“This blog doesn’t work for me.”
Six words that a writer dreads hearing (seven if you include the contraction). Why? Because oftentimes, feedback comes too late in the content creation process. Sometimes, feedback arrives multiple blogs later once a client is too tired of correcting the same mistake again and again internally – a mistake the writer didn’t even know was a mistake, to begin with.
Before nDash was a content community marketplace, we were a content creation agency. And during our time as an agency, the most stressful part was when one of our clients would provide us with feedback too late in the process; once, we blogged deep and didn’t know there was an issue to begin with.
What made it worse was that the mistakes were ones we often could have easily fixed had we known – whether it was finding a new writer, using a different language, or adhering to a certain style guide. But by the time our clients told us there was a problem, it was too late.
Transfer this over to our now-platform days, and I see a lot of brands on the nDash platform making the same mistake with their freelance writers: they’re not communicating when there is a problem with the content.
Sure, I’ll admit it. Sometimes you’re working with a writer that just doesn’t have the skills your company needs. But other times, the writer could easily onboard themselves onto the company’s marketing strategy if given the proper guidance.
Here are two tips to follow when it comes to onboarding your freelance (or in-house) writing team so that you can retain talent.
That’s it. Just two things you should do to make the process better for you (the editor) and your writing talent.
Tell the Writer Why You Like or Don’t Like Something
From my experience of being both a writer and working at an agency, I can tell you that having a sentence or paragraph highlighted with a comment saying, “this doesn’t work,” isn’t helpful.
While this may sound obvious to most of you, this does happen. It then leads the writer to wonder, why?
Then, rather than the writer being constructive with their time and making the edits the brand is looking for, they are instead left wondering which of the four reasons the company didn’t like that sentence or paragraph:
#2. Subject matter
#3. Sources they cited
#4. The opinion provided
Rather than go through an endless loop of editing, it’s important to highlight specific sections and say why you like or don’t like something.
This is especially important at the beginning of the writing process (during the first handful of articles or whitepapers) so that they can tuck that knowledge into the back of their brain and use it again in the near future. Saving you time editing. And making you (and them) a lot happier in your relationship.
Mark Up the First Blog They Write for You
As an editor, I have found that this process works incredibly well for our onboarding process:
#1. Downloading the first couple of blogs our freelance writers have written for us
#2. Tracking edits
#3. Sending it back with a quick note on why I made a few of my more notable changes
This way, writers can see exactly where we made changes to the content, and they’re able to easily reference it (much like the comments described above) in the future.
It also helps me on the brand side because I have something tangible to reference as we continue to work together. I’m able to see if the edits have become less and less and if the writer is actually listening to the constructive feedback I’ve been given.
What Has Worked for You?
We’re curious to hear from you: what onboarding process do you use for your writing team? What materials are you providing them with? And what does your current content feedback loop look like? Drop us a note on Twitter to let us know!