AMA with Maddy Osman, Founder of The Blogsmith

Jimmy Daly
June 6, 2022

Big welcome to Maddy Osman, today's AMA guest! She's the founder of The Blogsmith and about to release a new book. Feel free to drop questions like:

  • How to create and use a style guide
  • Hiring and vetting independent contractors
  • How to quickly onboard new writers
  • Creating consistency in your writing process

or any other content-related topic that you're curious about.

Let's do this!

Can you give us an overview of what makes a successful style guide? What should be in it? Who should contribute to making it? How do you actually implement it?

Maddy: Absolutely! Here is my loom response:

Maddy: And The Blogsmith’s internal style guide for your reference!

Also love Content Harmony’s extensive brand guidelines

In my book Writing for Humans and Robots - there are two chapters about example style guides: one in reference to social media style, the other more generally about creating content.

Do you have advice for working with guest contributors who aren’t writers/content people?

Context: We thought we might be able to scale our content creation/distribution efforts by having our high-profile customers write thought leadership pieces, but I’m finding it takes as much time to edit/rework them as it would have to just interview them and write from scratch. We made a style guide with blog writing advice, but I’m not sure it helped at all.

Maddy: Hey - lots of thoughts for you in this Loom (and peak behind the scenes of The Blogsmith’s hiring process!):

What is your least favorite part about your role in the SEO industry? How do you think about brand risk when you consider content creation? I.e people love listicles and gossipy items, but most people that consider brand think of that as lowly content.

Maddy: Here’s my answer for you. Great Question!

Maddy: Here’s The Blogsmith’s intake form for those curious/lookin for inspo:

And an NNgroup guide that’s been super useful for defining voice and tone with the brands we work with!

I'm curious about the book writing process. Tangential to content (sort of), but curious how long it took, how you organized, how you published, etc.

Maddy: My book writing and publishing journey in a TL:DR!

I’m having a lot of “fun” trying to coax a clearer guide from a new client. They’re a fairly large SAAS company. They’ll like a submitted headline, H2, etc. then say “go ahead and write a 2000 word blog post on that!
No suggestions on WHICH competitors to focus on, etc.
What’s the best way to encourage a little more guidance?

Maddy: Great question! I think a great content brief or approvals process helps. Here’s some of our briefing process:

We've found a bunch of good freelance writers (mostly from Superpath!). But I was talking to another content leader this morning and we both have a similar problem:
How do you transfer knowledge about your product/service to those writers at scale? It's one thing to write a "what is x" article, but it's another to get that article and have it naturally lead the reader to the value of your product.

Maddy: Oh I’ve definitely gotten those branded slides with 20 pages of details. Here are my thoughts on some other ways to pass on that internal brand knowledge:

Could you expand on your process to find, screen and onboard new writers and/or editors?
Caught a glimpse into your hiring process in the previous video and would be great to get an in-depth view!

Maddy: Hope this gives you something to think about:

Thanks for hanging out today! Keep an eye on the #announcements channel for news on upcoming AMAs.

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