For any content piece, the best starting point is an outline of what you want to write about in your post. This helps get all of your thoughts on paper, and gives clarity to the points that you want the article to cover and how it will flow from idea to idea.
This clarity can sometimes get lost in translation when you are handing it off to a freelancer rather than writing it yourself. And when this happens, it can be frustrating, perplexing and sometimes even laughable when it comes time to read the actual article they deliver. To avoid this and save time and effort for the whole process, a strong outline is key.
It’s important to have a good, clear outline for your freelance writers so you get back the exact content piece you were looking for. You want make sure that your writers understand your goals for the piece, the topic, what audience the piece is targeting, and what you want your readers to get out of it.
Questions you should be answering for your writers:
What’s your Title?
The title will give the writer the beginning insight into what this piece is about. It doesn’t have to be the final title for the piece. Just a title that gives good context for the piece.
Who is this for?
Start the article with what client the piece is being written for. It is important for the freelance writer to see exactly where this piece will be placed and what this client is selling or offering as services. Including the url of the client’s site is a good idea too, it gives your writers a place to look for tone and messaging.
What’s the Tone?
Write a short snippet demonstrating how you want the piece to sound.This is important to keep continuity between the pieces that you write. When writing for clients, you want the client’s voice to come through as the writer of the piece so they can assert the respect and and admiration that piece accomplishes. Having different tones between pieces can break this voice up and cause confusion to readers that subscribe to it. Including a link to the blog’s home page with past blog posts can help the freelance writer see the voice of previous posts and try to replicate that in the newest post they are writing.
Who is the Audience?
Define for the writer – “Who is reading this piece?” Is this a B2B article, or B2C? Does this pieces speak to business owners or homeowners? Is this piece for early twenties or seniors? This is especially important to correctly speak to the target demographic of the client. It is the worst when your writer writes to the wrong audience and the whole piece needs to be redone or reworked to have the piece target the right audience. Specifying this should really help clear things up.
What’s it all about?
It is also the worst when your writer doesn’t cover the topic that you wanted or missed the intent of the piece. Making it clear on what the article is about helps relieve any confusion on the piece. It is important to note any main points you want to make with the article so it is clear to the writer that you want those highlighted in the piece.
Your main outline:
This can be a quick blurb about what you want the intro to be worded like. I have even included main research points and paragraphs to be reworded or rephrased here just so the writer really get the the intro that I had in mind. It’s important to really get at what you want this paragraph to sound like or cover because intro paragraphs can be the trickiest to write.
Example First Paragraph
This may be meticulous but I give an example of what I am looking for by writing paragraph 1 to really be sure the writer sees the voice, the intent and the audience of the piece. This also helps guide how you want your bullet points to be translated into sentences. This can be another area that gets lost in translation so connecting this part of the outline for them can really be helpful.
This hard part is done, horray! Now it is just an outline with topic points and sub topic points to be included in the article. I will put a bracket at the beginning of my first topic point that is bullet pointed to be (expanded on and make longer) just so that that is super clear.
- Also during the bullet point outline phase, I insert quotes from key influencers that I want fitted into or between the paragraphs of my post. This is not a have to because some posts don’t have key influence quotes (though they should) but making a point of including them in the outline makes sure the writer knows to include them and help clarify key points of the post.
- Including this also reminds you to include quotes in your post! Including quotes in your posts that people can share and tweet makes your post easier to share and will help bring more awareness and traffic to your post too. Win win!
Look at that…bullet points!
Be sure to include them! Hyperlink text or include the URL in your outline to make sure important links get in your pieces. Making sure targeted client pages are being linked in your posts is always a good ideas. It helps build your seo by aiding in website navigation, defining the architecture and hierarchy of your site and distributes page authority and ranking power throughout your site too.
- It is also a great way to drive readers to become leads or purchasers. Sort of like saying Hey check out this great post AND this great product or this great company…nice! Even a little excerpt at the end talking about your client’s company and main products are services can be helpful to funnel customers from readers to customers.
- Linking to other articles that will help the reader throughout your post navigate to other articles that cover this topic or define what you are talking about in your post is helpful too.
Hey more bullet points- love it!
Include resources that helped you put together this article or that you want your reader to look at to get information to put in your article. If you want them to link these in your post, make sure you highlight that in your bullet points for your paragraphs. Additionally you’ll want to include these at the end of your post as references where you got your information.
Describe how you want your writer to wrap up. This can be with bullet points or with a quick blurb on how you want it to conclude. The conclusion is just as important as the intro so making sure the writer gets this right is key. Endings leave your readers with the main points of the post before they good. Things that are good to remember or ideas that were really profound.That last little nugget to take with them before they navigate somewhere else. Super important but can get lost by the writer so be sure to highlight what you want here.
So, there you have it! All these ingredients will come together in an outline that nails down audience, tone and content expectations for your beloved freelance writers.
Do you have any other tips for communicating with freelance writers? Questions or comments? Leave them below!