If you develop online content with freelance writers or an in-house editorial team, it can be difficult to put together consistently high-quality blog for your company blog.
As an inbound marketing agency, we manage online content initiatives for several clients at a time, and we often field questions about how to produce quality content on so many different topics. The secret, of course, is a passion to get it "right," careful organization, and talent. But there are also practical steps that any company could deploy to increase the quality of their online content output. These hold true if you're doing it in-house or even using freelance writers.
Here are our best recommendations for working with writers and editors to improve the quality of your online content.
Start With a Manifesto
When we work with a client, the first thing we do is create a buyer persona and identify the most appropriate voice and messaging for the brand. This profile informs all of the other choices we make about the blog, including the style, voice, and tone of each article.
When you’re getting started with online content, use your buyer personas to map out a clear guide for the style of the posts you plan to write. Dig into the details of what your clients want and outline how your blog will meet those needs. You’ll be able to use this manifesto to inform every content project you take on and every writer you work with. You'll write content as if you're talking to that buyer persona.
Give Clear Instructions
One of the challenges of working with freelance writers is that there are many different approaches to writing. While some brands prefer a more journalistic style with less structure, others prefer more authoritative and educational style that is more factual and to the point. The odds of finding a writer who approaches a project exactly how you’d like them to is very low. That’s why the second most important thing to do when you develop online content is to carefully outline your expectations for each blog post.
Clearly define the purpose and vision of every blog article. What should be in each section? How should the writer approach the introduction, the tone, and the audience for the post? With each assignment, outline the key points that must be mentioned in the blog post as well as any style or formatting details you prefer such as the post structure, subheadings, quotes, and lists.
When it comes to the quality of the writing, creating content for the Internet is all about simplicity. When sentences are short and the subheaders and formatting are clear, it’s easier for your customer to understand what you are trying to say.
While writing, make sure that your sentences are concise. Avoid using compound sentences or sentences joined by semicolons. Paragraphs should be no longer than three sentences, and each sentence should have a transitional element so that the piece flows as a whole.
In fact, the shorter and more concise the sentence, the better. All writing for the Internet should aim for a 7th- or 8th-grade reading level, even for highly specialized niches. You should show authority through the information you present and the words you use, not through the complexity of the writing.
Take a Break and Use Tools
When you write a post in one sitting, you can accidentally write in an informal stream-of-consciousness style. While this works for some brands, it’s not typically a good thing. Instead, write your content and then allow time for it to sit for a day or two before you give it a final edit.
When you’ve edited your blog article, run it through a free online editing tool like Grammarly or HemingwayApp. These tools will allow you to catch grammatical and structural errors that applications like Microsoft Word and Google Docs often miss.
If you’re going to create online content for your customers, make it great. Use these tips to improve the quality of your blog posts, white papers, and website content, which will in turn improve the quality of your inbound marketing strategy.