For content creation to go right… it’s not just on the writer, it’s on you too. That’s why content creation relationships that are built on mutual respect, clear communication, and constructive feedback are more important than you might think.
Here are some positive habits to adopt (and some areas of improvement) so you can set your content creator up for success and make glorious content together every time.
5 things to stop doing with your content creator
Bad habits creep in… here are several you may not realize you’re doing in your existing content creation relationships.
1. Expecting your writer to see your vision if you don’t clearly explain it.
When you’re working with a content creator outside your organization, they will not be as close to the subject matter as you are. Even a pro writer who specializes in the subject matter will benefit from supportive materials.
If you’re assigning new content and your instructions are one to two sentences with zero attachments, links, bullet points, briefs, etc… you’re expecting your writer to innately get it — and it will be much harder for them to deliver the content you’re looking for.
2. Not taking your writer’s experience into consideration.
Budgets are budgets. You may not have a super comfy content marketing budget when you’re hiring content creators. In this case, you’re likely paying less and working with less experienced writers.
Less experienced writers are also wonderful content creators to work with, as long as you provide ample guidance and support. Always invite them to ask questions and make sure they have everything they need to do great work.
If you’re working with more experienced writers, you can lean on them more — but again, it never hurts to check in.
3. Assuming quick turnarounds are always possible.
Sometimes things happen. Content gets stuck in the review or approval process, and you have to swoop in with another piece at the last minute. These situations affect turnaround times, which directly impact your writer.
- Rushed turnaround time: 24 hours or less
- Quick turnaround time: 2–3 days
- Acceptable turnaround time: 1 week
- Preferable turnaround time: 2 weeks or more
Occasionally, it’s okay to ask for a quick turnaround as long as your writer is available and willing. Most writers are happy to take on rush work if the client is willing to pay an additional rush fee.
To foster content creation relationships that benefit both parties, stick with acceptable (one week) and preferable (two+ weeks) turnaround times; otherwise, content quality may suffer. Get ahead of your content creation process so your writer has the time to produce the best possible content.
4. Forgetting be clear about personas.
You know who this piece of content is for, but are you remembering to clarify that persona each time you work with your content creator? When working with a new content creator, send them all of your buyer persona details, so they understand the audience this content will be speaking to.
After you’ve sent over the persona details upfront, reiterate which specific persona their content is intended for any time you create content together. Without this clarification, the point of view could end up being skewed, so the content doesn’t make sense. And, that’s a hefty rewrite.
5. Not relaying feedback in a constructive manner.
Content creators are both human beings and artists. Creative people tend to be more sensitive — this sensitivity makes them great at what they do, but they also feel hurt if someone rips their work to shreds or if they feel like their work is undervalued.
You’re the client, and you’re paying for this work, so you have every right to deliver feedback on a regular basis. But part of developing content creation relationships is treating your freelancers with respect.
Let them know the specific things you liked and what you didn’t with clear examples and explanations. Avoid inflammatory statements, harsh language, or insults.
5 things to start doing with your content creator
Now that you know which bad habits to quit, here are the good habits to take up for better content creation relationships.
1. Providing as many details as possible.
Even if your writer is experienced, it never hurts to give them plenty of supportive materials, so they are totally set up for success. If your writer is less experienced, it’s even more important to ensure they have as many details as possible.
As you’re assigning a new piece of content to your writer, including most or all of the following:
- Content type (i.e. listicle, Q&A interview, thought leadership, curated)
- Related internal resources (similar blogs, videos, case studies to reference and respin)
- Inspirational external resources (i.e., competitors to one-up, top-ranking articles, answers to “people also ask” questions)
- Real-world quotes (i.e. reviews, testimonials, thought leader contributions)
- Subject matter expertise (provide bullet points or an interview transcript from an SME)
- SEO strategy (i.e., primary and secondary keyword targets, “people also ask” questions for headers)
- Audience (specify which persona this piece is being made for)
- Other misc. instructions (i.e., three title options, meta description, list of sources, social copy, internal and external link guidelines)
- Invite questions (Always close with an invitation for them to ask for clarification, just in case)
2. Giving brand and messaging guidelines.
Any new writers you work with should have clear brand guidelines and messaging foundations, like personas and brand statements. As you continue to work with writers and develop better content creation relationships, make sure they have the most up-to-date version of your guidelines.
Not only does this information give your writer more context, but it also ensures branding and messaging consistency, so the voice and purpose are communicated well.
Additionally, being aligned on simple grammatical preferences (i.e., em dash vs. en dash vs. hyphen) will make your life a lot easier when you’re editing content.
3. Working with the same writer long-term.
Working with the same content creators long-term can make a huge difference in content efficiency and quality.
Although it might be tempting to bounce around to different writers, this is uncharted territory. Not all writers are created equal, as you’ve very likely experienced. If you’re working with an amazing writer, keep giving them work — keep building loyalty and mutual respect.
4. Playing to your writer’s strengths.
There are all types of content creators out there… specialists and generalists, technical writers and journalists. Do you know which kind of writer you’re working with?
All this time, you’ve been assigning them tons of blogs because you needed to hit your publishing cadence. Maybe they’re a fiction writer who is passionate about customer stories, and they don’t love blog content as much.
Maybe they enjoy writing how-tos, but they struggle with thought leadership. Ask your writer what kind of content they prefer to help improve the overall quality of your content.
5. Showing your appreciation.
We appreciate what our writers do for us… our content engine wouldn’t run without them. But how often do we show our appreciation? It doesn’t take much, and it doesn’t have to happen all the time. This is especially helpful for long-term content creation relationships.
Say “hello” and “thank you.” Let them know they have permission to add any content they want to their portfolio. And give praise or even a testimonial about their services.
How to make content creation relationships thrive
Two words to live by when you’re beginning any new piece with your content creator…
We’re all moving fast in a fast-paced world. Along the way, we’ve turned brevity into a bad habit. Slow down — acknowledge the areas for improvement in your content creation relationships.
Overshare and overcommunicate to make sure your writer has the support system they need to achieve success — and you get the kind of exceptional content your brand deserves.
Need help creating content, managing freelancers, and editing articles (or all three)? ClearVoice has your back. Talk to a content specialist today about our managed content services.