“Hi, I’m Jeena. I’m an editor at a grants company in Pasadena. I am originally from Portland, Oregon, and I’ve lived in LA for about five years now. I have a German-Shepherd puppy that is taking over my life.”
Jeena Gould is an old pal of mine and a kickass writer, content creator and editor. As a fellow journalism grad from Azusa Pacific University who shares my love for writing, blogging, content creation and editing, I thought she would be perfect for my first feature on the blog! She’s got all the wisdom about creating content that serves your audience, editing for clarity, and getting into a rhythm that helps you knock out your content.
We sat down for a Q-and-A for her to share how she got into this field, her best tips for you and your business and where she finds her inspiration.
What initially drew you to this field to editing and copywriting?
Back in college, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to study, I knew I was drawn to English – even just how the language works and how the written word works as such a unique way of communicating with others. It always interested me that people have a certain way of speaking and they have a certain voice out loud, yet if they put their words on paper, it can change their voice completely.
With journalism, the idea of storytelling through the written word was really interesting and that really jumped out at me. I ended up taking an Intro to Journalism course, and here I am! I graduated with the degree.
I think that writing is such a beautiful skill to have, and even when people don’t consider themselves writers, we really all are. It’s a skill that someone can always improve and I think the practice of writing can show a lot about yourself too.
How do you suggest bloggers start off making a basic style guide?
Look at the basic words you’re using, like if you prefer one word over the other. Instead of followers, you say community. Or, instead of copy, you write content. It’s the little things like that to make sure that it’s consistent.
A style guide is also really helpful in terms of formatting. If you’re consistent in how you’re displaying the information, the readers might not necessarily catch that or even recognize it. However, when there’s consistency, your readers will definitely identify with it more because it’s what they know, and it’s what they expect to see from you with your voice or your brand.
Even just the way you present your call to action at the end or when and where you insert your hyperlinks or your photos, all of that can be pretty formulaic. It really is important. It can be something you look back on and refer to during your writing process.
What are some basic editing mistakes that you see for bloggers that they could start fixing right now?
First, I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers, especially people that are just posting on their personal blogs, they tend to use that platform almost as a diary or as a way to vent. There’s not a whole lot of organization in how they’re communicating these different ideas. These posts can turn into 1200 or 1500-word pieces that not a whole lot of people have the endurance to make it all the way to the bottom.
Sometimes the first step is to really figure out what can go and cut it out. People have short attention spans, and if you want your content to be read in its full entirety, you’ve got to make sure you’re thinking about your audience. Really learning to cut back on fluff words or even full sentences that don’t really add to the point that you’re trying to make, I think, is the biggest [opportunity] that I see.
Second, you can always tell when people haven’t edited what they’ve written. I feel like a lot of writers don’t have the time or they’re not in the practice of editing their work over and over. [Take a day and go back to your writing.] That space and that distance is so crucial. Especially right after you write it, your mind is still on it.
As the writer, you have the vision for what you have written and how you expect your audience to take it, but after having some distance from it, you can see it from fresh eyes. You almost step into the position as the reader and you have a better understanding of the content you created.
What are some tips to remember when creating content for a blog and/or social media?
- Always be thinking about what your audience wants to read and what they really need. When it comes to the content you’re posting, you’re likely posting it because you think this group of followers will benefit from the content. Figure out: What motivates your audience? What interests them? Find out what brought them to your platform initially? And, always, make it your priority to serve your audience so they are gaining something from the experience.
- Post often. If your goal is to gain a readership for your blog, it’s going to be really difficult if you’re not posting regularly. If they can’t trust that you’re going to be relevant, they aren’t going to rely on you for that content and they’re not going to seek you out. You need that repetition in their lives. There’s so much going on in your audience’s lives, if you’re not regularly showing up, you’re not going to gain the following that you want.
- Get to the point and be succinct in what you’re trying to say. No one wants to read a paragraph when you could just read a sentence. Don’t feel like you need to add fluff or extra words.
What are some best practices for maintaining and up-keeping content?
- Make it a priority. I always think of it as getting a gym membership and getting in the habit of going to the gym. It seems super impossible when you first get the membership and you’re thinking about getting off your couch and getting to the gym. Once you get in the habit of it and set aside that time every day or every week that is dedicated solely to going to the gym, it becomes a lot more manageable, and soon enough it will be a part of your rhythm. Writing and blogging and posting to social media is the exact same thing, plus you can actually do it from your couch.
- Recognize that your writing can always be improved and stay humble in what you are posting. You can look back on your work in a year and see how your writing has changed, and even in looking back, you have more fresh eyes. It’s really good to go back and continuing to improve your writing and changing or expanding on what you originally wrote.
- Recycle your old content. It’s a really good practice to have because not all of your readers are going to see your content if you’ve only posted it the one time. Hopefully you’re gaining followers and you’re gaining readers throughout time, and whoever is added on board later in your journey, they are not necessarily going to look back in your archives and see what you’ve posted in the past. Go back and audit your work and rework it for your newer audience.
What would you say to someone who says they aren’t interesting enough to write a blog?
My initial thought is: Well, you’re human aren’t you? With every single person, we each have a story and even if we think that it’s dull, it’s still there. What I mean by that is, we each have a history. We each came from somewhere. We each have relationships and places that we go to every single day. In all of that, there’s a story. If you really take a step back and look at what you’re doing with your life, there’s something to be shared.
What inspires you and where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from my friends, my colleagues, from God and even from my dog. Every interaction I have comes with a story. Even when I’m not writing about them, that inspiration is there. It’s in these interactions and in these memories that are shaping me to become the person that I am – to become bolder or wiser or even more humble. I think with recognizing that I am being shaped daily by each of these avenues, it’s what inspires me to continue growing, developing my skills, and seeing what my strengths and weaknesses are. It inspires me to not stay stuck.
Any last tips?
Don’t be afraid of failure. If you have a post that you’re nervous about and you’re not sure it’s going to be very good, don’t be afraid of it. If it’s not a hit, that’s okay. You can always improve it and move forward. Ultimately, creating content and sharing it should be really fun. What you’re sharing is from your heart, hopefully, and if you’re sharing it, you believe your audience can gain from it while helping you and your business and your blog and inspiration.
“Hi, I’m Jeena. I’m an editor at a grants company in Pasadena. I am originally from Portland, Oregon, and I’ve lived in LA for about five years now. I have a German-Shepherd puppy that is taking over my life.” Jeena Gould is an old pal of mine and a kickass writer, content creator and editor. […]