How We Run The ConvertKit Blog: The Bi-Annual Review

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It’s been just over six months since Nathan asked me to join the ConvertKit team and take over writing and publishing this blog. And while I’m still plenty of hours away from my 10,000 hours (which apparently doesn’t much matter anyways), I have developed a routine, a way of doing things here on this blog that I wanted to share with you.

You see, as I set about to publish two blog posts each week for you and then do the marketing tasks it takes for you to end up here reading those posts, I’m walking side by side with you, my fellow blogger. I know your struggles, your worries, the late nights in front of the computer screen and the early mornings reading countless other posts to learn and get inspired. I feel the dejection you feel when a post you toiled over gets one comment and the elation when you see an unsolicited tweet sharing something you wrote.

I am you and this post is dedicated to you, dear blogger.

 

How We Run The ConvertKit Blog- The Bi-Annual Review

 

Let me take you behind the scenes of the weekly blog process here at ConvertKit. I’ll show you the day to day, the tools and programs we use, and hopefully point the compass toward some common ground we can tread together.

 

Goals

First, let’s talk about the goals of the blog. Yes, there are the goals like “more pageviews” and “increase traffic” and “rank higher in Google searches” and I’d venture to say that most blogs want those kinds of things. After all, no one likes writing to an empty room.

But the goals of the ConvertKit blog are a bit more specific than that. They are, like everything, always evolving but for right now the goals are:

  • Provide actionable educational articles that give beginning bloggers the tools they need to succeed in earning revenue from their blog.
  • Tell the stories of others who are making a living from their blog and using ConvertKit to support them in doing so.
  • Build a community and have fun doing so.

It’s important to us that the blog is quite separate from the Knowledgebase. On the knowledgebase, we educate our customers to specific actions they want to take inside ConvertKit. On the ConvertKit blog, you may find mentions of an action you can take using ConvertKit, but we aren’t going to take you through the app step by step. The blog is designed to be used by anyone who wants to learn more about email marketing as a professional blogger, regardless of the platform they use to make it happen.

The blog covers a range of topics but our two most popular by far are our blogging tips and behind the scenes articles. Here’s the current favorite in each of those categories as an example:

https://convertkit.com/2016/6-free-powerful-writing-tools/

https://convertkit.com/2016/behind-the-scenes-workshop-workflow/

What I know from diving into our Google Analytics is that our readers love lists, step-by-step guides, and recipes for success. And who doesn’t? If we can share what’s worked for us or for someone we know and you can turn that around into a success for you, we’ve done our job well.

 

From idea to action: a daily walk through of publishing twice a week

Once I got really clear on who our readers were and what they wanted (remember: the data is there in Google Analytics – no guesswork required), I started to build a regular flow to getting two articles published and marketed each week. Here’s how it happens:

Tuesday:

I’m starting the week off on Tuesday since it’s the beginning of the writing week for me. Since November of 2015, we’ve published a blog post every Monday and Thursday right here. So let’s start with Tuesday.

I spend the first hour of my Tuesdays reading. I look through my Feedly account, the daily Medium roundup I get in my inbox, and the previous week’s newsletters I subscribe to. It sounds like a lot but it really takes just a few minutes to glance through everything and find a few articles I want to read. Here’s my Feedly:

 

ConvertKIt Feedly

 

Lately I’ve been using the RSS Feed in our Buffer Awesome account (which nearly replicates Feedly) and I do double duty by also adding articles to our Buffer queue.

 

ConvertKit Buffer

 

After reading, saving quotes and links, and digesting it all, it’s time to start writing.

I open two things before writing:

  1. My editorial calendar (a Google Calendar with blog topics as an all day event)
  2. My Asana (project management software) folder full of blog topic ideas and links to research to go with those topics

Asana blog planning

 

I plan out our editorial calendar monthly and factor in any guest blogs, How Bloggers Earn a Living posts, or other themes we’re focusing on. We used to a have a “theme of the month” but that’s taken a side burner to allow us to be more agile.

So I look at the game plan and then assess if anything needs to shift. Once I know my topic, I start working on article #1. All of the writing magic happens, by the way, in a Google Doc.

Ideally, the article I start writing on Tuesday would be for the next Monday (or even working 2-3 weeks in advance) and I’d already have Thursday’s post ready to go. Ideally. But, since I’m being totally honest here, that rarely happens and I’m lucky to have Thursday’s post written by Wednesday, let alone the previous week.

Anyone else finishing up blog posts the day they go live? :meekly raises hand:

It’s my mission to have “ideally” become “actually” in the next 60 days… more on why below.

Wednesday:

By Wednesday I have a first draft of Thursday’s post. I tend to write like this:

  • Write intro 3-4 paragraphs
  • Outline the rest of the post
  • Go back and fill in outline in big chunks (1-2 hours of writing at a time)
  • Gather screenshots and other images as I go and insert them directly into the Google Doc
  • Find relevant links as I go and insert those into Google Doc as well
  • Highlight or use Comment feature for areas I want to go back and rewrite or edit more later

The posts tend to fall into the 1,500 – 2,000 word range, though if the topic can be covered in less or needs more, that’s okay too. Since the data we haveshows that our readers like actionable and step-by-step posts, longer and more in depth posts tend to perform better. Screenshots and imagery to support the text add to the post and enhance the reading experience.

I realize that the adding images and gathering links while writing is inefficient but it works really well for me. I’ve tried just writing without adding those pieces and the closest I’ve come is adding a placeholder for the images like:

[title of image to insert]

….and then I can keep going. But I still grab the screenshot or save the image in that moment. It’s exactly what I’ve done so far in writing this, in fact.

So Wednesday is editing day and I also create the header image using Canva and Pixlr as I outlined here.

The other task for Wednesdays is to share the working Google Doc with Matt, our resident sketchnotes pro, who often works up a sketch or two if the article warrants it. I share the doc using the built in share feature and then we chat about details over Slack. Matt needs me to get to that “Ideally” state since he obviously puts time into his sketchnotes. No advanced notice, no sketchnotes.

Thursday:

Publishing day.

If there are sketchnotes from Matt, he sends a link to a Dropbox folder with the sketches (Matt, by the way, now sketches on an iPad Pro with the new iPen but he used to sketch on paper with colored pens and scan the images in #oldschool)

We use WordPress to host our marketing site so I log in and create a new post. Then I copy everything from the Google Doc and paste it into WordPress. Fix the formatting, add the images, and set the keywords in Yoast SEO.

 

Yoast SEO in ConvertKit

 

Finally, I hit publish on article #1. On to the next one.

Friday:

On Friday I’m writing the article for Monday. All of the same steps apply and Monday articles are no more or less special than Thursday articles. I also use Fridays to check in with any guest bloggers for the month and reload our Buffer queue so it’s nice and full with fresh new posts for the weekend and coming week.

Speaking of Buffer, now’s a good time for me to address something: marketing.

A blog written and sitting on a website is practically pointless if no one knows it’s there. Once upon a time we sent out two emails a week to our list – one every time we published a new article. We’ve changed that plan and now send one email each Monday with a digest of the two most recent articles plus any product updates or company information we think you should know. Our Google Analytics always shows a spike in blog traffic on Mondays thanks to those emails and our subscribers like knowing they’re getting actionable advice at the top of the week.

 

GA Monday

 

Buffer is our second line of defense. I spend time every week loading up our Buffer account with the most recent articles, re-buffering posts that did well or I want to try again, and adding to the queue with posts from others (in the RSS Feeds feature the Awesome account gives us).

In Buffer I test out different headlines and calls to action to see what performs best. Over time, that top performer will be the one I continue to add back in.

 

top tweet in Buffer

 

Monday:

Back at it after the weekend, I’m now ready to edit and post Monday’s article. Mondays tend to look a lot like Thursdays with one major exception: I send an email to our entire list sharing the two most recent articles.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.46.07 PM

 

I’ve tested out a few different methods here and have found we get the greatest open and click through rates with a basic digest style email. Plus, GIFs and memes are always good for adding a little fun to the mix, amIright?!

 

Test, Analyze, Iterate

As with any branch of a business, we’re constantly testing things on the blog, analyzing the data behind those actions, and then iterating on our ideas. While what’s written here is what happens today, there are goals to reach and plans can shift over time. For instance, it’s my goal to have 4 weeks worth of articles written and ready to go at all time, essentially working one month out. We have other goals too – pageviews, lowering the bounce rate, conversions, and email subscribers. To reach these goals, we’re testing a few things.

We’ve added a post-blog opt in form to every post. We’re linking current articles to past articles and to the knowledgebase. And we’re writing the articles our potential customers are out there searching for.  

We’re also trying some different angles for our content, infusing more of our personality and unique stance on the state of email marketing and blogging. While the tactical posts are popular, we also want to stretch ourselves and you, our reader, as you think about your marketing goals and what you want from your blog.

So we test, analyze, and iterate. And encourage you to do the same.

What’s worked for your own blogging plan and what hasn’t? I’d love to hear your ideas, suggestions, and tales from the trenches that you have to share in the comments below.

Val Geisler

Val is a yogi, mom, military wife, and avid podcast fan. She is ridiculously obsessed with sharing and creating content that actually makes a difference in the world, connecting with her fellow bloggers, and doing more with less effort. Val is based on Columbus, Ohio (O-H!) and can often be found oversharing on Instagram at @lovevalgeisler.

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