You hire a design firm to handle creating your business’s website and hire contractors to remodel your office, so it’s not that much of a stretch to want to outsource your writing to a professional on your company’s blog. When working with outside writers, it’s typical to get better content when you give the writer more to work with. This means that while the content creation part of your blog is in a third-party’s control, the actual directional control and content planning processes are still your responsibility.
Should I Hire a Writer?
If you’re deciding between having your staff write content or hiring an outside writer you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the internal writer have the expertise around the content subject and its related areas to sufficiently understand what the blog will cover?
- Is the internal writer well-versed enough in blog writing to clearly and concisely explain the desired content free of grammatical and spelling errors?
- Does the company have the free payroll and time to allow the writer to complete the assignment?
- Is it going to cost more to have the internal writer handle the content?
If you’ve answered “no” to any of these questions going with an outsourced writer will most likely be your best bet. If you’ve answered “yes” to all the questions, you may still want to hire an outside writer for higher-quality content.
The Return on Planning Effort
As previously mentioned, the more you give the writer to work with the better content you’ll receive in return. Providing your outsourced writer with a central topic idea and a handful of main points you’d like to see covered goes a very long way. Providing this information ensures that the writer will return a blog on a topic you want that covers what you think it should and allows the business to share some of its expertise with the writer. It also makes the writer’s life a lot easier because generating story ideas and doing wide research to figure out how to focus the topic can be a time-consuming process. This will also help build a stronger relationship with talented writers who are more likely to want to work with you if they can have a faster return on work while still maintaining the same high level of quality. Early on in the writing relationship, it is more important to provide blog topic ideas, but a well-verse writer may be able to generate great ideas for topics your staff wouldn’t come up with. Trusting your writers to come up with their own content ideas comes down to how specific of content you’re looking for and how much you trust the writer. It may help to work with a balance of who determines the blog topic. You can also fall back on the writer if you can’t come up with an idea for a blog you’re satisfied with.
Freelance travel writers are a prime example of cases where the writer should come up with a topic idea and when the business should do it. For example, the business can easily suggest blog topics that are not location-sensitive akin to “7 Tips for Surviving the Airport” and “Uber vs. Taxi for Travel” that the writer can work with. However, location-specific content like “10 Secret Things to See in Miami” or “5 Unexpected Sights in Reno” may require a certain level of familiarity with the area that you can’t expect all writers to have.
Have a contingency plan in place in the event that a writer returns a rubbish blog, the work comes in late, or the blog does not come in at all. While these instances are rare if you’re working with experienced writers they still can happen. Occasionally a good writer just can’t make a blog work or encounters a family emergency: this is the nature of the business. You can protect yourself from problems by having a backup writer and establishing a content publication buffer time period. Back-up writers will usually welcome the opportunity to turn some extra money, so it’s wise to have one or two lined up. If your blog is published weekly, you should consider publishing blogs a week or two after they are completed to generate a buffer time period in the event something goes wrong one week. The buffer period may sound like it puts you at a disadvantage for blog timeliness because work related to current events will come in a week or two late, but this is not actually the case. If you have a blog that is time-sensitive, you can push it to the front of the publication queue and delay releasing the other blogs.
Having a plan for your content plan may sound redundant, but it is a proven way to get excellent content out of outsourced writers. It requires a little more effort, but that effort can go a very long way and makes for an excellent use of your time.
Dan S is a former news journalist turned web developer and freelance writer. He has a penchant for all things tech and believes the person using the machine is the most important element.