Mozcon 2017: Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie AT Mozcon 2017

DISCLAIMER: This post is written as a live blog from Mozcon. There may be typos and grammar to make my high school English teachers weep. Please excuse those … it’s a fast-paced conference with back-to-back sessions and no time for proofing or even proper writing.

Ian Lurie takes that stage after lunch to chat about how to create great content with a small team. What do you do when you don’t have the budget to do great work but need to produce those results.

So Ian tells us to be a badger and not a unicorn. They thrive independently and can work in a team smaller than we would like with less stuff than we would like. A badger understands that calendars can get destroyed but the structure remains the same so structure is more important than having a calendar.

So simply break up the content into levels and rough frequency (he used green, blue and black diamond like skiing or downhill biking). You also need to have a structure for how much branded vs non-branded. He recommends 80% of your effort (not content) goes into lightly branded content with 20% to the heavily branded.

Find Ideas

Ok … you’ve got a structure in mind – now the next step traditionally is brainstorming and writing them all down. Badgers don’t do this – they pick an idea they already have and push it. If you do need new idea go to your support forums. You can also answer questions from relevant Q&A sites like Stack Overflow.

If you have longform content like whitepapers you can pull elements out and turn it into a tweet or even a blog post.

A unicorn trying to find the newest biggest thing, a badger is pragmatic and just gets the job done.

Use What You Have

You will never have all the resources you want so work with what you have and just get it done.

Pro Tip – markdown is an awesome format for creating content as it never gets obsolete.

Stock Photos

Pick something that’s ACTUALLY realistic and not overused.  Try analogies. Use a herd of bulls and not a crowd of people. Use a freaking out chicken instead of a person. Something that makes an impression and moves away from the overused stock angle.

You don’t have a production team but you do need an image prep workflow.  And always keep the originals.

And compress the images.


The Hemmingway App is a good proofer for those who don’t have one.  Don’t take it at face value but just look at the points. Read it a paragraph at a time backward to see if the sentences still work out of your known context.

Then once done all the proofers will show up to destroy it.

To help streamline things give the others teams an idea and ask for permission and feedback. Then make sure it’s well proofed to get through. Then tell them it’s going to be a series of tweets and posts so it’s easier and faster for them and easier for you as you only have to get one piece proofed.

If there are lawyers involved ask them for the codes they operate under or at least keep track of the changes to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.


Take your best content and repurpose it. Some will succeed and some will fail but it’s faster and easier. Also – you’ll know a lot about what’s allowed or not if you’re working with other departments like legal or branding.

The Takeaway

There is ALWAYS a way to get things done. You may not have everything you want or need but you need to get the job done. You need to know your tools. Know your constraints and work within them and don’t try to change your environment.


Download Ian’s deck here.