Whether you’re vetting writers for a company blog, or you’re ready to outsource work on a major piece—such as an ebook or white paper—you’re faced with a daunting task. You’ll need to find a writer who is able to establish authority and intelligence within your niche industry, and you’ll also have to find someone who is skilled enough to channel your voice and tone.
I get it, because I’ve been there. As a staff writer for a marketing agency, I spent five years creating content for clients across a variety of industries and niches. However, when I first started this content writing gig, I was wholly unfamiliar about writing for the internet, or business writing, in general.
Rather, my background was in poetry: specifically, the complex and philosophical writings of Wallace Stevens and other modernist poets. If you’re in the process of building relationships with a team of freelance writers, here’s a look at my journey in cultivating a love of poetry into a writing career and how I was able to dig into the challenging niches of my clients.
Starting with Wallace Stevens
As I was studying Stevens in college, I was particularly fascinated by his biographical details. While Stevens was a Harvard-educated scholar, his ‘day job’ was selling insurance in his hometown of Hartford, Connecticut. Marvelously, Stevens would craft poems in his mind as he walked to and from his office each day. While Stevens was an industrious and accomplished businessman, his heart and imagination lay in his poetry. By the end of his life and career, he was revered as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century.
(Photo via poetryfoundation.org)
Once I had finished my studies at Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, I was faced with a daunting job market and the even scarier question of what would happen next. Armed with formidable research abilities, sharp writing, and editorial skills, I sought out a job that would allow me to do what I loved best: to write. While working as a professional poet and critic certainly had its appeal, I was eager to find a steady source of income outside of the realm of academia.
This was in 2012, during the early years of SEO, and writing for the internet seemed like a happy marriage between creativity and a foray into the business world. Moreover, my literary idol had worked in insurance, so I felt naturally inclined to dip my toes into the business world.
Adventuring Into the Realm of Professional Writing
This desire to write, learn, and remain curious led me to my first job as a professional writer. Rather than writing complex philosophical inquiries into the minds and works of modernist poets, however, I found myself tackling a whole new challenge. I had become a staff writer for a marketing agency, and was tasked with creating dozens of articles each week for industries and businesses that I, as a 20-something liberal arts major, had had very little exposure to in the past.
I’ll never forget my first assignment. In order to pass the test and be hired on full-time at the agency, I had to write an article that traced the history of the Fiat 500. This came as a shock to me, as I knew nothing about cars. In fact, up until that point in my life, I had been puttering around in my ancient Volvo 240 sedan, with little regards to current trends in the automotive industry.
In order to tackle this first assignment, I went to work in the ways that had been taught to me in school as a writer. First, I conducted extensive research. Rather than searching willy-nilly across the internet, I sought out reputable resources that spoke with authority about the past, present, and future of the Fiat. After collecting a wealth of resources and reading them avidly, I was ready to get to work on my piece. At only 350 words, it was important to remain concise, eliminate excessive prose, and, perhaps most importantly, channel the tone, style, and SEO goals of my client.
To my surprise, the piece was accepted and purchased almost immediately. Perhaps even more shockingly, my editors praised me on my knowledge and understanding of cars and the automotive industry. For me, this initial lesson proved that, as a writer, I would be able to methodically and capably tackle any subject that came across my desk.
From this early stage in my career, I learned that the most important part of cultivating a relationship with a client was ultimately in the research and care that led up to the final product.
Cultivating Relationships and Building Authority
In the months and years that followed, I became a niche industry expert in dozens of industries that I had previously never considered.
A client needing an in-depth explanation of TPO roofing materials? I’d be able to dig in and create them a compelling article. Writing about the benefits of TPO building materials for commercial buildings seemed daunting at first, but I was able to conduct thorough research based on the information that was provided to me from the client. Suddenly, an unfamiliar topic like TPO roofing materials seemed as familiar as any poem that had been written by Stevens. Over time, I crafted pieces on topics as diverse as lawn care, tractor maintenance, CDL certifications, used auto parts. Suddenly my arsenal of niche industries was expanding, and I was eager to tackle more.
In order to handle more challenging and niche topics, I turned to my clients for assistance. Before starting work on a new post, I would make sure that my clients had provided me with solid source materials for research. That way, I'd have a clear notion of which sites provided authority in these industries.
At BlogMutt, our signup process mirrors this same process. When you're onboarding your business or a new client for your agency, you'll be asked to provide our writers with examples of great posts, as well as any materials and articles that they will need to reference for a given topic. The more attention you give to these source materials, the better a given writer will be prepared to tackle even your most niche topics.
As my career progressed, I became more confident and assured in my ability to handle difficult topics. In building relationships with clients, it was essential to understand their business goals, as well as the vocabulary and terms that were so integral to their industries. With each piece, it always boiled down to careful research and a fine attention to the details and keywords that would drive traffic and reader engagement.
I remember a particularly challenging client that, at first, daunted me as a veteran content writer. I was challenged to write a series of blog posts on copper electrowinning and acid mist suppression systems for a mining supply company. Without a background in the scientific processes behind mining, or, really, any knowledge of the mining industry at all, I felt woefully unprepared to write these pieces.
But, once again, I viewed the assignment as a research project, first and foremost. At this later stage in my writing career, I was also prepared to ask my clients for concrete examples of what they were looking for, as well as articles that could kickstart my research. In a post that I remember being particularly challenging, I was charged with describing the mechanical functioning and benefits of a copper electrowinning cell. Along with reading the posts that were given with me to research, I also studied diagrams of mining cells to understand the mechanical functions of these systems. As I worked through the piece, I made sure that it was clearly written so that it was understandable for both laymen and experts in the field. Additionally, a compelling call to action at the end of the post drove readers to contact the mining supply company in order to learn more about their particular services.
Armed with briefs from my clients and a gung-ho attitude towards research and narrative, I was able to manage these challenging topics with poise. I also particularly appreciated when my clients provided me with concrete feedback about which technical aspects were described correctly, and which ones needed to be reworked in order to tailor to their specific audiences. Feedback and rounds of revisions were key in honing a particular topic and crafting a piece that met all of my client's expectations.
Ultimately, not only were these posts accepted for publishing, but the mining company was so pleased with my work that, over the years, they hired me to write dozens of pieces for their blog. Building relationships with a team of capable, research-centric freelance writers can free up your time to focus on the important aspects of running your business, while you can rest assured that the time-consuming task of writing and editing is running in the background.
Understanding the Client’s Perspective
At BlogMutt, I head up our client success division, and my background in writing and digital marketing provides me with a unique insight into the fruitful relationships that can be cultivated between writers and clients. As you’re onboarding into the BlogMutt system, keep in mind that you’re building a rapport with your writers that is built on clear communication and feedback. While finding writers with the ‘right’ credentials is always a great starting point, you may be surprised at the quality and breadth of work that you’ll receive from writers who are accomplished in their own trade: writing and research.
In fact, in a lot of instances, a very new writer or one less familiar with your industry is willing to do more research, is able to speak to a more generalized audience, or will simply bring a fresh perspective to potentially washed-out, repetitive messaging. And, with more than 3,000 writers active on our platform, I’m confident that you’ll be surprised and delighted at our ability to match you with a writer that is able to almost read your mind.
When you're cultivating writers who are experts at prose, but perhaps less familiar with your particular field, I'd emphasize the importance of establishing a system of positive feedback. Your respectful edit requests and willingness to share information about what is working and what isn't will help you curate a team of writers who intimately understand the unique challenges of writing for your industry.
With BlogMutt's edit request feature, you're provided with unlimited rounds of edits from your team of writers. By taking advantage of our editing system, you can help vet your writers and develop pieces that you're proud to publish on your site (or those of your clients). Rather that worrying about working with an 'expert,' trust that your writer is an expert in the field of writing and research, and that your content is in capable hands.
Are you interested in learning more about BlogMutt’s unique solution to the challenge of outsourcing for SEO and content writing? I’d love to chat with you. Click here to schedule a quick phone call on my calendar, and we can talk about how you can harness the power of our writing marketplace so that you can conquer your marketing goals.