When hiring a blogger, how can I ensure that they maintain my brand image?
I know that blogging is valuable and I'm definitely not a great writer, but nobody knows my product better than me and I am scared of outsourcing for that reason. How can I make sure that a blogger will represent my product in the way that I want?
I would do the following. Write what you want to say and then allow a writer to express the same thing in his own way. This will ensure that you get what you want using the talents (and style) of a skillful writer. You may well know what you want but you need to think about what your potential audience is looking for. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes on your message is great because they will translate that message into consumer terms. Too much knowledge about your product can be detrimental to what you are trying to say. I have worked with clients that know their stuff so well that they shorthand everything and become incomprehensible.
Hi Lynn ~
All the answers posted so far are excellent:
1) Steep the person in your business like fine tea
2) Have them craft a sample post or two (paid), with the understanding that their knowledge about your field will increase over time
3) Draft the post yourself and hire an editor
4) Get references from past or current clients.
As someone who creates keyword-optimized blog posts (some with social media posts as well) for a number of small businesses, most of which I knew nothing about prior to landing the accounts, I will add that subject matter knowledge, while important, is not as critical as exceptional writing, the ability to adapt to each brand's "voice", and a willingness, even eagerness, to learn your business. That said, you might seek a writer who also knits, or a knitter who also likes to write.
There are a number of ways you might structure the blogging relationship. I blog for two product-based small businesses. I submit my product-focused ideas each month for approval before I write the posts; sometimes a client will nix an idea and explain why. With another, service-based client, I have monthly phone conversations that have not only developed rapport over the 3+ years I've been blogging for them, but also help expand my industry knowledge, which has grown exponentially and shows in the appreciative comments readers leave on their blog.
Finally, a fourth client likes to send me a bullet-point outline for each post, which is helpful since it's a technical subject area. I then weave a story around the information and send it back; he has two family members who are editors and sometimes make changes, so this one is a real group process!
Be as clear as you can when selecting a blogger, and you will likely enjoy an enduring, productive business relationship, as I do with my clients.
To your success!
Hi Lynn, We blog and "ghost" tweet for many companies and here are some of the ways you can protect yourself and your brand.
#1 You approve everything, especially at first. If you aren't comfortable with what is produced, don't allow it to be posted. It isn't unusual to go back and forth with edits, suggestions and changes until a client is happy with what is produced.
#2 Work with the writer to create a profile of your brand. We create client profiles for all our clients -- what they like and don't like, keywords and terms they use and don't use. Also consider moratoriums - it's OK to say "never use this term or address this topic".
#3 Show your writer what you like and don't like.
#4 Hire carefully -- ask for examples and references. If they did excellent work for someone else, chances are it will be good work for you too!
Passion. If you can find a person that has passion for your product, you'll find a person that can match the feel and brand image for your business. You can typically get the feeling for this during your interview with the person, and then it just becomes a matter of their level of wordsmithing. I would start by checking out your followers on social media and seeing if any of them were interested in doing some blogging for you. You can even check their FB posts to get a preview if they write well enough for your business.
Regardless of who you hire, keep in mind that you'll be taking a task that takes a huge chunk of time off your plate, and you can always read through it with your newfound free time and give feedback until you're comfortable with their stance.
Getting a great referral to one is a start. No one would refer a blogger that felt was not successful blogging for them. I believe through your initial meeting and thorough consultation you will be able to tell if they "get it".. You can also preview the first few blogs before they are published and make sure the message is representing your brand the way you want it to. If it is a miss the first couple of tries then it is clear you need to find another..
Train and treat them like they are a new employee in your sales or marketing team in terms of getting them to understand your company, brand and goals. Regular calls or meetings are also worth your time, particularly in the beginning, so everyone is on the same page.
Typically you would want to create a brief for that person. Define the audience, outline the brand value proposition, how you are different from competitors, things you do and do not do. Get the blogger some sample product, make them a user so that they understand the perspective of the consumer. Have them follow the competition, listen to other conversations in this space.
But you should always read what they write before it gets posted, provide feedback, guidance and perhaps content that you want added. A pro blogger should appreciate this kind of background and structure, it will make their job easier and it will make you happier.
Don't hire without testing. Based on the test post you receive, you can tell if that writer has any chance of getting close to what you want or not.
Also, you can send comments and see how they react. If they are willing to adjust the posts according to your observations, you should be able to get what you want in the end.
It is important that you give detailed instructions, keywords, titles, samples, anything that can help the writer understand what you want.
Good luck, and be patient!
Sounds like you need an editor and not a blogger. An editor can make a not so great writer look like a star. This ensures the blog is written according to your standards.
Talk to them. Let them hear you talking with clients, peers and other staff. They also need to read what you have written and be guided by what you want to share. Lastly, you need to ready everything they write before it's released until you gain confidence that they can communicate on your behalf, the way you would (or better).