The harsh reality of online content marketing (especially through social media) is that you won’t always have time to do it yourself. Juggling the day-to-day demands of a business can be hard enough without having to generate countless blog posts, tweets and Facebook updates to promote it on the web.
So, when the workload becomes too great, many businesses hire the services of freelance copywriters to create their content for them. This can be an incredibly powerful strategy, as most freelancers are professionals who have spent their whole careers cultivating copywriting expertise that your business can take advantage of. However, hiring writers from outside your business comes with one significant risk: the risk of an inconsistent persona. Worst case scenario, this can result in a decline of client loyalty.
When you’re building your readership-base on a blog or social media account, it’s very important that all the content you put out seems to be generated by the same persona. It should be tonally consistent and any differences in style between two pieces of content should be subtle. However, bringing in external copywriters makes a consistent persona harder to maintain, as every copywriter you hire will bring a slightly different perspective to your blog or social media account. There are a few simple tricks you can use to make sure you always receive content that fits the broad ‘feel’ of your blog, without stifling your copywriters’ creativity.
1. A good brief
A well-designed brief needn’t be especially long or take a long time to write. It just needs to outline the aims and audience of your blog, website or social media account. This will help your copywriters create content that’s consistent with the persona you’re attempting to cultivate because they’ll understand the motives and philosophies that underpin your efforts.
Personally – I’m a huge believer in creating clarity via a brief. Unless we’ve been working together for ages and can read each other’s minds…(!) I actually issue one to all of my copywriting clients. Mine’s packed with points to consider – and includes questions on desired tone, brand guidelines – plus asks for a list of things the client HATES – which I will then ensure I absolutely.Avoid.
Working from a copy brief is also a big time saver; it makes the client think from the outset about the results they want from a copywriting project (super important!), plus it highlights any potential points of confusion quickly and easily.
2. Provide a link to your blog or social media page
No writer can precisely mimic another’s style without that style losing something. However, giving your freelancers a chance to peruse existing content is a great way to ensure you get broadly consistent content. Your writers can incorporate elements used in older content into their new content to give readers the feeling that it could all have been written by the same person.
3. Always use the same agency
Where possible, always try to hire your copywriters through the same agency or website. Each agency or website has a particular set of writing guidelines that its copywriters all use. Additionally, each also has a subtly different culture and tends to attract slightly different types of writers. By using the same agency each time, you automatically improve the chances of getting consistent content. Better still, for seamless copywriting – hire an individual. [shameless plug inserted here]
Maintaining a consistent online persona isn’t about tricking readers into believing all your content is written by one person (they know as well as you do that this isn’t always the case); it’s about making your readers feel as though they have a personal bond with your business through your blog or social media accounts. If you follow the advice given here, you’ll be able to cultivate this bond regardless of how often you hire a freelancer to supplement your own content.
One final point on this – I’ve had a few clients recently who’ve hired me to redo their website content copy, having previously enlisted the help of several different writers to do that very job (and then massively regretted it).
My advice? Enlist the services of one website content copywriter who totally ‘gets’ what you do and work with them exclusively. Your website is your online shop window. If it was an actual shop window, you wouldn’t let a host of different people dress the mannequins and add the props, would you? Why not? Because you’d be worried about ruining the overall look and feel – and undermining its continuity. So don’t even think about letting a group of people try to convey what your business is about, through words. The variety of styles and tones is (too often) glaringly obvious. Client loyalty? It’s cultivated by developing a consistent brand presence – right from the very first word.