When Should You Give a Byline to a Content Writer?
So many different factors go into finding the ideal content writers for your team. But once you’ve chosen which writers you’d like to work with based on attributes like their writing style, areas of expertise, and specific types of experience, you may be wondering if you should give them a byline or strictly keep to white labeling their work. Here’s why you would, or wouldn’t, want to give a content writer a byline.
How Many People On Your Team?
What kind of brand do you operate? If you have a small team that is quickly-growing and you want to give the impression that your team is bigger than it actually is, this is where giving by-lines to multiple writers can come in handy. It’s also totally acceptable to have a freelance writer you regularly work with get a by-line, and giving them one is more appropriate if you plan on a long-term relationship opposed to a tryout.
However, if you’ve invested heavily in devising a style guide for your brand and don’t want the writer to inject their personal style into pieces too much then you’ll want to stick to white labeling. This is particularly important if your brand is trying to come across as a thought leader for certain industries and niches. Even if you specifically work with this writer because of their specialized knowledge and experience that contributes to that thought leadership, they won’t be offended if they don’t get a by-line in the name of brand consistency. That’s just how the game is played in the content world.
By-Lines Can End Up Straddling Multiple Fields
If you offer a by-line to a content writer, what is your reasoning for it if it’s not trying to make your team appear bigger?
Some brands specifically seek out established writers and/or influencers to provide content for them since influencer marketing’s huge: 40% of Twitter users and 60% of YouTube subscribers make purchasing decisions based on influencers they like, per the Content Marketing Institute. There’s nothing wrong with using an established writer who has some renown in their field (such as this post’s author in video games) provided that you’re also purposely paying for that by-line, which quickly blurs the line between content writing and influencer marketing. This person isn’t just writing some quick web copy for you, you’re actively benefiting from their knowledge and reputation with higher expectations so compensation and guidelines need to account for these things.
The same is also true if that writer has other attributes you want to capitalize on, such as a massive social media following or a blog that gets a lot of traffic. That definitely requires a by-line and additional compensation where appropriate. Similarly to influencer marketing, you’re getting additional benefits aside from just written words. It’s also not the writer’s job to promote the piece and if you want to change that, you need to give them both a by-line and appropriate remuneration.
By-Lines Are a Two-Way Street
What makes by-lines for content tricky is the ownership and legality aspects. There are content writers who have literally thousands of pieces under their belts, but they can’t publicly post these pieces on their portfolios due to legality issues. Saving content they’ve written to private collections so they can show future clients helps, but it doesn’t have the same power as a by-line. By-lined work can be posted to public portfolios, gig and job applications, and comes up in web searches which can be a massive boon to a content writer looking to break into by-lined articles.
However, it all goes back to your brand and what you’re trying to accomplish. Content writers aren’t a monolith and that by-line can also reflect on you. Some content writers have online personas that may disagree with your brand and/or values so you’ll want to white label their work instead. Many people use content writing to pay their bills and it has nothing to do with the rest of their online presence so you just won’t see a tangible benefit by offering one.
They’re not likely to be offended by your refusal to offer a by-line as it’s just part and parcel of content marketing work: the end client owns the final product whether it has their name attached or not, most of them are just happy to write a great piece that exceeds your expectations and get paid for it. Depending on the writer’s career goals as well, they may even not want a by-line from you specifically while they seek out others.
Ultimately, the decision to give a by-line or not depends on your brand’s goals and overall style. No matter what they are, WriterAccess is the place to find every type of writer from basic copywriters to specialists and influencers who are able to provide you with thought leadership or large followings!
Rachel P is an indie game developer, writer, and consultant. She is also a content strategist here at Writer Access and would be happy to help you with keyword maps, customer journey maps, and buyer personas in addition to writing for you. If you would to like to hire Rachel to devise a content strategy for you, please contact your account manager or send a direct message.