You may not know me that well yet but I’m Andrea and I’m leading the efforts over on the Crew blog. If you’re one of our readers, over the past few months you’ve no doubt noticed quite a few changes to the design and number of stories we’re publishing.
As for the design of our blog, here’s how it used to look:
And here’s how it looks now:
One of the main reasons for the design change was we wanted to create an environment where it feels good to read. We know this can have a very real impact on how readers perceive a piece of writing. The reason we waited to get the design of our blog right was because we wanted to first focus on writing stories that would be worth making pretty.
We’re proud of the new design and we think it helps bring out the best in the stories on our blog.
Where we used to publish about 3-4 articles a month, we’ve now increased that number to 15 articles a month. Although we’re writing more now, we’re still focusing on what we can sustain as a team so that we can output quality work. Right now, our targets each month for publishing are:
Andrea – 4 posts/week
Belle – 1 post/week
Mikael – 1-2 posts/month
We will always focus on quality writing and each article still goes through our “complex formula” for determining if an article is any good or not.
Our complex formula for determining article quality: When one of us writes a post, it must pass this test,
“Would I Tweet it, Like it, take a pic and Instagram it? Would I share it with everyone I know? If yes, we’re good to go.”
March Blog Overview:
February didn’t come close to competing with our March numbers–during February the blog had around 30,000 pageviews. The large uptick in March was thanks in large part to an outstanding post by Mikael: Why I killed my standing desk.
Crew Writer and all around awesome individual, Belle Beth Cooper, continues to write the things that you want to read. This month was no exception with her post, Here’s what happens if you work when you’re tired. Belle combines a really good mixture of background story, science, and how to incorporate the tips and takeaways into your daily life.
1. Why you should always under-promise and over-deliver (2,400 shares)
2. Get out of your head! How to stop internal dialogues from halting your productivity (1,900 shares)
3. End bad days: We all have bad days, here’s how you stop them (1,400 shares)
4. An 8-step process to writing blog posts that don’t suck (1,400 shares)
5. Emoji love: The science behind why we <3 emoticons (1,100 shares)
6. Show, don’t tell: How to live your mission statement (946 shares)
We’re happy that well-researched, thoughtful articles seem to be resonating with you as they do with us.
Embedded pictures and illustrations
Something that is really important to us is trying to make sure that each story we write has at least one thing surprising in it. As part of this effort we’ve added illustrations, diagrams, and photos into the blog to help showcase some of these more interesting science and psychology bits in a simple way.
We’ve noticed a substantial jump in the number of times one of our articles get shared when we use one of these illustrations. Here’s a look at a few of our top tweets from the past month:
These illustrations do more than just add some life into the blog, they also help me see if I’m not quite understanding a topic. If I can’t think of a diagram or find a way to explain something visually, I know I don’t yet have the firmest grasp on what I’m writing. It’s a pretty good system of checks and balances.
We’ve done a lot with our email newsletter efforts over the past month. Because almost 40% of you open our emails on your phone, we spent some time making our stories look prettier on mobile devices, yay!
Something that we’re also working on is making sure that we’re only sending you posts when you want to see them. Here’s an example of the new Weekend Reads email we’re playing with which has a summary of articles from the week:
We just started Weekend Reads last week but it seems readers are enjoying it. The open rate for this email was one of our highest and 6% higher than the average open rate for our Newsletter:
We’re setting up e-mail preferences so you can choose the frequency you receive email campaigns from us and we will continue to refine our email campaign lists and preferences until we get it right (and probably even after that).
Here are a few other gems of wisdom I discovered while diving in the sea of analytics:
You love quirky science
Which is awesome, because we happen to love it too.
Here are some of our best performing posts over the past few weeks:
What seems to really be resonating with readers is what I like to call the “Oh yah! I’ve always wondered about that…” effect. It’s looking at something from a new perspective or seeking to answer a question that most of us have always had. Take research and make it exciting, make it fun, and make it accessible. That’s what we love doing and that’s what we will continue to do.
There’s something to be said for making a point and than letting it go. The articles that have done the best are the ones that offer some explanations without getting bogged down in the minutiae. Take Mikael’s post about why he killed his standing desk, he left the reader with three improvements they can make to improve their desk setup. The format of this is really important:
The text here feels almost bouncy when you read it because you are that excited to know more. That’s what you want, it’s what makes the post so fun to read. We’ve found that posts that do the best are the ones that make the point and then let the reader do the rest.
This was something I noticed when I tried to grab the url from the blog to post an article to Facebook:
It’s easy to fix this, there are a bunch of SEO-plugins out there (like Yoast) which allow you to change keywords, article titles, descriptions and a load of other things within WordPress. This will improve shareability and help with our backend tracking and data. Win-win.
Our 2-1-1 Publishing System
After reading this post about how re-circulating your writing can help more your readers find your stories, we started a system for sharing our stories on Twitter, Facebook. LinkedIn.
We’re experimenting by sharing each story:
– 2 times on Twitter (each time with a unique image/tweet)
– 1 time on Facebook (with an image)
– 1 time on LinkedIn (with an image)
We just started this a couple weeks ago so we should have more data on this soon and if we’ve decided to change anything.
The month ahead
- Improve our tracking to learn more about how many projects are posted and how many members sign up from each article
- Making each word and picture count (aka getting to the point and no boring shit)
- Testing reader preferences and conversions for sending the full story in the body of our email campaigns versus clipping the story and linking to it on the blog
My personal hope for the blog is to continue to refine and learn from what you are telling me. I can honestly say that our mission is to never produce anything redundant or boring. We know we won’t get it right 100% of the time, but we’re hoping we can continue to mold and shape the blog into something we can each grow and learn from.
If you have any feedback or suggestions for articles you would like to see, please feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.