Setting expectations and a format for laying out a solid blog post idea for your content writing team.

 

Source

Congratulations! The fact that you’re reading this blog post means that you’re ready for success! We want to share our killer formula and approach for getting the most out of your outsourced content writing team so that your expectations match your results. The goal is for you to get a comprehensive look at the best ways to communicate your blog post ideas to your writing team.

You’ll love this blog post if you’re looking to:

  • Set yourself up for success on your blogging journey
  • Find out the best way to communicate with your writers or blogging team
  • Meet specific expectations with your content
  • See results from your content marketing efforts

We’ve created a 3-part blueprint that’s designed to help you set up your content writing team for success.

We are going to dive into the following topics:

Part 1: Misconceptions & Aligning Expectations: This section will dispel common misconceptions businesses have about working with writers or blogging services. The goal is to demonstrate the importance of communication when working with a writing team.

Part 2: How to Lay Out a Blog Post Idea for Your Writing Team: This section covers the formula we use for laying out a solid blog post idea. There are ten steps involved in this process:

  1. Start with a Solid Foundation (Do Your Homework!)
  2. Choose a Blog Structure
  3. Lay Out a Main Blogging Topic & Direction
  4. Clearly Outline the Blogging Topic Details
  5. List Any Keywords You Want to Include
  6. Specify Your Target Audience
  7. Outline the Ideal Buying Stage
  8. Define the Tone & Writing Style
  9. Include Additional Resources (Audio, Video, Files for Reference)
  10. Include Special Instructions or Additional Considerations

 


Part 3: Wrap Up Summary: This section summarizes the importance of taking the time to perform each step in our blueprint for the success of your blog.

Part 1: Misconceptions & Aligning Expectations

“The number one piece of advice I have, is communicate, learn how to communicate.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Before we break down how to lay out a blog post idea, we first need to dispel a few common misconceptions people have about working with writers and blogging services. These expectations are understandable, especially when someone is first entering the blogging world. But we want to take the time to bust these myths, give you the real deal, and realign expectations so that people can have the best possible experience working with their content writing team.

You’ll love Part 1 if you’ve heard:

  1. Content writers/blogging services will handle the entirety of your content marketing.
  2. Your external writing team can read your mind and easily understand what you expect from their writing because it’s their job.
  3. You can expect quality content while paying a low price.

Let’s dive in.

Common Misconception 1: All content writers/blogging services will handle the entirety of my content marketing.

Most people don’t realize this, but content marketing is made up of three components; (1) strategy, (2) production, and (3) promotion/distribution. Each component takes a ton of effort and sometimes even requires an entire team’s attention to accomplish.

A lot of businesses assume that whoever they are working with is going handle each step in their content marketing process. Although it’s possible to find a business that specializes in all three components, you can expect to pay a premium for their services.

This assumption is especially present when businesses work with freelancers. But you can’t expect one person to handle an entire company’s job! However, you can expect them to be an expert in one step of the content marketing process.

Place your focus on your writer’s/blogging team’s skillset (aka., production or writing) and either handle the other steps yourself or hire another agency to meet your expectations.

Common Misconception 2: My external writing team can read my mind and easily understand what I expect from their writing because it’s their job.

We’ve seen businesses skip over the blog post layout part of production and subsequently expect an A+ article. Well, content writers are not mind readers (although, that would be awesome!), and they need guidance to understand exactly what you’re looking for from your blog posts.

You have to paint a clear picture of what you’re expecting from your writers to set them up for success. If you cannot lay out your ideas to your writers, then your content simply isn’t going to turn out the way you’d like.

Think of working with a writer the same way you would think of working with a graphic designer. How’s a designer supposed to create the logo of your dreams without your detailed input?

Remember – the more time, effort, and details go into shaping your vision for each post, the better your results will be.

Common Misconception 3: I can expect quality content while paying a low price.

Well, that totally depends on the level of content you’d expect to get back from the writer. You need to keep in mind that paying dirt-cheap prices will probably result in low-quality content. However, paying more doesn’t necessarily mean you’re automatically going to get better content either.

It’s important to look into the writers or blogging services you plan on using. If you want a blogging team to handle your entire content marketing process, then you can expect to pay a premium. If you just want a writer to create quality content while you handle the rest of the content marketing process, then you can still expect to pay a decent price.

Based on an internal survey and our professional experience working with freelance writers over the past four years, here’s an idea of what you will likely receive from your content writers based on price:

Now that we’ve covered misconceptions and expectations, we can get into the bulk of the article: How to lay out a blog post idea for your writing team.

Part 2: How to Lay Out a Blog Post Idea for Your Writing Team

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere” – Lee Iacocca

This section outlines the blueprint we designed to cover every angle of a blog post so that you can effectively communicate your blog post ideas to your writing team.

You’ll love this section if you want to know:

  • The steps for laying out a solid blog post idea.
  • The details that go into making a blog post idea come to life.
  • The best means for communicating your ideas with a team of writers to receive optimal results.

This section is broken up into the following steps:

  1. Start with a Solid Foundation (Do Your Homework!)
  2. Choose a Blog Structure
  3. Lay Out a Main Blogging Topic & Direction
  4. Clearly Outline the Blogging Topic Details
  5. List Any Keywords You Want to Include
  6. Specify Your Target Audience
  7. Outline the Ideal Buying Stage
  8. Define the Tone & Writing Style
  9. Include Additional Resources (Audio, Video, Files for Reference)
  10. Include Special Instructions or Additional Considerations

Step 1: Start with a Solid Foundation (Do Your Homework!)

“Building a mission and building a business go hand-in-hand.” – Mark Zuckerberg

A mission is a strongly felt aim or ambition and this Facebook mogul knows its importance. If you can layout a solid mission for your writers, they will be in the best headspace to help you build your business as they can envision your end-goal.

We’ve covered the importance of strategy before in our article “A Simple Blueprint for Creating “Epic” Blog Post Ideas”. But the main idea is that strategy helps point you and your team in a direction that will satisfy your objectives, fulfill your goals, and meet your expectations. The clearer you are with your writers on the front-end, the more success your writers are going to have coming up with stellar blog posts later down the line.

Pro Tip: Check out HubSpot’s awesome resource for creating your blog strategy.

MailChimp is a fantastic example of a well laid-out guideline that describes the objectives, vision, and expectations they have for their blog.

“We publish blog posts that explain the “why” behind the work we do at MailChimp. We want to show people that we’re an industry leader with the best products, and we use our blog to tell the stories behind those products.” – MailChimp

MailChimp covers everything from basic content outlines to general guidelines on style, tone, grammar, and mechanics they’d like their writers to follow.

Create a guideline that your writing team can refer to when they’re creating your blog posts. This way, all of your content will meet your expectations and remain consistent in style, tone, and structure.

Speaking of structure – let’s move on to Step 2.

Step 2: Choose a Blog Structure

Blog structures serve two purposes:

  • It acts as a framework for the writer to follow
  • It influences the way your reader will receive the information you are trying to relay

Several different blog post structures serve various purposes, but in this post, we will cover the following:

  • The ‘How-To’ Structure
  • The ‘Listicle’ Structure
  • The ‘Inverted Pyramid’ Structure
  • The ‘Why, How’ Structure
  • The ‘Blog Series’ Structure

Pro Tip: There are many more blog structures to choose from. Check out the following links to see if another structure better suits your blogging needs:

A. The ‘How-To’ Structure:

General Idea: An educational post that shows the reader how to do something.

Three reasons you’ll love the ‘How-To’ structure:

  1. This structure directly helps your readers accomplish a task or solve a problem.
  2. This structure is a great way to establish credibility and expertise in your industry by relaying information that is valuable and helpful to your readers.
  3. The ‘How-To’ format is usually broken up into digestible steps or parts so that the reader can easily follow along and take action.

Example: Check out HubSpot’s “how-to” article titled “How to Write Stellar How-To Posts for Your Business.”

Source

B. The ‘Listicle’ Structure:

General Idea: Content is displayed in list format. This type of blog structure is usually accompanied by a number in the headline, such as “11 Ways to…” or “8 Tips for…”

Four reasons you’ll love the listicle structure:

  1. Headlines with numbers attract attention and help the reader organize their thoughts.
  2. Lists help readers zero in on the exact information they’re seeking.
  3. Posts in list format are easily digestible and scannable.
  4. Lists are shareable.

Example: Check out HubSpot’s listicle “The 6 Biggest Marketing Lessons HubSpot Learned in 2017.”

Source

C. The ‘Blog Series’ Structure:

General Idea: Information is relayed in a series of posts.

Four reasons you’ll love the ‘Blog Series’ structure:

This structure is ideal if you have a “big idea” that needs to be broken up into parts or if you want to examine a topic comprehensively.
This format helps build anticipation for the next blog post in the series.
A blog series brings back recurring readers.
If done correctly, a blog series can build up links by seamlessly linking blog post 1 to blog post 2, and so on and so forth.

Example: Check out HubSpot’s two-part blog series titled “The Future of Marketing Starts with Publishing.”

Source

D. The ‘Why, How’ Structure:

General Idea: Use this format to dispel common misconceptions within your industry by showing the reader why something is or isn’t true and how they can improve their business after finding out the truth.

Three reasons you’ll love the ‘Why, How’ structure:

  1. This structure is useful for emphasizing an important or significant topic.
  2. This structure is useful for displaying examples, statistics, and facts to back up your ‘why.’
  3. The ‘how’ part of the outline can be used to inspire the reader to take action.

Example: Check out HubSpot’s ‘Why, How’ structured article that covers why buying email lists is always a bad idea (and how to build yours for free). The ‘why’ of this article informs the reader about a significant point that HubSpot wants to emphasize to their readers. The ‘how’ inspires them to take a positive step forward and build their own email lists instead.

Source

Pro Tip: This structure can also take the shape of a ‘What Is, What Could Be’ blog post, where the writer reminds the reader of the status quo and then shows them a path to a better way.

Example: We used this structure for our blog post “A Simple Blueprint for Creating “Epic” Blog Post Ideas.” The motive behind choosing this format was to show our readers the results they’ll receive by choosing blog post ideas like every other business and how they could receive much better results by following our blueprint.

Source

E. The ‘Inverted Pyramid’ Structure:

General Idea: This blog post structure is formatted with the conclusion at the top and the supporting information below. This is how most news stories and press releases are written.

Three reasons you’ll love the ‘Inverted Pyramid’ structure:

  1. This structure is great for sharing news, current events, or big changes in your industry.
  2. Readers can understand the main point of your article without reading the entire post.
  3. Readers can access the information they want to read quickly.

Example: Check out HubSpot’s article on net neutrality in the United States.

Source

Once you’ve decided on a blog post structure, the next step is to lay out your blog post idea.

Step 3: Lay Out a Main Blogging Topic & Direction

Define the topic you would like your team to write about in one sentence. This is the overarching idea of your blog post.

Think of it like giving your writers a compass that will guide them in the right direction. This is a crucial step in the blogging process because, without a compass, your writers can get lost and go south instead of north!

This blog post’s main topic and direction, for example, are summarized in this sentence and overarching idea: “How to set up your outsourced content writing team for success.”

Step 4: Clearly Outline the Blogging Topic Details

Clarity is essential for this step. If you want your blog post to turn out like the picture that you have in your mind, you have to describe that picture to your writers accurately. The more details you provide, the more likely your writers will be to meet your expectations.

Include details such as:

  • The overall goal you’re looking to achieve with your blog post. This involves flushing out your main topic and direction mentioned above. For example, for this blog post, our goal was to help customers and others set up their writing team for success by outlining our formula and approach for laying out a solid blog post idea.
  • The main takeaways you want your readers to leave with after reading the article. For example, after reading this blog post, we not only want our readers to understand how to set up their content writing team for success, but also how to pick a blog post structure, how to create a detailed outline, and how to apply what they’ve learned in real life.
  • Other important details that you would like the writer to keep in mind while writing your blog post.

Pro Tip: There are writers out there that are experts on specific topics, and they can deliver exactly the kind of content that you would expect from them without you having to go into too much detail beforehand. However, the reality is that these writers are going to cost a lot more than you may be willing to pay.

Revisiting the graphic designer example from Part 1, a premium graphic designer will take a lot of time completing an in-depth analysis of exactly what you’re looking for, and then provide a multitude of designs for you to choose from. The graphic designer will then go back time and time again to ensure that they have created precisely what you’re looking for. However, this level of service will come with a higher price tag.

Step 5: List Any Keywords You Want to Include

Create a list of keywords that you would like the writer to use throughout the article.

Pro Tip: The content writer should know enough about SEO to understand the best ways to implement your keywords, but it’s not the writer’s job to find relevant keywords for your business. This goes back to the common misconception businesses have about writers handling the entire content marketing process. If you want your writers to handle your SEO strategy, then expect to pay a premium.

Pro Tip: Use resources such as HubSpot’s guide to search engine optimization to provide your writers with relevant keywords.

Step 6: Specify Your Target Audience

Define your customer personas to help to guide the language, style, and tone the writer will use to attract your target audience.

For example, the customer persona CEO Catherine probably understands a lot about their industry, since they are the CEO. Therefore, the writer should not be afraid to use technical language and an authoritative tone when writing for this persona.

Pro Tip: Check out HubSpot’s guide to creating customer personas.

Step 7: Outline the Ideal Buying Stage

Depending on whether your target audience is at the top, middle, or bottom of the buying funnel, the writer has to adjust their writing so that it ‘speaks’ to your target audience.

For example, someone who is at the top of the funnel is looking for answers, resources, etc. on a specific subject. The writer, therefore, will adjust the article to attract the attention of the desired reader, engage them in their article, and inform them of the products or services that can solve their problems or answer their questions. A reader who is at the bottom of the funnel needs to hear less about how to solve their problem and more about why they should use your company over another. This article will be adjusted to include CTAs, your product or service features, and enticing sales offers.

Pro Tip: Take a look at HubSpot’s article “How to Create Content for Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey.”

Step 8: Define the Tone & Writing Style

In this section, you can provide the reader with links to articles, blog posts, videos, etc. that you would like your articles to imitate.

For example, we love OkDork’s informative yet relatable tone used in all of their blogs and provide it as a resource for inspiration.

Pro Tip: Check out Buffer Social’s guide on how to create a content style guide for your writers. Cover the character or persona you want your business to display as well as the tone, language, and purpose of your blog post.

Source

Step 9: Include Additional Resources (Audio, Video, Files for Reference)

Some blogging topics require more clarification than others, especially if you’re working with writers who don’t specialize in a specific industry but instead specialize in adapting to multiple industries.

Include additional resources that you think would be useful for your writers. For example, you can include:

  • Explanatory voice recordings or screen shares
  • Supporting research that provides the writer with background in your industry
  • Infographics
  • And more.

Pro Tip: Click here to find out a few different methods for recording a voice message and screen share on your Mac or Windows OS.

Step 10: Include Special Instructions or Additional Considerations

Continue to clarify any special instructions or additional considerations that you’d like your reader to keep in mind. This includes anything from a specific font to the types of images you’d like your writers to use.

Part 3: Wrap Up Summary

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

Overall, your layout should provide enough information and resources so that you writers can clearly understand your vision. Skipping this important process will not only result in poor blog posts but will also make your business undesirable to work with as writers will find it difficult to understand your expectations.

Here’s a recap of what we covered in this article so that you can start your journey toward success today:

Part 1: Misconceptions & Aligning Expectations: Begin your blogging journey on the right foot by aligning your expectations with the realities of working with writers or blogging teams.

Part 2: How to Lay Out a Blog Post Idea for Your Writing Team: Dive into our blueprint for success and cover every angle of the blogging journey:

  1. Start with a Solid Foundation (Do Your homework!)
  2. Choose a Blog Structure
  3. Lay out a Main Blogging Topic & Direction
  4. Clearly Outline the Blogging Topic Details
  5. List Any Keywords You Want to Include
  6. Specify Your Target Audience
  7. Outline the Ideal Buying Stage
  8. Define the Tone & Writing Style
  9. Include Additional Resources (Audio, Video, Files for Reference)
  10. Include Special Instruction or Additional Considerations

When you’ve hired writers or a blogging team, refer back to this resource to help guide your team in the right direction. Start with the three common misconceptions we laid out to ensure that you’re in the right mindset. Next, thoroughly cover each step in our blueprint. Remember – the more details you provide, the more likely your writing team is to meet your expectations with epic content. Finally, remember that each step in this process is designed to help improve your communication skills, build solid relationships with your writers, and increase your chances of success on your blogging journey.

Content Pros Free Blog Post