Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Outsourcing to a Freelance Copywriter? Do It the Smart Way

Once upon a time I received a request from a business owner who needed professional-quality content for his website. I suggested my Small Website Package, a heavily discounted web content service I offer to marketing vendors and end user alike, as the most cost-efficient and time-efficient way of making that happen. Some time went by with no response to my quote. When I followed up, he told me that he had been delayed in responding because he figured he could save money by roughing out the content himself and simply letting me edit it. 

No such luck. The content I received was so rough that it took me many hours of editing to get it into acceptable shape -- more hours, in fact, than writing it from scratch would have taken. As a result, my client ended up paying more for the editing than he would have paid for the writing. And that doesn't even include all the valuable billable time (and for all I know, hair) he lost over that rough draft!

I bring this up because an increasing number of business owners have discovered the power of outsourcing, thanks in part to Timothy Ferris's popular book on the subject, The 4-Hour Workweek. Ferris has carved out a lifestyle for himself based on outsourcing an enormous portion of his daily activities to third parties while streamlining his own share of the routine for maximum productivity in a minimal amount of time. It makes perfect sense, really -- hand over a time-consuming/tedious/specialized job (such as copywriting) over to someone who can do it really well in a fraction of the time it would probably take you (such as a professional copywriter). By having that third party work while you do other things, you're "stacking" your productivity for optimal time and money savings.

But like so many other things in life, outsourcing only works if you work it. The client I mentioned didn't save himself any time or money because he did the job and then outsourced it to be fixed. The lost billable time plus the extra hours required for extensive editing just made the job more expensive to complete. 

Now, there are certainly situations where editing is all a client needs, and I will recommend that course of action if it makes sense. If the writing's already done and mostly where it needs to be, then a quick polish can do the rest quickly and affordably. But if you're starting from zero, take advantage of the power of outsourcing and let your copywriter take the whole thing off your plate. You'll breathe easier, you can go back to doing what you do best, and you'll be getting more for your money.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Back to the Well: The Art of Repeating Your Blog Content

It's every marketing content creator's nightmare. You warm up the computer (the one on your desk or the one in your head), you search for a fresh topic for a blog article, and that's when you realize that you've hit the wall. Somehow you have managed to cover every single subject possible for discussion; there's absolutely nothing left to say, or at least that's how it seems at the moment. Meanwhile, that archive of articles from years gone by beckons to you like a long-forgotten pile of gold doubloons. "Oh, but I couldn't just.... but... I mean.... could I?" Yes, you can indeed re-use, re-visit or recycle old marketing content for your blog, as long as you do it the right way.

What's the wrong way? Well, simply re-posting an old article verbatim isn't an ideal approach. Regardless of what Google may or may not think about duplicate content within the same blog (and that's a question for your web developer or SEO expert), your devoted readers may recall reading that piece before -- and if they feel you're just treading water, they won't have any reason to keep checking your blog for the latest insights. Also, relying completely on existing material means you're not generating the ever-growing body of work that increases your online authority.

But there's nothing wrong with, say, dusting off an old article, updating it and presenting it as your revised thoughts on the subject. Most of the original material can probably still stand, allowing you to add some new value and call it a day. You can also use that old post as the springboard for a different angle on the same topic, or quote big annotated chunks of it in a new article. Keep these points in mind:

  • Change happens. Your business, industry and/or target audience may have evolved over the years. The article that worked for you back then may not make the same impact now -- but with a little tweaking, its new an improved form could say exactly what needs to be said.
  • What's old is new to your new audience members. More recent additions to your blog readership may be totally unaware that you've tackled a given topic before, and they're not likely to dig through years of archives just to determine otherwise. These folks can probably benefit from a "rerun," while established readers won't mind a slightly new twist on the subject.
  • If it was worth saying once, it's worth saying again. Some of the most critical points emphasized in your marketing content deserve to be heard again and again, not as rote repetition but with intriguing new variations on the theme. The great composers felt no shame about doing this, and neither should you.

Don't assume that every single blog article you create has to be unique, unexplored and unheard of. As long as you can make older work fresh and relevant, you'll never run out of valuable things to say -- which means you'll never run out of marketing content!