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?
This is the most common fear of SMB owners. That's true - no one knows your product better than you. Now, it depends on who you hire as to what you get with your blog articles.
Hire cheap writers from sites like Odesk.com and Elance.com, and there's going to be much more back-and-forth, misunderstandings, and the like. Those people typically do writing as a secondary career and charge low rates because they don't understand the value their writing offers your business.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have corporate writers who specialize in doing the writing for the really big brands out there. Their stuff is spot on, but they cost big $$$ too.
In the middle are plenty of freelance business bloggers and writers who do just this. They all have websites and work remotely. Check out their websites, and you'll get a feel for how they write and if that fits your site well. One may work locally if you live in a large metropolitan area.
They all have some sort of onboarding process where they have you fill out a questionnaire and they talk about your business with you a little before starting.
To protect yourself, and most freelance writers do this, work out an arrangement where you pay them to do 2-3 articles to see if they're the right fit. Don't get too upset if the first one doesn't get it - there are different writers out there with different talents.
Just Google terms like freelance writer, freelance copywriter, professional business blogger, business blogger etc....
Be prepared to pay a decent monthly rate because just like anything else, you get what you pay for.
When you find the right fit, hold on to that person for a long time. Good contractors are hard to find in any niche, including blogging.
That should put you on the right track...good luck as you search!
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).
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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..
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.
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!
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! OK, I'm going to give you the 30,000 foot view to your post, the big picture. I truly mean this in the nicest professional way.
The very first assignment you have is to create a legitimate business plan. This is a real document that outlines your vision, knowledge, cost of doing business, pricing,production,delivery, the competition and literally a host of other business items to assess. In looking at your questions I don't see a clear focus. If you do not have a clear focus of what needs to be done and in what order you will apply the 'shotgun' approach and nothing will get done as it needs to.
Contact the local S.C.O.R.E. chapter and meet with them first. It is free and it will help you focus. The comments from everyone are legitimate and very nice, and people want to help, but you don't need a blog to start a business initially.
Are you going to be making your items yourself? How fast is that? I know there are fast knitters, but how will you load your production pipeline to fulfill orders?
Just asking about a design service/software, machine, indicates the ducks are not in a row.
S.C.O.R.E. is a good resource to help you focus, so is your local Chamber of Commerce. They will also have resources.
Lynn, asking about a blogger is question 1, 793 on your 'to do' list of 9,003 things that need to be assessed/addressed.
There are also books at the library on drafting a business plan. It's NOT easy, it takes time, and if you don't want to do it...well, if you fail to plan...then plan to fail.
Hope this helps, contact me if I can help. Best of luck! Mike
you need to have a published creative brief that defines your core value proposition, competitive advantages, key tag lines, and value-add headlines.
Something like this: richardhurn (dot) com / Message_Platform.pdf
You should ALWAYS review the material before it is published. Or have someone do it for you. If for no other reason that more eyes mean less typos. If you can't afford to hire someone to do it for you then you have to do it yourself. If after a while he/she is on track, has proven him/herself, then trust he/she will continue. At some point in time, you have to trust people to do what you hired them to do. If you don't, then don't hire him/her. Otherwise you're known as a "micromanager" and will soon lose that blogger. A good manager trusts his or her people to do their jobs and gets out of their way. A good manager's job is to set priorities, remove roadblocks, make the team's life easier. Not do the individuals' jobs for them. If you don't trust him or her to get it right, then why did you hire him or her?
I would agree with portions of several of the comments here. As a SMB owner, it's important to manage the direction of your online presence to the extent that the brand and voice are consistent with your desires.
Rather than hiring someone to outright do the work for you, it's best to start out collaborating. You want to minimize the time you need to spend on the project yourself, but a combination of writing and editing is needed until your blogger can work successfully on their own. Either you write and they edit or the other way around for your first few posts together.
Some additional suggestions:
• Start with ground rules and expectations.
• Find posts from others in your field and assign your blogger to write on those subjects as well.
• Provide headlines for your blogger to write articles around.
• Give your blogger existing content (your content or someone else's) wish them to emulate.
I recommend you create a document which clearly distills your brand, your target persona, language etc. From that document you create a brand manual which serves as a guide for anyone who needs to do work for your brand. Use this guide to start the conversation. Also find work you like to give them direction. Take it slow establish an approval process so you retain control.
You should maintain a final edit option. The blogger sends you his blog copy or content, you edit and publish. Out sourcing is a fantastic method to perform that what makes you uncomfortable. Never ever give up your editing and publishing finalized content.
You give all the information that you have about your products point wise. There are creative writer who can do these job better..
Yes, certainly there are people who can handle to your brand image
The best way to do this is you writing the content then sending it to an editor who "makes it pretty" and then either you or they post it on your blog.
Check references first. Read some of their blog posts. You get to review the article before it posts.