Does your publication have its own voice? Does it have opinions? If not, then you might want to develop an editorial line. And if it does, it can be good to review it from time to time.
The purpose of an editorial line is to create a clear opinion/voice for a publication. The point is to make it easier for readers to anticipate what kind of content they will find in your publication, so that they know they can come to you for a certain type of information. So to know what our own editorial line is, we must understand who our readers are, and who we want them to be.
Who’s Reading this Thing?
The good part of this is that it’s entirely up to you – the bad part is, it’s entirely up to you. If you leave it too open, your target audience will be too vague, and no-one will feel like your publication is meant specifically for them; if you make it too narrow, you won’t have a large enough audience. Most publications exist to sell something – advertisements, B2B or consulting services, or just a personal brand – and so your target audience should be the ideal ‘buyer’.
If your publication is promoting your personal brand (that is, yourself), your audience may be people with similar interests, they may be potential business partners, or they may be people in the same industry. For a small business, your target audience is your potential clients. Of course, if you are selling ads on your publication, your target audience is your advertiser’s potential buyers.
What. Where. When.
Now that you’ve got an idea of who your publication is for, let’s figure out that editorial line.
What is this target audience interested in? Keep in mind that there is no one single subject that your entire target audience will be interested in. So look for things that will interest as many of them as possible – for example, if you are looking to meet people interested in old-fashioned cameras, you might curate articles about certain brands of cameras, articles about photographers using old cameras, articles about certain types of lenses/filters/bodies, and you might curate articles about why digital cameras are not as good as older cameras. It goes without saying, but the content you publish should be what your target audience is interested in.
Where is your audience? If they are on social networks, you have an easy marketing channel, but it’s not enough just to create an account. In the case of Twitter, for example, in order to get in front of your audience’s eyes you want to be mentioned or tweeted by other accounts that already have your audience’s attention. Paper.li does a great job of automatically @mentioning the creators of the content you curate, which is an ideal way to get their attention.
Here’s My Personal Example
For my professional blog, which targets anyone interested in the French start-up ecosystem, inside or outside France or not, I use Google Adwords, targeting anything I think my audience might already be searching for on Google: raising funds in France, finding co-founders in France, French start-up events, and, of course, French start-up news. By imagining where my audience already is, I am able to put my publication in front of their eyes.
The same idea goes for publishing content, in that you want to create/curate content that your audience is already looking for. As Social Media Examiner puts it in 5 Social Media Tips for Finding your Target Audience: Know Where Your Customers Spend Their Time.
When do They Read?
This is a little less for your editorial line but goes hand-in-hand with your target audience. Are they in your home town? Do you have a global audience? Think about the different time-zones your audience resides in when you decide when to publish and when to market (specifically, on social networks and with email marketing).
An editorial line also includes your ‘voice': are you pro or con certain subjects, or do you remain neutral in your publication? One of the principles of my news site is that we always have an opinion, and that we value being constructive over being critical. Your voice may be supportive, it may be aggressive, or it may be neutral – keeping this voice consistent is crucial in making sure that your audience is never surprised by a change in tone of your publication.
Experiment, Go Crazy, Find the Right Voice
Your editorial line is flexible, just like your voice. As you try various things, post certain article subjects, integrate certain content, you will most certainly change your editorial content. So experiment, go crazy, and find the voice that fits you and that your audience is drawn to, and you can being to reap the rewards of an audience that looks for you, instead of you looking for your audience.
Over to you. We want to hear your tips for creating an editorial voice – leave them in the comments below.