March 20, 2019 in Tips by

In my 10+ years of experience working in internet marketing, content creation is one of the hardest parts of my job. Not creating it- that’s easy. The hard part is convincing clients on the importance of allowing me to create the content for their site. Unfortunately, this is also the easiest way to win, as in more customers and more revenue- and it’s almost impossible to do internet marketing without content.

I get it. I have a hard time allowing others to write for my site, too. Maybe I need to listen to the advice I often give my customers:

You need another person’s perspective

I think we’ve all experienced this before: someone describes you in a way that’s slightly insulting before you realize they’re absolutely correct. It’s really hard for anyone to take an honest view of themselves.

The same thing’s true about our companies. Especially if we love what we do, and care about our work, it’s hard for us to have a clear, outsiders perspective on what we do.

This is a problem when it comes to marketing our businesses. Sometimes this blindness doesn’t allow us to write about our companies in productive ways that will resonate with our customers.

I have to admit that I’ve fallen for this on my own website. As a business owner, I say that I focus on B2B companies looking to generate more leads. As I write my own content, however, I often meander into other audiences. I know why- a dollar is a dollar is a dollar. Still, I can’t escape this drive to not leave money on the table, and a bigger audience means a bigger payday. This creeps into my content. Many times I don’t even notice it.

This is where an outside writer can help. I can give them directions (like focusing on B2B customers) and they will follow the directions more closely than I would myself. Now the content will be done right- without my subconscious eeking in.

You need to avoid technical jargon

You’re an expert in your field. You know more than your competitors- and often more than your customers. Unfortunately, that’s the problem. When you write content for your own site, you might be speaking technically and leaving your potential customers confused.

When you hire an outside writer to produce website content, they won’t have your expertise- for sure- but that might help them write for your customers- who don’t have your expertise either. Instead, a good writer will be able to translate your concepts and jargon into ways that people find easier to understand. Why? Because a writer probably has the same questions as your customers, making your content that much more digestible, and as a result, more customer-friendly.

It’s also important to write in simple, clear language. The point is not to show off your immense vocabulary, which is impressive by the way. And this is just one of the dozens of best practices that go into creating great content. Best practices that take some time to learn.

This is important when it comes to writing for SEO. No, I’m not talking about keyword stuffing your content. I’m talking about how many customers search Google for the wrong thing while looking for your products and services. I’ve seen this many times before. Customers want to write about this or that specific type of product or service because that phrase most accurately describes what they have to offer. When my writers produce content, however, they pick the “wrong” term to write about- according to the client, and thus the client is disappointed.

This is when I ask my client: “Would you take money from someone who searched for this ‘incorrect’ phrase?” Most of the time, that answer is a quick and resounding, yes. That just means we need to take the content and connect the “wrong” phrase with the “right” one. This is something a good writer can do. If you let a writer do this for your company, you’ll be rewarded with more customers. Even if they started by searching for the “wrong” term, they become customers because our content educated them on what they really need.

You’ve got more important things to do

Clients often hire me in a consulting role. “You tell us what to do, David,” they say, “and we’ll take care of it.” I’m happy to work this way with people.

It rarely works out in the long term.

Why? I have an insatiable hunger for new and original content. Even the most eager client has a hard time coming up with the volume of content I need.

Let’s be honest: marketing teams are the red-headed stepchildren of your company. If it doesn’t fit into someone else’s role, you wind up drawing the short straw. That means you’re always running around. You’ve got deadlines. Half the time you’ve got to learn something new on the fly and in a short amount of time- because nobody else knows how to do it. You might even like it this way (at least, I hope you do)!

With that, how can you spend the time necessary writing for your own site? Good writing takes time. It takes research. It takes knowledge and experience, and you don’t have time for that. Let someone else do it.

Sure, this will still take some of your time. You’ll want to read and review this content- to make sure it’s accurate. Sometimes that seems more daunting than writing it yourself. I promise, however, if you start to work with a good writer they will learn. The more they learn the easier it will be for you to review it. My goal for every client: that we know their content so well, they tell us, “Stop bugging me! Just publish it, already! I know the content is good!”

How to trust someone to write your website’s content

It’s hard to let someone else write for your website. Here are some tips that can help:

  1. Prepare a writers requirements document. A little preparation time will help make things move faster and produce a better final product. Keep updating it. As you get content back from writers, you’ll realize that you forgot to include something the last time. Keep this document up to date, and ask your writer to help you with this. In some ways, they might have an easier time putting your ideas into words, than you. Yes, that’s ironic.
  2. Remember: just because you’d word something differently, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If it’s wrong, fix it. If you’d have said it in a different way, but it’s still accurate, maybe you should let it go.
  3. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress (something an old boss used to say; later I found out he was quoting Voltaire). I’d never suggest you lower your standards and publish low-quality content. I’m saying that you’re not going to notice the additional 1% improvement if the article is already 99% complete. This is especially true when it comes to web content. The secret truth: nobody really reads all the content on a website. They scan. Don’t believe me- setup HotJar on your site and watch people scan your blog posts. A good writer understands this and creates the content with scanners in mind – yes, more best practices.
  4. Delegating anything is hard for most people. What would you tell a subordinate who had a hard time delegating a task? Remind yourself of that tip, too. For example, think about how much you get paid an hour and how many hours it would take you to write the content. Could you pay someone to do it faster, better, and for less money? The answer you’re searching for is, yes.

Overcoming legal or regulatory hurdles

Some companies have very strict requirements about their content. This makes content production even more difficult. Because new and unique content is really important to any internet marketing campaign, this often results in stalled results.

Like another former boss used to say, “A lawyer’s job is to tell you, ‘No.’” Let’s pause and remember why: to protect your company (and your job probably, too). If the content you publish hurts your company, that hurt could be immense.

There are ways to work around strict restrictions on content. Over the years, I’ve had to follow several strategies like:

  1. Record an interview. In the least, you could publish a transcription of the recording. Bonus points if you hire a writer to convert it into a unique article. In fact, I find I can give good writers an interview and they can each find 2 or 3 unique topics for each 15-minute interview. Give it to more writers, and you get more topic ideas. Since it’s a transcript, it’s in your own words, so you should be able to follow the strict requirements necessary for content.
  2. Allow guest contributors. Sometimes you can produce a professional distance by allowing guest writers to contribute to your site with their byline and name attached to it. If they say something wrong, it’s their opinion and your company can’t be held responsible. Add a disclaimer, if it helps. This works especially well when it comes to blogging. Even better if they’re blogging on another website- it gives them further distance from your company.

Sometimes branding guidelines can be harder to overcome than even the legal team. If this is what’s holding you back you might have a battle on your hands. It’s a battle worth fighting. Branding shouldn’t hinder your marketing efforts- it should enhance them.

Drinking my own Kool-Aid

I get it. It’s hard to let someone write content for your company’s website. In a hope to be encouraging to you, here’s how I’ve had to bite the bullet and do it myself.

  1. I had to hire someone to re-write my About Us page. This is one of the most important pages, according to Google’s Manual Review Guidelines, to the credibility of a site, but I didn’t write it. I didn’t have time. Joanne Spataro did. We went back and forth- several times (she probably hates me now)- but I’m finally happy with it. She helped take an ambiguous set of guidelines, in my brain, and turn them into an accurate representation of my company. At the end of the project, I’m glad she was able to help.
  2. I had to hire someone to write for my own blog. Jami Olive is a trusted writer with whom I’ve worked for many years. Because I can’t even keep up with my blog, I asked her to help. The bonus for me: she could write about B2B marketing topics that I’ve always wanted to write about, but couldn’t find the time. Of course, because they’re in my blog, I review them before they go live, each time- I’m the expert, after all. Still, I rarely have to make any edits- because she’s a good writer and researcher.
  3. I had to hire someone to edit this article for me. I wanted to write this article to share my experience in overcoming common barriers to producing content. At the end of the day, however, I had to admit- I’m not the best writer. That’s why I hired Nick Mistretta to edit it. He not only made sure this post was grammatically correct but helped show me where I was unclear and added his own experience.

If I can do it, you can too.

Why have you found it hard to delegate your website’s content, to another writer? How have you overcome it?

WordCamp Asheville 2019

You might have heard David speak at WordCamp Asheville in 2019.

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