Miscommunication is often to blame for a disappointing content writing project. For this very reason, it's important to speak to writers very clearly.
Content creation is a collaborative process that requires clear instructions from the manager and flexibility and skill from the writer. There's a sense of satisfaction when you read a project for the first time and discover a polished masterpiece. However, miscommunication from both sides can often limit the overall potential of a project. To minimize rewrites and to receive the content you're expecting, follow these tips when explaining revisions to writers.
See also: How to Wrap Up a Successful Content Project
1. Be Specific
Read through these examples of both vague and specific edit requests. Notice how specific corrections are much more valuable to the writer.
Vague:"This article is hard to follow. The points don't make sense."
Specific:"Please break the article into subsections or use bulleted lists to organize the ideas."
The difference: The specific direction tells your writer exactly what you want to see. The vague direction gives your writer no actionable feedback.
Vague:"This post has a lot of of grammatical errors."
Specific:"Please double-check the grammar in the second paragraph. The wording seems awkward."
The difference: By providing a specific location for the grammatical problems you tell the writer exactly where to focus his or her work.
Vague:"My readers would have a hard time understanding this article."
Specific:"The article uses a lot of sophisticated vocabulary. For example, this sentence uses the word "didactic" when "preachy" would be easier to understand. Please review the article and where possible, use everyday language."
The difference: Sometimes, a post has a repeated error throughout its paragraphs. By stating the error and giving a specific example, you let the writer know how to apply changes throughout the piece.
See also: What Makes a Good Editor? Some Insights From Our Editor Test
2. Be Straightforward
When you want a writer to make edits avoid addressing the writer as "you." Instead, focus on the change itself, explaining what it does say versus what you want it to say.
Personal:"The way you wrote the second paragraph makes no sense. Can you rewrite it so that it's not so confusing?"
Impersonal:"The second paragraph doesn't present the ideas as clearly as the other paragraphs. Please rewrite it so that it matches the other paragraphs."
The difference: "You" can make a writer feel like a target instead of a professional. Avoiding "you" focuses the writer on the work, not on the critique.
3. Be Honest
You pay a writer for his or her time just as you'd pay an accountant or a doctor. You shouldn't approve a writing project that isn't completed to your standards. Never hesitate to continue collaborating with a writer until you create the product that you want. As long as your edits aren't unreasonable the writer should make the changes that you request.
Ernest Hemingway made writers sound melodramatic when he said, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." In most cases, writers aren't the fragile, sensitive creatures that Hemingway described. They're skilled professionals who are paid to communicate ideas in writing. In the end, treat writers the way you'd want one of your clients to treat you. Tell them what you want them to do and express appreciation when they deliver.
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