Excellence is about fighting and pursuing something diligently, with a strict and determined approach to doing it right. It’s okay if there are flaws in the process – it makes it more interesting.
As the lucky guy who’s had the privilege of presiding over this award-winning global multimedia platform from day one six-plus years ago, it’s been both humbling and priceless to encounter, and have the opportunity to share such extraordinary writing talent virtually every day. And quite honestly, it’s been an invaluable learning experience for me, particularly given the absence of any credible writing or editing experience over the course of my career. As Charlie Trotter was quoted as saying above, there have indeed been “flaws in the process” along the way, each making way for wisdom gained. Allow me to now reflect upon that wisdom.
Content Is King
Yes, content is king, because it begins (and prospectively ends) there. Think about it: Would you invest your time browsing through a website that fails to inspire, engage and give solutions to your challenges? So from day one, we’ve rallied around the “vision” presented at the bottom of every page on this Site:
Today and every day, we simply deliver the very best Insights, Intelligence & Inspiration available anywhere. Period.
A lofty goal indeed. Not only daunting but admittedly a bit arrogant back on day one, surrounded by good intentions and zero Contributors on board. But we purposely chose to set the bar high, determined to keep the goalposts in sight through all the ups and downs – embracing what some might call “blind faith” in the presumption that if we built it right, they would come. And come they did. Here we are six-plus years later, honored by a treasure-trove of writing talent in the form of 500-plus Contributors spanning 6 continents, collectively authoring over 20,000 Articles on our behalf – enjoyed by over 1.5 million visitors last year, and over 2 million this year. Simply remarkable. We’re thankful. We’re blessed. And yes, we’re pleasantly surprised. And because of this treasure-trove, we’ve never, ever wavered from our core operating “ethos,” that is, to do anything and everything possible for the good of our extraordinary Contributors. Good includes whatever it takes. Period.
We’ve learned that editorial quality control isn’t just about double-checking grammar and spelling. Managed properly, it’s a process designed to ensure that every step of the content curation cycle contributes to the best possible output, every time. In other words, our quality assurance process must not only be robust, but it must continue to evolve. Everything from fine-tuning the title of an Article to styling the body of each message to choosing the “ideal” image to “frame” the message takes an unwavering team commitment to not only do our very best with each and every Article but to be consistent.
It means being responsive when our Contributors reach out to us. It means casting aside traditional publishing roles & bureacracy such as rigid publishing schedules, strict subject matter boundaries, and archaic guidelines (e.g. minimum/maximum wordcount, etc.), in favor of encouraging our Contributors to simply “spread their wings” of creativity and write to their heart’s desire whenever inspiration surfaces.
And it means to be unreservedly open to advice, guidance, and suggestions from both our writers and our worldwide audience (our “constituency”).
We’ve learned that consistency matters. Like an old, warm fuzzy blanket, our audience has grown over time to expect a degree of consistency and familiarity with how we do what we do. And while we continue to evolve in ways unimaginable six years ago, we must keep our ear to the ground when it comes to listening to and respecting the viewpoints of our constituency, while holding true to the principles upon which our Editorial approach has been built. And as we all know, delivering isn’t just about the quality of the writing but rather the overall consistency of presentation.
We’ve learned that it’s “mission-critical” to have at least one hands-on content advocate who oversees the quality of each piece in every meaningful respect. By definitions, that’s my job. Having the same eye over everything, regardless of channel or message, means that we’ll have a consistency of voice and purpose through everything we produce. As Editor-in-Chief, I must be the “brand champion,” which means not only protecting our brand, but knowing the intricacies of our style/content guide, and have a natural feel for what works with our audience, and what doesn’t.
A Second Pair of Eyes
According to the “State Of Digital Copywriting Survey” released a few years ago, nearly a fifth of respondents (23.1%) say a typo on a website indicates the company doesn’t care about the quality of its writing. While a typo in a piece of copy doesn’t invalidate our editorial quality, such slip-ups in published material certainly undermine our brand, detract from the content’s credibility, and give the impression of carelessness or lack of professionalism.
So naturally, we need a process to minimize typos and grammar composition issues, which doesn’t simply involve proofreading (running the risk of “not seeing the forest for the trees”), but employing all the tools (automated and otherwise) that we can find. Professional editors use a variety of tricks to help them see the copy anew – reading sections from the bottom up, reading on paper, reading with a ruler, and so on. However, we’ve learned that nothing beats a “second pair of eyes.” Or a third pair. Or a fourth pair. I think you get the picture, here. Which brings us to our prized “secret sauce” below.
Editorial Circle Of Excellence
Talk about a second set of eyes! We’ve got seven keen sets of eyes focused on what we do and how we do it, as select Members of our Editorial Circle Of Excellence. Rest assured that these aren’t just a handful of passive advisors quietly sitting on the sidelines. These are consummate professionals, each of whom graciously accepted the opportunity to literally “keep us on our toes.” And boy, have they delivered.
Whether it be typos, English composition, subject matter feedback, login challenges or brand questions, they’ve individually and collectively done precisely what has been expected of them, that is, to show up, step up, and speak up – candidly and constructively.
No issue too small, no challenge too great, and no question too elementary or off-limits. And as a bonus, each Member is an esteemed Columnist for us, which raises the bar even further when it comes to their expectations and our performance.
Allow me to proudly introduce and extend our heartfelt appreciation to our Editorial Circle Of Excellence Members presented below. We’ve linked each name to their published archives so you can join us and our global audience in reading and enjoying their core writing talent at work:
Trust me when I say that from our “in the trenches” experience over the years, they are “the best of the best,” making us not only more mindful of what we do but so much better at what we do. And for that, we are truly honored by their unselfish service and thankful for their presence.
Circling The Wagons
Without question, the following quote remains the “cornerstone” of what we’ve learned and what we continue to learn,
The road to excellence is always under construction.
Under construction we have been and under construction we will remain, evolving alongside the world around us. They say “success is a journey, not a destination.” While there is certainly truth to that old adage, our distinct advantage is that we are not walking alone, but in lockstep with so many talented folks who serve as our compass and brand ambassadors, guiding us and challenging us each step of the way. And for that, we are eternally grateful.