The Scripted Podcast is a show created for content marketers and content writers featuring real Scripted writers. We'll talk about best practices in content and SEO, our favorite marketing tools, how to find and hire writers, and all the fun and misadventure that comes with being a professional freelance writer.
So if you are interested in content marketing to help grow your business or you're a content writer looking to refine your skills and learn from professional, experienced writers then this podcast is for you.
Listen On Spotify
Listen On Google Podcasts
Listen On Apple Podcasts
Listen On Overcast
Episode 4 Transcript
Introducing the Writers
Thanks for tuning into the 4th episode of the Scripted Podcast. Today will be joined by two talented writers from the scripted platform, Mike and Jeremy, both of which you've heard from before if you've listened to previous episodes.
In the last discussion, we gave insights about the best software for content marketers in writers to use for kicking butt in content marketing. Today, we're going to be digging into the functional device of how writers work with customers. On the writer’s side of things, we're going to be talking about how to successfully write pitches that will get you hired, what questions you should ask your customers to find their brand voice/style and understand their goals. On the client side of things, we will talk about the best practices for working with writers, including how to write content briefs, how to grow a relationship with their writer, and how to make sure your writer is prepared to write the best content possible. Speaking of quality, we will be discussing if an increase in quality blogs means less content being produced, and understanding the ideal ratio between quality and quantity when producing content.
All right now that you know what today is all about, let's get into it.
What is the best way for writers to understand the goals of a client, specifically when coming onto a platform like Scripted?
What are you really looking to do with this piece? Because I think for a lot of the clients, they're smart enough to know that they want to bring somebody else in to help them, right? So there's definitely something there that they want, but maybe they just don't know quite how to say it when they're confronted with this type of form. And if you just ask some very very basic questions, it kind of organizes in their head a little bit. So, that's one of the main pieces of advice I'd give - ask as many questions you can if you need it if it's, if it's not completely organized, if there's things there that you don't know when you're starting. When you get the OK to start the project that you're working with them on, ask 'cause it can't hurt to ask.
Touching on the idea for pitching and proposals. Conciseness is the key when you're when you're trying to pitch something, do it in a couple of sentences at the most. Because these are busy people.
One thing I notice is a lot of the clients by the time they come to Scripted, they actually have a website. They have a lot of information put together about their brand, about their product, and you know, they may have a sales team that they're educating to convey a lot of information. They actually have all the stuff that I need to write compelling content, but what happens is sometimes they just say, you know, “Write about our product, here's our website, you know,” and that's all I get. And they've actually done a tremendous amount of work building their brand out and creating their story, and so if you have that kind of stuff, just give the writer access to all of that, all of that stuff so they can learn about your product. They can learn about your clients, they can learn about your pain points. Like Michael, I always want to know what's the general goal of the piece. What do you want to achieve with it? Who's the audience? Is this a piece for shoppers? A piece for business to business? Who the audience is is really important, so give the writer as much education and resources as you can about your product. I'll always go to their website and try to get a sense for their brand and their voice.
Everybody talks about voice and it's not as scary as it sounds because it almost sounds like oh you have to be like some kind of chameleon ventriloquist adopt different personas and stuff, but I think it's a little more subtle than that. You know, if it's an academic or audience, you write at a higher grade level. If it's lower, you write at an easier to understand level. If it's a fun product, it's funny, perky, silly. You need to find out where you can go with the writing in terms of voice, but it's not that scary I don’t think. I think when I first started writing and everyone was talking about voice, it was quite scary for me, but it's pretty easy to adjust to different audiences.
One thing I would advise to like tech clients is if you hire a writer and you have a software package, let your writer play with it. You know, let him loose on a demo package of it, and see if he can actually figure it out so that he's actually used the product. I actually really appreciate that, because I can then write with authority. Anything that you can give to your writer to empower him to write with authority is really important.
By the way, I thought of another piece of software just from a writer's perspective is Google Docs, because you can document collaboration with your writer. So for example, if you’re using the Scripted platform and your writer has given you something, and you have a lot of edits or tweaks that you want, you could just pop it into Google Docs and you can collaborate with him with more detailed notes and you can make your own edits and have the edits tracked so that everybody can see what's happening and there's like a trail or record of what's been changed in the document.
I love the idea of really diving into deeper collaboration with your customers. I think it's so important to have a very strong Writer/Client relationship, and that just speaks so heavily to that. Now, I want to shift that to this whole idea of sometimes clients don't have the time to deep dive with the writer to really fill out content briefs the way they need to. They just need their content written and they don't have the budget to really pour into a high quality piece of content. I want to discuss that and understand how it changes and differs in regards to quality versus quantity, when it comes to different types of clients, such as startup versus enterprise, I would love for you to take it wherever you want, but I kind of have to assume that there's a lot of differences here when it comes to working with these different types of clients.
I would say these days I am only working with the clients that want quality and that's what excites me the most. I would say you know, everybody has different resources, so that's a very difficult balance. Some of these Silicon Valley tech companies have tremendous resources. They have investors who have just given them, maybe $500,000 to spend on their marketing, and 100,000 is going to go to that strictly for content generation. Those people can afford to build these beautiful, amazing pieces. But if you're, you know, maybe you invented a new kind of smart phone cover and you just got the manufacture and put it out and you want to rank on keywords, but you have absolutely zero resources, you have a very minimal budget. Then you really have to think about, well, OK, how can I build a relationship with a writer who can provide me with quality content that's going to do the job, but be realistic. So I mean, that's why I like Coca-Cola and these companies that have huge million, billion dollar advertising budgets, because it works.
I would stress if you have the resources, spend money on content, you get what you pay for. Even if you could give the same writer a lower amount of pay, he'll probably give you what you pay for because he's struggling to. You know, he's gotta make an hourly wage in a certain sense, so if you give him an article to write, he still has to live, and he’s under the time burden. To produce content for you at a lower price, you're just not gonna get great quality. It's not humanly possible to. You have to think about how much time it takes to create quality content. It takes time.
When a client comes really just looking for SEO type of content and they just want to populate their site, nothing will make it quality, but you can kind of tell with the way they presented and you know they're just looking to get those terms out there in an acceptable fashion. And that's fine. I mean, you know, whatever I do, I'm going to make it the best I can, but you can definitely tell when a client has come to you with a thoughtful planned out piece that they want. They want the direction, they know what the keywords are that they’re going to have, and I tend to believe that those things must do a lot better in the long run.
I would say quality over quantity.
I kind of like the idea of posting 2 nice pieces a week. Or in the beginning, you do like a blitz campaign and you just really put up to cover all the other keywords you want to hit quickly, but you know one or two pieces a week depending on your resources. But really, quality is so important.
The other thing is, once you have a ranking piece, that's a tremendously valuable piece. I write for this one client and they wanted me to update one of their pieces and they had done all their analytics on this piece and they said annually they get $100,000 in sales from this one blog post that happens to rank. It was number #3 or #2 on the Google rankings. They probably paid a writer $200-300, maybe $500-600 to write that piece. Now think about $100,000 into the business a year from one blog post, but in order to get that blog post, they had to write quite a few pieces. So it's not like they just hit the payday with that one piece. That's how the viral post on YouTube or a blog post works. You kind of have to have these ideas, and then you follow through with them on a regular basis, and every once in a while, one pays off. That's what you're looking for, and that's the advantage of hiring a writer. It's a small investment. You're the one taking the risk, but if you do the back work and you know what underutilized keywords to use, you can really get some big payoff.
Thanks Jeremy. I want to shift it just a little bit, when it comes to people that know they have to get it out on a consistent basis like you're talking about, they have to keep producing, but might not have the funds to continue to pay for all this quality content. Do you have any tips or tricks that you'd like to add to this discussion? For people that are really just trying to get the best bang for their buck when it comes to purchasing that quality content?
There was one thing I wanted to add because this is a trick that definitely will work on me and it's a trick for people who are trying to generate good quality content on a budget. It is to ask the writer to put his name on it. This is your added little piece of insurance because if this is somebody who's writing for his career, he's not going to give you bad quality content that he has to put his name on, and I know that every time someone asked me to put my name on a piece. I feel this just 10% or maybe a lot more burden of “oh this is gonna be on the internet forever. It better look incredible”, you know. And, I love to put my name on things because it builds my brand as a writer and so really everybody wins.
I want to give you both the opportunity to talk about things that you're proud of or a horror story about working with a client. I just want to hear some client stories, whether that be really awesome or really really awful. I want to get a little fun here, and feel free to take it wherever you want to go. What's a really good piece that you want to showcase?
I happened to be in New York City when this came out. I was with my parents. They live in upstate New Jersey and I was at this bar in New York City when this assignment came in. They needed a relatively quick turn around so I got to show my dad what they had me doing. They sent over the actual DVD footage of a deleted scene from the Old Star Trek and Star Trek series, and I thought my dad's eyes were going to pop out of his head.I think that's the coolest thing I've ever seen - writing for Paramount. So that's the first thing that pops up in my head when I think of that, and actually, they just had me come to a second project which was talking about the release of the new Terminator movie.
Generally being a writer, the horror stories, the extent of the horror stories are when you accidentally delete a piece. What's funny is, you know, I remember that that happened to me a couple times when I was in college and it was like the end of the world. But as a writer doing it all the time, it's kind of like you just roll and end up rolling with the punches, but boy is that tough. And you just have to start over again. And that's happened to me on a few cases, but you get better at making sure it doesn't happen.
I imagine you have software that helps?
Well, the new Microsoft Word Auto saves for you, and different version history. That helps a lot. I guess from an anecdotal perspective, what’s kind of funny is on these platforms like Scripted, you're working with freelance writers, and if you think about it, a freelance writer is kind of like an actor in a way. Every freelance writer has these ideas of themselves as this kind of Hemingway character, or maybe they have a book that they're working on. Or maybe they wrote a book in there, but it hasn't been picked up. So consider that. I mean, they're kind of like actors who are doing maybe a TV spot, or like a commercial when they really want to be on the big screen. And I think when you're working with writers, you should keep that in mind, that you're kind of working with these sensitive artist types and be kind with them. Although, the best writers, and I've been doing it for awhile now, have a really thick skin. People can insult me, and I've worked with really tough editors who just made me develop a really thick skin, but a lot of the writers you encounter are really sensitive, but they're very good writers. Just keep in mind that sensitivity and you'll probably get rewarded with a really powerful relationship.
I think that's so true. It's important to have that really powerful relationship, and speaking of that, in this episode, I want to get really actionable here. I want you to, you know, just what is your blanket statement, your takeaway statement that you want people to have and carry with them after they go away from this episode, regarding client writer relationships. What's the main take away that you want people to have about building relationships with their writers?
They will reward you. They love to work with the same clients over and over again, and I'm a little shy to even work with a new client. I like to have a steady relationship and then you get to know their brand and you start to trust each other. You know what they like and it's very very rewarding on both sides. So yeah, if you're new to the Scripted platform, I would recommend that you put out like four or five jobs and select the different writer for each one and then decide which one you like the most and maybe two that you like the most and work with them specifically.
Excellent ideas, and also add them on LinkedIn. Make a relationship a long term thing that you can keep. You can keep talking with them and keep getting jobs through Scripted, because you know if you don't have the resources in your company, and we can service that, I think that's what a lot of people are using Scripted for, and it's a really beneficial thing, and it's the relationship that I know I've had with dozens different clients and I love it to 'cause I get to learn different things. I mean, I've become an expert in so many different fields just from all the stuff that I've written about here. I'm the best bar trivia player in Boston, just 'cause I never know what I'm going to learn about, right? Things I do in the summers is I go visit different ballparks across the United States. But I've been doing all these jobs for OpenTable where I have to talk about the best restaurants in cities. Denver, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, what have you, I know exactly where to go every time in these cities, so I really enjoyed this job for the fact that I can learn all these different things, and clients have to remember that too, if it's something that we're learning about that's really cool for us, if we can learn about different products, different services, different topics, I love that, it's kind of what drives me to be a writer, so it’s kind of a joy that we get to do this.
When it comes to quality: quantity ratio - it really depends on the industry and the size of the company. The more resources you can dedicate to a higher frequency of content as well as higher quality, the better. However, if you’re a startup that just needs to get content out there, the most important thing to do is have consistency in your content production. Just make sure you are always producing on a consistent basis at the highest level quality you can afford.
And speaking of high quality at an affordable rate, a good tip is to ask your writer to put their name on it, instead of it being ghost written. Writer’s will write better quality content if their name is on it.
And when it comes to working with your writer:
Giving them as much detail about your product or business, the better. It’s so important that your writer understands your brand voice, your style, and the direction you are trying to go in your content.
To help make this possible, allow the writer to become an authority on your products and business as a whole. How do you do this? Well, give them a style guide, give them examples of copy you’d like to gain inspiration from, maybe let them use your product before they write about it. All of these things will produce higher quality content in the end.
And on the writer's side of things, if you don’t understand something, it is always better to ask more questions at the beginning, than providing a client with a piece of content that misses the mark.
In short, the client writer relationship is so important in content marketing, and communication is the key to making it work.
Looking for help with writing your next blog post?