Getting great content from a freelance B2B content writer (or even an internal B2B content writer) can be a challenge for many founders and marketing teams — you want to outsource your content marketing but you need to make sure the content is high quality, relevant, and aligns with your brand.
In this article you’ll learn best practices for working intelligently with your freelance writers, so you can make sure they create fantastic B2B content for you that engages your audience and generates leads.
1. Selecting the Right B2B Content Writer
One of the most important steps in getting amazing content from a B2B content writer is selecting the right writer. You’ll want to consider a few things concerning your writer to help you figure out if they’ll be a good fit for your brand.
- What is their experience level?
- What is the writer’s background?
- Do they have a niche or specific area of knowledge that is relevant to your brand or your target audiences?
Ask yourself these questions in relation to the content you expect the writer to be creating, the industry you belong to, and the particular industries or verticals your audiences belong to.
When you’re interviewing writers, you’ll need to keep some of these questions in mind so that you can find a writer who actually understands your audience and the language they use. Each product, market, and audience uses domain specific language and you want to find a writer who already has experience with your space.
2. Balancing Cost and Quality
Another important question to ask is does the quality of the writer mesh well with your mission, culture, and the message you’re hoping to embody as a brand?
As a long-term partner who will be working with you and your team on creating content, you want to find someone who you can collaborate with to produce great content. Where you find a writer can have an impact on what kind of quality you can expect from them when it comes to their writing.
Don’t expect the same persons offering $10 and $20 articles on Fiverr and Upwork to become your newest content marketing hero.
A professional writer with their own website, a clean social media profile, who is organized and professional, and has proof of work they’ve done for others will most likely have a higher standard of work. Likewise, you may be able to find someone with technical or domain knowledge who is working on building their name or personal brand, and is willing to write content for you.
Go too cheap, and you’ll end up spending more time rewriting the content than it would have taken you to begin with.
You usually get what you pay for.
(This is one of the advantages of working with a content marketing agency or experienced marketing manager with a good system for finding quality writers — you can find a good balance between cost and quality.)
In the B2B space especially, the quality of your content is of the utmost importance.
3. Clarify the Scope of Work and Responsibilities
Both before and after you’ve selected a writer, you’ll want to clarify the scope of work and responsibilities that will be expected from both of you.
A whole bunch of future hassle can be avoided if expectations are set from the beginning on exactly what should be delivered by the writer.
- What kind of article lengths do you expect from them? Some sort of length range should be clear to both sides before any work is started. Article length can impact SEO and it can also affect how in-depth an article will be able to go. Another important factor of article length is how it might change pricing.
- How many revisions will they be including in their services? Depending on your agreement and what the writer typically does, they may provide a certain number of revisions or charge extra. You’ll want to know from the start what their policy is.
- Who is responsible for visual content and graphic design? This is important to understand because graphics can be such a big part of blog content. This can influence not only pricing but it will have a significant impact on branding and creative direction. It can also be a significant investment of time and resources.
Make sure who is doing what is very clear to both parties.
Don’t just assume your writer knows what is expected of them. Good B2B content writers will have worked with companies who have all kinds of varying expectations. Some expect the writer to handle everything with just a topic suggestion, others expect the writer to follow a highly structured and detailed outline.
You’ll get the best quality by clearly defining and agreeing on expectations in advance.
4. Help Your B2B Content Writer Understand Your Products and Services
Helping a B2B content writer to understand your products and services can be a critical and often overlooked aspect of getting great content written for your brand, especially for more complex products and services.
Even if a writer has experience in your domain, they aren’t necessarily an expert of your product, positioning, brand, or use cases.
Making sure your writer truly understands your products and services can help them connect their content to the problems and solutions that are most important to your audience.
Give them access to as much marketing material as you can.
Help your writer understand your company by briefing them on your organization’s position in the industry — where you are in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for your industry, if you’re considered among the market leaders or a disruptor, which industries you best serve, which verticals you’re trying to break into, and related information can give a much fuller understanding of where your brand stands in the market.
Some great internal resources to help educate writers about your products, services, and market positioning include:
- Battle cards
- Product demos
- Case studies
- Solutions guides
- Customer success stories
Have them trial or use the product if possible.
Be mindful of intellectual property but lean towards giving them more access over less. Writing is a creative process and you never know what you might spark.
5. Tell Your B2B Writer Your Overall Marketing Goals
While you’re talking about your products and services, it can be helpful to discuss some of your overall marketing goals with your writer, from a strategic level. Let your writers get into your head as founder or marketing leader.
Tell them your specific goals for the particular content you’re asking them to help you with.
Is it meant to be a lead magnet?
Is it supposed to help with the sales cycle? Which part? How?
Is it supposed to bring in prospects who are still in the awareness stage?
Is it meant to convince prospects who are at the closing/decision stage?
Is it meant to target a specific set of lucrative keyword targets?
And don’t just tell them what you’re looking for from a specific piece of content. Include context around your longer term marketing goals and benchmarks you’re looking to hit.
This can help them gain a better overall perspective on where you’re looking to go as an organization and paint a more comprehensive picture of where they fit into the overall marketing strategy.
6. Educate Your B2B Content Writer About Your Customers/Target Audience
Empower your writers to create great content for you by educating them about your customers/target audience.
Provide any relevant customer data that will help them understand who they’re writing for.
Communicate with them about your target audience/ideal customer profile.
Talk to them about who you serve, and the most frequent or common industries/verticals/business types served.
Most importantly — tell them how you like to speak to that audience. Let them know the tone and voice in which you prefer to speak. Having some sort of buyer persona collateral can be very beneficial with this.
7. Give Your Freelance Writer Branding/Editorial Guidelines
Giving your writer your branding/editorial guidelines will make their job easier and it will help you get better outcomes.
Branding and editorial guidelines allow you to set a standard for the voice, aesthetics, preferences, and publishing standards for your brand.
You want your brand to be cohesive and consistent on all social media platforms and there should be a familiar look and feel to all your content.
Not having branding/editorial guidelines in place for your organization can be quite harmful for your long term branding efforts as your brand voice can bounce all over the place with no guidance, direction, or cohesion.
If your guidelines only exist in the minds of the founder or marketing team, you don’t truly have guidelines.
Here’s a brand style guide from Hubspot you can reference for inspiration if this is something you need to address.
8. Agree on an Outline Before Beginning the Article
Agreeing on an outline before beginning the article can save potential time, energy, headaches, and confusion further down the line. By coming to an agreement on the outline before beginning the article, expectations are set before the majority of the work is done.
You and your writer should both know the general format and topics that will be covered in the article before most of the work begins. Make sure you’re on the same page before an entire draft is submitted as it will greatly cut down on future revisions and potential friction or creative conflict.
There are a few different ways you can go about creating an outline depending on the level of involvement you want the writer to have in content planning.
Just because you’re outsourcing the writing doesn’t necessarily mean you’re giving up the reins completely. Either provide an outline if you have your own vision for the article or have the writer submit an outline before agreeing to submit any drafts. This makes sure everyone’s on a similar page and that any changes made later, if any, should be stylistic or design-oriented.
You want to avoid too much editing and revision and make sure there’s a shared vision from the very beginning.
9. Offer Genuine Feedback on the First Draft
After the first draft is received, give genuine feedback if you’re unhappy with the product. And if the first draft is great, tell the writer why.
Make sure that a rough draft is received well before anything needs to be edited or published, so there’s ample time to read and process the piece and give feedback.
The first draft by no means needs to be the final submission. If you’re not satisfied with the submission, let the writer know tactfully but clearly. Give very explicit instructions on what is desired and any changes that need to be made and give reasons why you want these changes made as well.
Any decent writer should be able to use their skills to work around what you want to make your vision for the content come true.
10. Develop a Long Term Relationship With Your B2B Content Writers
Developing a long term relationship with your writers should naturally result in them creating better content for you, especially if you’re following the guidelines and best practices outlined in this article.
Over time a writer becomes more familiar with your brand, audience, products, and services, and as a result, they produce better content for you.
Practice makes perfect, and any good writer’s product/service/operational knowledge will increase as they write more and more for a particular brand/organization.
While you should demand quality from the beginning, there’s always room for improvement with continued collaboration, constructive feedback, and mutual consulting. Building good relationships with your writers will result in better writing over time.
Takeaways for Working with a B2B Content Writer
Outsourcing your B2B content writing to a freelance writer can sometimes feel uncomfortable. You might feel like your brand voice is in danger or that you lack control. But ultimately, this is the most efficient way to scale your content marketing strategy. The key is empowering your freelance writers to make the best content possible for you.
If you follow these best practices for working with a freelance writer, you should feel confident in empowering your writers to create stellar content for you.
- Selecting a writer of quality that meshes well with your brand and your vision is the first step in getting off on the right foot with your writer.
- Clarifying the scope of work each party will be responsible for is the next major key in working with a freelance writer.
- Discuss your marketing goals with them and help educate them about your products/services as well as your target audience to give them a better perspective to write from.
- Provide branding or editorial guidelines and agree on outlines before you have your writers begin work.
- Establish an outline before beginning on new content.
- Give genuine feedback on the first draft so they can make revisions and, as you work with a writer, consider the long-term relationship you’ll be developing with them as a continued partnership.
- Develop a long-term partnership with your writer
Follow these steps so you can make sure your writer crafts fantastic B2B content for your brand that engages your audience and generates leads.
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