Cross-posting and editorial overlap

Updated Oct 12 2015 (Posted Sep 12 2011)
So much overlap. So little established editorial strategy.
One of the unexpected challenges of adding Offbeat Home to the roster of Empire sites was that it added another layer of cross-posting confusion and editorial overlap.

We've dealt with a bit of overlap before — we've got a whole category on Offbeat Bride dedicated to "mama brides" — but adding Home to the mix made things… complicated. Where do the posts about wacky nurseries and kids' rooms go? (Usually Offbeat Mama, since we figure all Empire mamas read Offbeat Mama, while not all Home readers care about nurseries.) Where should we put that awesome DIY centerpiece post? (On Offbeat Bride, but with a link from Offbeat Home.) When we write about general relationship/communication issues, do they go on Bride (where most everyone's in a relationship) or Home (where the range of reader relationships is wider, including unmarried, engaged, and married — but also singles)?

The editors and I have a weekly editorial video conference where we talk about all three sites' upcoming posts, and try to identify the cross-over appeal posts. If a post has a lot of visual impact, we'll do a same-day cross-link — for instance, when we featured this awesome camping-themed kids' room on Offbeat Mama, we did a quick post on Offbeat Home linking it.

If a post has potential relevance (e.g., a flower pressing project on Mama might be of interest to Brides, but isn't like OMG SO RELATED), we'll include a link in the Clicky Links section of a Monday Montage post.

I'm leery, though, of cross-posting too much. There's a decent number of readers who trawl all three sites (Note to self: this winter's reader survey will tell us how many!), and the last thing I want to do is reward these dedicated readers with irritating reminder posts to read things they're already aware of.

In summary, while I wish I could say there were hard 'n' fast rules about overlap content gets posted, sometimes it just comes down to "Who needs it more?" Offbeat Home, as the newest site, has the lowest traffic and the smallest number of submissions coming in. I find myself often leaning toward posting crossover posts there, as a way to drive eye-balls and content to the site as it's still in its first year of growth.

I wish I could say I had a better defined strategy, but it's definitely something I'm still trying to figure out. Any suggestions?

  1. "while I wish I could say there were hard 'n' fast rules about overlap…"
    This was my first reaction. I just don't think you can make hard 'n' fast rules for these things. For me, it's sort of reassuring to know that everyone's thinking critically about who each piece of content best serves, without a mental block about what goes where.
    The downside, of course, is that this requires extra work that could be mentally automated by yourself, your editors and your interns. But for me and my job, it's always a fight worth fighting.
    We have two publications which are, if anyone describes them in 20 words or less, more or less the same thing. The difference is the audience, in terms of age and financial demo. Regularly we chuck content at a pub because it seems to jive with the demo on the outset, but when we really look at it, we realize it's all wrong.
    Do you get to pick which posts show up in the footer bar? That might be a nice way to cross-post without cross-posting. But I think occasional cross-posting is helpful, especially when you know there's some content HERE that people THERE would be really, really into. I know I pretty rarely check in on 'Mama. (Yes yes, I know, survey to follow.)

  2. I love Offbeat Home, but as someone just recently living away from my family I don't feel like there's anything interesting for me to contribute. As for reading – maybe how to most efficiently stock a liquor cabinet? Typical student question, I know!

    The way you're distributing overlap is working for me. I scroll past the nurseries and go to OBM for talk about family relationships.

  3. about Home having the lowest traffic: I might just be failtastic but I can't find any way to sign up for emails from home like the ones I get from the other 2 sites. Thus I have to remember to check Home for new things/interesting things so I'm on it a lot less despite having just bought a house and being really interested in all things offbeat Home. if there is a way to get emails like the other sites, maybe make it more obvious (or at least explain it to meeeee) since there's no button like the "engaged?" or "pregnant?" on the other sites…

  4. as someone who trawls all three sites (though bride less, as i'm, well, done with that)…maybe i should say three of the four, but this is clearly less of an "empire" thing and more of a "behind the scenes" thing…

    anyway, from the point of view of someone who uses rss for all my blog reading, it is super easy to go, "oh, i've seen that" and move along. as the actual web site posts are mini-summaries, i suspect it is just as simple – or more so – to pass them by there. i'm only one person, but from my point of view a few cross posts are no nuisance at all.

    p.s. home is my *favorite* – and, c, i can totally give you liquor cabinet pointers! maybe i'll work something up.

  5. Apartment Therapy (and its sister sites, TheKitchn, Re-Nest, Unpluggd, and Ohdeeoh) often cross-posts stuff, generally just with an intro tailored to the readers of each site and then a link to the original site post. I don't read all five (yes five – ridiculous) sites. I read TheKitchn religiously and Re-Nest and Apartment Therapy occasionally and while it's somewhat annoying to see a post from today on Re-Nest that was on TheKitchn last week, it's not a huge issue, just mostly disappointing that I've already read the article. And as long as there's lots of other new content, I forget instantly that Re-Nest posted something I've already read.

    So maybe the cross posts could just be like, "Look at this cool thing on this other site!" and less a reposting of the entire article on multiple platforms?

    Also, I don't read Offbeat Mama ('cause I'm not a mama), but that doesn't mean I wouldn't appreciate an article on fun crafty things to do with kidlets or the best kid-friendly recipes. So I'm voting for lots of cross-posting. 😀

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