Getting on the Same Page: Providing Clear Instructions to Your Article Writers

Posted on March 28, 2014 by Amy F

frustrationRevisions and edits are all a part of the writing process. A few tweaks might be needed here and there to make a piece flow more smoothly or to truly convey what you want it to convey. Article writers can get frustrated, though, when a client keeps sending a piece back, vaguely saying that it’s not quite right.

That process can get frustrating for the client, too, who might feel that the writer just isn’t getting it. Giving instructions to a writer is a bit of an art that takes some getting used to. To avoid headaches or worse, your instructions should include the following.

Say What You Want

Writers aren’t mind readers and they won’t know exactly what you want unless you tell them. You might be OK with giving your writer cart blanche to write about whatever, but you need to tell him or her that. If you prefer that a writer stick to a certain topic, specify the topic and give him or her basic information on it, such as your credentials in the area or the work you do with it.

Be Clear About What You Don’t

A good writer will do some research before diving into an article. But, in some cases, that research can turn up information that’s contrary to the work you do or irrelevant to your work. For example, if you’re a doctor who uses one technique during surgery, you don’t want a writer writing a piece about a technique you don’t use or a technique you think is harmful or outdated. If there are any topics or areas that are off limits to your writer, tell him or her what they are before you turn him or her loose on the assignment.

How Do You Want It?

In the end, it will be your article, so feel free to specify what format you prefer to your writer. Perhaps you’re a fan of subheadings, perhaps you’re not. You might want the writer to throw in some bullet points to break up the text or you might prefer a standard paragraph layout.

Style issues vary from person to person, too. If you love the oxford, or serial comma, let your writer know. If you want him or her to abbreviate state names using just two letters, that’s another thing to be clear about. You can also point your writer in the direction of your preferred style, such as the AP or Chicago.

Who’s Going to Read This?

Your writer needs to know who the article’s audience is to create the most relevant and appropriate piece. For example, a legal piece written for a general audience will be a lot less complex and jargon-filled than a legal piece written for fellow lawyers. The same is true if a piece is written for school-aged children than for adults. Give your writer a general idea of the demographics for the piece, such as “professionals in the medical field,” “stay at home moms and dads,” or “high school students,” so that he or she knows the general tone to take on when writing.

Amy F is a freelance writer in Philadelphia, PA. She’s been writing professionally since 2007, covering topics ranging from personal finance to health and from legal topics to home and garden.


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