So, more hustling and pitching and waving our little whitefox tushes out there this week. Stressful, soul-sapping, exhilarating; a proverbial roller coaster. Great to remember it took four months and 60 meetings for Jeff Bezos to drum up the initial investment for Amazon. And even then, most of it came from his parents. Who asked him one question: “what’s the internet?”.
Category Archives: Digital
[intro]Lana Beckwith is a Digital Media and Content Manager at HarperCollins. As a digital content consultant, copywriter and editor she has also worked in-house for Amazon and as a freelance online content consultant, writing and editing online creative and marketing copy, and advising on metadata, layout, style and best practice.[/intro]
Why is everyone obsessed with metadata and SEO?
In the publishing world, it’s become such an important subject because more and more people are buying books online. Consumer behaviour is very different online: people tend to actively search, rather than browse in the way they would in a physical store. Strong metadata and SEO are key tools in boosting discoverability and, I suppose, helping to recreate the bookshop experience on someone’s laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Obviously, it’s not just discoverability either. Once a reader has found one of our books online, their decision to buy or not will essentially come down to metadata: the product description, the jacket, the reviews, etc are all key parts of metadata.
You have worked both in-house and as a freelancer for publishers. How have your experiences differed?
When you’re a freelancer, you certainly feel like you’re in control of the work you’re doing. There’s a reason the word ‘free’ makes up part of ‘freelance’! It also allows you to focus on the areas you’re passionate about, rather than those aspects simply being part of a wider role within a company. But personally, I also really enjoy being part of a team, sharing successes and contributing to a bigger picture. There are benefits to both.
With your skills, what is the most basic advice you can give writers and content creators?
Online copywriting is a completely different discipline to traditional, offline copywriting. It requires you to think more about how a reader will get to your content in the first place, and how you’re going to hold their attention when they have. How are you going to make them ignore that email that’s just flashed up, that instant message on Facebook, or that video of a cat riding a vacuum cleaner (which is pretty great, admittedly)? It comes down to getting readers (via SEO, metadata, paid advertising if you’re lucky), grabbing their attention (snappier copy, more paragraph breaks, recognisable keywords, visual stimulation) and pushing them to your call to action (buy something, sign up for something, come back another day, or simply remember this piece of writing). Think about how you read online yourself, and what engages you.
What would your number one piece of advice be for someone looking to start working in the publishing industry over the next few years?
Be very open to various routes. When I started in publishing five years ago, people still talked in terms of career journeys through editorial, marketing, sales, digital, etc. Now, there are more blurred boundaries. There are elements of digital in most roles, PR and marketing are more combined than they have been in the past, and I’ve seen people who started out in traditional sales roles become digital marketing directors. It’s a more fluid place now, especially if you can find the area you’re most passionate about and go where it takes you (or where you push it).
So, more statistics to confirm what we suspected all along. With each passing year more tablets, smartphones and dedicated device time. Like many other businesses, whitefox is enjoying being involved in creating digital content strategies to entertain or educate the next generation of readers.
But as a writer friend said to me the other day, what will happen to the content creators of tomorrow if there’s no such thing as day dreaming anymore? When you no longer look into the distance in a library or living room, but you look at your phone or tablet, check your emails, play a game. No statistical analysis can pick that up and assess any future implications.