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Content Creation – Cranking It Out

Constant content creation is the fuel for your website. Whether you live “n die off search engine referrals or natural type-in traffic you understand the need for minty-fresh content.

This panel of content gurus looked at how to keep the creativity flowing and managing the content process.

Moderator: Elisabeth Osmeloski
Elisabeth Osmeloski, Director of Online Media,
Robin Liss, Founder and President, and
Ted Ulle, Partner, The MEWS Group
Rae Hoffman, Principal, Sugarrae Internet Consulting
Ted Ulle:

Menus are content!

Final Web Edit – must look at the way content interacts with the layout. CSS is typesetting for the web. Can kill good content with bad layout. Boost weak content with good layout. Seth Godin’s blog is a good example. Recommends learning about typesetting – read Robert Bringhurst – “Elements of Typographical Style”. Everything in it is beautiful.

We want a seamless experience. Show off! Don’t let graphic designers distract from your content. Programmers like to show off too. They like to show off their code by implementing fancy features.
IT people should not write copy. They write all kinds of things on the site and are a big part of user experience – search results. Do the words make sense? Words like next, error messages, etc. Site owner knows site so well, they don’t see error messages. Autoresponders are a good example – copywriters should write them. These are a big part of user experience. These things can turn people off. Code geeks should not write copy!

Yahoo Directory – example – went to the directory to pay for a review – Filled out the form and used the dropdown for the Visa/MC – that’s a lazy programmer – because if it starts with a 4 it’s a Visa, 5 – Mastercard, etc. The error message said “Invalid Payment Instrument Data”. This is why programmers should not write copy!

Another example – if you build site around .php, and click on menu and there is an error message, says “search produced no results!” – you clicked on a menu, not on a search!
Robin Liss –

Manufacturing content:
– can’t build a car without a blueprint
– good tools save you $
– specialization = economic efficiency (Adam Smith)
– Quality control process
– Measure everything!

Before developing content you need to determine your target audience. Are you trying to attract new visitors? Bring back existing visitors? Is your purpose to convent viewers to buyers?

What does the writer need? Product information, an interview, supplemental content such as images and video. What is the frequency of the content? In what voice are you speaking, formal or informal? Objective or subjective?

Content production: content creation, feedback, content production, SEO edit, final edit, marketing (Digg, etc.).

Allocate your time and resources, what can you outsource? Scalability is a key issue. Blogs work well because the process is quick and it’s one person doing it, however there is no outside QC process.

Tips – look for good WYSIWYG tools, invest in a good CMS which will save you money in the long term, workflow management tools are important, finding the right writer for the right task. Cheap content may cost more in the long run because it will need more editing.

Don’t forget to have your writers sign release forms to protect the content. Put plagiarism clauses in the contract.

Be original in content and topics!

Rae Hoffman –

Content development: Best way is to differentiate your site. With good content published on a regular basis, you will get good links, develop partners and affiliates and increase social media mentions. Create a site that attracts not only search engines, but people!

Three main ways to develop good content:
1. Freelancers – cheapest, don’t need commitment, can use as needed. Cons: trial and error for good quality, freelancers may have a backlog of projects before they get to you, have no commitment.
2. Full-time remotes (work from home) – Dedicated, no overhead costs, more skills for less money. Can find writers with English degrees trying to make it with a novel, etc. Cons: you are just a paycheck until their novel gets published!
3. Full-time in house – Reliable and committed. Cons: overhead costs, insurance, long term needs.

Good places to find freelancers:,,,, Good remotes: SEOMoz, Craigslist, local papers.

With a content developer, keep the following in mind:
– They should have good organization skills
– They should be able to work independently
– They should be able to follow instructions
– They should be able to think for themselves
– They should have good writing skills
– They should be good with deadlines
– They should have basic HTML skills
– They should have the right writing tone
– They should have a sense of humor
– They should have a knowledge of the topic area
– They should have language skills
– They should have journalism skills (i.e. interviewing and industry reporting)
– They should have basic promotional skills

Good content is only part of the equation. Train writers to promote their own work as much as possible; post on forums, blogs, social media, Digg, etc.

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