of and is a drop within the ocean in the mean time. But it surely helps drive site visitors to the weblog and offers me one thing to schedule once I’m out of recent concepts.
I work with a lot of tools each day, however right here’s the stack I work with day-after-day:
- Analysis & ideation: Key phrase analysis in Ahrefs; an array of newsletters; content material gaps; analytics, previous efficiency
- Content material administration: Notion
- Outlining & drafting: Google Docs, Clearscope
- Article optimization (graphics, modifying & proofreading): Grammarly, Unsplash, Canva
- Article publishing: Ghost
- Publication publishing: Buyer.io
- Zero-click repurposing: ChatGPT, scheduling in Buffer
- Admin: Calendly, Slack, Otter.ai, Zoom
In fact, this doesn’t think about that I additionally write the e-newsletter, conduct interviews, preserve observe of analytics, and handle our visitor posting program.
Some challenges I face as a content material author
Whereas my writing and advertising expertise seem to be they’re actually nice, I wrestle with a whole lot of issues, largely as a result of I used to be a “gifted child.” I may learn very early, and for so long as I’ve understood easy methods to put pen to paper, writing has come naturally to me. Nonetheless, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that writing’s about the one factor I discover straightforward. And I’ve discovered myself in a profession that’s solely 5 p.c expertise.
As I shared within the introduction, I would like inside motivation to work at one thing, particularly issues that frustrate me. And I’m not superb at sticking to a activity if I don’t perceive it, so I don’t do effectively with these irritating issues. Nonetheless, that wouldn’t have given me the wanted development, so I needed to be taught or be left behind.
So, since I received my first writing job, I’ve approached all the things with a newbie’s mindset. Analytics, coding fundamentals, and constructing Notion databases have all change into a part of my job, however I didn’t know them initially.
It typically took me a whole lot of trial and error to know how a chunk of content material or a challenge or activity I took on would match into the broader scheme of a model (whether or not private or enterprise). I undoubtedly didn’t acquire that instinctive understanding at Buffer till about six months in, and I’m nonetheless figuring it out for my private model.
I additionally nonetheless wrestle with overestimating (after which overextending) myself by considering I can tackle greater than I can. I wrestle with procrastination on account of perfectionism (these are previous nemeses). I wrestle as a result of my setting isn’t all the time ideally suited, and my sense of creativity is delicate to the slightest change.
So it doesn’t matter what it seems to be like on the surface, I’m removed from good and nonetheless have a whole lot of rising to do. Fortunately, I’ve the assist of the Buffer crew and the community of execs that cheer me on day-after-day.
Answering some FAQs about my writing course of
What I’ve discovered alongside the way in which
Michaela Mendes requested what I’ve discovered alongside the way in which. It took me a little bit of considering, however I can pinpoint three primary classes from once I began at Buffer until now;
- When rising a weblog, you’re on the mercy of the major search engines however solely as much as a sure level – comply with the principles as obligatory, however don’t let that overcome the writing and its function.
- There’s no such factor as “too apparent” when breaking down info. Each primary matter has sub-topics that even have sub-topics. You have not run out of concepts till you get to the final atom of an concept.
- Give your readers what they wish to the most effective of your means. On-line writing (as in writing from a model, enterprise, or in any other case) is to affect another person. Generally that affect is for info or information sharing (“Belief me, I’m an knowledgeable at [topic]”); different occasions, it’s transactional (“That is your problem, that is how my product solves it, purchase it from me.”)
I’ve additionally discovered that I solely have one expertise (writing), and I’m lucky it’s so versatile.
How information informs Buffer’s content material
Danny Groner asked, “Are you able to share a few the metrics you take note of after you have revealed that determines the cadence and which matters, too, will comply with swimsuit?”
We primarily observe pageviews and signups. Particularly, we give attention to pageviews over 7, 28, and 84 days and wider pageviews damaged up by weblog, timeframe, and so forth. That is in order that we are able to get an image of how items carry out individually and the way our weblog site visitors goes.
Nonetheless, as detailed as our monitoring is, we’ve solely been analyzing at a excessive stage, which we’re working to vary. We used to work with a mix of month-to-month analyses of content material efficiency, a yearly overview, and an instinctive understanding of what content material performs finest to find out easy methods to transfer ahead however found we weren’t considering high-level sufficient.
Now, Hailley and I are engaged on a challenge to investigate the previous eighteen months of content material efficiency throughout our primary metrics. We’ve positioned all of the content material we’ve ever tracked into related classes and plan to investigate the info to seek out high performers and their frequent threads (like our readers’ jobs-to-be-done or content material format) and incorporate all our findings into future content material.
Our thesis is that understanding and specializing in what content material performs finest will assist the weblog develop and inform us what our viewers gravitates in direction of most, and assist us assist them.
What has helped me construct out my workflow and write quicker
Alice Lemee requested what helped me construct my workflow and write quicker.
Nothing has helped me greater than immersing myself in every factor I have to deal with. There have been issues I already knew earlier than becoming a member of Buffer. I knew easy methods to write a good Search engine marketing-optimized article, I knew easy methods to use many on-line instruments to allow my writing. However I’ve discovered a lot it makes my prior progress appear to be going from crawling to operating a half-marathon.
- To get concepts for articles, I began following all of the thought leaders, even remotely related to social media after which, later, the creator financial system.
- To find out about Buffer customers’ most definitely frustrations and get hands-on expertise with their challenges, I began posting to social media extra ceaselessly utilizing Buffer.
- To be taught extra about electronic mail writing and automation, I began a e-newsletter.
- To enhance my advertising expertise, I took Amanda Natividad’s Content material Advertising 201, and I’m presently taking CXL’s Technical Content material Advertising course.
- To grasp Notion higher, I constructed a database of sources.
Mixed, all this effort has made writing for Buffer’s viewers – excuse the drama – a part of my existence. I dwell and breathe being a creator now, so I basically write for myself.
What lies forward
A structured writing course of, coupled with steady studying and adaptation, can result in prolific content material output that resonates together with your viewers. I don’t think about myself an knowledgeable, but when I needed to give any recommendation on turning into a greater author, it’d be:
- Assume past techniques and construction. When you’ve discovered the fundamentals of writing on-line, you’ll have to additional perceive advertising, branding, and market analysis. Immerse your self in your trade to generate impactful concepts and create significant work.
- When doubtful, use a template. With a structured define (just like the 30 p.c format), you possibly can keep away from many of the fear about whether or not an article is optimized and give attention to delivering high quality writing to your reader.
Reflecting on my journey, from the primary month at Buffer until now, it is clear that development is a continuing effort. I plan on being at Buffer for some time – I can’t wait to see how a lot I’ve grown in one other 100 articles.