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As the person that writes every word of your website, I’m a tool. You can use me to accomplish your goals, or you can fumble with me through the website redesign equivalent of a toddler wearing mittens while trying to assemble IKEA shelving.
FACT: Most clients don’t know how to work with writers.
That’s OK. No one expects you to. It’s not like you redesign your website everyday.
So here are some tips on how you can use your website writer like a tool:
1. Introduce Your Troops
Everyday, I wake up and have a matter of hours to understand a subject so well that I can not only explain it, I can simplify it. Make it faster and easier by putting me in touch with the subject matter experts and resources that I need, to understand what you do.
Hint: They are not in the marketing department.
While it’s nice to talk to the CEOs and marketers about big-picture direction, writers still need the details they can only get from your front-line staff and salespeople. Identify a contact for every product or service and make sure they’re ready to drop everything and pitch in. Telling me the 30,000 foot-view will not help me nearly as much as dishing about common customer complaints.
2. Stop, Drop and Make Content a Priority
Yes Virginia, your delay to approve text will delay your site launch. It’s a good idea to rally your staff as the redesign kicks-off. Make sure everyone is ready to drop what they’re working on to answer quick questions, carve out time for meetings and approve your pages.
3. Open, Honest Feedback (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)
Just like a doctor, I can’t write a prescription if you don’t tell me where it hurts. Tell me what you love and what sucks, on your current site as well as your new website drafts.
Candor is a great quality for criticism but if you’ve hired a professional writer, they’ve been dealing with erratic editors long before your website rewrite. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings, worry about getting what you want. After all, you’re the one paying for it and I assure you, we’ve got thick skin.
4. Put Your Pen Down, Hemingway
Your role as a client in a website rewrite is not to micromanage by rewriting every word. Resist this urge, no matter how tempting it may be. Manage the big picture: tone of voice, information, your brand image. Especially in the beginning stages, you may not be able to see how everything comes together. If you find yourself rewriting drafts, stop. Show the draft to a few neutral parties and get their unbiased opinion.
The thing about writing is, just because everyone can technically do it, that doesn’t mean they should. So if you’re trying to rewrite your fresh new drafts, please put your pen down, take time to think about the direction and have a conversation with your writer immediately.
5. Do Your Homework
Before you say one word to your shiny new writer, make sure you’ve recently read your entire website. Guess what? A lot of that information is inaccurate, outdated and you just don’t like it for whatever reason. So you can’t have a stranger rewrite it without that crucial context. That’s like asking me to make Thanksgiving dinner with your leftover Halloween candy. It’s gross and you will hate it.
So there you have it.
Your website writer IS a huge tool. Now, you can use them to do what they were made for, taming your content and making you happy. If you want to help your writer even more, simply ask them how.
They’re under a serious amount of pressure to make you happy, make their bosses happy, understand strange new subjects, meet their deadlines and do it all within a budget that they didn’t set. By keeping an empathetic, open line of communication with the hero of the keys, you can negate most content-related issues before they even begin.
Are you ready to take your content marketing to a different level?