How an Editor-in-Chief Creates Editorial Standards, Part One

Discover how to make your digital business stand out by creating and managing editorial standards that add a superior layer of quality to the work you produce.

Now that we’ve established connection is king, rather than content alone, how do you ensure that your content helps you establish a strong bond with your audience?

In this 20-minute episode, I discuss:

  • A simple solution for many content creation problems
  • Why editorial standards help you create a superior digital business
  • How editorial standards differentiate you from your competition

The Show Notes

How an Editor-in-Chief Creates Editorial Standards, Part One

Voiceover: Rainmaker.FM is brought to you by The Showrunner Podcasting Course, your step-by-step guide to developing, launching, and running a remarkable show. Registration for the course is open August 3rd through the 14th, 2015. Go to to learn more. That’s

Stefanie Flaxman: Hello there, Editors-in-Chief. I am Stefanie Flaxman and you are listening to Editor-in-Chief, the weekly audio broadcast that delivers the art of writing, updated for marketing in the digital age, to help you become the Editor-in-Chief of your own digital business.

I am extra pumped to talk to everyone this week. I will tell you why.

Last week, we were talking about the anatomy of an Editor-in-Chief. I just briefly went over five components that make up an Editor-in-Chief. I told you that, in this episode, we are going to break it down more and I was going to go into more detail. This is like a complete just honest moment, I didn’t know how I was going to do that because it’s very comprehensive. The whole idea of how I came up with this topic for this show was someone had heard me say that I was the editor of a website. For those who don’t know, maybe you’re joining me for the first time … If you are, welcome. I’m happy to have you here. If you are a frequent listener, I am very happy to have you here as well.

Just to let everyone know, so we are all in the same page, I am the Editor-in-Chief of Copyblogger Media. That’s my role within Copyblogger Media the company. In casual conversation outside of work, I just say “I’m the editor of a website.” That’s what I usually say because it’s a lot to get into. This person heard me say that and then later, we are talking and he said, “Oh, so you’re the editor of a website.” I said, “Yes, I am.” He said, “I have no idea what that means.” It’s not that he was a dumb person, that he was stupid and he didn’t know what an editor meant, it just made me start thinking it’s just such a vague term in a lot of ways, even if you know what a copy editor is, what a proofreader is.

Just the term “editor” in general can mean so many different things, especially the role of an Editor-in-Chief because my role as the Editor-in-Chief when I work on and the blog there, it’s going to differ from the Editor-in-Chief of other online magazines. It’s going to differ from the job of an Editor-in-Chief of print magazines. There’s just a lot of different ways for the job to be implemented, just depending on the industry and in your own business, especially since I talk about how the role of an Editor-in-Chief within your business as well on this podcast.

There are a lot of confusing things going on. That interaction inspired this episode and the past episode. Like I said, after last week, I thought, “I don’t know how I’m going to actually break this down into a way that will actually help you,” because there’s just so many different ways to look at this. First, I’m going to start with the content creation lesson because it’s how I solved my problem and it’s just a good way to think about creating anything in general.

I had this problem, “How am I going to do this?” and the solution was that I just break it down into different episodes. That is normally a very easy and usually the best solution from when you’re wondering how to tackle a project. So many times, for a writing project, for example, if you have so much going on, rather than trying to put all of your ideas in one piece of content, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to break it down into a content series.

A Simple Solution for Many Content Creation Problems

The first lesson of today’s episode is if you’re ever struggling with a really big comprehensive topic and you don’t know how you’re going to cover anything, think about breaking it up into different types of content, different pieces of content.

If it’s written, it could be breaking it up into a series that you drip out through email, through an autoresponder series to your audience. It could be a series on your website of different content on the same topic. Every week or every day, people tune in to get a different piece of the puzzle of the big creation they are ultimately going for. This example with audio, I had this really big topic that I wanted to tackle and I thought, “It’s going to be an hour-long of just me talking and that’s not going to be valuable.” For you, you’re really not going to be able to walk away because it’s just so much to take in.

The lesson here was, “Okay, I’m just going to do it little by little and we’ll see how many weeks it takes.” I’m going to aim to give you about three different takeaways in each episode, starting with this episode, after I get through my little introduction here. Then we’ll see how it goes. This series is going to be called How an Editor-in-Chief Creates Editorial Standards. This is the big editorial standards series that we are kicking off today. That is why I’m very excited because this is a topic that I’m very passionate about and I’m really going to go through it little by little so that you get something that you can put into practice.

Let’s recap a little bit what I talked about last week. The five parts that make up an Editor-in-Chief when I was talking about the anatomy is I said, “You’re, one, a content creator; you are, two, a content producer; you are, three, a copy editor; you are, four, a proofreader; and you are, five, a customer service professional.” Those are the five aspects that make up an Editor-in-Chief.

Today, I’m just going to address the content creator, content producer, and the customer service professional aspects and give you an idea of how you can start thinking about those in your own business, in whatever you are the Editor-in-Chief of currently.

The way that I’m going to do that is to go a little bit into what my experience in the past before I started working for Copyblogger Media. Before I was Copyblogger Media’s Editor-in-Chief, I had my own online business called Revision Fairy. It was an online proofreading and editing service. I also did a lot of freelance writing at that time, too, so that came later. I started off strictly doing proofreading, editing and I evolved into offering writing services as well. I went into my digital business with the Editor-in-Chief mindset.

Why Editorial Standards Help You Create a Superior Digital Business

The first thing that I did, and this is going to be the first lesson under how you are a customer service professional, when I was shaping my business, the main thing I was concerned about is that my clients were going to expect something different from what I was going to give them. I wanted anyone doing business with me having to have a very clear picture of what doing business with me would look like. That seems pretty obvious, but think of so many times when you go to a website or you walk in a physical store or you’re having any type of transaction and that is not satisfied. You don’t know what it’s like to do business with people.

What if you walk into just a store in the mall and you’re curious about some items there but you really need help and there’s no one around to help guide you through what their products are? You’re going to walk out. You’re going to be like, “I don’t want to buy from them.” It’s the same thing with a digital business. You need to be there every step of the way for your customers. As an Editor-in-Chief, you are an excellent customer service professional.

Going back to Revision Fairy, one of the first things that I did after I had the idea for Revision Fairy, I came up with the idea for Revision Fairy in, let’s … When was it? … It was March or April. Geez, it was a long time ago now. I can’t believe … Okay, it was March or April 2008 and I started working with Copyblogger in July 2014. I had about six years where I was swimming in the Editor-in-Chief world that I developed on my own, which I was then able to bring to Copyblogger.

The first thing that I did in either March or April 2008 was come up with a Frequently Asked Questions page for my website. I was so jazzed about this Frequently Asked Questions page because I wanted every aspect doing business with me completely outlined. I wanted them to know what it’s like when you’re using my website, what it’s like when we work together, what kind of documents I’m going to send you. It was an editing business so I … My clients would submit documents and then I would return them, but I wanted all that just outlined very clearly.

I wanted them to know every step of what the payment process would look like, what their confirmation emails were going to look like, what they should get in their Inbox, how long they should wait before they get a confirmation. Just every aspect of that, because when you are the Editor-in-Chief of your business, you don’t let your customer wonder. You do not let your client or your customer wonder about anything if you are taking a responsibility as the Editor-in-Chief. That is the customer service professional takeaway that I really wanted to get into.

Every page of your website you create, every email that you send to clients, every single interaction needs to be complete and clear, and to give your clients or customers confidence. You want to be there supporting them every step of the way. That has nothing to do with actually word editing. This is strictly in terms of the Editor-in-Chief mindset, of creating the superior experience for your clients and customers or your audience or whoever you serve. That’s the customer service professional takeaway in today’s episode.

How Editorial Standards Differentiate You From Your Competition

The next aspect that I wanted to talk about is going back to you being the content creator. Once you have completely outlined what it’s like to do business and interact with you through all the content on your website, through all of your interactions with your audience, you then have to be intent on creating consistent content that truly serves your audience’s needs. It’s never producing content just to produce content. You have to serve a specific strategy. What you can commit to is the best place to start.

When I first started writing on my website consistently, I knew I couldn’t commit to more than once a week. I had lots of other business obligations to take care of. I knew I needed to write consistently, but writing content every day, I’m not that type of writer.

I approach writing as an editor and it’s not just a free flowing thing for me. I’m very controlled in the way that I write. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to produce content that I was proud of, that truly serves who I wanted to serve if I wrote every day. I committed to what I could commit to. I said, “You know what, I can do once a week,” so that’s what I stuck to. Then I knew once a week, I was putting out something that completely served my strategy for what I was trying to accomplish as I built out the content on my site.

Because when you’re building out the content on your site, you’re creating a portfolio of what you do and of your standards as a content producer. It’s all a reflection of who you are as a content producer. Be very careful when choosing how often or how not often you want to produce content because you need to stick with it and you need to provide value every step of the way.

If you can only provide value once a month, do it once a month. Your audience will know they get that piece of content from you once a month. I’m not recommending what the best or the frequency that is best for how often you produce. Only you can decide that, but it’s all very intentional. It’s not just, “Oh, I feel like posting today. Oh, I don’t feel like posting today.” Whatever you come up with, you just need to stick with.

That is the Editor-in-Chief mindset that you want to take on as the content creator. Then as the content producer, you’re going to want to be very intentional about the individual components that you put into your work. What I mean by that is, let’s just say you’re writing. I’m not sure what type of content you produce; if it’s audio, if it’s text. If you’re writing, you want to compose that in a way that is very easy to consume. A lot of people like visuals. Images are huge. You’re going to pick out the image that is going to complement the text that you write. You’re going to format it in a way that it’s clear to read online. You want very short paragraphs. Sometimes you want to highlight certain text when you make a really specific point with a block quote if you’re using WordPress or Rainmaker.

This is a good time to remind you that Editor-in-Chief is brought to you by the Rainmaker Platform. It is the complete website solution for building your online marketing and sales platform. You can find out more and how you can use block quotes within Rainmaker, too, when you take your free 14-day test drive at Rainmaker.FM/platform. Go check out the Rainmaker Platform.

It’s all the great things about WordPress without having to deal with hosting or plug-in updates or anything technical that is just going to give you a headache. It allows you to be the Editor-in-Chief with ease and focus on what you do best. Once again, go to Rainmaker.FM/platform to take a test drive and see what it’s all about instead of just listening to me talk about it.

Going back to the formatting of your text, yeah, you just want to produce work that does not look thrown together. It’s your Sunday best of content all the time. It’s not just running out to the grocery store in a floppy outfit. You want to wear your Sunday best every time you put out content and be very careful each step of the way in the content producing process, in your production. There.

All right, I am going to continue with this series next week. It is the Editorial Standards series. I’m just going to get into about three tips every week that are very specific to what creating editorial standards means. To recap this week, we have the excellent customer service professional aspect. I went over content creation and I went over the content production aspects that you really want to be very careful about. That is today’s show.

As always, I appreciate you listening and sticking with me and all my enthusiasm for this new series. I hope over the next few weeks, however long it takes to get through it, you’ll see why I’m so excited about it. This is just a little introduction taste. So yup, if you like Editor-in-Chief, go over to iTunes, please, and leave a rating or review. I appreciate that. I will talk to you next week as I continue the Editorial Standards series.

I am Stefanie Flaxman. You have been listening to Editor-in-Chief. Now, go become one.