How not to brief a copywriter when you want great content

Imagine the joy of receiving well written articles for your website or newsletter; on time, on topic and proofed. All you need to do is sign-off and hit publish.

Outsourcing content to a copywriter seems like the perfect solution to your content woes. And there is no shortage of copywriters available on Fivver, or keen (and talented) graduates from any number of writing schools.

However where things come unstuck (and they invariably do) is not with the selection of writer, but with the work you do before you engage a writer.

Let’s start by talking about that big list of article topics you’re so pleased with…

Brainstorming topics is fun – we get it, we do it A LOT! But many businesses, having had an enjoyable couple of hours coming up with ideas, think …

High five! Job done!

and with a flourish, hand the list over to the copywriter to turn into ‘great posts we can all be proud of’.

…and then the drafts start arriving in your inbox and you wonder where this irrelevant drivel has come from – right?

A copywriter once told me this story:

“I went to meet a new client – and within minutes he had handed me a huge stack of blog posts printed from the internet. He was in the business of business coaching – a pretty crowded corner of the internet when it comes to blogs and many of the posts contained sports metaphors. Having nothing else to go on – other than the target audience was male, had been in business for at least 5 years – I chose a couple of ‘topics’ and wrote some drafts.
The feedback call was excruciating. The topics weren’t relevant to the (undefined) target audience. The sports metaphor didn’t really resonate. And the writing was a bit ‘blokeish.’

So, what went wrong?

The first mistake was to find examples of other posts and use them as some kind of substitute brief.

Using other peoples work as a guide for your own lacks depth, integrity and can only produce ‘vanilla’ content with no impact.

The second mistake was to not only not define the target audience, but not identify their challenges either.

Their challenge is your topic.

The content you put out shows your audience how you solve their problems or fulfil their desires. If you understand what they want, you have relevant topics.

By not defining the audience, the client hadn’t given the writer any direction on what style to use, or the best language to create rapport with the reader.

For example:
The topic: How to get your BAS done on time.
A male financial advisor who’s audience is builders, landscapers and tradies will need a writing style this audience will understand. Another advisor who’s audience is young female entrepreneurs will use an entirely different style. The topic remains the same, the delivery is tailored to the audience.

And the final mistake?

Not setting a priority for the posts – in fact, this is the number one factor in all failed content.

What is the reason you are creating all this content? Make sure your copywriter understands the purpose of each article.

Not setting a priority for your content is like getting into your car without a destination in mind, and hoping you will get somewhere (and you will get somewhere but rarely will it be where you need to be).

While outsourcing may seem like the easy option, as with any successful process, it requires thought and input from you, planning, review and ongoing assessment in order to get the best from of your copywriter.

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