6 Questions for 6 Blog Editors

by · April 17, 201355 comments

Daily deadlines. Huge audiences. High expectations. The big marketing blogs attract readerships that rival small newspapers, but with only a fraction of the staff. And there’s one key role inside every great marketing blog: The Editor.

They’re often behind the scenes, in the shadow of a more famous celebrity blogger. They rarely get (or take) much credit. But these people make it happen. They’re the keepers of calendars and the champions of quality.

So let’s get to know our local blog editors. We picked our favorite marketing blogs and emailed a few questions to the current and recent editors. Here’s the lineup…


Sonia Simone

Chief Marketing Officer (and co-founder) of Copyblogger Media and publisher of the Copyblogger blog.


Sean Work

Editor of the KISSmetrics blog.


Georgina Laidlaw

Until recently, Georgina was an editor for ProBlogger. She is also a freelance writer.


Russ Henneberry

Until recently, Russ was the editor of Daily Egg, the Crazy Egg blog.


Jess Ostroff

Editor of Convince & Convert. Also (among many other things) Jess is the Director of Calm at Don’t Panic Management.


Jay Kelly

VP – Operations of SME Digital and Editor of Social Media Explorer


Question 1.

As the editor of a blog, how do you spend most of your time?

SONIA: Planning out content — getting the balance right, working with writers to develop ideas, and keeping an ear to the ground to find out what readers are most interested in. That and cutting extra words.

SEAN: Emailing

GEORGINA: When I was editor atProBlogger, my time was divided between fielding submissions and editing those we’d accepted. We published about 15 pieces a week then, so there was a lot of editing, but also a lot of submission review.

JESS: Vetting guest post ideas, scheduling new content, and editing, editing, editing! You’d be surprised at how unpolished some of our posts are before they get through the system.

RUSS: I used to spend most of my time working with articles that came in and heavily editing them to ensure their success.  I have realized that it is a far better use of my time to find good people and work directly with them to understand the audience, generate article topics and train them on the style and formatting that works well on the blog.

JAY: I am fortunate in that most of our contributors do not require heavy edits, however I do spend a lot of time formatting posts and selecting pull quotes for aesthetic purposes. I also spend a good bit of time researching and reaching out to potential new authors.

Question 2.

What really pisses you off about your job? Anything?

SONIA: Comment spam. If I say one more word about it, I’m going to start to curse.

SEAN: Unnecessarily long emails. I really value “straight to the point” emails because it helps me get through my day faster.

GEORGINA: The thing that always gets to me about editing is that I’m a writer, so while there’s a level of satisfaction involved in editing, it always ended up being outweighed by frustration. This is why I left a regular editing job to be a freelance writer, and why I stopped working on ProBlogger as a freelance editor this year: because ultimately I wanted to focus on writing.

JESS: Dealing with Jay Baer all the time. Just kidding! It pisses me off when people ask to contribute to the site but then ask ME what I want them to post about. I also hate when people don’t read the directions in our guest blogging guidelines and contact forms. Reading directions is a really important skill, and we often ignore submissions that don’t follow our instructions.

RUSS: One word: trolls.

JAY: My biggest pet peeve is when a guest blogger takes the time to prepare a compelling post, then does not monitor or respond to comments.

Question 3.

Guest posting has become super popular.  Any suggestions for guest bloggers on how to pitch a post?

SONIA: Know the blog! *Really* know it. Write for the blogs you love, not the ones you think will be most “strategic.” Because the ones you love are also the ones you’ll get the greatest value from in the long run.

SEAN: Don’t just pitch posts for backlinks. Show that you’re an authority on a particular topic – it will go a long way…

GEORGINA: My main piece of advice would be to get to know the blog before you pitch. So many people wasted so much time (theirs and mine) by pitching inappropriate posts to ProBlogger. Also, provide detail in your pitch, so the editor knows exactly what you’ll cover. The more work you put into your pitch, the easier it’ll be to write the post—and make it relevant to the host site’s readership.

JESS: Show me that you’ve actually read the blog and know our audience. If you offer an idea that we JUST wrote about, that is too basic for our readers, or has nothing to do with our preferred topics, you’re doing it wrong. On the other hand, pitching an idea on how you can enhance a specific topic that we frequently write about or offer a creative take on something we haven’t touched upon is always a good way to go.

RUSS: Firstly, understand that most blog editors LOVE guest bloggers… if they are good.  Here’s how to be good at the pitch:

The first thing I am looking for is ANY indication that you have ANY idea what this blog is about.  If the pitch looks like a canned email — I don’t even respond.  Start with something like “I read the article ‘XYZ Article Title’ and really enjoyed it. I think I have an idea for an article that your readers will really love.  Would you be interested in that?”

Also, in the initial email provide links to articles on your own blog or other blogs that you have written that are comparable to what you aim to write for the target blog.

That’s it.  Keep it short and personalized to each individual blog.  If the editor is interested they will reply back that they would like to discuss your article idea. These are the kind of pitches that make blog editors smile.

JAY: Guest bloggers are a great way to get additional perspective on issues.  What I am typically looking for is something that pushes the envelope on thinking.  If you are pitching something like “5 Tips on Using Twitter” or a basic how-to idea, chances are good that I won’t publish it.

Question 4.

Have you ever published something you didn’t agree with?

SONIA: I try hard not to do that. I will say that I’m still not 100% convinced by Sean’s position in this post: There is No ROI in Social Media Marketing.

SEAN: Maybe? Can’t really remember off the top of my head. We do A LOT of publishing over at KISS. Usually, if I think someone is giving incorrect information I will make it correct or I will ask someone who knows more about the topic.

GEORGINA: Yes! As a non-technical editor of brand blogs, I’ve frequently published content I don’t personally agree with, but which represents common or popular practice. I’m not a specialist in all areas of blogging, so at some points you need to trust your writers.

JESS: Honestly, not really. I really believe in the stance that Convince & Convert takes when it comes to no hype marketing and that vision holds true when we’re publishing content from other people as well.

RUSS: I certainly don’t publish articles that I don’t agree with because they are factually inaccurate but I will absolutely publish something I disagree with that is debatable.  I have published marketing advice that I disagree with philosophically, strategically and tactically but there must be proof.  As Edward Deming said “In God we trust; all others must bring data.”

JAY: Fortunately, I have never been in the position where I’ve been faced with publishing something that I have flat out disagreed with.  The beauty of being an editor is that through our contributors, I have the opportunity to expand my knowledge base and see issues from different points of view.

Question 5.

How far in advance to you schedule your content?

SONIA: Typically 2-3 weeks, but there’s always a certain amount of last-minute juggling.

SEAN: Usually a couple of weeks. However there is a constant game of musical chairs being played every week :)

GEORGINA: At ProBlogger I scheduled between 2 and 4 weeks in advance. That sounds like a lot, but we received a stack of submissions on a constant basis, and my years editing other sites before that one proved to me that a big buffer is a good buffer—especially when you’re the only one working on content. It’s important to have the flexibility to drop things in as you need to, and to remain current, but it’s also important from a professionalism and consistency standpoint to maintain a regular schedule of high quality posts.

JESS: I usually try to have things scheduled the week before they publish, but sometimes it doesn’t happen until the day before depending on when the content is received. For guest posts, we’re often scheduled out anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 weeks in advance, although final formatting doesn’t usually happen until the week before. If I have the time, I’ll get a bunch of them edited and scheduled weeks in advance, but finding that kind of time is a luxury :)

RUSS: My writers often have ideas in the queue as much as 3 months ahead.  Our blog does not attempt to cover things that are necessarily timely or news oriented (a la Mashable) so we are able to stay away from having to be responsive to the latest newsflash.  Finished (or close to it) content is usually scheduled two weeks ahead.

JAY: I schedule out three months as far as who is responsible for posts on particular days, and begin reviewing ideas.  I request their final drafts the Sunday before the post is scheduled to run.  Typically Sunday evening and Monday morning are spent scheduling posts for the week.

Bonus Question:

How did you land that awesome job?

SONIA: I was incredibly tenacious and I made myself incredibly useful. I’ve found that’s a good combination.

SEAN: Being a henchman for Neil Patel back in the day. I managed his SEO agency while he flew around the world doing deals. I went on to start O.C. Search Consulting  and he came back at me with an “offer I couldn’t refuse”.

GEORGINA: I landed the job through a referral. The Blogging Ninja (Shayne Tilley) was a friend of Darren’s, and when Darren needed an editor, Shayne very kindly recommended me! Darren and I met and discussed the site and his plans, and the rest is history.

JESS: I interned for one of Jay’s interactive agencies back in 2007 when I was still in college. He graciously allowed me to be his virtual assistant at the end of 2009, and my responsibilities have grown ever since! I think proving that I was extremely detail-oriented and somewhat of a grammar snob has served me well.

RUSS: I got this wonderful job by writing and being in the trenches.  I think it’s hard to gain the expertise need to be a true teacher (which is what a lot of bloggers are) without both honing your skills as a writer and doing the grunt work of your industry.  In my case this meant developing, executing and measuring the marketing for real businesses.

JAY: I run the operations side of SME Digital (the agency division of Social Media Explorer) and I fell into this position when Jason accepted a new role with Café Press.  It has been trial by fire for me, but he had established a pretty well-oiled machine that I was able to jump right into.

Wrap It Up

Let’s wrap up this round up with a few observations.

  • These people are busy. Don’t waste their time. If you’d like to partner with them, do your homework first.
  • They know what they’re doing. They’ve seen it all before. They’re job is to keep quality high. Of course, spammers make them cranky.

Huge thanks to the blog editors who participated. You guys deserve more credit. I really believe that. And by the way, the answers you provided required no editing at all. Not a comma out of place, naturally…

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About Andy Crestodina

Andy Crestodina

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing You can find Andy on Google+ and Twitter.

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