For Brands: Secrets to Content Creation Success

Patti PodnarEditor’s Note: The following guest post on content creation success comes from Patti Pondar. She’s one of the most successful content creators in the nDash community. Enjoy!

There’s a lot of information out there about what content writers can do to ensure success on nDash. While I appreciate the advice, it obscures a very important reality: The brand has a role to play, too. And that’s not something that gets talked about a lot. So, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned about what brands can do to be more successful on nDash.

Complete your profile

Your chances of success on nDash are directly proportional to the amount of information you include in your profile. Take advantage of every available field on your profile page, and don’t just copy and paste from a general “About” page on your website. Tailor each section to support your content creation and marketing goals, and be sure to cover things like:

What do you make, do, or sell, and why? 

Features are important, but the overall value proposition is more important. How will your product or service make life better for your customers?

Who are your target customers? 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do they already know they need products/services like those you offer, or are you trying to create a market through awareness and education?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What pain points do you resolve for them?
  • What constraints (budget, knowledge, time, regulations, etc.) do they have?
  • Do they have the authority to make a buying decision?
  • If not, how can you help them make the case to the person who does have authority?

What are you trying to accomplish? 

What are the primary goals of your content creation strategy? Are you trying to reach new customers, deepen your relationship with existing customers, position your CEO as a thought leader, etc.?

What are some potential CTAs? 

This is more specific than the previous point. Yes, you have your overall content strategy, but each piece of content should include its own call to action. Do you want readers to sign up for your newsletter? Follow you on social media? Contact a salesperson? Make a purchase? The list doesn’t have to be exhaustive, but listing potential CTAs will help writers deliver what they want.

What else is important for a writer to understand? 

This is where little details become extremely important. Do you want your content to directly refer to your business, or do you want to take a more agnostic approach by simply addressing current issues? Do you want to link to sources? If so, how many? Do you want the links to open a new tab or not? The more details you convey up front, the fewer you’ll have to address through revisions.

Remember to include links to content that’s worked for you in the past and/or sources that you use regularly.

Be able to sum up the purpose of an individual assignment in one sentence

Whether you’re posting an assignment or accepting a pitch, ask yourself what you want readers to do, think, or feel after they read the content. If you can’t express that in one sentence — “I want readers to understand the risks inherent in online payments” — it’s going to be hard for any writer to deliver content that makes you happy.

Be specific with feedback

“Rewrite the introduction” is not helpful feedback. If I don’t know what you didn’t like about the first attempt, I don’t know what to do differently in a revision. It may take more time on the front end to give specific feedback, but you’ll more than makeup for it by avoiding seemingly endless rounds of iterative revisions.

Be realistic about the money

If you post an assignment on nDash and it sits there for days on end, the pay is probably too low. With so many nDash writers looking for work, there really is no other explanation. Try bumping up the fee and see what happens.

Ask your writers for feedback

Most of the writers on nDash work for a variety of clients. Others work for well-known enterprises and are just trying to make a little extra money on the side. Either way, the writers on nDash are well versed in content marketing “best practices” — not to mention “worst practices.” Asking for feedback can not only help make your brand more appealing to writers, but it can also help you make both your processes and your content more effective.

Don’t be a bystander

Outsourcing isn’t the same as abdicating. I’ve worked with a few brands who expected to be completely hands-off between accepting a pitch or posting an assignment and approving the final draft. They tend to see questions from the writer as a sign of incompetence and are more likely to give a superficial response than a thorough answer.

That approach only makes sense if you’re perfect and the writer is an idiot—and that rarely happens in real life. Brands sometimes make mistakes, and writers sometimes have valuable input. If a writer takes the time to ask a question, that means they’re thinking about the very best way to create your content. Rather than brushing their questions off, take the time to reply thoughtfully and thoroughly. The final product will be better for it.

This applies to agencies, too. At some agencies, editors play an active role, working hard to answer questions and resolve any other issues. At other agencies, editors just pass messages back and forth between the writer and the client without getting directly involved. That wastes time and causes frustration for both the writer and the client. Instead of just clicking the “forward” button, see if you can move things along by adding your own thoughts and suggestions.

Final Thoughts on Content Creation Success

The bottom line is that even the very best writers can’t make your content successful if you don’t do your part. Know what you’re trying to accomplish. Be specific with feedback. Answer questions. Take the writer’s input seriously. You wouldn’t hire someone to remodel your kitchen without giving them everything they need to know about your likes and dislikes, would you? Your content deserves the same consideration.