Partnering with Writers to Create Great Blogs
PARTNERING WITH WRITERS TO CREATE GREAT BLOGS
You spent the last few weeks researching, interviewing, and selecting a professional writer to assist you in drafting the company blog. Now, you’re ready to send them on their way to develop compelling, content-rich copy that will take your company to the next level.
But, before you have your new writing team start churning out content, follow these five steps to make the most of this partnership – and your organization’s bottom line.
Step #1: Define your communications objectives.
What exactly does your company want to accomplish with its blog? In other words, what do you seek from your audience?
For example, does your new company want to become more visible in the marketplace or is it an established organization wanting to reinforce its market leadership?
Do you seek to rebuild your reputation after a crisis or are you working to distinguish your company from a competitor with a similar product or service?
In The Art of Digital Marketing, Ian Dodson emphasizes the importance of defining and setting tangible, measurable goals that can help you create plans and direct your day-to-day tasks.
Sure, a company blog can serve as a valuable tactic to increase customer awareness or as a call to action, yet it must be part of an integrated effort to truly increase market share.
Thoughtfully considering how your blog integrates into your overall marketing strategy will help you determine the type of content to feature and who in your company are the subject-matter experts to involve.
Once your objectives are defined, a solid writer or team can help you develop the appropriate content.
Step #2: Draft – and use – an editorial calendar.
If you’ve watched the popular television program Shark Tank, it’s likely you heard the business-owner “sharks” first ask each entrepreneur presenter this question: “Do you have a business plan?”
The mega-successful sharks figured out long ago the truth in this question: Proper planning prevents poor performance.
In Step 1, you defined your objectives. Now, you must determine how frequently you prefer to post, and then plan your content.
Do you have sufficient information to post weekly, every other week, monthly, or quarterly? Consistency is key, so endeavor to keep to your schedule.
To stay on top of deadlines and information, some companies use an editorial calendar or timeline. This document, typically, shows your blog’s posting dates and writing deadlines, topics, proposed headlines, photo sources, and a notes section that includes other pertinent information about each post.
Of course, you can tailor your timeline to fit your specific needs.
If your company is just launching the blog, you can easily set up an editorial calendar in a simple Excel spreadsheet or Google document that can be shared and updated among those on the project. This, typically, includes the company representative, writer, editor, and any other pertinent individual.
Other companies may already be using project management software like Wrike; if so, you may prefer to integrate with that.
Whatever you choose, use a tool that helps you stay on track of deadlines and information, and be sure to update the information regularly. This will provide a framework to effectively target your audience and produce quality blogs in a timely manner.
Digital marketing expert Neil Patel says if you’re rushed to produce content, you won’t produce your best work. Why waste the opportunity – and the money you spend for a writer or team – with poor or non-existent planning?
Step #3: Communicate consistently with your writing partner.
All solid relationships are built on strong, consistent communication. So, how can you ensure strong communication between your company and your blog writers?
First, provide your writer regular opportunities to learn about your business and get used to your management style. TimeDoctor.com suggests that you:
- Establish a fixed schedule of meetings to provide information, review progress, and track deadlines. Weekly often works best and, if conducting the meeting through a conference call, consider using the video function. People seek connection – even in their professional lives.
- Be cognizant of appropriate hours to contact folks. If you’re on the east coast, wait until mid-morning to contact someone in San Francisco or Seattle!
The Writers For Hire (TWFH) copywriter Dana Robinson believes regular communication can improve accountability to deadlines and timely feedback. “I find it extremely helpful to set up a type of communication schedule at the outset of any project.”
Second, work with the writer to set realistic deadlines: Remember, they have other clients. An overly ambitious timeline with unreasonable deadlines can affect the longevity of the relationship – and your blog’s effectiveness.
Finally, let the writer know when and how you prefer contact – be it email, text, or other means. Then, support the writer by responding to their inquiries in a timely fashion.
Step #4: Provide access to your subject-matter experts and source materials.
Once a solid relationship is established, the writer may become a key part of the organization’s communications team – and know exactly whom to turn to for content to be featured in blog posts.
For smaller organizations, information may come from an individual – typically, the owner or manager.
In larger companies, though, it’s rare that all subject matter comes from a single company liaison, so it is essential to provide the writer access to your organization’s experts.
Email an introduction to the appropriate colleague, providing details about the blog topic and a general idea of what the writer needs. And be sure to copy the writer on the email.
A word of caution: Be careful about having too many layers of review and approval for each blog post. While your organization may possess technical experts, they often are not experts at crafting messages to appeal to your audiences.
Typically, one subject-matter expert and the communications liaison are sufficient to ensure the content is accurate and well targeted.
Additionally, furnish the writing team any background that may help them compose compelling copy. “Arming the writer with company materials can help them grasp the voice and overall tone your company wishes to convey,” says TWFH copywriter Laura Frnka-Davis, APR.
Remember, you hired the writer for their expertise and ability to convey a message. It’s your job to provide them with the information needed to cater the message to your specific business. As Karen Mazurkewich asserts in the Harvard Business Review, “The freelance journalists and editors we hire serve as sherpas, helping us find interesting narratives in the labyrinth of angles and ideas across our ecosystem.”
Step #5: After the writing project, evaluate what went right and what you can improve.
You posted the blog, and the team is ready to begin working on your next topic. Before you move on to the next post, there’s a final piece of the puzzle to place: evaluating your effort. This goes for both the project and your working relationship.
Here are a few questions for you and your writers to consider and discuss:
- Was the deliverable what you expected?
- Did your writing team meet their deadlines?
- Did you provide timely feedback?
Review the notes section of your editorial calendar: Do you see any holes in information gathering or in the materials you provided the writer? Could you streamline any processes, provide additional data or visuals, or otherwise enhance the next effort?
Ideally, your company has a mechanism for gathering data about who opens and reads your blog post. If so, be sure to share this data with the writing team. Let them know whether the piece resonated with audiences and examine what could be done differently.
If your company plans to place resources in a writing team, these tips could help you develop a healthy working relationship – and a larger return on your investment.
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