Launching a branded magazine can feel overwhelming. How will you build an audience? How will you earn their trust and keep them coming back? And, at the top of most marketers’ minds, where will you get all the content?
Marie Dodson has been there. She’s the managing editor for two content sites under the WP Engine umbrella: Torque, an online magazine designed for WordPress fans and developers, and Velocitize, a site just for marketers that just launched in the fall of 2016.
The content on Velocitize comes from a wide network of contributors, including Mary Ellen and me. We’ve written about how changing technology (especially open source) affects marketers’ everyday work:
- How marketing campaigns are getting shorter.
- What marketers need to know about machine learning.
- How to write and design content specifically for mobile.
- 3 things to consider before you create a mobile app.
- How marketing teams at brands like Uberflip and Red Hat are getting creative to find big wins.
Marie makes launching a branded magazine look effortless, so I asked her more about how she developed the content strategy.
Tell me about how Velocitize started.
We started Velocitize as a way to engage in the conversation around digital marketing and digital transformation, uniquely through the lens of open source. From a content strategy perspective, we wanted to interview leading influencers and also harness thought leaders as contributors from agencies and brand giants to showcase their expertise and share their insights with the industry.
How did your experience with Torque help you set up Velocitize as a new content site?
With an increasingly noisy environment online today, it can be incredibly challenging to create content that stands out.
Torque — which highlights WordPress — taught us the importance of concentrating on a very specific topic. It taught us to focus on what we’re good at and what we’re passionate about as a company rather than trying to be everything to everyone.
For Velocitize, we established that lens at the intersection of digital technology and open source. Not only has it enabled us to maintain focus, but it has also provided us with a unique angle, which I believe has greatly contributed to our success so far.
How is Velocitize performing so far? How have you measured progress?
We’ve experienced exponential growth since its launch in January. There are three main types of metrics we care most about: Traffic, engagement, and subscriber growth.
As publishers, pageviews or traffic to the site is our primary currency, which allows us to get a bird’s-eye view of overall content and site performance.
Engagement lets us know that our readers are actually consuming the content. Average time on page, bounce rate, and engagement ratios across social channels provide insight into how content is resonating with readers.
Subscriber growth is important because it indicates the growth of the overall ecosystem of the publication. This group represents your fans and advocates — the folks who consume your content regularly and will help amplify it, which are incredibly more valuable than a pageview or retweet.
How do you find contributors for Velocitize?
We are very proactive in procuring contributors. We’re constantly looking at publications in our competitive landscape to identify potential contributors based on articles they’ve written, expertise, and availability for hire.
We have also opened up the opportunity to contribute to our agency network at WP Engine. It’s a huge thought-leadership opportunity for them and we have found that they are eager to contribute.
What have you learned about working with freelance writers?
It is so important to establish a clear line of communication early on. Set expectations around when you are available to respond to emails and phone calls. Scheduling a standing monthly meeting with your writers can be very effective — it provides a forum to touch base, brainstorm new ideas, and revisit publication objectives.
What’s your biggest challenge as a content marketer?
My biggest struggle is proving ROI on content efforts. While the value of engaging content is indisputable, it’s been challenging to attribute conversions which result in revenue to a specific piece of content.
What’s your advice for other managing editors?
As a managing editor, I wear a lot of different hats, and at times it can be chaotic. I can’t stress enough the importance of organization. Keep a consistent publishing calendar, plan your editorial calendar at least a month in advance, use a tool like Asana to track content progress, and map your content ideas against data.