Replay: How to find (and foster) relationships with content writers

At SMX Next, I shared ways that brands can navigate content marketing in times of disruption so that they can avoid missteps, maintain relevance and pave the way for their own recovery. However, a strategy is only as effective as the team executing it.

During the Live with Search Engine Land session that took place later that day, I sat down with Mel Carson, CEO at Delightful Communications; Carol Tice, founder of the Make a Living Writing blog and Freelance Writers Den community; Jessica Foster, SEO copywriter and content strategist at Keys&Copy SEO; and Heather Lloyd-Martin, CEO at SuccessWorks, to discuss how an effective writer can bring your content to life as well as how to find and foster relationships with them.

Recruiting and training writers is an investment “because they’re the ones that make you money,” Lloyd-Martin said, adding, “They’re the ones that are creating the content that is helping Google position a page, that is helping to entertain or inform your buyer as he or she goes through the buyer’s journey . . . every dollar that you put into [your writers and content] is going to come back to your company in profits.”

This investment is especially important in specialized sectors. “It’s very difficult to find those people, but when we do find them, we prioritize them and try and develop those relationships and make sure that they’re trained and mentored well,” Carson said, explaining that experts are typically practitioners and may not be content with a writer’s compensation, making relationships with these kinds of writers especially vital for success.

However, keeping your writers happy so that they can serve your audience goes beyond compensation and training: brands must also have a well defined content strategy for their writers to carry out. “A lot of clients don’t have that direction — they have this idea of what they want to do in terms of ranking, but unless they have a real strategy in place, you’re relying on your writer to do a lot of this heavy lifting when they’re not really equipped to do that,” said Foster, citing keyword research and topic identification as duties that are often assigned to writers when they’re better suited for content strategists.

The scope of the content you’re creating can also be an important factor for your audience as well as your writers. “Pretty quickly in your career, you catch on to the reality that you only want to be working on successful projects; you want projects you can brag on, that have results and metrics you can show,” Tice said, adding that brands must “have a plan that looks feasible, that looks winnable because [writers are] looking to fill our portfolios with wins.”

Here is the complete list of topics we discussed, with corresponding timestamps:

  • 00:00 – Intro.
  • 09:02 – What are the benefits of prioritizing your relationship with content writers?
  • 17:22 – Challenges that freelance writers face when dealing with clients.
  • 29:16 – The writer-vetting process.
  • 35:43 – How to source writers.
  • 42:06 – The importance of having a detailed brief and SOP.
  • 43:42 – Knowing when to bring in a strategist to get the most out of your writers.
  • 45:22 – How investing in the right writer can improve your content strategy.

Watch the full session above and subscribe to Search Engine Land’s YouTube channel to keep up with future Live with Search Engine Land episodes.

Live with Search Engine Land’s weekly meetups are about giving great marketers a platform to inform, support and convene our global community. If you have an idea for a session or would like to join a panel, email kbushman@thirddoormedia.com.

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About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

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