I had little experience with content or creating content several years ago. New to digital marketing, I soon realized that having capable writers was essential. Unfortunately, this realization was something that I had to experience the discover the hard way. In summary, Content was the pain point for our agency.
With a project approaching the final stages, we were about to embark on a content nightmare. The client was a mid-size company with a massive website. In this case, it was the clients responsibility to produce the content. However, we soon discovered that the client wasn’t up to the task. They’d recently won a large renovation and building project and time was scarce.
Fact: Projects change
The scope of the project changed without warning and we were going to have to pick up the slack and get the content for each page of the website. 130 pages of copy. Repeat not 13 but 130. (Holy shit).
But wait! The real problem - partner A (sales) quoted a price of 5 cents per word. What? Where would we find a writer that would write the copy for such a low price?
The solution - we busted ass. We recruited my daughter, who held an associates degree in journalism. We recruited another partner’s mom. And, I changed my hat, as well. My primary role was quarterback. I assigned pages, proofread, and edited. But as the time to launch the site drew closer, I broke out my pen keyboard and commenced to writing. There were days that I wasn’t sure that we could pull it off, but we did. (Thanks to our families).
The worst part was that our next two launches weren’t much better. But, I’ll spare you the dreadful details.
Word Search, Alignable, and Mexican Food
Understanding that I had to find a solution, I began seeking out local writers that I could connect with, I was hopeful that we would find a couple of writers that we could call upon when needed. I started with searching my Alignable connections to see if there were any freelancing writers within my network community. Alignable is a great resource for finding local talent. I connected with two talented writers and I immediately began outsourcing to them.
A few weeks later, I met one of the girls at a local Mexican restaurant to discuss some content strategy and to discuss an upcoming assignment. All was well, for a moment.
The next week I was expecting to get the first draft of the assignment, however, by Wednesday, the draft was late. The writer was MIA and my short-lived fairytale of solving our content problems was crushed.
Creating relationships with people to call upon when needing content is invaluable. But it is not easy.
When everything falls apart… Strategize and Organize.
In an attempt to relieve the returning pain, I constructed a network of resources including, documents, templates, outlines, software, and writers. Together these resources would provide a framework intended to streamline the process for all. Our client, the Agency, and the Writer.
But, would it work? Or would my fears become a reality? (More on that later).
To begin with, I needed content for a new client’s website. QUICK. We’d accepted a new website redesign for an Atlanta area Mortgage Broker. The scope of the project included content for approximately a dozen pages. (I can almost feel the panic, rising and then closing in on my lungs).
I had a plan, now was the time to see if I could successfully execute it.
I began with the discovery notes for the new client and I created a list of questions. Upon completion, I reached out to the client to dive a little deeper into some of their services. Afterwards, I compared my notes to the site map that my team had created in preparing to begin the design phase. Together this information provided the subject for each page of the website. All I needed now…. Was the Content.
Finding your ideal content writer is a terrifying process
Have you ever scouted the internet for a writer? Or, hired a writer online?
Common sense tells you to proceed with caution whenever you’re dealing over the internet. Plagued by con artists, the internet is prime real estate for scams. It is easy to find these horrific stories anywhere on the web. And while this was a possibility, this was not the scenario that played out in my mind. Instead my apprehensive mind envisioned:
- What if the content contained plagiarism and the words belonged to a competitor?
- Would the content be on topic but poorly constructed?
- Or, the content would be amazing, but retained no SEO value.
The later had me thinking - Would I have to reword or reformat the copy that we’d purchased? Was I wasting my time?
I retreated to my roots of Operations & Processes and emerged with a strategic plan.
Step 1: Keyword Research
You might be thinking, Can’t the writer do the keyword research?
And the answer is YES. And many do.
Bear in mind these facts.
- An outsourced writer is not a stakeholder in this project, and
- They do not have the privilege to all the discovery data except for what you make available to them.
The later puts that person (the Writer) at a huge disadvantage. Not to write, but to get it ALL right. The copy. The Keywords. The SEO. And this is what you need.
So how do you get this?
Well, I am glad that you asked. And that puts us back to where we were:
Step #1 - Keyword Research - Check
Step #2 - Construct a template - or you can use my content-order template
Your template doesn’t need to be complex. Nor, do you need to do all the work for the writer. The template that I created consists of all the fields necessary to inform the writer of the key facts. Additionally, it provided details allowing the incorporation of the key SEO elements.
Step #3 - Gather additional documents to pair with the completed template.
To provide further insight into the client's style, I included a copy of the client's style guide. The style guide provides reference for tone of voice, do's, and unacceptable actions.
Step #4 - Find your writer
When I first began this journey, Content platforms were sparse. Today, there are so many that you might feel overwhelmed. Here are some tips for finding the right content platform for your business.
- Network -Ask business associates or colleagues if they are familiar with a Content Platform. Better yet, ask if they can recommend a Content Provider.
- Check Search Engines for reviews: Search Engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are a good place to begin your research. These review sites can also be a good resource. Well known sites that collect reviews include:
Platforms that I have experience with and recommend are:
And, our own, Atlanta Online Studios.
Atlanta Online Studios created it’s Order Content Online Program to provide a reliable resource for business owners and agencies after our own struggles with content.
Step #5 - Complete the platform requirements, to include submission, reviewing, and revisions.
Once you’ve selected a platform to use, review their requirements and contact them with any questions. Benefits and requirements will vary from platform to platform.
Step #6- Receive your Content
Wow that really was easy. The best news, The results exceeded our expectations, in some cases with little or no revisions to the copy.
Submitting our needs to the writer on a template simplifies the process and ensures that the content is structured correctly with the keywords that we are targeting.