No, Not Just Anyone Can Create Content
“Why would a company get you to write for them? Isn’t that something their P.A could do?”
It’s a question I get asked more often than I’d prefer, which is never. Like many things that involve a bachelor’s degree, writing is one of those disciplines that looks easier than it seems
Studies suggest that people tend to overestimate their abilities when they start something new. We’ve all banged out that last minute 400-word essay at one point in our lives. So, given most of us have some basic writing experience, it’s easy to assume it’s something anyone can do. Interestingly, people become more pessimistic about their skills the longer they do something and realise that they still have some ways to go. Maybe that explains the whole tortured artist thing.
So WHY should you pay writers for content?
What reads easy, writes hard
Do you ever read a sentence and not have to try very hard to grasp it? Perhaps it flows right through your eyes and into your head? That line probably took hours and went through countless edits.
Professionals tend to write how they talk. Or rather, how they think they talk. This creates a jumbled mess packed with jargon, adjectives and stuff that’s second nature to them but gibberish to their audience.
In my creative writing workshops, most people (me included) tried to cram every flowery word and interesting thought into each sentence. I thought it was clever and quirky, but the feedback was generally “Uhh, what are you trying to say?”
Good content doesn’t mean lots of literal content to be good. It needs to tell a digestible story. Stripping back your writing while keeping it engaging comes with time, experience, a good editor and yes- your coin.
There’s more to writing than tapping keys
A writing major is more than procrastinating over your novel and pointing out when someone used edition instead of addition (see: my first Spectrum blog post). Funnily enough you learn to…write.
Not just write well. But how to read, decipher, interpret and for different audiences. Any artist who’s been hounded by a friend to draw them or graphic designer who’s been asked to make someone a logo for free knows the feeling. Getting good takes an education and a lot of hard work. Writing a blog post or editorial didn’t just take the 3 hours I spent writing: it took 3 years of Uni, 6 months of internships and years of freelancing and hustling along the way.
It’s not just about the content
If someone’s forking out the money to get a piece of content from you, by gosh, it had better deliver. That means understanding its purpose, the Why rather than the What. Producing content means it’s not about YOU the writer but making something that the target audience can understand and enjoy. It needs to fulfil the desired outcome of the client, whether that’s awareness, exposure or insights.
Maybe a long wall of text isn’t the best tactic and instead, an infographic or video would work better. Perhaps it needs to be distributed via social or a specific blog, website, publication. Developing a strategy means the content you create does its job and satisfies your client. Knowing how to execute that means getting the right person for the write job.
The P.A has better things to do
Whenever I hear the comparisons to P.A or intern work, it says more than that this person sees no value in my work. It also demonstrates that they don’t see value in P.A and intern work, either. This comes from misconceptions about those roles. P.A’s keep the everyday afloat, read emails, book meetings and make sure everything is run according to plan. Asking them to pen a 1000-word blog post on behalf of the company president on a subject they don’t understand means they can’t do their job- because they’re doing someone else’s. Interns are also the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and it makes me sad that some people reduce them down to being a coffee mule. Everyone has a role to perform in a business and they offer different values and outcomes. So let the P.A’s do their job, and leave the content to someone with the right set of skills.
Content is more impactful than you realise, it helps to transform the way organisations interact with ideas, products and people- basically everything! It often speaks directly to customers, so really, your content creators are your link to the public at large. Do you really want to give that power to someone without the expertise and know-how?
When looking for polish and quality, it’s time to bring in the content writer.