How to Ease the Content Creator’s Struggle
Every company wants to be able to stand out among their competition. For many, this means producing the best possible content they can. But when you’re working with professional writers--people who do the job you need them to do for a living--there are some approaches you might take when working with your content creators that could hurt you more than they would help you.
The happier your content creators are, the better your content will be. Every copywriter has their pet peeves, but there are some that are so universal, you would do well to stay away from them entirely if you want to keep from making your creators' lives harder. Here, we’ll outline the Dos and Don’ts of working with your copywriters.
Don’t: Call them a “Content Producer”
People are not machines. No matter how much you might like your company to operate with the efficiency of a factory, you can’t expect your copywriters to chug out content after content like a well-oiled machine. Unlike the production line, which, for the most part, remains plugged in, people have energy reserves, and those reserves can be drained. If you want that creative spark in every writer to carry over into the content they make for you, you’ll need to address that creativity.
Do: Call them a “Content Creator”
Put creativity in the name. Literally. Majority of writers are creative types, and they love to be heralded as such. Acknowledging their creativity is the best kind of flattery you can give them--and once you’ve buttered them up, they’ll be that much more excited to actually do the writing for you.
Don’t: Turn their writing into chemistry
While it’s true that anyone can write, you shouldn’t be making your copywriters’ lives more difficult by having other people to do the writing for their specific fields of expertise and then asking your content creators to somehow turn several unrelated and differently written passages into an elixir that will solve all your problems.
Your writers are not chemists. They’re, well, writers. Even more importantly, they’re probably control freaks. If you give they’re work away to other people and then ask them to essentially fix it, they’ll probably be frustrated more than anything else. Give them creative control over the content, though, and you’ll have happy creators and well-written content.
Do: Give them aids to help along in their writing process
That being said, your writers aren’t necessarily going to have the expertise that people in different departments might be able to offer to the content. It’s important, then, that you make sure they have all the resources they could possibly need available to them. Any style guides, topic notes, or marketing materials that might help them along in their process will make your copywriters very, very happy.
Don’t: Push them to use clichés
Sometimes, that which is easily recognizable isn’t always the best course of action. Clichés can quickly turn your content from something your audience finds easily relatable to something stale and overdone. Your content creator likely already knows this, so you might find that they are reluctant, or even adamantly opposed to your ideas for clichéd slogans.
Do: Allow them to make suggestions that will help your content stand out
At the end of the day, you’re content creator just wants to make sure that they are creating the best possible content for you. If they think there’s something missing content-wise or they suggest that something should be adjusted, listen to what they have to say! Your writer is well-versed in writing, and their ideas will more than likely help your company to stand out amongst the crowd.
Don’t: Make them chase down resources
All writers have to do research, but no writer likes to do unnecessary research. If you’re looking for a way to stress out your content creator beyond all measure, make them go on a wild goose chase to find the information they need. Asking them to track down information like the selling points of a specific competing brand is a great way to bring out the frustration beast in anyone.
Do: Give them access to a shared drive with important resources
A shared drive can go a long way. Have one place where all important documents are easily accessible to anyone--or at least the authorized people--in the company. Your content creators will be happier for it, and it will probably even make your own life easier.
Don’t: Pretend everything is okay when it isn’t
Most writers would prefer negative feedback over no feedback. If something about the way they’re writing isn’t working in regards to the brief you’ve laid out, let them know! They’ll never be able to improve if they don’t know there’s something wrong. And writers are, at their cores, learners. Many of them will appreciate the feedback you give them, and they’re writing will get better because of it.
Do: Give constructive criticism so they can create better content for you
Content creators need to know what isn’t right so they can make sure that it is right. Constructive criticism is a writer’s best friend. A big part of their learning process is being able to know what they don’t know. Once they have a solid idea of what it is they need to work on, the content they create for you will grow to fit your needs.
Don’t: Nitpick microscopic edits
That being said, when you’re giving feedback, try not to be nitpicky. Writers are happy to make sentence-level adjustments for the first two or three drafts, but if you continue to ask them to fix a single word because it’s just “not right” late into the writing process, your writer will likely become very annoyed, very quickly.
Do: Suggest edits that will improve the writing overall
Better writing doesn’t emerge from the correction of minor details in your content, but in the attention that is given to the content overall. The more you look at how your message is being carried across, at the tone and structure and ideas that are being brought forth, the better you can make suggestions to your content creator that will improve the writing as a whole. Aim for specificity, and your writers will know exactly how to tackle any problems that might pop up in the content.
Don’t: Give them a creative brief with sparse instructions
Brief, in this case, does not speak to brevity. Rather, your creative brief should be as detailed as you can make it. When you fail to give your content creators a brief that outlines exactly what it is you’re looking for, it’s much more difficult for them to understand what they need to do, which can be frustrating. Writers are not mind-readers.
Do: Be specific about what will help your writers best reach your audience
If you choose to provide your content creators with a brief--which can be beneficial in helping to make your content more consistent--you should try to be as specific as possible. Lay out who your audience is. If you tell them that the audience is men and women, anywhere between the ages of 18 and 88, that doesn’t give them much to go off of. They’ll probably wind up writing for a more general audience--which is fine, if that’s what you’re going for. But the more specific you can be, the better off your content will be.
Don’t: Stamp out all creativity
As creative types, your content creators thrive on being able to practice creativity. Don’t put out that flame unless you want to see a slew of demoralized employees who’ve lost that spark that made them want to write in the first place. It’s okay to have guidelines, but leave some freedom for their creative sides as well.
Do: Trust them to write you some lively content your readers will love
The happier your creators are in their work, the more likely they will be to produce great content for you. Have some faith in the work that they do. Even if you find that something isn’t working, talk to them on an individual level about what exactly it is that isn’t working. In most cases, it won’t be the creativity itself, but something like tone or style can be adjusted without completely eliminating the creative elements of their content.
Don’t: Ask them to work on an older version of a current project
When there are a lot of things going on at once, it can be difficult to keep track of where some of your projects are at in the creation process. That being said, no content creator wants to be given an assignment, to complete it, and then to be told that “oops, that was the wrong version” and have to start all over again. If there was ever a way to make sure your writers resent you, that would be it.
Do: Make sure everyone is up to speed on what’s happening now in your company
The best way to make sure that everyone is up to speed--yourself included--is to keep a live record of where every project is in its creation process. A file that everyone has access to, as well as an open communication channel will ensure that everyone knows what’s going on at all times, and that no old drafts are being passed around for editing when something new and improved is already out there.
A happy copywriter makes for good content. As long as you work to stay on your content creator’s good side, make their writing process as easy as possible, and encourage their creativity, your content should be everything you could possibly want.