In any marketing department, there's a good chance a writer is responsible for at least a portion of the team's success.
Content drives everything these days, and this industry is rife with resources and solutions designed to connect marketers with the writing talent they need to keep up with the demands of their marketing campaigns.
You may rely on a small group of freelancers because you love their writing voices, but managing a team of independent creatives, each with his or her rates, response times, and bandwidths, can be tricky.
Or maybe may work with a full-service agency you trust, but the writer assigned to your account struggles with the material.
Or outsourcing altogether has seemed like an impossible proposition and you rely on your internal subject-matter experts to drive your content—when they have the time.
One option many marketing departments overlook is the single, dedicated writing resource. Whether that's one writer who works in-house or a small team of writers whose entire focus is developing effective content for brands like yours, this option can seem too risky (what if they quit?) or too expensive to make sense.
In reality, if managed properly, a more targeted approach to securing writing talent can result in some of the best content a marketer could hope for.
Here's why having a single writer—or small, connected team of writers—can be ideal, and how you can mitigate the risk of your content machine's crashing if that one resource leaves.
The Benefits of Creative Focus
It can take a long time to get up to speed on any brand's standards for messaging, not to mention the real effort it takes a writer to master a given industry's lingo. One of the biggest challenges facing today's marketers is finding a way to effectively communicate the requirements for a piece of content, like brand voice, preferred language, and the audience's perspective.
When you go into a relationship with a more focused resource, providing this kind of background information will naturally be less of a time-sink over time. Initially, there will be a real need for heavy revisions. Revision is a critical part of the writing process, yet so many marketers are so pressed for time that it can be difficult to repeat the same basic feedback to multiple freelancers or internal contributors. But feedback is vital, and a truly skilled writer will be able to take even the most critical of comments with grace in the interest of producing the best final product.
Eventually, a writer or writing team will learn all the idiosyncrasies of a brand, get to know its intended audience well, and anticipate what kind of feedback he or she will have to work with.
Giving Focused Writers the Support They Need
Most marketers who oversee content marketing campaigns have a lot on their plate. Even if you end up hiring a single in-house writer, you'll always be more client than editor, and that's an important distinction to make. You may be comfortable providing the sort of feedback that gets content pieces aligned with your vision for a campaign, your KPIs, and personas—but if you were a writer, you'd be writing the content yourself.
Especially in a professional context, the dated concept of the lone wolf writer working in isolation under a weeping willow simply isn't realistic. Educated writers—the kinds of writers you should be employing—don't learn to write in a silo. Sharpening one's craft requires ongoing support from other people in many ways that might fall outside a manager's capabilities or schedule.
Opting to work with a team-based writing resource, like an agency, checks this box right out the gate. These writers have colleagues who can provide that additional support beyond basic edits, like accuracy reviews, research support, and the ability to help someone in a creative drought. Even if an individual writer best meets your needs, it's important to invest in this kind of support so content is consistently of top quality.
Steps to Ensure Continuity of Content Execution
Supporting and grooming a single writing source sounds great in theory, but is it all for nothing if your writer moves on?
It doesn't have to be. The key here is content documentation. Develop a standard creative brief template you can use for every blog post, press release, webpage, whitepaper. or other written piece of content you produce. Keep a comprehensive archive of all content ever produced, and not just of finished pieces. Versioning your drafts will give future additions to your writing team a quick and easy way to review how the writing process works.
It can also be tremendously beneficial to dedicate some time to developing high-level voice and messaging guidelines for your content. Put together a document that includes basic things like mission statements and PR boilerplates, but also in-depth reference materials dedicated to describing the qualities of the brand's voice and the key challenges, emotions, and values shared by your target customers.
This sort of documentation will help you onboard your next writer or get a new member of your small writing team up to speed quickly. It will also come in handy even if you need a short-term solution to keep content flowing while you're looking for your next long-term solution; it may come at a premium, but there are many dedicated content agencies that will gladly take on a one-off "rescue" project when the need arises.
It takes real work to get the best out of more closely connected writing talent, but the results of that hard work will show exponentially over time. Content is too important an element of modern marketing to settle for unreliable or unsustainable production methods. Instead of spending time hounding internal stakeholders to get a single blog post published or herding disparate freelance teams, make a more intentional investment to get more remarkable returns.
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