Today I’m going to continue my interview with Gina Trapani of Lifehacker. Yesterday in Part 1 we talked about how she got into blogging and talked a little about being involved in one of the biggest blog networks going around. Today we turn our attention to Lifehacker itself and how Gina runs and manages it.
You have a number of bloggers working for you at Lifehacker – how do you find them? How to you coordinate/manage them?
I have 3 co-editors at Lifehacker: senior editor Adam Pash, associate editor Rick Broida and our weekend editor, Wendy Boswell. Each of my co-editors also does about 6 posts a day and 1-2 feature articles per week. Our goal is to update the site about 20 times per weekday and a reduced rate on the weekends, and offer at least one original feature article per weekday. That’s not something I could do alone, so thank goodness for my team.
I’ve found my editors in various ways. Adam was an avid reader and prolific commenter, and his knowledgeable and well-written comments got him hired. Wendy and Rick both guest-edited the site for some time before they became permanent editors.
A lot of time and energy goes into coordinating the 4 Lifehacker editors. We do frequent post reviews of each other’s material, keep an internal editorial wiki for our style guides and other documentation, have a weekly chat to brainstorm feature ideas, and keep in constant touch via IM and email.
What are your top 5 Blogging Tools?
1. Google Reader for RSS feeds. (Here’s why I switched from Bloglines)
2. Gmail for handling the daily onslaught of reader email.
3. Google Analytics and Sitemeter for traffic stats. (Here’s how I use Analytics to constantly improve and tweak the site)
4. Firefox along with some key extensions – like AutoCopy
5. AutoHotKey (Windows) and TextExpander (Mack) for entering post markup. (Here’s how to make blog markup easy with AutoHotKey)
Being a developer I’ve also build a few bookmarklets and Greasemonkey scripts that help us generate post types, like roundups, and search the site archives to avoid posting duplicate items.
How do you find post ideas for Lifehacker?
Three places: in the comments of existing Lifehacker posts (our commenters are awesome), in my RSS reader, and in the tips email box. And, of course, just talking and listening to my fellow geeks and friends and family about what’s on their mind.
What tips would you give someone just starting out in blogging if they wanted to build a profitable blog?
First, pick a topic you love, one that you can’t wait to write about every day. If I wasn’t truly obsessed with productivity, I would have never lasted at Lifehacker. Second, center your site on the reader, not yourself. Provide useful, informative, entertaining material that readers will come back to over and over again. Third, measure your success by your readership and the response you get from others, not your Adsense checks. Once you build your audience, the money will follow.