All blogs, from those that document a travel guru’s adventures, to others that act as a teenage girl’s diary, have one thing in common: consistency. The same goes for a company’s blog that works as a key component to their content marketing plan.
That world traveler may gain loyal followers thanks to the in-depth, analytical approach he takes to describing the culture of the places he visits. The heartbroken high-schooler’s comical jabs at her ex-boyfriends may make her more relatable to her audience.
Sounds easy, huh? But what if you have a team of content writers — all with different writing styles — contributing to your blog?
If getting multiple writers to conform to a single voice sounds like a tall order, we’re here to tell you it can be done.
Here are five tips on how to keep your writers on the same page, so to speak, and maintain a blog with the authoritative voice of a single content creator.
Establish a style guide
This is undoubtedly the most important step in this guide. Quality content can greatly improve a brand’s image if it’s clean and consistent. But, according to the Content Marketing Institute, “if your content lacks these characteristics, it can quickly undermine your brand.”
You may choose to base your own blog’s style guide off an existing framework, such as the Associated Press Style Guide or Chicago Manual of Style, then personalize it to your company’s needs. Your style guide is a living document — always subject to change — and can include any items important to your business, but it should always establish a baseline of basic writing and other style rules.
Though a style guide’s purpose is to breed consistency among writers, it also assures that the audience comes first. GatherContent stresses the importance of shaping every piece of content around the needs and wants of the target audience.
Here’s what to include:
Hard-and-fast grammar and punctuation rules
Language guidelines (including how formal or informal it will be, plus any slang or colloquialisms unique to your style)
Company- or industry-specific terms
A description of the customer personas you’re writing for
This document is also a great place to outline the structure of your blog posts, including how your content will be formatted: typeface, point size, spacing, image formatting, and more.
In addition to including all of those things, there should be a section to specify tone words. We suggest writing out a list of words describing the tone that each blog post should take.
Ask yourself, as GatherContent does, is your tone specific to your message? Should your tone be sarcastic? Funny and lighthearted? Friendly?
Buzzfeed has gone above and beyond by providing their writers with an in-depth style guide — it’s a great example as you put together your own.
Develop your brand voice together
Your writers will struggle to write in your brand’s voice if it doesn’t exist. But if it’s possible, rather than telling the writers to conform to a preexisting brand voice, allow them to collaborate on one they think the company would benefit from.
One of the biggest benefits of having multiple content creators is the larger pool of ideas and experience to draw from. The strengths of one writer can make up for what one lacks — and together they can develop a successful brand voice.
Each writer can take their own personal writing style and present suggestions and how to use these things to contribute to the new brand voice. Through this collaboration, each writer will be able to offer a “part of themselves” and the writing style they’re most comfortable using.
Each member of the team will have to make compromises and potentially write in a style they aren’t used to, but they won’t be working completely outside their comfort zone.
Pitch content ideas to one another
As stated briefly above, more writers means a larger pool of ideas and more helpful opinions — so why not let writers pitch their topic ideas to one another?
The first benefit to this: a sanity check. One writer may think theirs is a topic that readers will be interested in, but another might offer a reason why it might not be successful that none of the others had thought of.
Bouncing content ideas off other team members also helps writers stay consistent — and create a more cohesive body of content. As you assess the pitches you’ve come up with together, consider these questions:
Do they go together or feel randomly selected?
Would your audience be interested in all of these topics — or is there one that sounds like it doesn’t relate to the others?
After discussing topics, writers can collaborate to create create a content calendar for the blog. Pick deadlines together, and make sure everyone is aware of when each piece will be published and how it will be promoted.
Most importantly: As time goes on, the group can assess which posts have been most successful and adapt the content calendar accordingly.
Similar to the suggestion above, writers should make suggestions on how to better one another’s work during every step of the content creation process. Collaborative editing creates consistency and will improve the quality of the writing on your blog.
Team should provide insight into other writers’ content with the style guide and brand voice you developed in mind — but each reader will also bring their own experiences and assumptions into their reading. Their varied insights can give a better idea of the questions your content might raise to outside readers coming to your blog from search engines, social media and other external sites.
Beware of too many cooks in the kitchen, of course — there should always be a final set of eyes that makes the official determination that content is ready to post!
Make changes as needed — together!
Above all, your team of writers needs to be exactly that: a team. They need to be willing and eager to work together and collaborate every step of the way.
Being receptive to new ideas, open to constructive feedback and flexible when it comes to staying consistent are all crucial to be successful.