Ghost Busters – Lessons Learned From Working with Freelance Writers
For many companies - especially larger companies - it is becoming more and more common to outsource their content writing to a freelance writer or company. While this can be a great way to produce targeted content quickly and easily, it can also blow up in your face very quickly. Trust me I know.
In today’s technology-focused world, more companies are enlisting the help of freelance writers or outside companies to help produce the content they need to drive their marketing efforts. With many marketing departments becoming more of a publishing arm than focusing on graphic design, there is an enormous need for great content that can help move customers along the buying process. For many companies that do not have any writers on staff, or not enough writers on staff to supply the content needed, this means contracting a freelance or outside writer to help. The following are some lessons we have learned in working with freelance writers in order to make sure that the content you receive is the best possible.
Is having a subject matter expert important?
While many people feel that they need to contract a writer who is an expert in their field, we have found this to not always necessary. This typically depends on the target audience you are speaking to the type of writing you are looking for, and the complexity of your solution. If you are writing content about a particular aspect of your solution or product, yes, a subject matter expert can helpful when dealing with more complex issues. However, if you are writing to an audience who are not experts in your field, we have found that it is actually better to use a writer to understand your target audience more than needing to have a subject matter expert.
How well do they know your audience?
One aspect we have found to be key in any digital demand generation program is understanding your audience as best as possible. This means going a lot deeper than just the demographic data of your target audience but also getting into the psychographic data as well. When you are working with an outside writer or organization, the more information you can share with them about what makes your audience tick, the better content they can produce. That’s because in today’s digital demand world, it about having conversation with your target audience. In order to help the writer create that conversation they really need to understand whom they are talking to. Otherwise, it becomes a very one-sided conversation.
Do they have a style that fits with your brand?
While the term “brand” is thrown around a lot in marketing, it’s important that all content, visual or written, fits with the mental image that your company wants to leave in your target audience’s mind. Often we have found that the writing can have a bigger impact on your prospect’s perception of your company than the look and feel of your marketing. When choosing an outside writer, it’s important to use someone whom understands that style you desire.
Do they produce original content?
In today’s digital age it can be very easy to just “copy and paste” content from other sources. While this is illegal in many cases, it also disservices/hinders your brand. When working with a freelance writer it can be hard to tell what is original content versus a knock off. In order to help with this, there are some great tools such as www.copyscape.com that can help you determine if the content you are purchasing is original or not. Be careful: these tools only cover digital content and not books or other publications. Trust me I learned this one the hard way.
The Bottom Line
There is no question that in today’s digital demand generation world, content is king. For many companies, producing the amount of content needed to deliver results can be very challenging. Working with freelance or outside writers can help deliver the results you need. Nevertheless, there is more to it than just producing content; you need to produce great “original” content that will help move your prospects along their buying process.