Your business is brilliant and the world needs to know about it.
But I get it. Working ON the business comes second to working IN the business. If you’re struggling to update your blog with deep, meaningful content (not just short posts) because you have no time, this article is for you.
There are skilled writers ready to take on your blog writing work. All you need to do is be ready to outsource your articles. This guide takes you through the most common concerns and hesitations every business owner has about asking someone else to tell their stories.
What do I know?
I’m the founder of Incredibble Marketing (I’m the Dibble in Incredibble). My team and I write for agencies and SMEs.
I’m also a marketer who spent 7 years in-house at software and PR agencies, figuring stuff out, learning from my mistakes and how to outsource things like a pro.
The truth is, it’s not easy the first time around. It’s not easy second time around either. I’ve made some huge mistakes! But this guide means you don’t have to.
So, here we go. Jump down to those questions which are most important to you.
Why outsource your blog writing?
Take the outsourcing leap and get ‘write blog’ off your to-do list once and for all.
Because this is the most powerful thing you can do for your business
Stories fuel your marketing. They inspire and cajole, position and empower people to choose you. And that’s what we want.
Content fuels your marketing. A well-written article becomes material for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and email marketing. If it’s ‘evergreen’ (timeless) you can whip that beauty out time and again. This is such stuff as inbound dreams are made on.
Because you don’t have time.
It’s a high-value, low-cost activity that’s going to put some serious fuel into your marketing engine. If you know your business needs this, quit procrastinating and get it done (by someone else).
Because you’ll get outside perspective on those ideas going around your head
A good copywriter won’t just write what you tell them to write. They’ll take your ideas and spin them into better, newer, shinier versions of themselves. They’ll combine thoughts, align concepts and conjure the most spectacular end piece. And you’ll be very proud to put it out there in the stratosphere under your name.
They’ll also tell you if it’s not a strong idea. (For a list of the most terrible article ideas, keep reading).
How to approach the project
Here are some things you might like to consider before you begin. Answer these questions and you’ll have the beginning of a super-awesome brief for your copywriter.
What do you want to achieve?
Copywriting is an investment that can support social sharing, data capture devices, SEO, PPC and email marketing to deliver Return on Investment (ROI). And while you don’t need a full-blown inbound marketing strategy in place to outsource your content, you do need to know what this investment is worth to you.
What are your expectations? Will these articles appear on your blog, in your newsletter? How are you sharing them? What do you want people to do when they read them? How will you measure success? Get clear about your objectives and share them with your copywriter.
What’s your budget?
You need a budget. Figure out what you’re prepared to pay to get this done.
For an entry-level ballpark, take the number of hours it typically takes you to write something and multiply it by your hourly rate. Technically, pay anything less than that and you’re saving. Further on, I explain how copywriters charge and what to expect to pay.
How developed is your brand?
Do you have a set tone of voice that copywriters should follow? Can you effortlessly describe the people who buy from you? If not, be prepared to invest time in developing this or be comfortable letting it grow organically. A copywriter will perform much better with this information behind them.
How technical is your offering?
Can someone grasp it with relative ease? Copywriters are an intelligent bunch but there’s almost always a learning curve. Can you dedicate time to explaining the ins and outs of your business? Will you prefer to feed a writer broad ideas for them to tighten up? Do you want them to be an endless source of creativity and develop content ideas for you?
This impacts how you’ll brief your copywriter. As a writer, I’ve been asked to create content ideas and work from pre-defined titles – the right approach depends on the client and the subject matter. My best advice: pick an approach you instinctively feel will work. Try it, and be prepared to test and adjust.
Most often, I’ll start with a deep-dive interview with the client, prepare a tone of voice document, idea generation and editorial calendar (a schedule of article ideas and when we’ll write and release them). If SEO if an objective, the ideas will be based on keywords the business wants to rank for.
We start writing, and about two articles in, the client and the team are sparking ideas all over the place. The editorial calendar is great to come back to when the client is too busy to talk, and we achieve a good balance of proactive and reactive content. By developing a long-term relationship, we’re learning all the time about the client and their offering.
Click here for an infographic explaining the Incredibble Content Creation Process.
Outsourcing content is a system
Just like all those other systems you have in your business, it relies on consistency and clarity. There may be teething troubles to begin with, but once it’s underway you’ll enjoy the process immensely.
Your biggest outsourcing fears
This section deals with all those bugbears and wily whispers in your head – the things that are stopping you make this happen. If you’ve got any more doubts, you should comment below. I’ll respond and update this article.
It’s too technical – how are they going to understand all this? We need someone internal with a deep understanding of the product and key points of difference to make this happen.
Maybe you do. But in my experience, a skilled product specialist is rarely a skilled wordsmith. You have three choices:
- Allow your copywriter to learn and factor this into the project.
Long term, this is your best bet because eventually they’ll totally get you and be nailing your articles all by themselves.
- Provide bullet points, notes or audio files explaining the crux of the article or topic.
This is often what the start of option 1 looks like until people pick it up.
- Write it in-house, edit it out-of-house.
This option is a short-term fix. It can be a good approach if you’ve got a bunch of half-written, not-quite-there articles kicking around in your drafts folder. Long-term, it doesn’t help you because it’s a reactive approach. When a writer proactively suggests and develops content they pick up knowledge more quickly. Here, they’ll be polishing what you wrote rather than applying strategic knowledge to the activity.
I’ll need to give them so much information I might as well write it myself.
Maybe it would be quicker to write one blog post yourself but this isn’t about writing one average blog post. This is about investing up front to get longer term rewards.
Ask yourself honestly if you’re the only one who can transmit this information? If so, you might have a contingency problem. If not, get over it, tell the stories, or ask someone else to tell the stories, and keep telling them until your copywriter, team, and customers can tell them for you. You will eventually get this off your list. It will be one less thing for you to worry about and totally worth those few extra hours upfront.
Copywriters are addicted to lists. They’ll just curate content rather than write it. I want more opinion and expression.
Some writers might be tempted to do this because, to be honest, lists are quick, current and often very relevant. They’re eternally popular and make for good evergreen content.
If you don’t want lists, if you want opinion and expression, look for a copywriter who gives opinion and expression, and/or stipulate it in your brief. (Opinion and expression fall under ‘tone of voice’ and ‘brand values’ – that’s why it’s important to develop these). The best will argue that sometimes lists are relevant, and you may see a glimpse of ‘please don’t stifle my creativity’ in their eyes (or maybe that’s just me).
They’re super lazy about social sharing
Copywriters aren’t necessarily social media experts. They’re not necessarily marketers either and the world of social may scare the bejesus out of them! What they are good at is writing.
If you request social updates, be clear about the agreement. What do you want your copywriter to do in terms of social sharing? Is it a service they offer? Do they charge for it? (They should). Are they active on social? This will give you a sense of how much they understand about the channels.
They’ll take a while to get the voice.
Yes, this is especially true if the voice hasn’t been stipulated. MailChimp has, hands down, the best style guide I have ever seen. It’s so good, it’s available on GitHub, under the Creative Commons International License, for all to use. If you’re looking to develop the ‘who’ of you, check this out.
Blows my mind every time.
They even have a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) section for the super busy.
Things you should never write about
Please, don’t ask your copywriter to cover the following:
Your new website
No one gives a damn. Especially the press. Unless your website actually transforms someone’s life, no one cares. See? I’m saving you money by getting rid of one post already.
Your latest lament
For example, how people are using emojis in emails instead of real words and how this is a clear sign the world of business etiquette is dying a slow and grammatically incorrect death. This is only suitable if you’re a comedian. Otherwise, stop it.
That one keyword
Over and over again. In one article. Like article. Because we know this article is about an article but if the article keeps mentioning article it gets really annoying and just isn’t a fun article to read. Right? Plus, Google doesn’t work like that any more and you will lose all those potential new clients.
How fabulous you are
You are fabulous, but you shouldn’t be the one to say so. Get someone else to say it for you instead.
Things you should always write about
- Answers to problems your clients desperately want to know
- Your clients’ biggest fears and how to address them
- Your clients’ biggest hopes, dreams, and aspirations and how you help them achieve them
- How insanely awesome your clients are
- How insanely awesome a supplier/software/associate is
- Latest trends and interesting research
- Your thoughts and opinions on industry updates
- Seemingly disparate information that’s cleverly related to your business/industry
- Your amazing team
How much should you pay for a blog?
More than a Fiverr. Pay a pittance and you will pay the price. I know. As a client outsourcing my content generation, I have been there. It was horrendous and I spent HOURS re-writing stuff and making zero profit. Don’t do that.
Good articles are written by articulate, educated, experienced professionals who have taken the time to study the art of getting it right.
One-off articles under 1000 words fall between the £75 and £200 mark, with volume and technicality dictating the final price. Some copywriters work on an hourly or day rate. Others have a price per word. I prefer a fixed fee per article or project. For consultancy (the stuff of insight, ideation, and organising) I go with a day rate.
Lately, Skyscraper articles are proving popular. These take time. Expect to pay more for something like this. The research and accumulation of knowledge nearly double the writing time. Totally worth it, though. These mega-posts are insanely effective for SEO.
What else do you need to know?
Your business is brilliant and the world needs to know about it. Don’t let outsourcing stand in the way of a good story.
Share your thoughts with me. Tell me: what else stops you outsourcing your blog writing?