I recently had a client ask for advice on working with writers. If you are considering hiring a copywriter (either freelance or in-house), here are some leadership pointers to help you get the most out of the engagement:
Review Portfolios Carefully
Make sure you find a writer who has experience in two things: writing the same types of content and writing for the same types of audience. A consumer-focused retail blog is very different from a technical B2B white paper or an email campaign series to onboard a software client.
Manage Your Brand
To ensure brand consistency across all of your company messaging, you should establish brand voice and tone guidelines. These guidelines should be documented and include examples. This can start simple and evolve as you gain experience. Things that you correct or edit out can be added to the guidelines.
Share Your Marketing Plan
You should have a marketing plan and goals that you can clearly communicate to your writer. In particular, the audience and your differentiators will need to be clearly communicated to a writer. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of sharing the big picture with them.
Develop an Editorial Calendar
It helps to establish an editorial calendar, at least on a quarterly basis, so that everyone is on the same page about what is going to happen and when. This can also help with big picture thinking as a writer gets to know you and sees what is on the horizon.
Establish a Workflow and Timelines
You will want to establish a workflow and timelines for expectations on what the process will be. For example, working backward from the publish dates on the editorial calendar – do you need 1 week for a rough draft, one week for your review and 2-3 days for final revisions? If you have employees these timelines are under your control. With external vendors you need to work with them to establish timelines and make sure that they feel they can commit to them.
Get Clarity on Pricing and Estimates
You will want to clarify how long it takes to write certain kinds of content. Sharing clear examples in advance will help make this estimating process more accurate. Will this be a fixed budget or will it be hourly, and what is the hourly rate? Will it include a certain number of rounds of revisions? What would trigger a change order or cause the project to go over the initial estimate?
It Gets Better with Repetition
Working with the same writer will ensure consistency and help shorter the learning curve for the writer so that things get better over time. If you work with a freelance platform or service and change writers frequently, you may feel like you are starting over with each piece which it might suck the life out of you from a management perspective.
Evaluating the Process
It’s a true pleasure to work with gifted and experienced writers. They don’t procrastinate, they add tremendous value to the process and make your organization shine. Working with a poor fit or inexperienced writer can mean the quite the opposite. While you will probably always need to provide some feedback and revisions, you should know by the very first draft whether they are elevating the process or if you will need to pull the project across the finish line yourself. Look for the writer who lightens the load.
If you are looking for help identifying a copywriter please let me know. I can help establish voice and tone guidelines, screen candidates and you set your engagement up for success.