Whether you’re a small business or a Fortune 500 company, chances are you need external help producing your content. Fortunately, content marketplaces have popped up en masse to assist businesses of all sizes in finding the right fit for their content needs. Content marketplaces let marketers experiment with content without adding headcount to their teams. It’s a fantastic system, if you know how to work with the writers.
Before you spend your marketing budget on outsourced content, consider these three tips to ensure you get the quality content you want from your writers.
Find the Right Writers
First things first: You need to know where to find reputable writers. While there are a plethora of content marketplaces available, do your research to find the ones with writers who fit your business’ needs. There are many content marketplace models: Some simply connect businesses with writers; others offer an entire online platform for reviewing work and communicating directly with the writers and a designated account manager. Depending on your budget, bandwidth and content marketing strategy, you can determine which best suits your content requirements.
Some notable content marketplaces are Contently, NewsCred, Zerys, Content Writers, Ebyline, and Scripted. Each marketplace offers its own unique take on content marketing, so investigate each before making an investment. Review writers’ profiles to get a sense of their tone and expertise. Selecting writers who can adapt quickly to your brand and write as if they were on staff will save your team time and money in the long run.
Provide Clear Directions
Once you’ve identified writers you want to work with, it’s time to clearly articulate what you’re looking for. Beyond the specs of an article or infographic, it’s critical to include your content marketing strategy and vision in your story briefs. Give your writers as much information as possible so they understand your business’ point of view and brand standards. An outline or bullet list can help keep the creator on track and prevent them from having to guess at your intent, says Joe Robison, a digital marketing consultant for Whats The Host.
Even if you use the same writers on an ongoing basis, it’s helpful to have your full strategy, target audience, the tone of voice and preferred writing style (for example, APA vs. Chicago Manual of Style) readily available in each brief. It gives the contributor a skeleton to work from and cuts down on time-consuming communications with your team. These elements should be standard in any brief you provide to a writer. It sets the tone and expectations from the get-go and provides the writer with a better sense of your business before she begins work on the piece.
With new writers, having an onboarding conversation is prudent. While outlining your brand in a document is helpful, speaking with the writer about an article makes certain that you’re both on the same page and he understands the topic and angle as you intended. This conversation is another way to reinforce your expectations in terms of length, detail and research required, says Danielle Olesen, content and social media manager at StickerYou.com, a custom sticker company. “I personally find it helps to provide some of my own research to the writer. That way I know some of the content is on track with the objective and topic. The more information you can provide the writer, the less room there is for interpretation.”
Establish a Workflow
It’s common to think that when a piece of content is assigned and a due date is attached that the work is essentially complete and you can check it off your to-do list. However, marketers know that the editing and review process can be lengthy. To keep your publish dates on track, create a workflow that accounts for revisions.
Give your writer a due date for the initial draft, but also inform her that revisions may be necessary and that she should be prepared to edit her content within 48 or 72 hours of receiving your comments. This lets writers better manage their time since you’re likely not their only client, and helps guarantee you’ll get your completed content by its deadline. This extra bit of courtesy will go a long way in creating lasting relationships with writers. It shows you value their time, while keeping your content strategy on task.
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