The best content comes from writers who have a good understanding of what the customer needs. The more direction a customer gives, the better job we writers can do! If you want to get better posts, here’s some insight into what one BlogMutt writer looks for in order to write great content that works, and how she does it.
Crafting Better Posts: What A Writer Looks For On A Customer’s Page
When I’m on a BlogMutt customer’s page, I want as much information as I can get to decide what kind of post I should write. These are the things I look at and roughly the order in which I look at them.
1. All of the topics and topic descriptions in the account.
I may plan on writing about one topic, but end up choosing a related topic, once I see the full descriptions. I might even start drafts on both of them if I think I can get them done fairly quickly.
The more specifics a customer gives in the topic descriptions, the easier it is to write a post that meets her needs. Including links to sites or documents that relate to the topic is very helpful. Searching for similar links takes up valuable writing time—not to mention that there’s a chance I would miss something the customer considers vital. Having relevant links already provided allows me to concentrate on crafting a better post.
2. Feedback: comments and star ratings on posts.
I scroll through the recent comments and read the posts that have received the best and worst comments and ratings. That gives me a good feel for what the customer wants (and doesn’t want). All of the posts that are in the queue, or that have already been purchased or rejected with comments and ratings offer a lot of guidance on the tone and direction a customer is looking for.
I give strong preference to companies that give their writers helpful feedback. If the customer only gives negative feedback, I’m less comfortable about whether or not I can get that customer a good post.
Stars are great, but positive feedback that I can add to my profile is most important to me. If a customer gives positive feedback when it’s deserved, I’ll be more motivated to write for her.
On the other hand, if a customer has rejected most of the posts from her queue and there isn’t much direction about what she wants, I may be hesitant to write for her. I would rather spend the time writing for customers whom I think I can get a good post to.
3. Slider preferences.
Personally, I prefer light-hearted narrative posts that are promotional, evergreen, and written for a general audience. But that doesn’t mean I won’t write in a corporate voice with bullet points. I recently wrote for a company that wanted topical, B2B, niche posts written in a corporate voice with bullet points. That’s the antithesis of my preferred writing style! The subject was somewhat technical and completely unfamiliar to me.
So why did I write for them? They needed posts and I needed money! I spent quite a bit of time researching their products and services. Once I knew what they wanted, I was able to craft several posts for them that they bought almost immediately. That was a win-win for both of us and, now that I’m more familiar with their needs, I write for them regularly.
4. The “Other Info” section.
Sometimes it’s not clear what a customer is looking for based on her topics and topic descriptions. The time spent figuring out how to give the customer what she needs adds to the time it takes me to write a good post. Clear directions make writing the post much faster.
I appreciate when the customer is clear and upfront about what she’s looking for from a topic. We’re a pack of great writers, but most of us fail miserably at reading minds.
5. The customer’s website.
This can help put topics that are very general or don’t have a lot of instructions in the right context. It’s also a good place to get a sense of what the customer’s preferred tone is.
When It’s Finally Time To Write (Well, Almost Time)
Sometimes I can write from my store of knowledge and other times I need to do research—often a lot of research. I have a strong affinity for promotional posts where I can do most of my research in the company’s catalog. After all, it lets me combine two of my favorite things: perusing catalogs from companies I like and writing. Does work get any more fun than that? Well, maybe training dogs…
When I’m not doing my research in catalogs, I generally take the search to the internet. I’ll look up news articles and other writings related to the topic, the company, and the broader subject at hand. Some topics are specific enough that they’re easy to research. Other topics are so esoteric that it’s hard to get a handle on them. If I’ve spent an hour on research and don’t think I have enough for a quality post, I’ll either abandon the project or ask for more information from the BlogMutt admins. I also have to try to stay on track. It’s easy for me to get so involved in research that I forget I’m actually supposed to do something with all those wonderful new things I’m learning.
I usually put the facts I’ve collected (along with the URL where I collected them) into a Word document. Once I have what I think is enough information, I start writing. Sometimes I’ll sort the facts into a rough order of how I’m planning on using them and other times I’ll just wing it. I usually write in a logical progression from an introductory paragraph to a call to action. At other times, I’ll write sentences as they come to me and put them in a logical progression later. I generally do that when I haven’t organized my research and I’m writing about each nugget as I unearth it.
After I’m all done writing, I proofread by reading the post out loud and often more than once. Sometimes I’ll recruit a “volunteer” to listen while I’m reading it. A listener is especially important if I’m trying to explain something that’s technical, new to me, or just complicated. I then quiz the listener on whether it makes sense to him. If it doesn’t, I’ll rewrite (and reread) until it does. Hmmm… I wonder if that has anything to do with them running when they see me approaching with laptop in hand?
Well, there you have it: one writer’s perspective on approaching a BlogMutt customer’s account page and crafting a post. If you’re looking for strategies to get the kinds of posts your blog needs, help the writers out, and give us as much information as you can!