Asha Indralingam: We aim for 30% of our content to be 'weird and European'

April 28, 2020

Framer doesn’t have a traditional marketing team. Four years ago, Asha Indralingam was its first content hire. Even as it grew, nobody at Framer had “marketing” in their job title. Instead it was handled by a mix of the content and design teams. Now that the product is changing, the marketing needs are changing too. Asha is now Head of Content, and her team has grown to cover marketing while maintaining a content and editorial focus.

It must be nice to build the marketing side from the ground up with such a focus on content, rather than coming in later and having to figure out where a content team fits into a company.

Yeah, I’ve also been lucky because the founders are very into quality content. They are into maintaining the quality of our brand, but the content factors into that, very much so. Not a lot of companies give you the free rein to really try doing that with content without immediately telling you to run some ads or do some aggressive growth marketing hack.

There’s a very typical struggle at a lot of companies between the content team and the design team. We’ve definitely had our share of that. We’ve finally gone to a good place with a lot of things on the marketing side, where the content is leading design. Now that the designers have seen firsthand that it’s actually amazing to have messaging in place before we start coming up with ideas for the visual design, that has been super successful. 

How have you balanced SEO and making content for your audience?

We almost went full tilt probably too far in the direction of SEO. We had maybe two or three pieces where I later thought, “You know what, it didn’t meet the quality of what we would normally put out.” It definitely felt like it was too stuffed with keywords.

We’re backtracking from that and instead thinking about larger content projects. For instance, if we want to rank for certain things, we might create a prototyping dictionary or e-book, much like our Guide to React. Guides naturally contain keywords but are also inherently valuable to the reader.

Other than that, for me, what it boils down to is mostly just finding the right balance. Basically, can we have 30% of our content be completely off-the-wall and experimental? We call that type of content “weird and European” [Framer is based in Amsterdam]. It’s our inside joke about content that doesn’t fit into exactly what our product is about, or even the space that we’re in, but it’s topics that have an overlap with our audience’s interests. And it’s the kind of content we want to read ourselves.

As the first content hire, were you there when the Framer blog got started?

Yeah, the blog actually started on framer.com. People were always asking if they could contribute to the blog and share their prototype. We thought, “Okay, how do we get our community more involved?” 

That’s when we moved our blog to Medium. Medium basically gets a lot of the friction of publishing out of the way and you can get something out really fast. You can also get a lot of people contributing. It’s really easy for someone to submit an article, and you can do all the editing and get it up in your publication really quickly. 

It’s also great for discoverability. It’s viral in nature. But I think what we got in terms of discoverability and virality, we lost out more on the ability to actually drive traffic to our own site. We also wanted to, as we got bigger as a company, have more control over our own content and our own distribution mechanisms, our own acquisition. 

After a year, we brought the blog back to framer.com. We actually built out our own CMS on the back end. We can essentially get up two or three blog posts a week now in the format that we needed, without very many resources from the designer or dev team. Last year, we probably put out the most amount of content we ever have. That was a big part of it, on top of essentially creating a bit more of a content pipeline with external contributors. 

Is everyone on the content team writing for the blog, or at least editing?

No, just myself and one other person write and edit for the blog on a regular basis. We have some internal people who write for the blog. Our founder writes for it probably the most outside of the two of us. Then there’s a few people here and there who contribute. We like to try and get people in product to write, sometimes a technical breakdown, or an overview of a prototype. More product-related stuff. But outside of that, pretty much everything else is contributed by external people. 

When we moved back to the blog, we decided we wanted to maintain the Framer quality, because now it was on our own real estate. We wanted to make sure that people were writing about the things that we wanted to publish. We had an editorial strategy. 

We don’t go after people who are professional writers. We started out by cold-emailing people who were designers and developers by trade. People who were naturally good writers, with writing experience on their own blog, on Medium, or other kinds of publications, and we asked them to write. From there we built a content pipeline and found a more steady roster.

We tried it a number of ways, just accepting drafts, but it’d be too far off. After a lot of trial and error, we landed on a four-week cycle where writers submit an outline, we greenlight it, then they submit a first draft, and we make sure that it goes through a technical editor and a content editor at Framer.

How do you keep up with releases and know what needs to be written in terms of a company perspective, and who’s best to write it? Is it something that you’re having to encourage people to come to you with, or are you aware of everything that’s happening?

Probably both. We have a weekly that’s sent out so everyone is up to date on what’s going on with the company. And another benefit of being both the content and marketing lead, you’re pretty much always in the loop because product people think, “Well, we built this thing, and now we need to let people know.” Then I just work directly with product leads so that I know what the priority is from a marketing perspective.

We’re not a huge company. We have experimented with a few ways to make sure that more and more people are informed about everything. We like to have an all-hands where we talk about everything. We have a weekly show and tell. We have that email weekly that has a little bit on every single team and what they’re working on. We have a product roadmap for the company on what is going to be released when.

The two things that most inform what we do or do not talk about on our blog is our narrative at a given time and the actual capabilities of our product. For instance, when we were more of a code-focused tool, we published a lot of content that helped get designers more comfortable with React. But now we’ve done almost a year of work to bring Framer to the web and made it shockingly easy for anyone to create these high-fidelity prototypes on the canvas. Now our messaging is about shifting that brand perception so our readers understand Framer is now super easy, super accessible, and requires no code to use. So we’re moving away from the React-heavy content for now in favor of content that helps explain the value of prototyping.

With the blog, is the main goal still growing your audience or has it shifted?

It’s definitely still growing our audience, but that’s one of the more manageable KPIs, because we can look at a number of things such as our new versus returning users. 

We’ve also experimented with the blog being a conversion tactic. Can we get people to read a blog post and then download our software? We found that that was not really realistic. We’re really seeing our blog as this top-of-funnel channel, so the metric we use there is whether we get people to sign up for our newsletter after or while reading a blog post. 

How are you measuring the success of the blog at the moment? That can include indicators or metrics, but what makes it a success for you?

For us, being able to maintain our cadence is important. Right now, because of the way things are going, we’re saying one blog post per week would be super ideal. Then from there, we’re trying to make sure that we are still capturing newsletter registrations. We’re tracking them across the blog in general, but also on specific blog posts. We look at page views over time, because we’re really interested in which content is evergreen. 

I think the biggest thing for us is newsletter registration. We want you to come read a blog post, and then hopefully sign up for our newsletter. Then down the line, if you continue to keep reading our content, maybe watching some webinars, then we’re more likely to convert you.

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