The Ultimate Content Machine: How We Used Google Docs to Develop 307,000 Words of Spectacular Content
The Ultimate Content Machine: How We Used Google Docs to Develop 307,000 Words of Spectacular Content
Know what’s harder than developing high-quality content?
Creating it at scale.
But that’s exactly what’s wished if you’re severe approximately building a popular weblog.
And nearly each a hit blogger reaches a factor in which they realize they could’t do it by myself.
(After all, how many huge blogs can you call wherein the owner still writes each single submit?)
Getting help way outsourcing at least a number of your content advent to visitor writers, but making the transition from a writer to the editor isn’t smooth.
So how will you successfully control the content material development system if you have dozens of different writers, every with posts in various degrees of improvement?
How are you able to keep your super requirements without becoming so overwhelmed which you begin feeling nostalgic for the days where you had been doing the entirety your self?
Truthfully, until more than one years in the past, I didn’t have an amazing answer to that query.
My Daunting First Dive into Major League Blogging
Almost precisely three years ago, I edited my first publish for Boost Blog Traffic (as Smart Blogger turned into then called).
And simply, I became feeling the strain.
I’d edited dozens of student posts as an trainer in Jon’s celebrated visitor running a blog magnificence, however editing a publish by an established author for one of the maximum reputable blogs on the web felt like a wholly specific stage of responsibility.
(Though I’m nevertheless within the function, so I wager it went k!)
But Jon’s purpose in attempting me out as editor become to move from an ad-hoc publishing time table, wherein he nonetheless wrote maximum of the posts, to a weekly schedule, wherein guest bloggers assumed most of the writing responsibilities.
Why? Because his corporation become developing rapidly and his obligations as CEO had been disturbing an increasing number of of his time. In other words, he’d reached that factor wherein he couldn’t do it on my own.
When I took over the reins, there wasn’t an awful lot in the manner of a manner. I’ve learned over the years that Jon’s now not much of a system guy. 🙂
Guest authors usually submitted their paintings as Microsoft Word files, so we’d bypass variations of the report from side to side till the put up changed into prepared.
While I cherished operating with the writers, the sensible aspect of the technique turned into irritating.
Why Microsoft Word Sucks for Blog Content Development
What I realized in my first few months as editor of the weblog was that my frustration became ordinarily because of the tools we used.
Microsoft Word is a effective software, however it has such a lot of features that the common user handiest wishes a tiny fraction of them. And for creating weblog content material, which has a tendency to have fairly simple formatting needs, Word is frankly overkill.
Also, it could introduce the subsequent problems:
Version manipulate. After taking part with an creator over several drafts, I’d typically find my difficult power affected by several one of a kind copies of the publish, no longer continually sure which changed into the latest one.
Compatibility problems. Sometimes one version of the software received’t open documents created in a later version. Or documents created on a Mac don’t look the equal on a PC. Neither is conducive to happy collaboration.
Formatting frustrations. Historically, content does no longer paste very cleanly from Word into WordPress. Even even though things have improved, the outcomes are nonetheless very depending on the templates and patterns used inside Word.
Large file sizes. Microsoft Word files can speedy become hefty, especially people with embedded pics. Passing large documents backward and forward through e mail may be time-eating.
So if Word introduces extra troubles than it solves, a number of them related to the transition from Word to WordPress, how approximately developing all of your content material in WordPress from the start?
Why WordPress Causes Content Problems Too
There’s no question WordPress has earned its location as the preeminent platform for folks who need to start a blog.
But it’s in most cases designed for publishing content, not creating it.
Developing your content in the identical environment you’ll post it may seem appealing, but there are a few top reasons you may need to do it some place else, in particular when operating with outside individuals.
Here’s why a separate content material improvement environment may be a better idea:
Clean separation of posted posts and posts in development. When running with visitor authors it’s inevitable that some of the ones posts will get not on time or deserted. Do you really want the ones unfinished posts cluttering up your WordPress database?
Reduced complexity and danger. Giving masses of different people get admission to in your WordPress installation may not be such a terrific concept. Sure, if you set everything up right, protection shouldn’t be an difficulty but make a mistake with user roles and you can open yourself as much as an entire host of issues.
Content adequately stored outside of WordPress. If your WordPress site gets hacked or by chance wiped you could constantly repair from backup, right? Well sure, in principle, but we’ve all heard stories of those who misplaced all their content because they left out to take a backup or due to the fact their backup answer wasn’t quite as bulletproof as they imagined.
Of path, in case you’re decided to hold everything in WordPress, there are smart plugins in an effort to flip your set up into a completely blown editorial control gadget with pre-described workflows.
But that’s in all likelihood overkill until your blog is already massive, and it nonetheless lacks a number of the blessings above.
So what’s the alternative? Google Docs.
Two years in the past we switched to a simple editorial workflow primarily based on Google Docs, and we haven’t regarded lower back.
In reality, for the reason that then, we’ve used it to expand over three hundred,000 phrases of content for this blog!
Three Reasons Google Docs Rocks for Content Collaboration
If you’ve not used Google Docs yet, it’s one in all several light-weight Office-style applications that Google gives through Google Drive, its cloud-based storage service.
Some people use Google Drive solely for its remote garage, but in case you ignore the apps that come at the side of it, you’re missing a trick.
In addition to Docs, Google also gives other online apps, free to everyone with a Google account, consisting of:
Google Sheets — a spreadsheet app that may replace Microsoft Excel for maximum duties
Google Slides — a presentation app that duplicates a whole lot of the capability of PowerPoint or Keynote
Google Drawings — a drawing app for creating simple diagrams
But why is Google Docs especially so nicely-appropriate to weblog content material improvement?
Let’s test some motives:
Cloud-based totally — without difficulty continues a backup of your content material, so that you can always get entry to your up to date posts-in-progress from everywhere, with out an internet connection
Tracked modifications — routinely information every exchange you’re making to a document, so it’s easy to revert to any previous model of your paintings
Native collaboration capabilities — natively helps editing by means of a couple of authors, along with in-report conversations via feedback, edit and endorse modes
On pinnacle of these blessings, it’s additionally unfastened!
A Crash Course in Google Docs for Busy Bloggers
Even when you have labored with Google Docs before, you could not be privy to its complete abilities, so allow’s take a brief have a look at some of the key functions.
Creating a New Document
Creating a new document is easy. From inside your Google Drive, simply click on the huge, red “New” button and pick out “Google Docs” from the drop-down menu.
This will create a brand new Google Docs document for your Drive.
Then, click on “Untitled record” to change its call:
Once inside your record, most of the toolbar and menu alternatives ought to look acquainted — Docs is just like a simplified model of Microsoft Word and offers some of the capabilities you’d expect, such as:
Bold, italic, underline text styles
Plain and range bullets
Customizable heading patterns
Headers and footers
As you add content to the document your adjustments are routinely stored to the cloud, so there’s no danger of dropping your precious paintings!
Another nifty characteristic is offline editing. With this enabled, you could work to your documents even without a community connection — your modifications will sync after you’re lower back on-line.
Sharing Your Document with a Collaborator
While Google Docs also features well as a simple phrase processor for writing your posts, it comes into its very own whilst other people are worried in the method.
One not unusual situation is in which you have got visitor authors developing content material in your weblog. Another is where you’re working with an editor to polish your work.
Sharing your record with a person else is as easy as clicking the blue “Share” button:
This brings up a “Share with others” dialog container:
You have three options whilst granting permissions:
Can edit — the recipient has complete permissions to edit the report, including and deleting content material
Can comment — the recipient can’t edit the content but they are able to add comments inside the margin
Can view — the recipient has study-only access, in different phrases they could see the content but can’t edit it or add any comments
Once you’ve decided on the correct permissions, enter the e-mail address of the individual you’re sharing the record with (they’ll want to have a Google account). Optionally, you can add a private message to send together with the sharing notification.
Adding Comments to Existing Content
Google Docs helps including feedback within your record. These are text notes which can be seen in the report but aren’t technically part of the content itself.
Use remarks to:
Leave notes for yourself, e.G. “Remember to test this statistic earlier than publishing.”
Leave notes for different collaborators, e.G., “Can we discover a higher instance for this?”
The powerful aspect approximately remarks is that they are connected to a particular context in the file, which makes them perfect for editors working with guest authors. If you don’t just like the unique word preference or experience a sentence is redundant, you may attach a remark to a delegated piece of text.
Adding a remark is simple. Just spotlight the textual content you want to comment on and either press the remark button or choose Insert > Comment from the menu bar.
However, feedback in Google Docs are tons extra than digital sticky notes. They may be the start line for a whole conversation, permitting collaborators to talk about parts of the report in context.
When operating with guest authors for Smart Blogger, I’ll regularly use feedback during the early tiers of the editorial procedure to focus on sections of their posts which can be uncertain or want extra examples.
These annotations permit the author to look precisely which a part of their submit I’m speakme approximately and upload their own feedback or respond to mine with questions and clarifications.
Once a comment has outlived its usefulness, e.G. After you’ve cope with the difficulty it at the start highlighted, you may click on “Resolve” and it disappears from view (although it’s nonetheless to be had for your remark records).
Suggesting Changes to Content
When participating with a person — a writer, co-author or editor — you may need to make modifications to the content material they’ve written. It’s clearer (and displays better collaborative etiquette) for you no longer to make edits without delay to their paintings but as an alternative, make hints they can assessment and be given or reject.
This function is mainly beneficial whilst a duplicate editor — who edits for grammar, accuracy, and consistency — critiques a post as it permits them to spotlight feasible problems within the text.
To try this you have to switch from Editing mode (in which adjustments take place immediately in the report) to Suggesting mode:
You can do this by clicking at the “Editing” menu on the top proper of the horizontal toolbar and selecting “Suggesting” from the drop-down menu:
Once you’ve switched to Suggesting mode, any modifications are highlighted and shown alongside the authentic text. A be aware also seems within the proper-hand margin describing the change and giving the option to simply accept (tick) or reject (pass) it.
Here’s an example:
In addition to accepting and rejecting collaborators’ suggestions, you could also add a comment to begin a dialogue around the counseled change.
A Simple Workflow for Managing Guest Posts on Your Blog
At Smart Blogger, we’ve been using Google Docs for growing guest posts (and many of our personal posts) for over two years, and in that time we’ve evolved a easy workflow that simplifies the manner of operating with external authors.
It’s a massive development from those frustrating early days spent wrestling with Microsoft Word documents!
Before we examine the right workflow, it’ll help to understand our simple method for growing a visitor publish from start to complete.
Here’s an overview:
The guest creator writes their first draft primarily based on an agreed subject matter or headline.
The blog editor or owner provides comments at the draft to the writer for his or her next draft.
The creator makes revisions (repeating tiers 2 and 3 for several drafts till the submit requires no in addition modifications from the writer).
The replica editor makes any corrections/suggestions to the draft.
The very last draft gets formatted into WordPress and posted.
It’s straightforward enough in an overview, however we’ve discovered the process can move awry without an agreed workflow to keep things going for walks smoothly.
So here’s the way it works…
Step 1: Create a New Folder in Google Drive
As quickly as we’re equipped for a visitor creator to begin operating on a put up, we create a new folder for it in our employer’s Google Drive.
Here’s the basic folder shape we use for all our visitor posts at Smart Blogger:
The roles of the character folders are as follows:
Posts – the discern folder containing all of our blog posts
Author – includes all of the posts via a unmarried creator
Posts – includes all of the files relating to a selected publish via that author
Draft – contains snapshots of all of the drafts for the put up
Here’s a specific example — the folder structure for the put up you’re reading proper now.
Once we create the folder structure, we populate the submit folder (in this situation “Google Docs Workflow”) with new copies of a handful of simple templates we reuse for every new put up.
The first record is a blank blog post template where the author will paintings on their put up.
In addition, there are a couple of other files we create — one for a list of viable headlines (You recognise how we like tweaking our headlines!), and some other with put up metadata — along with the proposed slug and meta description, that’s finished earlier than guide.
Here’s what the weblog submit template seems like before the writer begins operating:
If you need to apply our template, you can grasp a duplicate here (click File > Make a replica while logged into your Google account).
Step 2: Share the Template with the Post’s Author
Once we set up the folder structure, it’s time to percentage the put up template with the author, exactly as we mentioned above.
We provide them “Can edit” permissions if you want to upload their content material and usually consist of a brief be aware that gets sent with the sharing notification:
Step three: Create a Copy of Each Incoming Draft
While the writer is operating at the post, we have a tendency to leave them to it — they’d in all likelihood find it disconcerting having us watching over their shoulders as they write!
But once an author tells us they’ve finished with the modern draft — usually by means of e-mail — the primary element we do is create a replica, upload the label Draft 01 and drag it into the Drafts folder:
Google Docs are efficaciously snapshots of the content at that second in time, minus any feedback and revision history.
But why create them? Is it sincerely important, particularly due to the fact Google Docs routinely keeps a entire report of the evolution of the document?
We locate it beneficial due to the fact while Google Docs tracks modifications, writers and editors tend to suppose in terms of character drafts. So it could be beneficial while we want to speedy evaluation a picture of a put up at a particular level in its improvement.
For example, a publish doesn’t usually develop in a instantly line, and it’s precious to present the writer notes like “I sense this segment worked higher the manner you wrote it in Draft #2.”
Step 4: Review the Current Draft and Add Comments
Once I’ve created a image, I’ll evaluate the trendy draft and upload detailed remarks to assist the author understand what I require for the following draft.
Next, I’ll drop them an e mail permitting them to recognise I’ve left comments for them to check.
Then, I’ll preserve an eye fixed out for notifications from Google of replies to my feedback — those in-record conversations I noted in advance — and leap into the document to solve any questions.
At that point, it’s time to look forward to the writer’s next draft — efficaciously looping again to Step three, creating a brand new copy and so on.
Note that the report the author works on is continually the identical, which greatly reduces the capacity for confusion. Before our Google Docs workflow, we’d generally exchange Microsoft Word documents via electronic mail and after some drafts, it turned into often hard to make sure you had been looking at the modern draft.
Step five: Submit the Draft for Copy Editing
Once the draft has reached the point in which the author has addressed all my remarks and tips, and is close to being ready for publication, it moves into a new section – making any very last pre-e-book edits.
Sometimes I’ll make a few minor edits to make certain the post meets our residence style and tone – I’ll create a new replica of the draft classified “Final Edit” and work on it there.
Once glad, I’ll change the label to “Copy Edit” and skip it over to our reproduction editor who’ll make any changes in Suggesting mode before handing it returned to me.
Once I’ve reviewed and standard (or rejected) any replica adjustments, the Google Doc is finally prepared to be copied and formatted into WordPress.
At this stage, I trade the label to “FINAL” so that it’s completely clean that the post has reached the cease of its improvement.
Step 6: Format the Post in WordPress
The final step is to replicate the content throughout into WordPress and format it. It’s fairly straightforward but does requires multiple manual steps, specially:
Any embedded photographs ought to be uploaded to WordPress one after the other and manually brought to the document.
A small quantity of HTML smooth-up is required, but it’s best a minute or ’s work with a textual content editor.
Admittedly, it’d be satisfactory if those steps weren’t required. They’re a byproduct of pasting immediately from Google Docs to WordPress. A small niggle in an otherwise fairly stylish system.
However, relying to your precise formatting requirements and the range of posts you publish in a regular month, it can make feel to investigate a device like Postable, which automates this a part of the procedure for you.
But allow’s anticipate you’re doing this component through hand. Here are the steps for shifting your publish across.
1) Copy and paste your entire post into the WordPress Visual editor.
Using Visual mode (instead of Text mode) all the important formatting can be preserved — textual content styles, heading tiers, bullets, and so on.
As stated before, snap shots will not come across whilst pasting. You’ll need to address the ones separately.
2) Switch to Text mode and cast off any unwanted HTML markup.
When switching to Text mode within the WordPress editor, you’ll see your formatted post in its “naked” HTML form.
The code created by this process is quite easy — specifically if you use our Smart Blogger template above — but there are still a few recurring “artifacts” that you’ll want to repair by using hand.
Fortunately, all of them observe a predictable sample so performing a international seek and replace to your favourite text editor will quick do the trick.
Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Replace all occurrences of <li style=”font-weight: 400;”> with <li>
Remove all occurrences of <span style=”font-weight: 400;”> (update with empty string)
Remove all occurrences of </span> (replace with empty string)
The exact text you need to update can be unique with a unique beginning template, but it ought to nevertheless amount to eliminating opening and remaining span tags and styling from another tags.
Copy and paste the code into the text editor, make the modifications, then copy and paste it again into the WordPress editor (Text mode).
Three) Upload any snap shots to the Media Library and add them to the post.
It’s as much as you how you take care of pix. We like our authors to embed them inside the Google Doc because that makes the post less complicated to review and keeps all the content material in a single region.
If you do it the same way, there’s a neat little trick you may use to grab all of the snap shots within the report.
If you choose File > Download as > Web page (.Html, zipped) from inside your Google Doc, you’ll get a zipper document.
Unzip that document and also you’ll get (amongst different matters) an “pix” folder with all the embedded pictures in their authentic record layout. Yay!
You can also select to rename the image documents for readability or search engine optimization functions, but as soon as completed, you may pick out the complete institution and drag it to the “Upload New Media” web page inside WordPress.
Then it’s truely a case of including the photographs to the body of your put up as you normally could.
Turn Your Blog right into a Content Machine with Google Docs
There’s no question — content material is the gasoline that drives your blog’s increase and ability to make cash.
But as essential as it’s miles, clever bloggers understand while it’s time to outsource.
Because the unhappy truth is, if you spend all your time developing content material, your blog will by no means attain its complete capacity.
That’s why you want a procedure in an effort to scale as your weblog grows, and you begin running with proficient visitor writers.
You need a simple device that’ll enable you to put up greater quality content material at the same time as spending much less time doing it.
Combine Google Docs with a easy editorial workflow and you may create a powerful content device with the intention to propel your weblog into the stratosphere.
(And even in case you’re now not prepared yet, you’ll nevertheless benefit from making Google Docs your pass-to content material improvement tool.)
So what are you looking forward to?
Let’s upload some gas to that fire.