How To Write Online Content Like A Best-Selling Publisher

By Zetong Teoh on Jul 04 2014

Content marketing seems to be the perfect combination between the two, but they are fundamentally different. If you wish to convey effective content marketing, you have to learn the differences and think like a publisher.

How To Market Your Content Like a Publisher


Knowing the Difference between Publishers and Marketers

Marketers often pursue short-term goals, such as increasing sales by 23% next quarter, or raising web traffic by 35% within the six months’ time.

On the other hand, publishers have often stood by with their principles and higher-level objectives, most of the time informing and presenting fresh insights for their readers.

Publishers work differently, they always have an editorial calendar.

How To Plan Your Editorial Calendar

Step 1.a: Decide on the Types of Content & Publishing Schedule

You can start by looking at this matrix, from awareness to purchase, from emotional to rationale, all types of content are included. If the purpose of your content is to:

  • To entertain, create branded videos, visuals, online quizzes, competitions or even games.
  • To inspire, engage celebrity endorsement, gather user reviews and form communities.
  • To educate, provide infographics or instructographics, write How-To guides and produce in-depth trend reports
  • To convince, publish successful case studies, guided product demo and giving webinars
Content Marketing Mix - All types of content
Content Marketing Mix

Step 1.b: Determine the frequency of the content. Some examples:

  • Intensive How-To Guide – once a week
  • Engaging Infographics on Topic XYZ – twice a week
  • Summary of Latest News- once every day
  • 1-hour Webinar – once every two weeks
  • Tutorial Videos & Promotional Videos- once a months

 Step 2: Calculate the duration to produce each type of the content

Planning the duration for each content
Planning the duration for each content

Step 3: Plan Them Out on Your Editorial Calendar 

Having decided on the content and the duration required, you can then place them neatly onto your editorial calendar.
How To Plan Your Editorial Calendar

Some tools for editorial calendar are:

  • Google Calendar – Packed with many functionalities and enable collaboration among teammates, there are many online templates readily available
  • Excel – It makes great calendars too. But, it is troublesome to share it an excel file. If there is a need for collaboration for the calendar, you could save a master copy in the cloud. Here are some templates found online.

For WordPress editors, here are two useful plug-ins:

[Important Note: Include draft dates for the content you generate.]

5 Wives & 1 Husband

Back to the basics of writing essays, good content has a directed flow. Similar to the products or service you sell, you cannot just write for everybody. Stay objective and identify your target audiences and topics involved. Ask yourself these questions:

  • For whom is your content delivering to?
  • What literacy levels do they possess?
  • What topics are you exploring? Are you providing a new perspectives?
  • When and where will they read it? Desktops, tablets or smartphones?
  • How do you guide them?

Create an Objectives-based Strategy

The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek
The Golden Circle by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek has a Golden Circle for all brands. In essence, people do not buy what you build or how you build it, they buy why you build it. You have to answer the question,

“Why Does Your Organization Exist?”

Similarly, great content requires a strong purpose. Why does your content exist? Why do you even want to have a content strategy? Your content could be produced to persuade, to inform, to entertain, to change behaviors or to enforce compliance.

Now tell me, what purpose does your content serve?

Mould Your Ideal Customer

You have to create archetypes for your content – who are the people reading your content? This person could be your ideal customer.

Breathe lives into the archetypes: give them names and jobs, figure out their hobbies and interests.

Professional writers use the 12 common archetypes with four personalitiesfreedom, social, ego and order, to determine their target audience. Make use of these personalities to develop your archetypes.

12 Common Archetypes in Harry Potter
12 Common Archetypes in Harry Potter


The Word is ‘Curating’

I love how this word is becoming increasingly common nowadays on the Internet. It is more acceptable that people gather the good things found online and publish again on their platforms. Unable to think of original content? Fret not.

All you have to do, is to curate.

In content marketing, there are evergreen and current topics. Evergreen topics are never “old news” and are independent of time. Usually, they are the fundamental concepts, like explaining cryptocurrencies, teaching how to write for the web, etc. You can always talk about them.

Therefore, one clever way of content curation, is to:

  1. Sieve out the good points of many sources
  2. Compile them into one in your own words and understanding
  3. Present them with your own introduction and catchy headline

Fortunately for you, the curators, there are many useful tools other than Google Search engine and Reddit (/r/insert_your_topic) for you to find cool stuff online. -StumbleUpon is a discovery engine that finds and recommends web content to its users.Its features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to their tastes. One good thing about StumbleUpon is that it is quick for users to yay-or-nay an article. – I’ve been using this for quite some time, it is free. aims to take over your job as a curator and compile all things online and post them to your readers. You might disagree with their ways of putting information together but it serves as a good curation engine from all sources.

Curata, one of the well-known brands for content curation, has the ultimate list of content curation tools.

Engage Professional Help

If you aren’t confident with your own writing skills, it is perfectly fine. You are just not good at writing, get someone else who’s better at this job and spend your time elsewhere meaningfully. You can choose to set up your own content marketing team, on-boarding experience web writers to schedule regular articles.

Freelance Writers -One of the world’s largest marketplace for online services, you could be getting writers to create blog articles with only Many experienced writers are offering their services.
You can check out their reviews before employing them.

Other websites for freelance writers are: AWAI online,


Gushcloud is like a model agency for bloggers. It houses many bloggers with international outreach. Big-brand MNCs like McDonald’s and Coke-Cola are some of their clients. The bloggers will publish an advertorial post or a product review post on their blogs, which are read by many.


Infographics  – one of the top brands for infographics, the folks at are highly experienced
in producing compel
ling visuals relevant to your company and purposes. Besides infographics, they could produce other visual contents such as videos, presentations, web designs, micro-content and even a whole suite of campaigns.

If you wish to give infographics a try, here are some useful tools:

Videos – Paid Product Placement

BeeTalk, a social dating app, has engaged the help of a popular YouTube production team, Night Owl Cinematics, for a paid product placement on the video.

To date, the video has gathered about 800,000 views. The video does not attempt to hard-sell BeeTalk; instead the team incorporated the app into its script and even showcased a short tutorial for the dating app.

Viewers do not find that they are being force-feed an advertisement and enjoy the hilarious video while consuming the marketing message.

If you feel like making your own animation videos, you could start easily with these tools:

[Important note: YouTube is not the only video-distribution platform, promote your videos on vimeo, Yahoo videos, etc.]

Once you have the content, give it the right formatting with your brand bible.


Brand BibleBrand Bible

The company you help to create content has to have a clear brand identity. This means to own a structure, a schedule and a unique voice in all your content.


Define the purpose of your content. It could be similar to the reasons your company exist.

Set forth the range of topics. They should be related in your industry and intertwined for maximum website optimization.

Decide on the breadth & depth of content. If you wish to become an authority, your articles must be more in-depth. Otherwise, you could choose to be the informant for all things new or useful.

Adjust the composition of your content. Coca-cola’s content strategy has a 70/20/10-rule – 70% low-risk content, 20% innovative content while 10% high-risk content. The risk of the content could mean that majority would not like it and anything that would affect your metrics.


Craft the best headlines. The importance of headlines cannot be further emphasized. It’s for search engines, for clickbacks and ultimately, for more readers.

Place the keywords in the first 3 words and the last 3 words – that’s where the attention is

Keep headlines lesser than 55 characters – for search rank pages

8 headline strategies – surprise, question, curiosity, negatives, how-to, numbers, audience referencing, specificity

Ultimate Headline Formula

Featured Image

Find the right images, all the time. Set your featured photo to be something unthreatening or unabashedly offensive.

Because no one clicks on the stock photo of a business woman smiling in front of the building. Your featured images have to stir a passion in the readers.

Other than beautifying the articles, the photos are also reducing the number of characters per line. And readers find short-width paragraphs (i.e. lesser characters per line) to be easier to read.

The 1500-word Sweet Spot

Determine the right length for your content. There is no strict rules as to how long your content should be, but there are some guidelines provided by the research of Bufferapp.

Graph of average Attention Paid per Length of Post
Average Attention Paid per Length of Post


Set the right voice/tone. Many content crafters employ the personable tone in their content. It’s always good to be friendly.


Create a promotion schedule. Each social media has their sweet spots on the clock for optimal sharing, you should learn to determine yours

Editing Checklist

Edit, edit & edit. You don’t have to be a Grammar Nazi, but should steer clear from common grammar mistakes. It makes your content look more reliable. Make use of the Grammar Girl’s Editing Checklist to do your checking.


  • Think like a publisher when producing content, focusing on the needs of your readers.
  • Do not create content blindly. Figure out the purpose of your content.
  • If all else fail, outsource for professional help.
  • Establish your brand bible even before you begin writing – set the format, tone, voice, structure and topics.

These are just few main characteristics of a publisher that all content marketers should adapt to, what other characteristics could you think of for successful content marketing?


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Featured Image Credits: Bloomberg