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Storytelling Through Crowds

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The case for crowdsourced business writing

Every business needs to tell its story. And the rise of content marketing has heightened the importance of sharing that story. Your customers receive a cacophony of messages from different companies every day. They want to learn from you on their terms, on the topics that appeal to them or address their specific needs.

So how do you make this happen - sharing your story frequently and with consistent quality in a way that appeals to your customers?

 

crowd-on-dock.jpg(Photo via Unsplash)

 

Why your story matters now more than ever

Once you’re ready to take the plunge into content marketing, the contrast to your comfortable world of paid advertising will likely come as a bit of a shock. You used to be able to hire a marketing agency, tell them who you wanted to target, pay a fee for each customer acquired, and voila, call it a day!

Creating and sharing content that will be of interest to your existing and future customers is quite a different animal. I can relate to this more than ever in the establishing of my own regular writing routine—this post, for example.

Dan Tyre (sales guru, leading inbound marketing evangelist, and director at HubSpot), has said that paid marketing is like drinking RedBull. The buzz is immediate and easy, but fades fast. Content marketing is a lifestyle change, it’s like sticking to the Mediterranean diet, exercising three times a week, taking your vitamins, and practicing mindfulness for 10 minutes before bed.

It takes consistent discipline, but it works. And it keeps working.

Why you should get assistance writing those stories

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and you’ve written your first blog post. It captured your voice and conveyed your message. The post got noticed by your customers and positioned you well to attract new eyeballs online. Now comes the hard part. You need to do it again. And again. And be ready to commit to the frequency and quality of writing necessary to bring your content strategy to life.

It could be quite a bear.

So then, what’s the next step? Find help! Our best customers are business leaders who tried to maintain their own blog, but realized it’s not easy. When you’re running your business, you are swimming in a daily frenzy of competing prioritiesall of which vie to distract you from reflecting on what to put into that weekly blog.

You finish each day having checked off your most urgent duties, but never quite get to the blog. It now becomes a nighttime and weekend activity, which rivals your exercise and meal planning and mindfulness and personal goals. Suboptimal.

Hired help exists for a good reason. It makes your life easier by ensuring critical tasks are accomplished, extends your ability to get stuff done, and frees you to focus on your other high-priority tasks.

Outsourcing is a tried-and-true solution for accomplishing company goals in areas like IT support, customer service, law, accounting, and marketing agencies. It can work for your content writing as well. While you might not see much personal benefit if you try to outsource your diet, exercise, and meditation practice to someone else, your business can still reap the benefits of content marketing when the writing is done by someone else.

 

guy-writing-in-coffeeshop.jpg(Photo via Unsplash)

 

But what kind of outsourcing can help me most?

If you have enough work and budget to hire a full-time content writer, this section is not for you. Just do that.

But, if you’re like most businesses that need a few hours of specialized writing help per week, the freelancer market is a natural fit.

Outsourcing gives you two primary choices:

  • Engage a freelancer directly, or
  • Join a freelancer crowdsourcing platform.

You can probably guess which choice I’m recommending, but let’s compare the mechanics and benefits of each choice.

Directly engage a freelance writer

When finding and contracting with a direct freelance writer is working, you get most of the benefits of having your own writer on staff. You have someone who can capture your voice and gets your story out consistently with a quality you pay for and control.

But the challenges of direct engagements can tarnish the appeal of this seemingly tidy solution.

1. Finding your writer.

Selecting a great writer can be similar to finding a great salespersonthere’s often no good way to know without bringing them onboard first and seeing how they work out. With writing, there’s the challenge of finding someone who can both write well and understand and be passionate enough about your subject matter to do an outstanding job.

2. Managing your writer.

You are, for all intents and purposes, the manager of an outsourced part-time, and often remote, contractor. This means negotiating availability, deadline adherence/editing issues, taxes and/or changes in pay ratesthey all fall directly on your shoulders.

3. Keeping your writer.

You are a likely only a small part of your new freelance writer’s ongoing portfolio of business, and it’s a dog-eat-dog world for their attention. At any time, your writer may find more enticing work. Or work with a short-term deadline. Or go on vacation. Or... You get the idea. Relying on one person who relies on lots of other people adds risk.

Essentially, hiring a freelance writer adds the risk of lots more work for you and the chance of not consistently delivering the high-quality content you desire.

Work with a crowdsourced platform of writers

Another option exists for getting your word to the street. The term “crowdsourcing” was created to represent the combination of two powerful toolsthe power of a crowd combined with traditional outsourcing. Over my career I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand the power of crowdsourcing across many different types of work and, as I’ll explain below, writing is one of its most powerful applications.

A crowdsourced writing platform performs many of the responsibilities of the direct freelancer relationship for you at scale, including:

  • Sourcing and qualifying a large pool of talented writers
  • Managing deadlines, compensation, and administrative responsibilities
  • Eliminating the risks of your direct freelancer getting distracted by other work

The real benefits of crowdsourced writing

1. Idea generation: One of the biggest challenges of writing your own content is consistently coming up with new ideas. BlogMutt created the concept of crowdsourcing idea generation for that very reason. Businesses can request topic ideas from their writers and take content in new and unexpected directions.

2. Scalability: Your feedback and style is shared with the writer community in general. As you’re providing insight into your style and preferences, you’ll be training additional backup writers for the next round to ensure the ability to scale and consistently deliver your content with minimal risk to any disruptions.

3. Crowd learning: What if the writers working for your business got better over time? Were able to produce results closer to your ideal with less and less input from you?

That’s the idea behind our feedback systemthe BlogMutt platform allows you to leave feedback visible to all writers. Writers in the community read your feedback, along with the writing done by their peers, to get smarter about what you’re looking for and home in on the writing that works for your business.

4. Experience & location matching: With a community of thousands of writers, it’s now possible to directly match not just writing style, but also subject matter expertise. If you need a deep-dive into something more technical, like an IT consulting blog post, why not ask the crowd or writers if anyone is a former IT consultant? If you run a local business in Colorado Springs, Colorado, your content will benefit if the person writing it lives there or has spent significant time there. With a large community of writers you’re much more likely to find local experts.

5. Added selection options/variety: Writers compete for your business by writing blog posts that you can then choose from. You will often have multiple selections, judging by the content itself versus the qualifications of the writer, at no additional cost to select the best writers for your needs.

6. Hassle-free: It takes the bulk of the burden off of you. Idea generation. Writing. No scheduling. Minimal administration, etc.

7. Cost-effective: Often more cost-effective... ...

How to make the crowd work for you

BlogMutt has built a crowdsourced writing platform that not only does the heavy content lifting for marketing agencies and small businesses effectively, but provides thousands of writing opportunities for a sizable crowd. I have to say, matching up supply and demand that works reciprocally really doesn't get any better.

If you're in the same boat of feeling these common pains and challenges, trying to make that lifestyle change and switch to content marketing or build a more established model, let's talk (check out some samples by filling out the form below).

See how BlogMutt can keep you on track. The long-term effects of content marketing that keep on giving are sweet, and ensure the business's health and happiness.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As CEO, Steve brings more than 20 years of startup, nonprofit, and Fortune 500 experience to not only running the business of BlogMutt, but also setting the culture, vision, and purpose of the team. Outside the office, Steve enjoys ultimate frisbee, telemark skiing, hosting jazz concerts, and spending time with his two boys.

Steve Pockross

 

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