Writer onboarding and brand guidelines: The unsung heroes of content marketing success [Video]
The upfront prep work you need to do when working with contract content writers.
Creating a content strategy and finding qualified writers can set the foundation for content marketing success, but there are other important elements to consider before you build on that foundation. Your writer onboarding process and the resources you provide to freelance writers can end up having a large influence over the return on your content investment.
Process matters. A thorough onboarding process can eliminate misunderstandings before they occur and set the tone for your relationship with your writers. This process should provide them with explicit details regarding what their content will achieve.
“If you are an agency, ask your client questions [such as] ‘Who is your target audience?’ and ‘What’s the goal of this content?’ so you have an actual strategy for [your writers] rather than just handing a topic over,” said Jessica Foster, SEO copywriter and content strategist at Keys&Copy SEO, during our session of Live with Search Engine Land focusing on how to find and foster relationships with content writers.
Up-front preparation will pay off. The onboarding process should also provide your writers with a well-defined set of brand guidelines and a brief or statement of purpose (SOP) to ensure that the content they produce serves your audience and promotes your business goals — “Basically, you’re giving them all the tools they need to be successful,” she said.
“Talented content creators can fashion anything you need, but directions have to be clear,” Shannon K. Murphy, chief strategist at Shine Content Strategy told Search Engine Land, recommending that each assignment be accompanied by a detailed outline. This can save your internal staff time that might otherwise be spent editing and waiting on revisions.
Provide communication channels. Despite dictating the deliverable, brands and agencies must remember that freelance content writers are partners who, in addition to being instructed, need to be supported. One way to do this is to set up an ongoing dialogue between your internal staff and your writers and welcome their questions or concerns.
“The writer should be asking questions and supplying research while the content editor should make sure to note the brand’s perspective on this particular subject,” Murphy said, “This way, the two parties are aligned on what will be created, and the value of the piece is preserved through the writing process.”
Why we care. Content marketing is a long-term investment, and ambiguous brand guidelines and poor communication can end up hamstringing your long-term success. Providing your writers with support, a sense of purpose and a clear set of instructions will enable them to create content that’s more aligned with your audience and business objectives, increasing your return on investment.
Want more Live with Search Engine Land? Get it here:
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- Full list of Live with Search Engine Land sessions.