(Third and final of a series on finding, hiring and working with writing services for your business. The second was: Writing services: hiring the right one for your business.)
When you are working with writing services to help you with your content marketing needs, you need to create a plan of action to get the most from your professional relationship. Working from a set of procedures will save you time and money and eliminate a lot of frustration on both your part and that of the writer or writing service you have employed.
To get top quality content and not just filler written for search engines, you will, first of all, want to make sure that the freelancer or writing service you hired has an understanding of your industry and business. This means you must compensate the writer for the time to do research — either by reading your website and blog and/or other related industry-related websites/blogs and materials.
If you just hand a list of keywords to a writer and say, “Here — write some posts around these words for my blog,” what you are going to get is vapid, meaningless drivel that no human will be interested in reading. And guess what? If no human wants to read it, the newest Google updates, Hummingbird and Panda, are going to punish you. That’s because Hummingbird and Panda reward original, high-quality content written for human beings who use search engines to answer real questions.
So, don’t be that guy. Care about the quality of what you are publishing. The internet is already flooded with too much drivel. Besides, it’s not going to do you any good to publish junk. You’re not going to get leads from it. You have to show that you are a thought leader in your field, and publishing trash won’t do it.
Beyond paying writing services for their learning curve, there are other steps you can take to get better results. You may not need to do all of this after you’ve worked with someone for a while, but initially, it’s a good idea to invest the time up front until the two of you get to know each other and the writer understands what you are looking for. Remember — just because it is clear to you, doesn’t mean it is clear to the writer.
Working with writing services
For blog posts, ebooks, white papers or other long-form writing, write a working title, topical sentence and summary or list of bullet points for each piece you assign the writer. Longer pieces may require you to do this for each section. Include links to articles you would like the writer to read and/or link to.
For other shorter content, such as social media content, you should provide a list of topics and potential sources, such as authoritative websites and blogs in your industry, that you find acceptable for pulling status updates and links. If you want the writing service to use content from your own blog and ebooks for a certain percentage of the content, be sure to communicate that clearly.
Suggest a word length range for the longer content, such as “500-600 for a blog post” and “2,500-3,000 words for a white paper.” Include your keywords, of course. Ask the writer to put the keywords in bold so they are easy to see.
Agree on a deadline well before your piece is set to be published so that you have time to read, edit and make suggestions. Don’t just edit the piece and run it, take the time to sit down with the writer and talk about the changes you want made. Perhaps there is a factual error that you caught, or a quote doesn’t read well that you would like corrected because it is out of context.
On the other hand, if you are not a professional writer yourself, you may find that the writer may have a valid reason for using a certain punctuation or capitalization style and will convince you that their way is better than yours. Make this a give-and-take session. You both will learn a lot.
After you get back the edits from the writing service or writer from this round, the copy should be relatively clean. Read it again to make sure that the agreed-upon changes were made and that no new errors were created. If you find that the piece still needs editing, repeat the process. You may find that this round can be handled quickly and easily in a brief conversation.
Invest the time
When the piece is completely — or nearly clean (perhaps only a misplaced comma or so that you can quickly fix) — accept it as finished. These steps may seem laborious, and it’s tempting to say, “I can write the darn thing myself in the time it takes me to do all of this.” But remember — you are investing time NOW so that you save time in THE FUTURE.
Whether you are hiring a full-time writer, a freelance writer or writing services to fulfill your need for content creation, you have to nurture him or her to provide quality, custom work for you. This is not a “plug and play” function like a computer — writing comes from the brains of human beings, not machines.
When you invest the time to find the best writing service for your business and then work with them in a professional manner, you are much more likely to get quality content that will result in leads for your business.
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