Once upon a time, there was a massively popular tv show that centred around a writer for a magazine. She had an endless assortment of designer clothes and one of a kind shoes. She ate out most nights and consumed copious amounts of cocktails. She lived by herself in a small but centrally located apartment in New York. She wrote about relationships that did not appear to be based on any research other than personal experience and observation of others. Every episode began with a shot of her typing a sentence on a previously blank page. The words seem to fall effortlessly, not a single click on the backspace to be seen. Carrie could not have been based on a real writer.
The process of blogging
You see, most blog posts don’t begin with a chat with your besties, a cosmopolitan or a blank page.
At best, a blog’s composition begins with the marketing plan; multiple reference sites open in the browser; a freshly made cup of tea, and a list of keywords and paragraph headings. The marketing plan contains a copy of the brand story, company values, ideal customers and a calendar of blog topics tied to relevant advertising campaigns. Blog topics have publishing dates highlighted in yellow next to them with relevant research links added in the comments. The copywriter has received the marketing calendar at the beginning of the year and thinks about upcoming topics whilst brushing their teeth in the morning.
At worst, there is no marketing plan; no reason for the topic other than it sounded interesting; the tea is cold, and the copywriter received an email the day before with the blog’s topic in the subject heading and a deadline of tomorrow. The brushing of teeth was done in a rush with no thought other than I gotta hurry.
If your copywriter charges by the hour, as I do, I strongly recommend enabling your copywriter to exist somewhere in the middle of the above scenarios by finding time to create a calendar of blog topics and publishing dates that fit in with your marketing campaigns.
Advance deadlines ensure your project can be fitted into their work schedule. I also find that the more I know in advance about a topic, the less time it takes me to write as my brain unconsciously mulls it over whilst doing mundane stuff like housework or exercise. These mundane activities don’t have a timer ticking in the background, so the mulling over of your blog topic does not incur a charge to you. That marketing calendar just saved you money.
If you are not sure how to create a marketing calendar, ask your copywriter for help. If they are like me, they will have a marketing background and love a good brainstorming session! If you don’t want to pay for said brainstorm, you can research topics for free with websites like Answer The Public (I love how their avatar interacts with you as you type in questions). Or simply type some keywords about your business into the search engine and a list of commonly asked questions will appear underneath (most business blogs answer a question or provide advice).
Preparation stimulates creativity and costs less overall
Staring at a blank page waiting for inspiration to strike is not actually how most writers work, at least those not paid a retainer and with no expectation of a result within a tight timeframe. To create something that speaks to the reader requires preparation; even Shakespeare used an outline and received suggestions from others for his plays’ content. The more you lay the groundwork for your copywriter, the less it will cost you to receive a blog that resonates with your customers and fulfils its purpose of driving traffic to your business.
Fact vs fiction
Had Carrie been a professional blogger, to live the way she did, not only must she have been paid a retainer, but she would have also spent a lot of time in meetings with her editor discussing her employer’s aims and values and adhering to a marketing plan. Those meetings with her research team, aka Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha, would have included an agenda and a list of discussion topics circulated beforehand. Not exactly riveting TV, but in reality, the only way she could have been a writer with new shoes.