01.25: Writing & Editing remotely for the Huffington Post
Today I interviewed Jordan Turgeon, Senior Contributor Editor at HuffPost & Content Editor at Still Kickin.
We talk about many things, including our new space at www.studiocowork.com
Follow Jordan at www.instagram.com/jturg
Hello, Twin Cities Collective! My name is Jordan Turgeon. I’m a senior contributors editor at HuffPost and editorial director for Still Kickin.
This month’s theme is content and writing. I wasn’t able to get too specific in the podcast about the ins and outs/behind the scenes at HuffPost but wanted to flesh out some of the topics we did discuss (and add some I forgot to mention).
Content creation is an expansive topic, and I won’t pretend to be an expert on all of it -- I’m always learning! But in my time at HuffPost and Still Kickin, I’ve learned a few things that could be helpful to others. (And naturally, I put them in listicle form. Because the listicle doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime fast.)
1. Work with what you know.
There is so much pressure these days for content creators to be experts at everything. It’s as if we need to be one-man or one-woman bands in order to succeed in this competitive industry.
My opinion? This mindset can be pretty toxic. Trying to be everything to everyone will affect your confidence (and could potentially confuse your audience).
Instead of trying to conquer it all, pick one or two key areas you have a voice in or experience with and focus on those topics. Maybe you’re a self-taught videographer. Maybe you’re a DIY-er. Maybe you’re a stay-at-home parent with a side hustle. Maybe you take gorgeous photos of rocks. Whatever you’re an “expert” in (and I use the word “expert” loosely, because it carries a connotation of perfection but simply means you can speak to a particular topic), work with that. Create content around that topic. Don’t worry about the rest. Because if you try to focus on too many different areas, you’re going to spread yourself too thin. You may even come off as disingenuous.
Niches can be your friend. Find yours!
2. Produce regular content (but not too regular).
There seems to be a magic formula when it comes to post frequency. You want to engage with your audience... but not bombard them. You want to sell your products and services… but not annoy people in the process.
Confession: I don’t really know what that magic formula is. Does anyone?
Here’s what I do know: Since taking over Still Kickin’s social media accounts a year ago, I’ve spent time observing how people interact with our content. We’re a non-profit organization, so a loss of followers could potentially translate into fewer donations and sales. Not good.
I started by looking at my personal social media feeds. Was I ever annoyed by how frequently a person/company was posting? If so, what about it bothered me? Sometimes, it was because the message or images were repetitive -- if I’ve seen one, I’ve seen ‘em all. Sometimes, it was because they were aggressively soliciting my business -- almost as if they wouldn’t take no for an answer. I try to apply these lessons to Still Kickin’s posts as best I can. Emphasis on “try.” I’m always learning!
Think about your own social media feeds. Have you ever unfollowed someone? If so, why did you? Don’t commit those same social media “sins.” Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.
3. Don’t worry so much about what others are creating (but do get inspired by their creations).
We all know or follow someone who seems to be 100 percent totally killing the content creation game. Maybe their small business is a financial success. Maybe they’ve been able to turn their side hustle into their primary source of income. Maybe they’ve gotten to work with a dream client.
The two best things you can do for yourself (and your sanity) is 1., not compare yourself to these people, and 2., support the heck out of them.
I have some incredible, badass journalist colleagues at HuffPost. They’ve gotten book deals. Their articles go viral on the regular. They are stellar writers. They inspire the heck out of me. But I try to not let myself fall down that comparison rabbit hole. My career will never be like theirs, because we are not the same people. Our achievements can’t be the same, because we have different goals. I’m only compromising my own success when I compare myself to them.
People get jealous. We’re human. Once it passes, learn what you can from your peers. We all accomplish more when we lift each other up.
4. Community matters.
Content is key. But so is community.
If people are posting about you/your company on social media, acknowledge that! Re-share that content on your own platforms (while crediting the original source, of course). It shows you have reach and, in my opinion, is one of the best testimonials you can earn. Some of Still Kickin’s most well-received content wasn’t even created or produced by us. It was first posted by other people. People who like our mission and our products enough to share with others.
5. Rejection sucks. No way around it.
Something I didn’t mention in the podcast: I’m also a fiction writer. An unpublished fiction writer. I’ve written (and shelved) a handful of manuscripts the past several years -- which means I’ve also received hundreds of rejection emails. And in my job at HuffPost, I can’t accept every submission I receive. So I’ve been on both sides of things: I’ve felt the sting of rejection, and I’ve had to deliver it.
You’re going to get rejected. You probably already have at least once. And it’s the worst. The best advice I can give? Let yourself wallow. Let yourself feel devastated. Only then can you pick yourself up and send out that next pitch.
6. Get yourself (at least one) critique partner for your writing.
The best way to hone your writing skills is to have other writers tear it apart (gently and constructively, of course). My journalism school professors taught me a lot, but I would argue I’ve learned just as much from having other writers review my work. It can be incredibly scary to hand over your writing to someone else for criticism, but that’s when you grow.
Of course, you’re probably not going to have a critique partner review every single Tumblr post or Instagram caption you craft, but for the larger, more extensive pieces? It can be a gamechanger.
That’s all I have for now! If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out!