When they begin to develop content for their websites and marketing materials, businesses often have unrealistic expectations about the time and skill the process requires. They think, “It can’t be that hard to create some content, right? Just put together a few paragraphs, and voilà!”
As a writer, you know about the hours it takes to produce quality content. You know the difficulty of gearing an article toward a certain audience or composing a phrase that will resonate with all readers.
Part of being a freelance writer or professional writing service is demonstrating to potential clients how your skills—the skills you have spent years cultivating—will help them consistently produce content at a level of quality that they could not have reached without you.
As in any business, part of appealing to potential clients is understanding their pain points, or the problems they face on a daily basis that cause them frustration. Sometimes, potential clients are not even aware of their pain points until you show them a solution that will increase their efficiency and, ultimately, their bottom line.
The following list will help you understand some of the pain points experienced by businesses in the area of content production. Use this list as you build your brand as a freelancer and continue to develop—and market—your skills.
1. Businesses really don’t have the time to write.
It might not always look like it, but you know that writing right is hard work. It involves researching, organizing, composing, editing, and proofreading.
Many small businesses can’t afford to hire a full-time writer to produce content for their blog or website, so they must rely on other support staff to accomplish this goal. For an inexperienced writer, a single article can easily take five hours to write properly, while an epic post of up to 2,000 words could take as long as 10 hours or more to research, write, and edit. Add to this the need to fulfill all their other duties as well, and the business’s goal of producing new site content weekly—or even monthly—becomes either a major source of stress or an unattainable wish.
Professional writing services and freelance writers can address this pain point by working on a per-project or per-hour basis, allowing support staff to focus on their real priorities.
2. Writing is not a business owner’s highest and best use.
Most entrepreneurs didn’t get into business to become a writer or an accountant or a salesperson. They got into business because they had a great idea and found a way to monetize it.
Anything that takes them away from their main tasks of organizing, long-term planning, and networking can actually harm their business. If small business owners choose to focus on something they could easily outsource (i.e., content writing), they are using up time during which they could be advancing their business in the long term and are creating bottlenecks for projects that need their review or approval. Outsourcing the task of content creation to freelance writers or professional writing services enables business owners to focus on doing what they need and want to be doing—running and growing their business.
3. Writing is not employees’ highest and best use, either.
There are a number of content marketing blogs that suggest that businesses should involve the whole company in producing material for their blog or for social media. The idea isn’t completely without merit, as it is a great way to share a business’s knowledge, allow customers to see the names and faces of employees, and pump out content at a high rate. But it comes with an astonishing number of hidden costs.
First, as previously mentioned, support staff are not usually professional writers, so the company can end up investing a lot of time (and therefore money) in redrafting, editing, and proofreading the material. Second, businesses are effectively paying hourly rates for content that they could likely get for less by using a professional writing service. This is especially true if they are getting managers or IT staff to write for them, as these positions typically command higher rates of pay. Third, and most importantly, there are the opportunity costs. Time spent on producing content is time not spent doing what the employees were hired to do in the first place.
4. Creating content in-house complicates scheduling.
The Internet runs on an up-to-the-minute basis, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Business websites have to keep up. To ensure that prospects and customers return to a business’s site, new content must be posted regularly so that visitors do not lose interest (and so that Google continues to reward the site with a good page rank).
If companies attempt to do this themselves, they must commit a chunk of time every week. If a business relies on staff to contribute, they will require a rota to make sure everyone contributes equally and consistently. They will also have to schedule around vacation time, sick leave, conferences, and the big projects, which inevitably start sucking up whole weeks as deadlines approach.
Freelancers and professional writing services specialize in producing content according to strict deadlines, and reliable services guarantee that the content is completed and ready to publish by the deadline. By outsourcing these tasks, business owners and employees can ensure that their site always features fresh, high-quality content.
5. Do they even SEO?
Writing for the web is significantly different from writing for print. Search engines rank websites based on their content and relevance, and this has a major impact on how much traffic the writing attracts. If the proper keywords and phrases are present, the article can get into the top rankings. However, if this is not the case, the writing can be lost forever in a sea of web content. On the flip side, writing strictly for search engines can lead to keyword stuffing; this results in awkward, hard-for-humans-to-read prose that will earn a penalty from Google.
So, in addition to teaching writing, editing, and proofreading skills to staff, businesses that produce their content in-house will also need to teach staff about search engine optimization.
Freelance writers and professional writing services specializing in creating web content can use search engine best practices to make content more accessible to customers. In addition, creating up-to-date content on a regular basis will ensure that the articles remain relevant to the search engines, which in turn will bring businesses more traffic.
Harder than it looks
Content marketing is well worth the effort, time, and investment. However, doing it properly can put a huge strain on a business’s in-house resources. Understanding the main challenges faced by businesses in terms of content creation will help you as a freelancer or professional writer to appeal to a business’s desires and satisfy their needs.