Here are some tricks successful writers use to creatively adjust to each writing project.
Wondering how to improve your content writing so you can stand out online? We have seven easy tips you can start implementing right away.
Try not to overthink content writing… You might think what you know is boring but it’s not!, James Barclay
Well to qualify my title, what you know is not boring to the people who are most important to you and your business niche.
Unsurprisingly – what you know in your niche is of interest to those in your niche. I like the point made below by the Content Marketing Institute – do not compare yourself to everyone else creating content and get worried your content is not good enough. Their audience is not the same as your audience.
When I write I try to remember when it comes to audience in B2B it is quality not quantity. It is just great for only a handful of people to like and share my posts just as long as they are the right handful of people.
When I create a post I am looking to influence my clients and my prospects. I hope that through that content those I look to influence see me as a ‘trusted advisor’.
Trusted advisor is one of those phrases that gets bandied about a lot – but actually, if we are doing our job right we should be trusted by our clients and prospects. Here at Passle last week we had a discussion about whether we should we talk about thought leaders or trusted advisors. I am not sure it matters – what is important is that it is not us who define ourselves as thought leaders or a trusted advisors but our peers, clients and readers who define it..
You don’t need to be Kim Kardishan with a million followers hanging off every word. You simply need to be creating content that is relevant to the people whom you’d like to read it. Do not stress over it too much – just do it 🙂
Looking to other content creators is great for inspiration and figuring out what audiences respond to in general. But, whoever they are and whatever they do, they’re not you. And they don’t share your same audience. Stop comparing yourself to them. Not only is there no guarantee that a concept that worked for someone else will work for you, but if you measure your brand’s performance against that of say, BuzzFeed, you’re going to be disappointed. According to BuzzSumo, BuzzFeed’s most successful article was shared 1.8 million times on Facebook and more than 50,000 times on Twitter.
February 16, 2017
— Dibyendu Gandhi (@dibyendu9749) February 16, 2017
— Stefan Cuypers (@S_Cuypers) February 16, 2017
— Shana Haynie (@ArtworksByShana) February 15, 2017
— Campaign Counsel (@campaigncounsel) February 15, 2017
Producing content people love is more important—and attainable—than producing perfect content. https://t.co/Q4wqSICZ3c
— Inbound Insurance Mk (@InboundInsMktg) February 15, 2017
More posts by James Barclay
Recent posts from B2B Content Marketing
Most of the online businesses outsource content writing services to another firm. If you have some website or blog which needs to be managed, you must keep posting fresh and unique content to gain high ranking. It is not possible to write your own content all the while and thus content writing services in Kolkata is important to consider. There is no need to have your own team of content writers in-house if you hire professionals from other company. Some of the benefits of professional content writing services are worth considering.
The benefit of multiple writers
You may require different types of write-ups for your site like the articles, blogs, press releases, ads for banners. This firm will have the set of writers to cater to your needs. Indeed, writers are recruited nowadays as per their level of specialization. To get specialized services, you must look for professionals.
The benefit of budget optimization
If you have your own writers in-house, it will prove a costly affair. You need to pay them salary and train them continuously. It will help you avoid such charges. Here you simply need to pay for the writing service you need. If cost effectiveness matters to you, choose content writers of a professional firm.
The benefit of lean workforce
You also have the option of hiring a freelancer for the website text who can submit the work from home. Internet makes it easier for everyone to get in touch with service providers irrespective of where they are located. There is no need for the writers to show up at the workplace to submit the work. This helps in saving a great deal of time.
SEO content writing services
Content writing is an important part, internet market and the latest trend is to outsource this service. SEO companies also outsource content writing services to another firm. If you wish for unique, fresh and original text for your website, you need to consider content writing services. By posting fresh and unique content, you may allow the site to attain higher ranking across the search engines. Reliable companies have professional writers who are aware how to write SEO content or anything related to the SEO. They can come up with attractive articles, blogs, press releases and also website content. You may expect to get well written SEO stuffs that are keyword rich. By handling the keyword researches, the professionals can provide you best results.
Choose content writing services in Kolkata
You may be wondering why to outsource content writing services. This is done for good number of reasons. There are many professionals in Kolkata who can write attractive content by using the SEO techniques. SEO firms do provide training to the staffs in a way that they easily take care of the needs of the clients all across the globe. With unique, fresh and compelling content, your site is sure to attain higher ranking.
The professional writers offering content writing services in Kolkata are affiliated and trained in the task. They may deliver contents as per your needs.
Incorporating Simple Sales and Copywriting Techniques Into Content Marketing
If you’ve ever tried your hand at sales, telesales or charity fundraising, you’ll know there’s a whole lot more to it than acting like Don Draper. You know, spending your time hoping to overpower the would-be customer with your wit and je ne sais quoi. It boils down to myriad things: your warmth, your trustworthiness and the pitch structure. Always keep these in mind during content writing.
Move over into written sales and copywriting and you’ve got a whole new bunch of disciplines to conquer and techniques to incorporate. Written sales distills it down to a fine recipe for persuasion and if you can pull that off you’ll see returns.
Those techniques are not only useful for copywriting either. They’re all centred on creating readability, authority, persuasion and entertainment value. These are things you could use to seduce someone, if you lived two hundred years ago and were into letter-based dating.
So it follows that you can pretty easily use these techniques to effectively craft high quality written content for any site. Create the kind of content that people share, and bookmark, and search for, all of which boost a site’s rankings, perfect for your content marketing strategy.
Written Content is King in SEO, Still!
You’ve probably have heard this phrase; ‘content is king’. Unless of course, they’re black hat SEO marketers. In that case, they’ll probably just gibber evilly, repeatedly using the same two or three words, then get shut down by Google.
, because the web is very deliberately optimised for the user nowadays. Content, in its many forms, is why the web users bothers to be a web user. A great content marketing strategy needs great content.
You’ll see that people are starting to extol the virtues of video, photo, infographics and apps as vehicle for quality content and SEO. And it’s true, people like videos, photos are easy to look at, infographics convey information easily and apps can be very useful. But it’s also true that they’re expensive to produce well and can be difficult to direct in terms of meaning and aim.
And when they go wrong, they go badly wrong. We’ve all been on a site and noticed a couple of typos, or a bit of English written by someone who clearly wasn’t using their mother tongue. However, that’s permissible. Maybe it’s not the most professional thing but it’s not obscenity of obscenities; the poorly edited, low quality or simply bad video. That sets the bar pretty high in terms of making a website look low budget, unprofessional, or outdated. Same goes for apps, photos and infographics.
Posting irrelevant rich content isn’t the answer either, as Google sees and penalises duplication. On top of that, an irrelevant app probably isn’t going to be all that useful to the user. That’s why well-written, targeted and crafted text is always going to be key. If you can throw other content on top, go for it, but first you need a solid base. You can take content writing pretty far, as skills go.
First of all, make sure your content is on point. Focused, sharp and readable, with solid English and no mistakes. Do not underestimate how much seeing a misspelled word or a messy sentence will lower your appearance in the eyes of the user, not to mention . You’ll drop instantly from a potentially respected font of knowledge, way down to ‘just another nonsense article’.
Key points to bear in mind are purpose, spelling and grammar, then structure. All that’s pretty self-explanatory, apart from purpose. Too often online you see a long-form article (articles over one-thousand words offer the best bang-for-buck in terms of SEO purposes) that simply loses its way halfway through, and starts rambling about something irrelevant.
The deadly combination of going off on a tangent and waffling is going to send any reader to the door. You want to be sharp and concise, and you want to refer to your title and aim frequently. If you’re finding yourself wondering what to say next, you probably didn’t do enough research prior to planning the piece.
3 Proven Structures
Structure is hugely important. The way you deliver the information the reader has searched for or wants to hear is a defining element of your writing’s success. A quality structure also stops you waffling off in a random direction while struggling for something else to say.
It lets you know what you need to research and read up to deliver a potent and useful piece of content. Here’s three proven structures, known to get sales rolling in, sure to focus and enhance your content writing style and skill:
The Classic – Problem, Agitation and Solution
This is the timeless sales rap. Demonstrate an issue, make it personal and solve it. How can this work in a content writing context? Take a persuasive piece ‘Why *Brand* Lawnmowers Just Aren’t Cutting It’.
In this, you could break down the problem (they’re poorly manufactured,\ and overpriced to boot), ask rhetorical questions and speculate about the readers lawnmower use (how would YOU feel, finding yourself making weekly use of a lawnmower that “Lawn Mowin’ Magazine” accused of being downright explosive?), and then suggest other reasonably priced mowers, or even grass alternatives. Whatever your angle.
This kind of structure works very well for any kind of persuasive piece and has great flow and direction to it.
The Fortune Teller – Give Your Readers an Edge
This is more for informative articles. This centres on expanding on existing trends to make insightful conclusions. This leaves your readers feeling like they’ve got an edge in the future. Plenty of clickbait type articles follow this kind of reasoning, so make sure you’ve got an actual thing to say.
Winners and Losers – Which do They Want to Be?
This is all about making the point that the vast majority of people either fail or are average at any random area, and here’s the key to stepping beyond that. There are entire YouTube channels and careers built around this kind of ‘life hack’ mentality. You can definitely use it to great effect in your content writing.
Formatting is Crucial
Web content is easy come, easy go. People have absolutely nothing forcing them to stay on one page, apparent from your writing, title and formatting. Formatting is a big one, you need to make things as easy as possible for the reader, which means a pretty simple, solid check-list of things to do:
- Readable Font Size – Generally sizes 14pts to 16pts are ideal.
- Plenty of Subheadings– People scan read more than they give things proper attention.
- Bullet Points and Numbered Lists– This gives people the information they wanted, in a neat and easy format.
- Wide Margins– You want the text to be in as narrow a column as is possible. The narrower the column, the easier the text is to follow and read.
- No Colours– I don’t care what your web designer thinks, black on white text is always going to be the easiest option to read.
- One or Two Sentence Paragraphs– Don’t ramble on for nine sentences in one paragraph. It’s boring to look at.
Formatting is an easy change to make, so don’t allow this be the hurdle that trips you.
Title Creation is an Art
Titles define whether or not you click on something, so like it or not, they’re important. If you’ve got a long winded titles, filled with tangential, unnecessary verbiage, people are going to struggle to quickly ascertain meaning and move on. Worse, they could be put off, feeling the article or content is going to be bloated and tangential too. If the title is too undescriptive, they won’t know what the content is.
So you need a balanced, concise title. On top of that, there are certain words which get more attention. Words like ‘Proven’, ‘Free’ and ‘Shocking’. These are power words, they grab your attention and instantly forge connections to other things you feel strongly about, like success, money, and getting ahead of the crowd.
There’s a book out there, titled “Word’s That Sell”, by Rick Bayan, that’s literally thousands of these power words listed for you to peruse and use when needed. It’s a useful investment, if you’re looking to write more compellingly long-term.
Curiously, odd numbers in a title also are more alluring. Titles like “7 Ways to Grow Out Your Toenails” will perform better than “Here’s How To Grow Your Toenails” (obviously, the article you now want is “3 Shocking Reasons People Are Growing Their Toenails”).
Getting your title right is the first stage to getting the customers in the shop. Mess up the title, and the front door’s broken. No customers are going to walk into that shop and all that time spent writing the valuable content is wasted.
This is Not Sales Though
An important thing to remember is that this is not sales. This is content writing. The act of creating something either useful, informative or entertaining. You’re free to write however you like, provided people enjoy it and will read it.
You don’t have to, and shouldn’t, stick to boring formulas if you’ve got better or more entertaining ideas. For most of us, however, the formulas and techniques are the place to start. This isn’t sales, go wild and create amazing content. Quality content should generate traffic, and not just through sterile SEO techniques. Without quality content, even the best content marketing strategy can fall flat on its face.
The post How to Take Your Content Writing to the Next Level appeared first on Digital Firefly Marketing.
As you read this, a yet-unknown algorithm holds the key that unlocks ultimate levels of content writing efficiency. It will be low cost, lightning quick and easy to use. And it will produce marketing content that is virtually indistinguishable from human-developed text.
Machine learning makes this not just possible but permanent.
So if artificial intelligence is primed to replace content writing, how and when will it happen?
Understanding Natural Language Generation (NLG)
The primary technologies that power content marketing automation are Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Natural Language Generation (NLG).
The first is simply a computer program that understands the human voice and processes into text. Think of Google’s “Voice typing” functionality in Drive or the many types of translation software.
NLG goes a step further. This process entails transforming the structured data from NLP into narrative stories (aka writing content from scratch without the involvement of humans).
“Narrative” may be a misnomer in this sense. Yes, NLG technology produces written content that follows a unique, logical order (and is even capable of writing fiction), but its core benefit is automating the menial writing of dense, fact-driven content, such as financial reports, executive briefs, earnings summaries, product descriptions and standard news copy.
In these formats, innovative, creative or personal content is sidelined – NLG automates text that serves a short-term business purpose, not necessarily a long-term, branded, marketing campaign that goes beyond algorithms and facts.
- Artificial Intelligence: Development of computer systems that perform human actions without human involvement.
- Machine Learning: Computers that learn via AI rather than explicit human programming.
- Algorithm: Set of rules that make calculations based on a sequence of specified actions.
- Natural Language Processing: Program that automatically processes and manipulates speech and text.
- Natural Language Generation: Program that uses NSP input to interpret and create new text.
- Chatbot: Computer program that communicates via chat using text and auditory cues.
- Virtual Assistant: Software agent that provides services through NLP, such as Siri or Amazon Echo.
It’s no wonder that B2B companies are already making great use of NLG technology. By 2018, , Gartner predicts. Again, this is business content: press releases, legal documents, internal memos, market reports and so forth.
The golden standard of journalism, the Associated Press, uses machines to produce their earnings reports. This type of application is the most immediate use case for NLG software, and B2B marketers will surely find many writing tasks can be made much easier starting today.
Automate this, not that
AI’s current strong suit is not inbound content, however. Inbound marketing strategies rely on personality, originality, authenticity, persuasion and voice: things that tend to be intangible yet equally, if not more, important than formal writing prowess.
After all, machines learn from the data that’s placed in front of them. Numbers, figures, keywords, phrasing and timing are all elements that AI can compile, process and replicate in a way that’s passable to the average reader. But, branding can often be a data-less or structure-less process, one that circumvents the capabilities of machines and continues to stump even the best creative directors
Automated content needs to first be broken down into constituent data sets that machines can analyze; but a product-specific blog post that leverages a brand’s identity and software capabilities, for instance, is not easily condensed into code that would yield promising writing results. Without the proper data flow or input, machines fail
Content that would be ideal for AI would be that which companies already have structured data for. Existing spreadsheets of numbers, software that aggregates financial information and models that are widespread across a company are perfect data sets that can feed into an automated content generator.
Automating more than the basics, at this point, could be more trouble than it’s worth.
What AI cannot do
In 2014, a chatbot named Eugene was the first computer to pass the Turing Test, a measurement of “human-ness.”
The Turing Test determines whether a computer deciphers, interacts and responds to questions in a way that fools judges into believing it is actually a human. If 30 percent of judges think they are interacting with a human, the chatbot has “passed” the test. In effect, it has reached the minimum requirement for human intelligence, per the trial.
This was a monumental breakthrough that served as evidence of AI’s ascendency. But skeptics pointed out that certain parts of the human-Eugene conversation were so robotic and inaccurate that, the 30-percent threshold didn’t mean much. Here’s a popular sample:
This was 2014. Nearly four years later, chatbots and virtual assistants have grown more sophisticated for particular applications like customer service handling, voice search and online troubleshooting.
But for writing, immediate AI applications don’t yet translate to higher profits on an industry-wide or measurable basis, at least not in terms of creating engaging content at scale.
Machine learning is still in its infancy, and readers can typically pick up on some of the writing deficiencies that AI produces: repetition, rigid flow, awkward phrasing, tonal restrictions. In a world that is transitioning to human search behaviors and natural language recognition, this sort of staccato flatness is bound to be penalized by Google and deemed unappealing by site visitors.
For now, content marketing machines have yet to produce content that inspires.
AI marketing of the future
The vast majority of AI marketing investments go toward analytics, publication and reporting. Currently, , with predictive analytics software being the biggest early-growth application for content marketing.
But content creation is a different animal altogether.
Creative jobs are estimated to be a sort of final frontier for AI. An Oxford University study deemed creative positions to be in the , meaning 75 percent of other careers will be impacted first and to a much larger degree. Reassuring, right?
LAST QUESTION! Q6: Are the bots going to take all of our jobs? #BraftonBuzzpic.twitter.com/n78sSh1OYu
— Brafton (@Brafton) September 26, 2017
Automation will certainly disrupt content creation workflows, but it won’t overtake writing completely. If anything, AI will be used in tandem with content writers as a dual value driver.
Research will be simplified, ideation will be aided by predictive analytics and writing will become more focused on the writing itself. Not keywords, not rankings. Just quality.
So set aside any ideas of a cyborg workplace and get back to writing.
By Nikhil Khandekar
Special for TCC
Content Developer, India
In India, technical communication was introduced by the emergence of IT in the 1990s. Our mathematical and scientific acumen for all things IT was what led to our stumbling onto technical communication. Stumble we had to; there was no working our way around technical communication. And who else in the wide world could better understand the importance of English as a window of opportunity?
We churn out half a million computer graduates every year. You can expect our best technical writers to be well and truly proficient in technical – and general – English. The pay is better than anywhere else, so these young turks are making hay. So what if our tutors have experience of only a few assignments? So what if we carry certification in technical writing but lack genuine experience? We are gradually coming into our own as technical writers.
While it isn’t as if great content is yet to be written here in India, we are still traversing the learning curve where technical writing and documentation are concerned.
The best among us are the best at even international levels, judging by the increasing number of technical writing assignments we have been bagging. Medical and engineering students with a flair for writing are a growing tribe. IT specialists have yet to master the language of the erstwhile master. But they are also doing better with each passing day.
How could we provide better technical writing and documentation services in India? If we had access to the following, we would do a much better job than we have done so far:
- Better-quality, standardized education in technical writing
- Tutors who are technical writers with proven mettle
- Both full-time and distance education courses
Just think about these points:
- Collaborative communication, user-generated technical content, and the power of communities are such a big deal in technical writing/documentation. If we set our minds to it, we could do a great job of catering to technical writing needs of the world.
- Our innate facility with all things technical and scientific lends us an edge over other offshore providers because we also happen to be the most articulate among erstwhile British colonies.
- Personalized social documentation created via collaborative effort, tapping user conversations, curating such content and promoting community knowledge and creating valuable content can come naturally to us. It’s in our genes and our history.
- By 2017, the native speakers of Hindi, our national language, will outnumber the native speakers of English in the rest of the world – at least by some estimates. These Hindi speakers will also have among their ranks far more users of English with far better proficiency by then.
- We have the potential to make a big difference to the speed and the volume of creation of technical content being currently produced in the world. We are also currently positioned remarkably well to scale to and adapt to the new directions technical communication is expected to take in near future.
A personal hunch tells me that we could be masters of social and responsive documentation in future. If technical writing is about enabling users to access the information they want – when they want it, as much as they want of it, and as quickly as possible, the Indian contribution to this delightfully fulfilling area of work cannot go ignored any longer.
A sense of impending doom has intensified in recent years, with various news reports and television dramas depicting a near-future of fallible humans being forced onto the breadline, replaced by a superior workforce of robots.
While this dystopian theme has long been the fare of science fiction, for many, the prospect of C-3PO delivering their P45 is fast becoming a reality.
Indeed, the BBC’s ‘Will a robot take your job?’ report – collating data from Deloitte, the Office for National Statistics, and an Oxford University study on the future of employment – indicates several vocations are destined for automation, including telesales, typists, and testers:
While most marketers will sleep easy at night, safe in the knowledge that AI is some way off mimicking the human ability for creative thinking, planning and strategising – marketing professionals rank 223, and marketing directors 347 on the list, out of 365 job titles – there is one group that may have cause for concern: content writers.
Needless to say, any self-respecting content writer wouldn’t label themselves as mere ‘typists’ or ‘keyboard related workers’ – great content relies on imagination, research and skill. However, there’s clearly some overlap, and with that particular subset of professionals facing a 98.5% risk of automation, the alarm bells could be ringing, especially with automated writing software on the rise.
Robot writers vs human hands
As a business owner, I can see the attraction of automated content; it has the potential to save time and cash. Yet, while automated programmes have led to great advancements in email marketing and social media scheduling, I can’t imagine AI ever matching the quality of human writers.
To test this out, I signed up for a free trial of Article Forge, which promises to ‘automatically generate unlimited unique articles in under 30 seconds.’
I entered my designated keywords of ‘automated content writing’ and, ‘Hey presto!’, a 500-word piece was with me in no time. But was it any good? Here’s an excerpt:
“With the most suitable keyword research and placement, you can nonetheless optimize content for greater search engine rankings. It’s quite natural for you to search for some automated content writing software. Some site content could be academic or informational. Therefore, efficient site content writing may be the simple component for enhancing your internet enterprise.”
Hmm, doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? And I’m not really sure what it all means. Here’s another snippet that comes a couple of paragraphs later:
“If you’re planning to begin a new business which can help you to open new gateways of profit, food market is quite a tempting sector that you’ll surely love to put money into. It is crucial to decide well about what sort of business is appropriate for you. There are basic things that you should think about if you’re opting into the work of food market.”
What on (this utopian) earth has operating in the food market got to do with automated content writing?
Article Forge claims to use ‘incredibly sophisticated deep understanding algorithms to write articles in the same way that a human does’, but you’d have to ask serious questions of a professional writer that meandered off on such abstract tangents.
Putting the curious flow to one side for a second, I then opened my Grammarly account to check the content for grammatical errors. It highlighted a few unusual word pairings and suggested adding a comma here and there, but what shocked me most was the unoriginal text, with a whole sentence copied from an Afroman Online article.
Remember, the automated service promises ‘unique content’ but, on this evidence, it’s quite happy to scrape bits and bobs from across the web and use them verbatim. This is a serious issue because duplicate content can harm your SEO, effectively relegating the trustworthiness of your website, leaving you filtered out of search results. Granted, this copied sentence is relatively short, so the ratio of duplicate to original text is low, but it’s not something you want to see cropping up on a regular basis.
Ultimately, the Article Forge piece is quite a forgery; it’s incoherent, not entirely unique and, well, reads as if it’s been written by a robot. There’s no flair, no passion, no razzmatazz, nor are there any citation links to further reading, which is essential if you want to substantiate claims and add value for your audience (while also enhancing SEO).
Upon reflection, ‘it is crucial to decide well’ and not go ahead with the $47 monthly subscription. Time is money, and there’s no doubting quality writing takes time, but the cost of publishing substandard content could be far greater.
To circumvent the duplicate content issue noted above, a plethora of ‘article spinning’ websites have sprung up, again promising to generate unique content, but this time based on articles you directly copy and paste into them.
Essentially, they cross-reference the original with a thesaurus and insert synonyms at every opportunity, giving the impression of completely unique material.
However, this is what happens when you input the above sentence into Free-Article-Spinner.com:
“Basically, they cross-reference the first with a thesaurus and embed equivalent words at each open door, giving the impression of totally novel material.”
As you can see, it’s a pretty clumsy and verbose effort that doesn’t seem capable of grasping the nuance of language. It’s all very well swapping synonyms here and there, but without context, they won’t always be a natural substitution.
Let’s try again:
“As should be obvious, it’s an entirely cumbersome and verbose exertion that doesn’t appear to be fit for getting a handle on the subtlety of dialect. It’s all exceptionally well swapping equivalent words all over, yet without setting, they won’t generally be a characteristic substitute.”
I think I’ve made my point.
Great content marketing relies on the ability to say something meaningful, producing blog posts that showcase your expertise while enlightening and/or entertaining your audience.
Relying on automated content writing is inherently risky; it just doesn’t cut the mustard, not in a creative sense, nor in terms of SEO best practice. It might promise to save time, but, in reality, what you end up with will require substantial editing before it’s ready for human eyes.
I’m not a Luddite standing in the way of modernisation; I embrace many forms of AI (such as Grammarly) and agree with Tony Tie that automation won’t destroy every marketing job.
However, while computer programmes may be able to turn raw data into logical reports – such as financial reviews or sports stories – if you want to create content that inspires readers into action, you have to make a human connection, and only real writers can achieve that.
Robotic writing stands out, so share your own words of wisdom rather than deferring to an algorithm.
Many times when I tell someone that I’m a “ghostblogger” and write blogs for other people’s small businesses, their initial reaction is, “You can do that?”
I actually had a fellow small biz owner tell me that outsourcing her blogging and other content creation felt like cheating…
But guess what?
This is an industry secret, that people may not want you to know, but many of the Internet’s biggest names outsource at least some of their content. Neil Patel does it. Many other big names in my industry do it — whether they post it under their own name or not.
And, my clients, who run 6 and 7-figure online businesses, do it (I’d tell you who some of them are, but then I’d have to kill you — because it’s their decision whether or not to reveal that info, not mine).
In other words, outsourcing some or all of your content production, especially as you grow, is a common industry practice.
But how do you do it well?
What can you outsource content writing for?
There are different kinds of content writers based on the kind of content you want written.
There are people who generalize and will write any kind of content you like, but more often, writers tend to specialize in one or a few kinds of copywriting.
P.S. Copy is anything written in your business. Like, anything — from your tweets to your sales pages.
Specialties I know of include:
- website copy
- sales page copy
- email autoresponder sequences
- blog posts
- guest blog posts (posts that go on other people’s sites)
- social media posts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
- ad copy
- ebooks, lead magnets, and whitepapers
- course materials
- scripts for videos, webinars, presentations, etc.
- full-length books (digital or print)
- press releases
- conversion optimization (testing and tweaking your text to convert better)
And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
The point is, there are as many specialty copywriters as there are kinds of copy, and that’s because it takes different skills to be really good at each. Someone who writes killer long-form blog posts and articles may have trouble writing short, compelling Facebook ads or tweets — and vice versa.
So, depending on what you want to outsource, you may need more than one writer. (If you find someone who can do it all — expect to pay accordingly!)
Which leads me to my next point:
How to outsource content writing — that sounds like you
The first thing to remember is that I believe it is a copywriter’s job to sound like you (or, like you dialed up to 11). If they can’t do that job, it doesn’t matter how nice they are, how cheap they are, or how much you like their style — they’re not a good fit.
The last thing you want is to work with a writer who creates a bunch of copy for you in their own voice and then (for whatever reasons) disappears and isn’t available the next time you need something!
When that happens, you end up with a very disjointed voice and brand, because you can’t mimic what they were writing for you on your own.
I’ve seen this happen where someone hires a copywriter to write their website copy — but then their blogs are obviously a completely different style or voice. And this isn’t just what happens with small businesses or small copywriters, either; I have seen extremely well known (and friggin expensive) copywriters who write everything in their own voice; and their clients end up sounding like everyone else who has hired them!
To ensure that never happens to you:
- Ask some biz buddies to help you define your voice if you’re not totally sure. Ask them how they would describe your tone of voice for your brand.
- Identify what you like — and DON’T like — about your writing voice. Some clients come to me and feel like they sound too corporate for their niche; so they don’t necessarily want me to sound just like they do, but rather as they would like to sound. Just be wary of this; if you change your entire brand voice by working with a copywriter, you may be stuck always working with a copywriter from here on out.
- Think about your ideal customer when you’re trying to define your voice. Would they relate more to friendly, conversational language, or businessy-corporate language?
- Shop around to find a good copywriter. If you love the way their website is written, and it sounds similar to your tone, that’s a good place to start, but ask for examples (called “clips” in the writing world) that show off how they can take on different voices. Pro tip: If all of their examples sound pretty much the same, move on. You want someone who can sound different in different situations. And by the way, there are copywriters charging $10,000 or more for website copy that all sounds the same, to me, so this isn’t a matter of cost or experience, but the writer’s style and ability.
- Ask about the writer’s process. How do they get to know your business and your voice? Do they interview you or have you fill out some kind of intake form? It would be a BIG red flag for me if they just dive in without knowing much about you or your biz.
- Ask if you can do a “test” before you jump into a big project — or at least understand when/how/if you can back out of the contract. It’s a big leap of faith to sign on with a writer, especially for a long-term project. So I always offer a “test” post to my ghostblogging clients. We do the intake interview, and then craft one post for them; if the client is happy, it rolls into their first month’s fee; if they’re not happy, we just charge for the hours spent and go on our merry way. Pro tip: Don’t expect to get a “test” for free — the point is not to get freebies, but to make sure you’re a good fit before you sign a contract.
In short, you want to make sure your copywriter is a good fit before you fork over a huge bunch of cash for a big project. But you also need to do your own due diligence as well. Take the time to create a voice style guide, and I promise you, whoever you hire will be thrilled to work with you.
OK, cool. But what does it cost??
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for when it comes to copywriting.
I assume you know that you could go over to Fiverr and pay someone five bucks to write you 1,000 tweets or something—
—but I assume you also know that the quality of what you get for $5 is going to be marginal, at best.
Think of it this way: you can buy a pair of pants at Wal-Mart or at Nordstrom and pay very different prices. But the quality you get will be just as different. (I’ve got a blog post that breaks down different prices for blog writers here.)
Here’s what you need to know about pricing:
- Copywriters may price themselves differently depending on what they do and what their background is. Journalists are used to getting paid by the word (expect $0.25—$1.00 per word) whereas people from other backgrounds might charge by the hour (expect anywhere from $30/hr—$150/hr and up). Lots of writers are moving towards package rates, which is usually better for everyone involved; just know exactly what you get in the package, including how many rounds of revisions it includes.
- A lot of different factors go into their prices, from experience to availability. (If they can only take two projects a month, they’re going to have to charge more.) Also, if you’re getting more than just writing — like strategy, branding advice, etc. — expect to pay more.
- Editing is usually less expensive than writing, so if you just need someone to help you polish, this is a budget-friendly way to go.
- A good VA can write tweets and Facebook updates from your blog posts or other content. Expect to pay $20/hr and up for a qualified VA. (Pro tip: A VA from overseas, like the Philippines, might be awesome for other tasks, but I wouldn’t ask them to write for you.)
- Prices for blog posts really vary. There are services out there that charge as little as $89 for 4 posts per month. Personally, I would never pay less than $100 a post for a short post.
- Generally speaking, the longer the content, the more you will pay. A 2,000-word blog post with tons of research will cost you more than a quick 500-word blog post. Kapost suggests budgeting at least $2,000 for a long-form article or blog post.
- Likewise, the more important the copy, the more you will pay. Sales copy is more important to your business — and hopefully has a higher ROI — and therefore tends to cost more.
- If you sign a contract or agree to a large project of some sort, you can usually expect some kind of package discount. It’s perfectly fine to say something like, “I see that you normally charge $150 per blog post; what can you do for me if I agree to getting four posts a month for the next six months?”
Finally, remember that content is an investment in your business just like any other investment. If you cheap out on content creation, it’s just as bad for biz as cheaping out on the source materials you use to create your product, or the equipment you use to run your business.
That said, it’s perfectly fine to start slowly! Identify what tasks will free up the most time for you, and then run some numbers to see if it makes sense for you to outsource those particular tasks. Maybe you love tweeting but hate the hours it takes you to write a blog post — or vice versa.
A potential client came to me recently wanting to outsource some of her blog tasks, and after I gave her my estimate, she said she wanted to run the numbers. She emailed me just a couple of hours later and said, “You know what? If this frees me up to work with even one more 1:1 client each week, it’s worth it. Let’s do it.”
And that’s REALLY what it comes down to: Will outsourcing some of your content creation free you up to work on the things that only you can do in your business, most specifically, those things that make you money?
If so, I believe it’s worth your time to find a writer who can put on your voice and create some content that sounds just like you.
And the first step is defining your voice. I have an affordable DIY workbook to help you do just that — click here for more information.
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