A blog can (and should!) be a focal point of the content marketing strategies for everything from start-ups and small businesses to life coaches and entrepreneurs. Your very own blog provides space for promoting ideas, discussing industry trends, telling personal stories, and many other forms of customer/client outreach. It’s a chance to build the brand and develop its digital voice, as well as a great way to work out a sustainable SEO strategy that generates notice and, more importantly, traffic.
Deciding to start a blog is just the first step, however. Once it’s up, you’ve got to figure out two things: who’s going to write it, and what are they going to write about?
It might seem weird to think about a blog as something you’d start but not write, but it’s a simple fact that blogs aren’t always written by the people they represent. In the case of start-ups and small businesses, there may not be staff available that can be diverted from other tasks; in the case of life coaches and entrepreneurs, there’s so much else to do for the business that content marketing can take a back seat.
Given this, hiring outside help is nothing to be ashamed of. Outsourced content creators can capably handle the tasks of producing content and developing a brand’s voice in a cost-effective manor that ensures high-quality brand representation in the digital space. Solid work, no matter who writes it, leads to much greater returns than forcing the issue with substandard content.
But here’s the rub: just because you outsource your blog doesn’t mean you have to let those bloggers do whatever they want. As a matter fact, that’s a great way to negate all the positives discussed above and ruin your content marketing strategy before it gets off the ground. Developing the blog should be a shared effort between the person or people on whose behalf the work is produced (that’s you, or your company) and the person who produces the work (your blogger).
Here are six ways you can keep creative control of your outsourced blog and ensure it generates the absolute highest-quality of work:
1. Establish a Production Schedule
You’re bringing in outsiders to write your blog because you don’t have time to write and post everything on a set schedule in addition to all the other things you have to do. Whoever you bring in does need to be able to meet that schedule, though. A production calendar is helpful here. It should have firm due dates, a clear listing of topics, summarizations of each post’s goals, and any notes (or where to find them).
Pro tip: make the due date two weeks prior to the date a piece will go live on the blog. That way, there will be plenty of time to make sure every post is in the best possible condition before the public sees it...for more on that process, keep reading.
2. Spend Time Generating Post Topics
The simplest way to keep creative control of your blog is to decide what topics it covers. It’s okay to let your blogger(s) come up with their own ideas sometimes if necessary, but you know better than anybody what needs to be covered. Spend what time you can brainstorming post ideas and you’ll play a major role in determining the direction of the blog as a whole.
Another helpful tip: once you’ve come up with a list of topics you like, run them through a keyword research tool to see if there are any permutations of that topic you could talk about in a different way to add more content to your blog.
3. Be Involved Throughout Each Post’s Development
With pieces due two weeks before they go live, you’ll have ample opportunity for editing and revising. Use this time effectively to ensure that the posts are being developed the way you want. Prevent the post from going sideways as it develops, and there will be fewer fixes needed prior to publication. Project management software may be helpful to you here, as it can focus everyone's attention in one area while working on a post.
4. Provide Actionable Feedback
If you do find a lot of things wrong with a given post, be sure to spell them out as clearly as possible for your writer. Just saying “I don’t like this” or “This needs to be better” won’t be terribly helpful. On the other hand, something like, “This idea needs greater emphasis” or providing thoughts on how a piece is structured allows you to play a role in the creative process for each piece.
5. Help Choose Art and Images
Blog posts without images or artwork can look barren and empty. You don’t need anything particularly gaudy or intense, but each piece should have a visual component that further amplifies its theme and message. Choose these yourself, or at least ask to see them in advance of inclusion, and you’ll be able to guide the way the blog looks and feels in addition to what it discusses.
An easy way to do this: set-up accounts with specific stock image websites to which you'll give your bloggers access. That way, you'll have an even greater say in how each piece looks and feels.
6. Sign Off on Everything Before It Goes Live
Last but not least, and this might go without saying, but: approve every piece of content before it gets published. Don’t let one single solitary blog post see the light of day until you have given it a thorough overview, expressed your concerns as clearly as possible, and offered any suggestions regarding revisions, images, and anything else you feel the need to comment upon. If you're not happy with a piece, don't post it until you are.
This all sounds like a lot, but compared to what will result if you hand over full creative control to your bloggers with no checks and balances on your part, it’s practically nothing! You might be paying someone else to write your blog posts, but they are ultimately YOUR blog posts. Treat them as such, and you’ll be well on your way to a blog you can be proud to call your own.