Photo courtesy of Josef Stuefer on Flickr
By Rob Swystun
Writing seems like such a simple thing. We all (technically) know how to do it so there should be no problem writing content for your small business, right? And, if you write your own content, you can save a bit of money, too. So it seems like an obvious thing to do.
However, it’s not quite as easy as it may look.
I’ve had friends and family members get a bit envious of my job when I tell them that I work at home and get to eschew early morning commutes and boring office politics while working in my pajamas … or sometimes less. (Don’t judge. You’d do it too if you worked at home.) Some of them have told me that they’re going to try their hand at writing so they too can know the satisfaction of being their own boss and making money while sitting at their kitchen table.
And, being the nice guy I am, I gently encourage them and resist the urge to roll my eyes and snicker. The reason I even have these urges is because the people I’m talking about who want to try their hand at what they see as easy money have no training or experience writing professionally. However, because they think the act of writing is something they learned in grade school, they somehow believe that they can just do it and get paid for it.
I only bring up these misguided friends and family member to illustrate that sometimes the role of writers can be a little under-appreciated in business. A lot of small businesses tend not to consider writing when they are setting up a budget. They are focused on the products and/or services they’re offering and building the team they’ll need to make the business run smoothly. But, while getting things set up to run like the proverbial well-oiled machine, sometimes the fundamentals of communication can be overlooked, like how the business is going to communicate with its target audience and its own staff.
And that’s where hiring a writer comes into play. Clear communication for marketing and human resources purposes is integral to business success and a writer can give you that. (If he or she can’t, definitely don’t hire them.)
Hiring vs contracting
Here, I should make a distinction about what I’m talking about when I say “hiring.” Most small businesses won’t have the need or inclination to hire an on-staff writer. Nowadays, most large businesses probably wouldn’t want to have a writer on staff, either. The present realities of employment skew toward contracting out a service like writing and if you find a writer who you like working with, chances are that writer will be more than happy to work with you on an ongoing basis. A lot of writers out there are like me and wouldn’t want to be tied to one company, anyway, so contracting is the best way to go. You’ll just need to make sure you have room in your budget. Good writers don’t come cheap. (Bad ones, on the other hand, are a dozen for ten cents.)
What can a writer do for your small business?
Well, how about these:
- Help you develop a brand identity.
- Write blog posts so your blog is compelling to read and kept up-to-date.
- Write articles for content marketing.
- Write optimized website content.
- Write compelling press releases.
- Create social media content that people will want to engage with and share.
- Write newsletters to keep your clients up to date.
- Write email marketing pieces to gain new clients.
- Create press kits for media relations.
And, if you want to take the credit, most professional writers are quite happy to do ghost writing and let you get the credit for the work.
Marketing is obviously crucial when getting a new business off the ground and it involves creating brands that resonate with a company’s target audience, which means consistency and persuasiveness. Hiring a person with the proper skill set to make your marketing consistently good just makes sound business sense.
How can a writer help your business with internal communications?
Oh, just by creating these little things:
- Operations manuals
- Client contracts
- Employment contracts
- Policies and procedures
- Internal newsletters
Yes, it’s not just the marketing side of things where you can utilize a writer’s skills, as clear communications are just as important to your own employees as it is to your clients and customers. A professional writer can help your entire operation run smoother by creating documents that ensure everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected of them.
How do you choose the best writers for your company?
Choosing the best writer for your company is huge, as this person would essentially be molding the company’s brand image (with the help of management, obviously). You have to make sure they’re competent, understand your company and have some expertise in their field.
Prior to hiring a writer, you’ll want to have a look at their portfolio and, of course, talk directly with them. Sites like oDesk and Freelancer have been set up specifically to help businesses get in touch with writers, designers and other types of freelancers. Or, you could hire a company that offers copy writing services.
If you’re just starting out or you think it may be time to overhaul your brand image, hiring a writer can be extremely helpful. Just make sure you leave a little room in that budget.