British author, Rebecca West, was once quoted as saying, “I write books to find out about things.” How true that is! Having been asked to write on subjects as varied as science, technology, healthcare, skincare, entrepreneurship, finance, construction, motivation, safety, sales, architecture, moving and storage, and automobiles (and this is just for the last month), I’m constantly “finding out about things.”
They say, write what you know, yet I love digging into what I don’t know. I love finding out about things. Here are just a few examples of what I’ve learned this month.
What I’ve Learned So Far This Month as a Freelance Writer
- Entrepreneurship in Africa is hot. Africa isn’t just an emerging nation, it’s an emerging continent.
- One way to improve visitor security is with expiring visitors passes. These are chemically treated so that the word “void” appears in red 24 hours after the label has been activated.
- There are over 500 ways for a couple to claim Social Security. Yikes!
- Hackathons aren’t just for hackers and computer programmers. The idea isn’t necessarily about coding; rather it’s about dedicating time to working on a specific project.
- There are a lot of innovative companies out there that are genuinely working to make the world a better place.
Stumbled across this video today. When you think about it on an emotional level, you know a lot!
What about non-fiction writing? Writing what you know is crucial, but as I’ve been known to say, “You don’t have to be a scientist to interview a scientist.”
What do you think?
Photo courtesy of seeveeaar (CC No Derivatives)
If you’re considering website content writing services for the first time, you may not know what to expect. While each content writer or service provider will have their own processes and requirements, here’s what you can expect when outsourcing website content writing: benefits, communication, and commitment.
Benefits of Using Website Content Writing Services
You’ve hired a content writing service for a reason, and you should expect to benefit from that arrangement. Below are a few of the benefits you can expect:
- More time to focus on other areas of your business. Writing takes time, especially if you have a big project or require regular content. It takes even more time if you’re a perfectionist, a procrastinator, or unsure of yourself.
- Content that communicates your message appropriately for the medium selected. Not sure how to format a white paper or write a blog post? Let the pros communicate your messaging using the right medium and format.
- Timely and professional service.
Keys to Success: Communication and Commitment
- A good writer who understands your company, your customers, and your goals. This may involve several phone calls, email exchanges, filling out a questionnaire, sharing examples of websites like yours, and so forth.
- Guidelines. Your content writer will need guidance from you. For example, do you prefer a fun, lighthearted tone written in first person or would you rather have the writer use a more academic approach? Do you prefer short, 200-words-or-less pages or longer pages packed with information?
- Commitment. Commitment runs both ways. You deserve a writer that’s committed to making your project a success. At the same time, most website content writing services want you to be as invested in the process as they are. Writers understand that you’re busy, but they often need your input before they can begin. If you’re committed to making your next website content writing project a success, be prepared to supply your writer with the information needed to understand your company, customers, and goals along with any other specific guidelines.
- A deposit. Most website content writing services require a deposit to begin and then the balance due upon completion. This common arrangement shows the writer that you are committed to the project’s success and will not disappear once the work is complete. If you work with a reputable content writer, you shouldn’t have to worry about the writer taking the money and disappearing. If you’re not comfortable with such an arrange, use PayPal or a third party escrow service. Another option is to start with a smaller project with a smaller deposit requirement. Most website content writing services will be happy to work out a series of smaller deliverables and corresponding payment dates if that makes you more comfortable.
- Revisions. When your content is delivered to you, read it promptly and communicate any change requests you may have with your content writer promptly. Writers are used to revisions. Minor changes are expected and usually included in the total cost of the project. Changes in scope or direction after the fact, however, may result in additional charges.
As you can see, outsourcing website content writing can be beneficial, and success comes from two-way communication. Start that conversation by contacting Celestial Content Services.
Why Create a Content Style Guide?
The more content your business generates, the more important a content style guide becomes. This is especially true if several writers are involved including coworkers and freelance writers. For example, while you may prefer to hyphenate words like “campus-wide,” “e-mail,” and “man-power,” your coworker may prefer do ditch the hyphen. Some terms, such as Internet and Web, are commonly capitalized but are also increasingly acceptable in lowercase form. Likewise, you may prefer to write blog posts in the first person with a casual voice while your coworker prefers third person and a more formal tone.
Which conventions do you prefer? By using a content style guide, you can make sure your preferences are known and shared with other writers on your team. That way, everyone will use the same style consistently.
How to Create a Content Style Guide
Don’t worry, creating a content style guide doesn’t need to be a major project. In fact, you could start with an existing style guide such as the Associated Press Stylebook and then supplement it with your preferences as needed. In the interest of keeping it simple, consider the following:
- Choose an existing style guide as the foundation – I like both the AP Stylebook and the Yahoo! Style Guide. Make sure everyone involved has a copy and understands how to use it. Now create a content style guide document that references the book as your style bible and then include the other elements in this list.
- Define your audience – Who are you writing for? You’ll use different language when writing for C-level executives and industry partners than you’d use when writing for consumers or small business owners. If you have a broad or diverse audience, create several personas representing the various segments.
- Define your voice – Will you use a casual tone of voice? A humorous voice? Or will you be strictly business? Objective? Highly technical?
- Create a words list – Are there certain words you want to use? Are there certain words you want to avoid? Do you want to use acronyms or avoid them? Your writers won’t know unless you put them in your content style guide.
- Define your content types and approach – Your writers will likely write several types of content such as blog posts, website content, press releases, articles, and special reports. Though your overall voice and tone should be consistent across all types of content, you may take a slightly different approach depending on what you’re writing. For example, you might want to use the collective “we,” “us,” and “our” when writing your website content and other marketing materials but then use first person for your blog posts. On the other hand, you may not want your blog writers to write in first person at all. This is where you’ll clarify how to approach various types of content.
- Formatting and graphics – Your content style guide should also cover formatting and graphics to ensure a consistent look and feel. For example, should bullet points include bolded text and hyphens or would you prefer italicized opening sentences complete with a period at the end?
- Develop templates – Make your style guide even more useful by including sample templates for your writers to use.
- Include citation requirements – Which sources are okay to cite? Which ones should be avoided? Do you prefer inline citations and hyperlinks or do you want writers to list all sources at the end using a specific citation format?
Once you’ve created your content style guide, make it available to everyone on your team. It’s not a bad idea to host it on a collaborative file-sharing site where you can edit it as needed. That way, everyone will always have access to the most version.