The first project I took on at CERIC was the development and launch of a new content-based website, CareerWise, to replace an outdated, directory-style website and job board. We wanted to create the source of career development news, resources and analysis for our target audience. It needed to be engaging and educational.
Getting acquainted with the career development world was like learning a new beat. Who were the actors? What were their interests and knowledge gaps? This was vital knowledge to inform the many decisions I had to make, from themes we would use as menu items, to the tags for categorizing articles, to the number of guest blogs we would post per week. I recruited writers whose work would be on display for launch and lined up an editorial calendar for the first couple of months of publication.
To make the right choices for our target audiences, I researched similar websites to analyze best practices, conducted SEO research through Google Adwords, and conducted surveys and a focus group with professionals in the field. (Six months after launch, I released another survey and held follow-up interviews to see how the website was landing, and subsequently made changes to the website to improve readers’ experiences.)
I’m thrilled to see how the blog has grown over time. Our monthly session numbers have grown 56% since launch in fewer than two years. It’s become a community for people who work in this field, and I now have the privilege of people reaching out to contribute their ideas – from front-line practitioners with little writing experience to large research institutes that want to share their findings with our audience.
I am responsible for all content planning, publication and promotion on CareerWise. I update the website daily, with 4-5 original articles per week – a mix of guest blogs and resources compilations I research and write – and three “external” articles per day curated from a variety of news sources.
I work at least two months ahead on my editorial calendar, using a spreadsheet to map out each day’s original content and writer deadlines. I leave room in the calendar for responses to timely news and analysis.
My approach to working with writers is that each step of the process should be a conversation, starting with a phone call to get acquainted, align expectations and brainstorm topic ideas. I send each article back to my writers with tracked changes and always extend an offer to discuss editing suggestions. Some of my contributors, though very experienced in their field, are new to article writing. In cases where their articles require extensive reworking, I initiate a phone call to go through my suggestions line by line. I believe this helps build trust, strengthen the relationship and develop the contributor’s writing skills, which makes it more likely they will want to collaborate again.