This is the third article in what I hope will be an indefinite series about the processes involved in developing a brand new community from scratch. I am currently developing a brand new online community and will detail its development on this blog. As I have said before, I think it is far easier to learn by example rather than simply reading another person’s theories and ideas.
Your community needs content
You can’t have a community without members. You can’t have a community without interaction. You can’t have a community without content. Therefore, when your site launches you need to ensure you have a good amount of fresh, unique, quality content to encourage people to become members and interact on your site.
It’s always a good idea to have great content on your site from day one so that you are well and truly up and running from the day you launch. I want to ensure that the community I am currently developing has a good amount of quality content right from the start. My community will not solely be a forum – it will also offer articles as a means of adding depth and value to the site as well as attention from the search engines.
DIY or outsource?
I don’t have a great amount of knowledge about the subject my new community will be based around. Sure, I could still write some good articles but right now I just do not have the time to invest in creating content to the high standard I want. Therefore, I have decided to outsource the article writing.
If you have the time and dedication needed to create all your own content, then go right ahead and get creating. Unfortunately I don’t have the time for this right now – I already have a number of other things to concentrate on such as creating a logo and working on site design and functions. Because I want the site full of content right from the launch, I want to get writers on board who can be hard at work creating articles whilst I concentrate on these other areas.
How to outsource your content writing
I am determined to only have unique, quality articles on my new community website. As a result, I was unwilling to order any ‘packages’ from content syndicators who merely sell the same articles over and over again. Similarly, I don’t want articles that are full of spelling or grammatical errors. I want this new community to be one of quality, and if this isn’t reflected in the site’s content, I will not achieve such a reputation.
It is extremely hard to build a respectable reputation, but extremely easy to lose one. I will only ever publish high quality content on my new site, and therefore need to find the best writers possible to create the content. These are the steps I am taking:
1 – Determine what I want my writers to actually do
This sounds obvious, but it is extremely easy not to have a clear plan for your writers. If you want to get the best work from them, you need to tell them exactly what you want. What subjects do you want your writers to write about? How many words do you want each article to contain? How many articles do you want to be written each week/month?
2 – Advertise for writers
I placed an advert in the SitePoint Marketplace for writers, with a clear brief detailing exactly what I wanted. I also asked for applicants to include samples of their work so I could evaluate their skills as writers.
3 – Check their samples and references
I soon started to receive applications from interested parties. Those who had failed to include the information I requested in my advert were immediately discounted – if they were unable to read my job posting correctly, then I doubt they will be able to read any brief or job description properly, either.
I then read the sample articles each writer included in their application. I judged the articles not only by the quality of the spelling and grammar, but also by the writing style. You can have articles that are written with perfect spelling and grammar but at the same time they can be as boring as hell if the writing style is poor.
4 – Discuss the role with successful applicants
Once I have a shortlist of writers I am interested in working with (I told writers in my ad that they would not be recruited until January), I will contact them and offer them a trial run. I will give them a few subjects to write about and put them on a short-term contract of two weeks or a month. After this time, I will be able to decide whether I want to keep the relationship with each running indefinitely.
Before I even begin the trials though, I will need to draw up and have the writer sign a transfer of rights agreement.
5 – Sign a transfer of rights agreement
Without any agreement in place, the author of the articles could at any time claim additional compensation for the work or ask for them to be removed. By ensuring that a written agreement is in place before the writer is engaged, I am protecting myself against such an eventuality.
Having a signed agreement in place also benefits the writer as it should contain details about what is expected of them, along with information on their remuneration. Whenever you have someone else design or work on part of your site, make sure you have a written agreement with that person confirming that once payment is made, you own all the rights to that work.
Have you ever outsourced content writing for your website? How did it go? Were you satisfied with the results? Feel free to name companies or individuals you had good experiences with, and also shame those that didn’t deliver. Have you any additional advice for people looking to outsource content writing? Please share your thoughts and ideas regarding this article by leaving a comment below.