Content Strategy: Working with writers

Creating great content starts with writing. Once you realise that you need a professional to do the writing bit, prepare for figuring out ingenious ways to get out what you want.

Today, there are individuals who work on a freelance basis and businesses like ours who take on the responsibility of providing content to other businesses. A big revelation is that working with writers or a content creation agency has got less to do with writing and more to do with people management skills.

Here are 5 things that we learnt over the past 3 years working with clients and writers on content:

  1. Briefing: This is perhaps the most important conversation between you and the writer or the agency. Let the writer or agency know about the purpose of the writing. It may be a good idea to get them on the same page as yourself on your story. The topic you want them to work on merits a detailed conversation. Leave no stones unturned on explaining what you want.
  2. Sampling: Almost always insist on doing a trial irrespective of the reputation of the writer or agency. An experienced writer or an agency does not mean he or she will be able to do justice to the content you want the writer to produce. Your definition of quality writing could be very different from theirs. Getting the writer to do a couple of sample pieces in at least two different formats would allow you to get to know the competency.
  3. Look for consistency than ‘vow’ factor: No writer is trained to start running blogs or content campaigns for you. Most writers are just looking for work. While there is a passion for writing, they are pretty dispassionate about your areas of interest. Many are part-timers or former journalists at media companies. These people come with a lot of baggage of the past and take the time to adapt to the digital media. Those in the digital media have mostly vague ideas of what works in content and what does not. Hence, it would be a good idea to slowly raise the bar of expectations as you progress.
  4. Exchange of ideas: If you are starting a blog on thought pieces on your industry, ensure that you discuss multiple ideas of content with the writer/agency. Get the agency also to suggest ways to structure a piece of content. For example, an experienced writer would be able to tell you the extent of an ideal word count that you would need or the visual to use along with it.
  5. Do not outsource your thinking: This is an important point. While the writer may help you strengthen your thoughts, they may not be able to read your mind. It is also important to a marketer, you define contours of your digital identity. You already know where you stand as a business on important issues. You are aware of the level of knowledge you wish to share with your stakeholders. You need to articulate that to the writer or agency. In short, ensure that you keep control of your digital identity and thinking. Leave the writing to writers.

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