How to Meet a Prince, Not a Frog: The Magic of Content Marketing in 5 Simple Steps
Content marketing campaigns are rapidly outperforming yesterday’s advertising and marketing strategies, and quality writers are in high demand. But where are these outstanding writers to be found? Hiring in-house talent often yields an ideal fit, but not everyone can or wants to add staff.
As a result, many companies and organizations are turning to “on-demand” outsourcing channels. If you choose this route for your content marketing needs, you have lots of options in terms of companies and talent-sourcing approaches. Regardless of how you outsource, though, you may kiss a frog or two before you find your charming prince — or princess. But knowing a few inside secrets can help speed your connection to a smooth flow of great content.
1. Vetting is key to positive outcomes
Finding the right independent freelance writer starts with posting a job and ends with reviewing resumes, portfolios, and samples — just like in-house hiring. Fortunately, talent marketplaces and agencies offer an alternative to the DIY path, but their business models vary. Some present endless profiles of writers for you to peruse and vet. Others are computer driven, flooding you with multiple proposals from writers who pounced first but may not be the best fit.
The agencies that are most successful at matching needs and talent are working with a select pool of writers qualified on the basis of industry-specific samples. No approach is frog-proof, but a thorough vetting process — in which writers are accepted based on a careful review of their professional credentials and a close examination of their writing portfolio — is a great place to start, especially if that time-consuming burden is not on your shoulders.
2. Specifics give your writer a chance to please
Be crystal clear about what you want and provide all the information you possibly can so your writer has a real shot at hitting the bull’s-eye, or coming very close. What are the project parameters? Who is your target audience, and what is their mindset? Are there any soft spots to avoid? What are you trying to accomplish? What kind of style, tone, and attitude do you want? Do you have a unique lexicon? Will your project require research, and, if so, are you suggesting sources? If you go overboard on background material, respect your writer’s time by calling out the key pieces of information and those that are more “FYI only.”
3. A writer is just that — a writer
Especially with small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs, it’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting writers to function like business consultants. Don’t ask for website copy when the overall strategy and design elements are not even in place. Successful content marketing campaigns begin with a solid strategy, editorial guidelines, and a well-defined purpose for each piece. Do your homework and provide a strong skeleton that your writer can flesh out with polished, compelling prose. If you’re vague or unsure about what you need or want, it’s unlikely that any writer’s work will make you happy.
4. What you already love is important
Start paying attention to anything and everything that turns you on, even if it comes from a competitor: blog posts, website copy, case studies, white papers, e-books, social media, newsletters, collateral material — whatever it might be. Few things are more helpful to writers who are working to nail down just the right approach or style than seeing something the client already loves — and knowing why.
5. The first draft is a first draft
Always work with talent marketplaces and freelancers who will offer at least one round of complimentary revision based on your feedback. Hitting the bull’s-eye can involve a learning curve. Maybe you were clear and precise, and the writer missed the mark. If you’re happy with the overall style and quality, see how well he or she responds to comments, edits, and suggestions. But again, be specific. “Just not what I had in mind” says nothing. If you’re sure this is a frog and not just an awkward first date with a potential Prince Charming, don’t give up. Others have found good matches, and so will you.
Old-fashioned courtesy for a new age
In outsourcing content creation, keep in mind Grandma’s words: “You get what you pay for.” If your pay scale is low, few seasoned professionals will accept the assignment. Younger, hungrier writers can be real gems, but if you pull from that pool, expect to spend more time kissing frogs. Be respectful with your lead time, because good writing takes time. And regardless of who you end up working with, always pay on time and be as generous with your praise as you are with criticism. Value the relationship. In some inexplicable way, being the client everyone loves to work with pays off in the end.
Prose Media is where talent, process, and old-school courtesy intersect. All of our top-notch editors are experts at their craft. They know what it takes to turn your notes and ambitions into relevant, impactful content — and build a great client relationship in the process. They understand all the facets of producing great written work, from asking the right questions at the start of a project, to helping writers spin key data and details into a compelling narrative, to incorporating client feedback and communicating clearly throughout the process. Sign up to gain free access to our platform today — we'd love to see what you have in mind, and we’ll make sure you don’t end up with any frogs.