Fadeke Adegbuyi and Becky Kane are part of the content team at Todoist, makers of the excellent Ambition & Balance blog. Todoist is an official partner and we are so thrilled to (1) show you Todoist can improve your content workflows and (2) provide some insight on how their team has built such a well-respected content presence.
Fadeke was kind enough to show us a few ways she uses Todoist in her own workflows:
And together, Fadeke and Becky answered a lot of questions in Slack. If you'd like to try Todoist, they've been kind enough to give Superpath readers six months of Todoist Premium for free. Just head to todoist.com/redeem and use the code Superpath.
Todoist is a really flexible product. I can imagine so many use cases for so many different people. Some B2B of course, but also some consumers. How do you factor this into your content strategy?
Becky: It's always a struggle to cover all of the use cases that Todoist can be used for. Plus we also cover topics for Twist. Not all content can be applicable to all of our readers, but we try to get a good mix cover personal productivity and use cases and team ones. It changes throughout the year and in response to events–Dec + Jan a bit more personal focused, all about remote work last March & April. Our blog is structured to split up those broad topics–remote work, teamwork,
productivity. It helps that our newsletter is biweekly so we always aim for a mix so that people are seeing at least one piece of content that's applicable to them.
Fadeke: Also, we’re working more and more on segmentation as a company! In content this takes two main forms:
For user stories, we try to write about customers across multiple industries that demonstrate multiple use cases. For instance, we’ve covered topics like:
But we also write extremely tactical guides on how different people can use Todoist:
Here’s an example of the latter category:
How is the blog’s success measured? And what effort/post/campaign contributes the most to that measurement?
Fadeke: We’re continually refining our data as a company and increasing the scope of exactly what we can track! On the content team, we measure short-term results, but mostly have an eye on how our content performs over time.
We use a combination of Google Analytics and, more recently, Google Data Studio to assess how engaging our content is and how it performs against our business goals. Here’s everything we report on in Monthly Content Updates:
We stay abreast of content marketing benchmarks when it comes to gauging our performance –– I love talking with other content marketers about this subject, especially when they’re willing to divulge their numbers. Publicly available benchmarks on pageviews, bounce rate, backlinks and more are also really helpful.
Loved this from Animalz, we compared our numbers to this when it came out: https://www.animalz.co/blog/benchmark-report-2020/
Additionally, we keep an eye on how our content ranks on Google in Ahrefs –– we have close competition in the highly saturated space of productivity and, increasingly, remote work, but manage to have many of our articles appear on the front page of search results, often as #1 or #2.
I’m sure we’re not especially unique from other content teams on what drives the most success –– SEO is big for us! Our most popular article: https://blog.doist.com/asynchronous-communication/
I’d love to hear what your content highlight of 2020 was (favorite project, top campaign, whatever strikes your fancy) and what new or different approaches you’ve incorporated into your content strategy for 2021!
Becky: Fun question! Personally, I loved repackaging the productivity guides, moving them from blog.doist.com to a mini site on todoist.com/productivity-methods. We also created a quiz to match people with their method. It was a great mix of SEO strategy (a lot of the guides rank very high and have improved since the move) and social/viral (people love quizzes, myself included).
I saw the Todoist process in the videos shared earlier and you have a lot of steps. How long does it take to get a blog post complete from start to finish. How do you manage all the stakeholders who need to see content without holding a piece in your pipeline too long?
Becky: Deadlines! I'm convinced they're the only way anything gets done. Once something is on the content calendar it creates a sense of urgency. 80% of piece of content is completed within the last 20% of the time leading up to publish.
The more detailed answer is that the time it takes and the number of people involved depends a lot on the specific piece of content. Some can come together in a week, others will require more input from more parties. Content gets stalled on the pipeline all the time. The trick is to always have pieces that are 100% in our control to fall back on in case something falls through. If someone outside the content team is writing it, we won't put it on the content calendar until we have a very solid draft. That way we have a lot of content moving through the pipeline at different rates, but we always feel on top of the calendar.
We are also very lucky to have a design hero every month who is at the ready to create graphics. They are the best!
Fadeke: To add to this –– I’m personally a huge fan of time tracking for personal productivity. I use an app called RescueTime and another called Draftback to see how long I’m in a doc. I would say an average blog post takes at least 15 hours from pitch to publish. Sometimes more honestly haha. Keep in mind we lean pretty heavily into long-form content and typically range from around 3000-5000 words for a lot of our posts!
Todoist looks like a really great product. My company currently uses Click-up. How would you compare the two or would you say todoist is more suited for content workflows?
Fadeke: Todoist is for both personal productivity and team project management –– B2C and B2B!
It looks like Click-up is just B2B –– looks interesting! TBH, Click-up looks like a more exhaustive solution based on the landing page –– Todoist doesn’t have spreadsheets, wikis, time tracking, recording etc (though we have many integrations for these things).
I will say that Todoist Business is create for to-do lists and project management though –– super intuitive, flexible, and powerful enough for large-scale projects. Yes –– one of Todoist’s features is shared projects!
You can invite guests and collaborators to projects to share workflows and checklists.
What is your favorite way to come up with topics for the blog? I know I have mine but love hearing how everyone else does too. And how does the post’s success affect future brainstorming?
Becky: I wish I had a better answer for this – like a system that's super repeatable, but really I just read a lot online, get a feel for the kinds of conversations people are having, what they're sharing, save everything interesting in Todoist projects, add all of my topic ideas there too, and then come back to see which ones are still compelling and which ones are garbage.
Most of them are garbage, but if you come up with hundreds of ideas one or two are bound to be good. We do keyword research with Ahrefs to seed ideas too, though we'll only target a keyword if we think it's an interesting and compelling topic in its own right.
Fadeke is also a great gut check on which ideas are interesting and which fall flat. Sometimes I add the same topic idea to Todoist several times, that's when I know there's really something there because I've had the same thought multiple times over months or even years.
re: Social listening, totally agree. I have a "junk drawer" project in Todoist that's mostly interesting tweets. They're also a nice graphic to include in an article to back up whatever point you're making. Good to hear that others' creative processes are as messy as my own!
Strategy Q's: first off - I've always admired everything Doist - content, brand, ethos, on and on.
RE: SEO and high vol. keywords. Owning featured snippets like this for keyword asynchronous communication (15K/mo US search vol, 20K/mo globally) is amazing!
What's your strategy around deciding what you write about? Actively researching/finding relevant topics like this?
Do you have some 1:2 strategy (for every 1 new blog post published, updated 2 existing pieces) or otherwise around this?
Fadeke: You came prepared with some sleuthing haha! ;)
What we write about is largely tied to our products. Twist, our team communication tool is an asynchronous-first and a great solution for anyone interested in “asynchronous communication”, thus the keyword. We do a fair amount of keyword research in Ahrefs around topics like team communication, productivity, and remote work.
This piece is also a rare mix of SEO + thought leadership. It was penned by Amir, our Founder and CEO and really resonated in the tech community. This led to it being widely shared (it landed on the front page of Hacker news) –– and resulted in a lot of backlinks quickly.
We’re not as diligent with updating as we could be, honestly! That rule is super interesting.
We’re getting more serious about updating content and will be trying these strategies in the new year:
In the past we’ve approached this in a more ad-hoc fashion! For example, the change made to the async communication article was minimal and on the fly. We also go back and add back links for new posts!
Firstly, I love Todoist's content, awesome work and thanks for doing this AMA.
1) How do you continuously come up with new and interesting content ideas? As well as that, do you have any frameworks/templates for coming up with new topic ideas to systematize the process?
2) Have you had any 'aha' moments that have improved how your content performs (e.g. something you tested, then ended up applying to all of your content)?
Becky: I answered a similar question above. Long story short, read a lot online and books, generate a lot of ideas, have a great team who can help you whittle down to the best ones. I think great blog topics are a numbers game. If you generate thousands of ideas, one or two are bound to be good. We also do keyword research to seed ideas, but are also conscious of the fact that a keyword isn't a topic in and of itself.
RE: 'aha' moments – Not exactly, but over the years long-form content has always performed the best for us. Not length for lengths sake, but content where people feel like they're getting a comprehensive take on the topic. Our content tends to be 3,000+ words but we try to have each one doing work.
With content like that, you need to make the value prop of reading it clear up front in the intro though. I think I've tended to underestimate the value of that earlier on in my career.
All of the content Doist creates has what I'd call "texture"—just the right amount of bullet points, images to break up blocks of text, emojis, etc. It just looks like good content and it's very reader-friendly. Is that deliberate? Is there a process for it?
Becky: Definitely intentional. When you publish content as long as hours people need a break from reading!
The goal is to make an article as useful for skimmers as people who are reading the whole thing so we're always thinking about interesting ways we could communicate a concept visually both as we're writing and as we're editing. 2 heads are better than one! We usually add a comment to the copy, then go back and create more specific instructions and even super rough sketches for designers so they know what we're looking for. We're lucky enough to have two marketing designers join the team this year and they always take our ideas and make them even better than we envisioned.
Relatedly, I did a comic making side project with one of our designers and had a blast stretching myself to communicate visually as well as with words. You can see some of them here: https://blog.doist.com/cognitive-biases-time-management/ I definitely want to keep exploring that format in 2021.
Echoing the sentiments about Todoist's great content! And thank you for doing this AMA - could you share some insights on how you've developed your content distribution strategy?
Fadeke: Thanks for the kind words! We distribute our content through a handful of channels:
We’ll be experimenting with these in the new year:
Would love to hear how Todoist is organized, by product, by functional unit, something else? Curious also how that funnels into your day to day and how you allocate your time.
We are organized into the following teams:
Our developers are divided by platform since Todoist and Twist are on multiple platforms!
In content we work closely with product marketing, design, and our full-stack team quite closely!
Depending on what I’m working on, I might be split between deep work (writing) or working collaboratively with our full-stack team on an upcoming launch (For example, I just spent the last 4 months working on launching our YIR).