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  1. #1
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    Working with a content writer

    Dear all,

    I have recently found a hole in the way I work. Currently I rarely get involved with the content, and as such content writing for the web has never been as important, with search engines outsmarting us by the day.

    I am concerned on how you'd be able to get a content writer to write up the content of a website? What's the normal method. Do we simply get all their printed material, interview the clients and ask them what they do and how they hope to do it? A web designer is like an architect to a house, were as a content writer is like a painter and decorator. Not sure about you, but most people (female people) prefer to decorate their own house as not to give the control away.

    The big issue with a client writing their own content is that they will miss important SEO benefits, as well as ensuring it's properly written for the web.

    I would like to here people's thoughts on this matter, and hopefully I can full this hole in the way I work out.
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  2. #2
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    To start with, content isn't paint or decoration. If you are selling it like it is, you are doing it wrong. Content is like the engine of a vehicle. Sure the body looks nice, the seats are comfortable, but without an engine that car ain't going nowhere.

    Second, it isn't search engines that are outsmarting web developers. It is domain owners and SEO "specialists" who continually try to second guess and outsmart the search engines.

    Scottiemack summed it up perfectly in his Golden Post.

    Stop thinking about writing things for your website. Start thinking of the people who will be interested in the overall niche that your website is a part of.
    You can add to that, "Stop thinking about search engines and start thinking about your clients' businesses and their customers."

    As long as you look at content as window dressing, you will not be able to sell it as the important part of a website... the most important part of a website. Before there was Web Design, SEO, and anything more than html, there was content. It's what built the web and what built early web businesses and that hasn't changed.

    Find out your client's goals for his website. Learn about his business -- what he sells and what his customers are buying. That's a start to writing good content. Forget about keywords either long-tailed or short. Forget about building backlinks. If the content is there, the search engines will find it and so will the customers.

    Finally, it isn't so important even that it is properly written for the web as it is important that content is properly written to represent the business, help keep their old customers informed, and help your clients generate new business.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  3. #3
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    Your question highlights the TIGHTROPE experienced and competent copywriters have to walk--writing for search engines WHILE making sure flesh and blood human readers' needs are met.

    First, you have to tell your content writer WHO will be reading the materials. Normally, I ask for demographic information and samples of competing or related sites that target the subject audience. I study these other sites' word choice, voice, tone, and editorial slant. I also pay attention to how the text is spaced out and how it flows. What is the value proposition? How is it presented? What is the pacing? Where is the Call to Action?

    Second, I ask my client if he/she just wants to mirror the competition's copywriting strategies or do we want to stand apart from the competition. Certain niches reward an iconoclastic or quirky approach. Others reward conformity. If we are going to strike out on our own path, I adopt a persona that fits the content I've been assigned. The persona must COMPLEMENT the content instead of acting as a distraction. It must flow from the BRAND the client is trying to establish.

    Third, I cluster the keywords assigned to me and I find keyword themes. I look for topical relationships with the keywords and produce THEMATIC clusters. However, I review them to make sure they are narrow enough to contain each section of the site. Of course, keywords should have low to moderate competition but pull decent traffic (this is not always doable).

    Fourth, I brainstorm to find a DRAMATIC or ATTENTION-GRABBING angle within the thematic clusters and create my keyword-targeted page by page outline. I send it to the client for review.

    Fifth, Once I get the green light, I outline each page: Intro, Main Body, and Conclusion. Each part must work with the persona adopted to help BRAND the site the article will be published on.

    Sixth, I make sure the intro does its job - gets the reader excited about the value proposition. I then make sure the main body is well-supported by reasonable appeals to the reader's needs and the value being offered is actually appeling. Finally, I make sure the conclusion summarizes the main body's value proposition while getting the reader ready for the Call to Action.

    Walk with your content writer through the process above to ensure optimal results. Remember, every WORD that goes on your client's site must BRAND the site. There is NO ROOM FOR MISTAKES.

  4. #4
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    i usually asked a possible contractor to write me a sample piece first. give them the data in bulletpoints to see what they can do

  5. #5
    SitePoint Mentor silver trophybronze trophy

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    I want to know how to work with a content writer to write up the client's websites. I sure hate waiting for content from the client. There must be a point where client's must provide feedback on what they wish to have on their website. I have a couple of clients now that provide no feedback what-so-ever and it's a little hard doing anything with them.

    I know the importance of content on a website, but how can we sell content to clients, and what do we have to do from our part to make sure everything goes smoothly.
    follow me on ayyelo, Easy WordPress; specializing in setting up themes!

  6. #6
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    I want to know how to work with a content writer to write up the client's websites. I sure hate waiting for content from the client. There must be a point where client's must provide feedback on what they wish to have on their website. I have a couple of clients now that provide no feedback what-so-ever and it's a little hard doing anything with them.

    I know the importance of content on a website, but how can we sell content to clients, and what do we have to do from our part to make sure everything goes smoothly.
    What I think you really want is a way to ensure timely approval and the payment that follows and I completely understand that! Here's what I do:

    1. Before I quote a project, I send a questionnaire for the client to fill out. It's designed to help me understand his business, his goals for his website, and provide the initial information I will need to write the content. (How many pages, what types of pages i.e. product, service, etc.)
    2. I make it clear in my quotes that the timeline depends upon prompt feedback and approval to delivered work.
    3. I outline specific policies. One of them is based on timely feedback and/or approval of deliveries. I define "prompt" and "timely" as within 72 hours of delivery. Although I understand this may be unconventional, it has worked out well for me:
    File Approval
    Feedback to delivered files is crucial to meeting your project requirements on time.
    You agree to return feedback, either a request for a revision or an acceptance for each delivered
    page in a timely manner. I will respond to revision and change requests no later than 48 hours
    (two business days) of receiving your request.
    If you do not respond to a delivery, I will email one notice with the subject heading, "Feedback
    required: (File Name)". Failure to return prompt feedback to this notice indicates your approval of
    the file as delivered.
    Then I divide each project (depending on the scope) into stages. I don't begin the second stage until the first is completed.

    I have divided this project into X stages. I estimate completion of your project within xx to xx
    business days depending on prompt feedback and payment per stage. Each phase of this project
    will begin within xx hours of the conclusion of the stage preceding it.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  7. #7
    Foozle Reducer ServerStorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    What I think you really want is a way to ensure timely approval and the payment that follows and I completely understand that! Here's what I do:

    1. Before I quote a project, I send a questionnaire for the client to fill out. It's designed to help me understand his business, his goals for his website, and provide the initial information I will need to write the content. (How many pages, what types of pages i.e. product, service, etc.)
    2. I make it clear in my quotes that the timeline depends upon prompt feedback and approval to delivered work.
    3. I outline specific policies. One of them is based on timely feedback and/or approval of deliveries. I define "prompt" and "timely" as within 72 hours of delivery. Although I understand this may be unconventional, it has worked out well for me:


    Then I divide each project (depending on the scope) into stages. I don't begin the second stage until the first is completed.
    @Shyflower ; this is a great way to do this, I do something similar but not quite as well
    ictus==""

  8. #8
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    When you hire writers, be sure to draw out what/how you want your content to be. You can set up the number of words, the keywords to use, keyword density, and even the placing of the keywords (e.g. put keyword in the 1st and last paragraph).

    Just be sure to remind your writer to be as natural as possible and to avoid over optimization. When you get your articles, you can have a quick scan or review.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ng_Xen View Post
    When you hire writers, be sure to draw out what/how you want your content to be. You can set up the number of words, the keywords to use, keyword density, and even the placing of the keywords (e.g. put keyword in the 1st and last paragraph).

    Just be sure to remind your writer to be as natural as possible and to avoid over optimization. When you get your articles, you can have a quick scan or review.
    Yes, that's exactly how to work with your web content writer/s. Be very specific in your instructions so planning on your part is also very important.

  10. #10
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    Thanks backlinksrocksta ! I'm glad we're on the same page.

  11. #11
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    SEO based content writing is not that difficult. let the writer to write the content then you modify it for seo purpose.

  12. #12
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by webgeekboy View Post
    SEO based content writing is not that difficult. let the writer to write the content then you modify it for seo purpose.
    This forum isn't the Content for search engines forum. Please be sure to read the forum announcement and the forum guidelines sticky marked IMPORTANT! before you continue posting. SEO posts in this forum are generally deleted and penalized.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot ozone88's Avatar
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    I work with content writers often, I've been lucky that I have three of them (long story) and I gotten know them and they have gotten to know me and the business so all is good. I always have a meeting at the beginning for all projects (even if I know the content writer) and I go through our thoughts, goals, examples of stuff we liked, time frames and if they are new run them through a part of our induction program..... we then discuss the points.

    This takes a little time but open and honest up front I've never had major problems and the little problems there has been has been because some one wasn't clear with a communication somewhere.

    But I guess that advice works nearly anywhere.

    CLEAR communication, stated multiple times, in multiple place, in multiple different ways........time consuming yes but less time consuming than clean up after a full blown mega nasty collapsing break down........
    Catherine

  14. #14
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    Taking a journalistic approach with content development just like colossal has suggested is what we do. Get your content writers to create natural content that would be magazine or newspaper quality, with a UNIQUE content angle that is interesting to the end reader. You can always edit to fit a particular search engine profile if you need to for seo, but it's hard to go the other way.

  15. #15
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    The big issue with a client writing their own content is that they will miss important SEO benefits, as well as ensuring it's properly written for the web.
    It is true, but you can give them advice in your post requirements, and that you will not post their content without it.

  16. #16
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    On the contrary...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    Dear all,

    I have recently found a hole in the way I work. Currently I rarely get involved with the content, and as such content writing for the web has never been as important, with search engines outsmarting us by the day.

    I am concerned on how you'd be able to get a content writer to write up the content of a website? What's the normal method. Do we simply get all their printed material, interview the clients and ask them what they do and how they hope to do it? A web designer is like an architect to a house, were as a content writer is like a painter and decorator. Not sure about you, but most people (female people) prefer to decorate their own house as not to give the control away.

    The big issue with a client writing their own content is that they will miss important SEO benefits, as well as ensuring it's properly written for the web.

    I would like to here people's thoughts on this matter, and hopefully I can full this hole in the way I work out.
    So glad to hear that you are putting emphasis on the quality of your web content! One thing I disagree with, however, is your analogy comparing a designer to the architect and the content writer to the decorator. If anything, it would be the graphic designer who makes things pretty.

    However, content writers do contribute to the visual appeal of a website but that is just one of many things. In fact, great web content also contributes to the architecture by laying down user friendly (owner guided) navigational paths. It contributes to the SEO of a website. It contributes to the overall brand engagement and that is why it is [I]very [I] important to get involved- as you say.

    It is also important to work with a writer who "gets it." There are so many web content writers out there today who are great at following instructions, but the kind you need to work with are the writers who can give YOU advice on how to improve the overall value of your website. Those who have a firm knowledge of writing copy that converts, content that optimizes, words that engage... the full package. Quality writers like this aren't found for $5/page, but the return on investment is measured in results.

    Also, working with a writer who offers "the full package" you don't have to worry about filling in gaps between content writing and SEO.<snip>
    Last edited by Shyflower; Oct 28, 2012 at 10:21. Reason: Snipped the self-promo


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