If you’re a small business owner who’s decided to hire writers to create content for your web and print materials, you’re already on your way to building a more personable presence. Content writers can add a lot of value to your business, but a writer’s content is often only as good as your instructions. Before assigning work, think about what you truly want to communicate, then follow this simple guide to make sure your instructions are clear, consistent, and geared towards maximizing results for your business.
When faced with the task of writing instructions for a writer, it’s natural to feel a bit frustrated. After all, isn’t this why you chose to hire writers in the first place? Your instructions don’t have to be perfect, but to get the best results for your business, they do need to be clear. Consider including the following points to make sure your writers get the message:
- Type of writing: Blog post? Product description? Sales letter? Be clear about what you need produced.
- Audience: Are you looking to snag new customers? Activate your base? Motivate your internal team? Let your writer know who will be reading their work so they can tailor their voice appropriately.
- Tone: Do you want your content to sound like an expert or a fellow customer wrote it? Would you like some humor? Or clear, professional language?
- Point of View: The difference between a first person testimonial and an objective third person blog post is huge, so be clear about what point of view you’d like your content to come from.
- Examples: If you’ve seen effective content in the style that you want for your business, consider including a link to the source to give your writers some ideas and inspiration.
If you need to hire writers to handle a large number of similar orders, you may want to come up with a simple format that will lessen the time it takes for you to write instructions and maximize the effectiveness of the finished product. While some content writers love the freedom to structure their writing creatively, many appreciate clear formatting guidelines. Think about what’s most important to include in your content, then clearly state those elements and let your writers put the pieces together.
As with any collaboration, there are times when the vision and the final product simply don’t line up. Remember: any content writer worth her salt is as invested as you are in completing a quality piece of writing. When you receive a piece that you’re not satisfied with, remind the writer of your initial instructions and give them another chance to get it right. Sending a completely new set of instructions can be disrespectful to the time they’ve already spent on your project, so take care to be clear the first time around to maximize results and minimize turnaround time.
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.