Author: Sarah Mitchell

Sarah Mitchell is the founder of Typeset, a specialist editorial services, content marketing, and journalism company with offices in Perth, Western Australia, London, UK, and Kansas City, USA. Sarah is on a mission to make the world a better place for readers everywhere and frequently speaks on topics related to content marketing and Typeset's State of Writing research. Follow her on Twitter @SarahMitchellOz.

By sarah-mitchell published September 15, 2020

Measurement: You’re Doing It Wrong

You can’t shape a successful future if you aren’t learning from the past. But these content measurement mistakes cloud your vision of what content marketing success truly looks like.

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By sarah-mitchell published June 24, 2020

8 Things to Know Before You Start a Research Project

Original research projects are a fantastic way to build authority and demonstrate thought leadership. I’ve been recommending them to my clients for years.

For a long time, I wanted to do one of my own – creating a content brand I can build on over time. This past year, I finally did it – The State of Writing 2020. And boy, did I learn a few things, not the least of which is that original research provides a good ROI.

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By sarah-mitchell published November 8, 2019

Future-Proofing Your Enterprise From Content Tech Debt

Technology promises to save us time, help us drive more revenue for our companies, and, in many cases, make us more creative to boot. It’s a seductive lure, but the promise can quickly be broken once tech debt sets in.

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By sarah-mitchell published November 9, 2018

Are You Measuring Right in Your Content Marketing?

Marketers are awash in data. But ask marketers if they’re measuring the right things and most answers are closer to “damned if I know” than “you betcha.” So, what can be done when big data gets the better of you?

In May I judged a category in the 2018 Content Marketing Awards. I was particularly interested to see how the entries reported success metrics. I was beyond disappointed to see many entries relying on the same ubiquitous (and often useless) metrics everyone touts regardless of the nature of the content or the business goals it’s meant to achieve. Even when people clearly defined their goals for the project – and not everyone did – there was a striking disconnect between the goals and how they claimed to demonstrate success.

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By sarah-mitchell published November 24, 2015

How to Get in Front of the Podcasting Trend [Growth Tips and Tools]


In a content-cluttered world, could podcasting be the next big play for content marketers? Maybe “big play”’ is a stretch – a survey from Edison Research and Triton Digital shows consumer awareness about podcasting is flat. Yet the same research also shows podcasting holds broad appeal. Men and women listen with equal frequency, and there is no age barrier among listeners – all age groups are equally represented.

Podcasting is particularly appealing for marketers because regular listeners tend to be better educated and have higher household income than the general population. What’s more, podcasts have particular appeal among commuters. Consider that high-wage earners in London commute for over an hour on average. And in major U.S. cities like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston, commute times are 30 minutes on average … the perfect amount of time to make podcasting a daily habit.

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By sarah-mitchell published September 7, 2014

Brand Storytelling: Turning Casual Fans into Passionate Followers

photo collection-people in striped tightsMany brands build communities and even acquire fans, but precious few turn fandom into cult followers through their marketing strategy. But one notable exception is Black Milk, a quirky Australian fashion brand, which uses brand storytelling to chart the future of retail, social cliques, and the so-called “third shelf.”

The great equalizer in attracting the new fashionista set is content, and no brand understands that better than Black Milk Clothing. The online retailer sells Spandex clothing (primarily tights) and is rapidly expanding to dresses, skirts, and workout gear.  What’s so special about that? Black Milk is revolutionizing how online clothing brands use social channels and consumer-generated content to sell online. And it’s getting bankable attention — without fancy shop windows or big advertising campaigns. In fact, Black Milk has never advertised, never promoted a post, or paid for a “like.”Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published February 7, 2014

How to Prepare Your Content Marketing for a Global Audience

illustration of globe filled with peopleHere’s an eye-opener: Less than 6 percent of the world’s population speaks English well enough to conduct business. Furthermore, many who speak English don’t know how to read it. In fact, 96 percent of the world’s consumers do not live in the United States.

Scott Abel, consultant and content futurist, explains the content marketing significance of these realities: “Many of us treat the worldwide web like the Ohio web or the American English web. Marketers are overwhelmed and unprepared to produce content for a global audience.” Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published August 6, 2013

The 2013 Content Marketer Awards: 7 Inspiring Industry Leaders

content marketer awardsEach year, CMI honors the individual content marketers who inspire us to achieve more. These notable content experts caught our eye in 2013. Join us at Content Marketing World from September 9–12, where one of these award winners will be named Content Marketer of the Year for 2013.Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published May 9, 2012

Managing Large Teams of Writers Under Short Deadlines

(Or Lessons from My Big Fat Content Marketing Project)

Last year I led a content marketing project involving more than 700 pieces of original content developed by 15 writers across three continents in 60 days — a careers and industry guide for the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) online jobs board. In two short months, I learned the do-it-or-die essentials for a large-scale content marketing kick-off.Continue Reading

By sarah-mitchell published March 9, 2011

Lost in Translation? An 11-Step Checklist for Localizing Content

We’ve all had a giggle over a bad translation. Examples of unintentionally funny gaffes on assembly instructions and product descriptions abound on the Internet. But it’s not funny when it happens to you.

What can you do?

As the old saying goes, the devil is in the detail. With that in mind, here is the checklist I use when localizing content. Make sure each of these points is checked off your list before you launch content in a different country or geography.


American standard paper is 8 ½ x 11 inches. The rest of the world operates on an A4 paper size, 21 x 29.7 cm or, roughly, 8 ¼ x 11 ¾ inches. It’s a small difference with a huge impact. American-sized documents do not easily fit into envelopes or binders in other countries. Your documents must be resized – and possibly redesigned – to ensure they print properly in your foreign market.

Hole punches

America uses a standard 3-hole punch. Most other countries use a 2-hole punch and are not aligned with the American standard. If you’re providing content to be inserted into a binder, make sure you’re punching the holes in the right place.


Many words are spelled differently in the United States than in other English speaking countries. While American audiences tend to find these differences charming, foreign audiences bristle at the “arrogance” of not taking spelling into consideration. You must go through your content with an editorial eagle-eye to find these differences. Set your spell checker to the language and country where you plan on publishing and make the changes required.

Spelling traps include:

  • Words ending in ‘or’, e.g.  color versus colour
  • words ending in ‘ize’, e.g. optimize versus optimise
  • Medical terms, e.g. pediatrician versus paediatrician
  • Botany/gardening terms, e.g.  cilantro versus coriander
  • Food terms, e.g. zucchini versus courgette


Running afoul of local slang and colloquialisms can be embarrassing. I discovered this firsthand when I announced to a group of my British male colleagues that I was feeling particularly ‘spunky.’ I meant full of energy; they interpreted it as having a heightened libido.  I was horrified when a mature gentleman asked to borrow a rubber; he wanted an eraser. In South Africa, I couldn’t find a ‘robot’ and got lost on my first day of work. I had no idea I was looking for a traffic light. You get the picture.

Abbreviations and titles

If you’ve ever read a foreign newspaper, you know how frustrating it can be to encounter abbreviations or titles you don’t understand. Government,  law enforcement, medicine and the legal profession use different titles for the same job in different countries. For example, attorney, lawyer, barrister, judge and solicitor all refer to professionals employed in a court of law. Do your readers in every country know what people hold jobs with MP, DC, GP or DO abbreviations in their title?

Units of measure

While most of the world comfortably operates on the metric system, the USA is still using the old Imperial system for weight, measurement and temperature. Your documents will be meaningless to people who don’t how long a yard is, what 80 degrees Fahrenheit feels like, or how much 45 pounds weigh.  Use an online metric conversion program to make life easier for your readers.


If you’re publishing recipes, cookbooks or anything to do with food preparation, you’re going to want to spend some time localizing your content. America – and to a lesser extent Britain – still uses Imperial measurements while nearly everyone else is on the metric system. A good online cooking converter will help you convert ingredients, temperatures, weights and volumes. Keep in mind the way food products are packaged can trip you up, too. Asking for a ‘stick of butter’ is sure to confuse anyone outside the USA. A fluid pint varies in volume from country to country. A punnet is common in Australia but unknown in the USA (it’s a small basket often used when selling fruits).

Number formats

A dead give-away your content hasn’t been localized is if your telephone numbers reflect the American standard of (123) 456-7890. In Australia, we have 2-digit area codes and 8-digit phone numbers and note them like this (01) 2345 6789. Our postal codes are 4-digits long. Make sure your documents are changed to reflect these differences. It’s  important to make sure your online forms can handle different formats for critical numbers. I’ve given up ordering online more than once because an American website insists on a 5-digit zip code and won’t let me complete an order.


While business is pretty good at getting their pricing translated into foreign currency, they often fall down when expressing the value of things. Dollars and cents have no meaning in many parts of the world. Even more confusing, many people have no point of reference for a quarter, dime or nickel. I wish I had a quarter for every time someone asked me how much a dime or a nickel was worth!

Fiscal Years

The financial calendar varies widely from country to country as do tax years. If your content deals with finances, make sure you’re not confusing things by referring to the wrong business calendar. This is especially important if you’re running year-end sales or promotions.  Don’t expect your local market to share your fiscal year or tax year.


Americans love accents but the world does not reciprocate the feeling. If you’re producing videos or podcasts for foreign markets, hire a voice-over specialist with a native accent even if it’s the same language you speak. Your audience will appreciate the consideration. More importantly, they’ll be able to easily understand the point you’re trying to get across. You want them focused on your content, not the way the narrator is speaking.

A couple of notes on translation

If you’re distributing your content into a foreign-language market, get a native-speaking translator. Don’t rely on free Internet translation services: they give literal translations but don’t consider the way people actually speak. I once heard the late founder of the Body Shop, Anita Roddick, speak about a debacle with a major rollout of a ‘mother and baby’ line of products. The South American translation, performed in the U.K., offended everyone when the product names took on a profane slur against motherhood.

If your plan is to publish only in countries using the same speaking language, you still need to employ local services to ‘translate’ your content. Spanish speaking countries vary greatly in their usage of the language. China has several different dialects. People from Brazil have a tough time understanding people from Portugal even though they all speak Portuguese. The worst language offences occur in English-speaking countries where spelling differences, slang and colloquialisms can render your content useless. At the very least, it shows a lack of consideration for your potential clients.

For an example of my latest localization project, read the Australian edition of Chief Content Officer.

Do you have a good story about localization or any points to add to this checklist?