I’ll be including a few professional development articles here periodically along with the regularly scheduled program.
In the world of digital marketing, we’re all trying to accommodate Google, right? So we abide by these rules and end-up forcing our copywriters to write the same article over and again. In most cases the process works fine. But is it really working well enough for you? Let’s think about where the process is potentially breaking down.
If you are a marketing manager, or working at a marketing agency, chances are that you have a ton of clients who all have the same deal going on. You’ll need to write some landing page copy for the sale for them. The good news is that you have freelance copy writers on hand to help you do it! Problem solved, right? Well, not exactly.
The problem with many agencies is that they only have 5-10 freelancers on hand at any time. Meaning, each writer is pumping out around 10 or more versions of the same article for each sale or event that comes up.
The traditional formula is to have that freelancer re-write an intro and conclusion for each version and update any location details. Don’t forget, they also have to look up each location, find landmarks to mention, get all the info correct, and copy-edit their article around three times once it is finished before turning back in a final product for you to review. Then, you’ll have someone on your staff edit it again. Once that is all done, you will finally publish it to the client’s site. Wow, just typing that was exhausting!
The three things that may be breaking your copywriting workflow
1) Your writers are getting bored and burnt out by writing the same thing over and again. Meaning, they are becoming apathetic. Why? It’s not because they are lazy. It’s because they are being forced to do a monotonous task, which is naturally leading them toward disinterest. The task is no longer creative but instead formulaic. More than that, once a writer has to do more than 5 of these at a time, they begin to skim rather than give your assignment the attention it deserves.
2) You are missing deadlines because you have to keep going back to give your writer more instructions in order to get the copy you want.
3) Your writers are too scared to tell you that your process isn’t working for them. The fear is that once they speak up, they will be replaced because of how many other content writers are out there that would be happy to take over for them.
So to make your copywriting workflow actually work, some things need to happen. First, try asking yourself some questions. I suggest sitting down with a new document and thoroughly writing out your answers to the questions below so that you can see how to improve your process before even having to read the rest of this article.
12 Questions to help you improve your copywriting workflow
- Are you giving your writers relevant persona information?
- Are you providing your writers with a consistent style guide that is thorough?
- Have you been expecting your writers to assume what they should be doing at any point during their assignment?
- Did you ask your writers to read over some examples of content they should model their work after?
- Are your writers actually reading the examples?
- Do you check-in with your writers? Have you asked them how they are doing or to give you any feedback?
- Are you making sure your writers feel valued?
- Have you explained the specific goal of each writing assignment to you writers?
- Do they know about your conversion needs?
- Have they been told about the importance of effective CTA’s?
- Have you told them what keywords to focus on?
- Is there a clear, hard deadline in place for each stage of the assignment?
Okay, now that you have your answers, you can already begin to see where you could be making improvements in your workflow.
I am asking you to do this small assignment because too often I have seen companies devalue their writers. The assumption is that anyone can write. This happens because employees at these companies already know the company voice. They have been around for a while and have read all of the marketing copy and company brochures. They could write a blog post or article in just one afternoon because they know all there is to know. So the assumption is that professional writers will have no problem completing the assignment either. There is also the assumption that writing is easy.
These two assumptions are detrimental for your business.
Here is why:
Your freelance writers know next to nothing about your company. On top of that, they are being paid to write not research. To them, it doesn’t make sense to waste their time reading your examples or memorizing the company voice if they are only going to be getting $20 to write a flawless blog post at the end of the day.
Writing is harder than you think it is. There’s a reason English, Journalism, and Creative Writing are whole fields of study. Professional writers have most likely spent four years in post-secondary classes learning about grammar, being quizzed on various style guides, formatting papers just right, and being critiqued on sentence structure and word choice. They have also read everything put in front of them from articles by Gloria Steinem to novels and plays by Chaucer, Melville, Hawthorne, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Austen, you name it!! Some have even taken the GRE.
But now, they are being tasked with writing for you and they are finding that your task is much more difficult than the ones they had in school. It is more difficult because they are either not being given clear instructions OR they are not being given enough time or money to give you what you are looking for.
I can tell you from personal experience that each article I write for a client or franchise takes me around 4 hours to create. Even after four hours, my managers tell me to slow down at work so that I don’t miss any mistakes. Each time, I notice that around the 3rd article I edit, I stop caring. The same goes for when I’m the one copy editing these articles. Around the 10th time I read the same repeated phrase it’s almost as if I lose the ability to read carefully. My mind goes numb instead and I effectively become useless to my manager and my company. The process just breaks down.
Here’s the thing: your content is SUPER important.
To fix the process, let’s remember that content is king right now! Meaning, you should be treating it like the king. It (and by extension your writers) should be your top priority as they are one of your most valuable resources. The best thing you can do to treat your content and your writers like kings is to give them all of the information you can to make their job perfectly clear and work to reduce their frustration during assignments. So go ahead, ask yourself those 12 questions at the beginning of this article to help get better copy from your writers!
What’s the solution?
The best solution I can offer you is to simply try hiring more writers. Get more team members in your department or find more qualified freelancers to contribute to copy-editing. Then, get multiple people to help copy edit. You can even delegate the task to your interns as well to help. But it really is important that you spread out assignments between more writers to avoid being handed mediocre copy. After all, this copy is important to you and your client so why would you trust it to someone who is going to become a zombie after a certain word count or hour of work?
Another solution is to assign each a writer just one-three clients rather than 10-30 articles for one sale. That way, they will AT LEAST have different topics to write about and that will help fuel their interest and motivation.
Let me know what you think and thanks for reading guys!