Since joining RocketMill, I have been working closely with the Digital Marketing team to ensure that we are producing great content. You’ll notice I have italicised that phrase because I personally cannot stand it but unfortunately it is widely used.

The reason this phrase brings out such a reaction from me is that many people write about what is great content and how to produce excellent content. I have noticed that many articles that are published on this hot topic miss some of the very basics.  Before you all think this is a rant against our industry, I promise you I’m going somewhere with this!

It is fantastic to see how our industry recognises the importance of creating content that has a purpose and not there solely to bump up your rankings and hitting your monthly link quota -although smashing your link quota is never a bad thing!

So I have decided to get up on my little (but very sturdy) soap box and run a series of posts on some essentials that I think we all need to get in place before we can say we produce truly exceptional content.

So in my first post I want to introduce you all to The Freelancer. Most agencies and in house teams will know that having an excellent team of freelancers (designers, writers, researchers the list goes on!) is essential to your marketing success. However we all know that freelancers tend to have a shelf life and you will need to replace them or add to them.

With every agency and department having their own style and marketing needs it is essential that the on boarding process is quick and smooth so that they can start quickly producing the very work that made you hire them!

The Freelancers Handbook

As I mentioned in the beginning I’m working closely with the team to ensure that we are creating content that has a purpose, is primarily focused on empowering our target audience and not as a means to tell them how amazing our clients’ products or services are. After all if you’re truly amazing YOU don’t need to shout about it, as other people would do it for YOU!

I have put together a team of copywriters and as it grows I have identified we will need a way to efficiently get them creating the type of content we will be proud to share. This is where things get tricky.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much time have you spent reformatting articles?
  • How often are you correcting Americanisms?
  • How many editorials come back with solely Wikipedia or other low quality external references?
  • Do they have references to external resources?
  • If they do have references and you don’t want them how long are you spending removing these?
  • Did you need images?
    • If you got them were they Creative Commons?
    • Were the images of a good quality?

Depending on your or your client’s needs these are just some of the questions you can ask yourself I know they are things I have had to amend myself or send back to my freelancer to resolve when in reality this shouldn’t be happening as you have now wasted time – one of the most valuable commodities known to man!

To ensure that the only time your content is going back to your copywriter is when a client wants a slight amendment or your publisher has asked you to add in whole new section, NOT for missing the basics! I have decided to share a handbook I will be giving to my own team (of amazing) copywriters. This is will help to minimise the time you need to spend making sure your new hire needs to settle!

This handbook is still a work in progress and I am (and will be) expanding and reviewing it as the industry changes and as my team grows.  Below I have outlined some key areas that I think you can use as a starting point for your own handbook.

Article, Editorial, Blog Post & White Papers?

Above are just a few of the different types of content you might want your copywriter to create for you. That’s great, a nice variety of content for your clients. Your copywriters may have written these types of content before, whether they are for different agencies or brands and as we all know every person has their own thoughts on what makes each work.

You need to do the following:

  1. Give a definition for each content type
    1. Provide a very good example
  2. What is the accepted format?
    1. PowerPoint or Microsoft Word?
      1. Document size?
    2. Do you have a set typeface
    3. Headings how are these to be handled?
    4. The use of images
      1. If they are to use images please do the following
        1. Set the image size
        2. Image resolution (if applicable)
        3. Where can they source the images
      2. Word count?
        1. Is there a minimum for each type and a maximum
  • External Linking
    1. Can they link to external sites?
    2. If so how should they do this?
      1. Submit references as a bibliography
      2. Include hyperlinks?
    3. Anchor text
      1. No exact match anchors?
      2. Anchor to be brand?
      3. Anchor to be name?
      4. Anchor to be data point?

    The above is what you should have as a standard. Sometimes you need to increase the word count change the sizing and exclude references etc. This is where you need to explain your briefing process.

    I will be sharing my tips for briefing with you in my next post, which will serve as a follow up to this post but I will also be including the briefing process for designers too! I hope you have all enjoyed my first post for RocketMill and I would love to hear if anyone has any tips or insights to share that I have missed or perhaps you’d like me to write about!

    Thanks and till next time keep on creating truly exceptional content!

    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kainkalju/