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How to Onboard New Writers So They Write High-Quality Content

How to Onboard New Writers So They Write High-Quality Content

Surface-level content, sloppiness, bad grammar, and missed deadlines. Why is it so hard to find a content writer that doesn't suck?

I see plenty of incompetence in content writing. Is this because of bad writers? I doubt so.

Why do so many writers create poor content?

Let's try to answer this question from another angle by defining what great content does that poor content doesn't:

  1. Great content is valuable, original, and insightful. It includes expert opinions and substantiated arguments. It's relevant and factually correct.
  2. Great content creates trust.
  3. Great content encourages action as a result of trust.
  4. Great content draws the readers in because of how well it is written.

Only the last characteristic of great content is what a content writer is responsible for. And unfortunately, this characteristic alone can't compensate for the other three.

We all like to read books written by experts in their fields. Why? Because they write well? Eric Ries, Paul Graham, Ben Horowitz, Adam Smith, Jack Trout — they’re all darn good writers, but writing isn’t their main shtick. We read their books because we’re interested in their unique experiences and ways of thinking. We trust them and believe what they say because they really were there, they really experienced it, and they know how it really works.

In my book "From Reads To Leads" there is a chapter called "Expertise Earns Credibility and Trust." I wanted to make a point that all marketing copy for every business must establish credibility, or else it won’t sell. This chapter shares examples and tips on how to incorporate expertise into a piece of content. If you want to get the book, I've added links to where you can buy it to the description below.

Most content writers aren’t experts on the topics they write about. They’re paid to write, not to share their expertise. But the thing is, content that doesn’t broadcast expertise doesn’t generate credibility. 

Only your company has the experience and insights that are needed to create great content. And your content writer must have access to them.

It's not the writer you need to blame

When businesses have problems with their content writers, it rarely has anything to do with their skills or background. It has much more to do with what these writers are given to work with. And I don't just mean bad instructions.

Hiring a writer and expecting they will write great content without taking the time to onboard them and establish a proper work process is only going to get you so far.

So here are some tips for how you can help your writers create high-quality content.

How to onboard new writers to your team

1. Make them familiar with your products or services

Any writer who's hired to produce content for a company with a goal to promote this company's products or services needs to have product knowledge. Obvious, right? Yet, most writers don't do their homework and aren't required to.

You need to make sure that your writers understand what you sell and why people need to buy it. It's a good idea to ask your sales team to pitch your product or service to your new writer. This can help quickly get them up to speed about product knowledge. 

Besides, you should make sure your writer reads your sales presentations, landing pages, and case studies. It's also a good idea to make them write a case study as one of their first assignments. By learning about how you helped real customers solve real problems, your writer will understand your experience better.

Give your content writer a “crash course” about your product, service, and brand so they are caught up with your company.

2. Make them do the voice of the customer research

Now when your writer knows what you sell, they also need to learn more about who you sell to. Knowing your audience will help your writer understand how to speak to them.

Voice of the customer research is a good way to find out what your clients think about your kind of product, what language they use when they discuss it, what attributes are important to them, and what promise would most likely make them buy your brand.

You can give your content writer an assignment to read your client's feedback and testimonials, and write down their needs, wants, pains, objections, and values. Make sure you check out my video that teaches how to do customer review mining.

To help your writers understand your audience even better, you should prepare a set of buyer personas. In your description for each buyer persona, specify:

  • Who your buyer personas are
  • Their background (what happened in their life before they decided to search for a product or service like yours)
  • Their biggest problem
  • Blockers (what prevents them from solving their biggest problem)
  • Desired result 
  • Common objections
  • Expectations from your brand

3. Share examples of content you define as great 

If you want writers to create great content, you need to show them a sample of what this content may look like. Find some links to content with your desired tone, style, and depth and share them with your writers. Make sure you also explain what makes this content great to set clear expectations for your writers.

4. Explain your content strategy and work process

Your content strategy needs to answer two questions:

1) What do you want to achieve? 

2) How are you going to do that? 

Your writers need to know how their work can help you achieve your goals. When a writer understands the goal of a piece of content, they don't just write text, they think strategically about writing. 

From content briefs to interviews with your team to outlines to first drafts to publishing – your content creation process should be crystal clear to your writers and they need to understand the "why" behind each step.

Learn more about content workflow in my video.

So there you have it. To sum up, here is a list of assets you need to prepare to onboard your new writer and make sure they can write high-quality content for your company:

  • Access to your products, or information about your services and how you provide them
  • Your sales documentation such as offers and case studies 
  • Access to your client testimonials and reviews
  • Well-described buyer personas 
  • Samples of great content
  • Documented content strategy 
  • A well-defined workflow with an explanation of the reason behind each step
  • A style guide

I hope this blog post will help you produce high-quality content with any writer.

Watch it instead:

If you have any questions about hiring writers or building an effective work process, or you want to see more content like this, just post a comment underneath this video on YouTube. Don't forget to give this video a Like. I've got new content coming out every week so you should definitely subscribe to my channel for more useful stuff about copywriting and content marketing. 

I also have daily writing tips on Instagram, so make sure you follow me there too.

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