Monday, June 18, 2018

4 Tips for a Smoother Content Creation Process

Hiring a freelance copywriter can do wonders for your ability to generate the marketing content your business desperately needs -- but getting that professional copywriter on board is only one of the necessary steps. You also need to make sure you're putting your copywriter's skills and expertise to good advantage, and you can't do that without a smart, efficient content creation process. Let's look at four smart practices that can help you smooth out that process.

1. Assemble All the Pieces in Advance

Some businesses may have a clear marketing strategy but no content to put toward toward, or a content writer but no clear strategy for putting that writer to work. Or maybe they have both the content creator and the marketing strategy, but no system in place to implement that strategy through everyday social media, print marketing or website tasks.

Don't just hire a copywriter; put an entire team together, like assembling the engine of a car so all the pieces perform in unison. I would recommend starting with the marketing strategist, because this professional can then point you toward the other experts your system needs.

2. Don't Rely on Last-Minute Brainstorms

This one applies mainly to the generation of blog articles, drip-marketing email articles, and other pieces that need to go out on a regular basis. You know you have to create them, and you know when you're likely to need them, but it's all too easy to fool yourself into thinking that you can wait until the last minute to address the issue.

Unfortunately, even the most brilliant copywriter needs a little heads-up and ideation time to craft high-quality work. If you wait until too late to request the latest pieces, you may find your copywriter otherwise engaged, out sick, or otherwise unable to leap into action. Plan ahead, ideally with the aid of a permanent editorial calendar, so you'll have the content you need when you need it.

3. Decide on a Voice Before You Draft

I've been in situations where clients weren't entirely sure what the style and tone of their marketing content should be. "Try something, and we'll adjust it as we go," they said. This approach is like the part of your vision test where the optometrist keeps saying,"Is it better like this or better like this?" Dialing the tone and style into a work in progress isn't impossible, but it is a waste of time and effort (and money, if you're being charged by the revision).

Take the time to sit down with your marketing strategist and settle on a voice for your brand, something aimed specifically at the target market you want (which may be markedly different from the audience your current content is attracting). Once you've nailed that voice, your writer can apply it consistently across all your marketing channels.

4. Avoid "Too Many Cooks" Syndrome

Do you have too many cooks in your content marketing kitchen? I can't tell you how many times I've gotten 90 percent of the way through a requested revision, only to have another set of requests come in that directly contradict everything I just did. Do I bill extra for that fresh headache? You bet I do, and so will just about any other freelance copywriter. The main cause of this disconnect stems from the draft going through multiple reviewers, none of which are aware of (or in agreement with) the others' remarks.

Make absolutely certain that your content creation process is wrangled by one designated individual -- a liaison who receives any and all comments, checks them for consistency, and approves the final set of comments that go to the writer. This important step could make all the difference between two quick, easy drafts and a dozen confusing, sloppily-coordinated ones.

Want more tips for optimizing your content creation process? Contact me and tell me about your current challenges!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Smart Money: Why Hiring a Freelance Copywriter Makes Sense

I sometimes receive offers from marketing agencies and other business who are looking to fill a full-time opening for a marketing copywriter. While I'm always flattered to get such requests, I always end up turning them down.

Yes, it may sound crazy to choose the topsy-turvy life of "variable employment" over a guaranteed salary at an established enterprise. Still, freelancing does hold attractions of its own for individuals attuned to the lifestyle (and it is a lifestyle choice, not just a money-making decision). But even as I pass on those offers, I'm always quick to point out to businesses why it might actually be a more sensible move to engage a freelance copywriter in San Antonio, Austin, or wherever they happen to find the right person. Take these perks under consideration:

You Can Run a Tighter Ship

Controlling your business finances means controlling your overhead. Full-time, on-site employees require desk space; the more of these employees you have, the more you're going to shell out in commercial rental space and utility bills. Don't forget the health insurance, retirement accounts, and other benefits you'll be expected to cover. Independent contractors who work from their homes make none of these demands on your budget.

You Can Get the Most Work for Your Money

How much actual work occurs in a 9-to-5 workday, as opposed to water cooler talk, bathroom breaks, and seeing how many pencils can be embedded in the ceiling? When you engage a salaried employee, you'll probably be paying for a fair amount of idleness on top of whatever work actually gets done. When you hire a freelancer, you're paying only for the work -- which only motivates the freelancer to work harder.

You Can Scale Up or Scale Down Easily

How much of a regular writing load can your staff copywriters handle? Do plus-sized projects overwhelm them? Do quiet periods find them looking for things to do? When you have a go-to "stable" of freelancers at your disposal, you can engage as many of them, or as few, as you need for any given project, allowing for optimal cost efficiency. You don't have to worry your one-and-only staff writer calling in sick or going on vacation, either. If you need a writer, just grab one out of your freelance bullpen. Your production schedule won't miss a beat.

You Can Assign Different Writers to Different Jobs

When you're stuck with a full-time writer or writing staff, you're stuck whatever that person or team brings to the table in terms of style, tone, industry knowledge, experience level, and specialized techniques. But when you can pick and choose from various freelancers as needed, you're always able to match the perfect writer up with each assignment. That means fewer rounds of revisions, less time spent on each job, and more free time for you to devote to various money-making pursuits (such as finding and cultivating new clients).

As you can see, it pays to hire a freelance copywriter. Let's talk about how you can put this sensible strategy to work for your business!