August 29, 2018

DON’T hire writers with industry experience

There seems to be an idea when hiring a copywriter that:

  • You just push the ‘hire’ button on Upwork or whatever, and the writer gets to work churning out copy
  • You need to hire a writer with direct industry expertise in your topic

Which of course, is ridiculous.

In the words of Dick Benson, you already have a company of subject matter experts. Why on earth would you want to hire another?

My own methodology for writing is somewhat different, and runs like this:

1. I interview your key subject matter experts, for potentially quite a long time; usually between 1 and 2 hours.

2. I get the interviews transcribed. Incidentally I use Rev.com, which is affordable and excellent. They even get my Northern mumbles mostly correct.

3. I sit in a nest of paper for an hour or two and pull everything apart. I don’t know why on the bed, but it feels more organic to spread everything out that way. Either that, or at heart I’m still a student. The goal is to pick out the key ideas, threads, stories and content that really matter.

4. I write up a communications plan of what I think the key message is, and how you should illustrate that message to new contacts.

The best way I can describe this is like picking a path through the weeds. Your story and any content that surrounds it is inherently messy. Effectively I try to pick a path through it that illustrates the transformation your readers want to achieve.

At this point, this is sometimes as far as things go. Even though I’m regularly told by agency owners that people just ‘want to have it all done for them’, some people do choose to take the plan and transcripts, and write the copy in-house.

Often with my training and guidance. Which for me is the best outcome, because it’s most empowering.

5. If I’m writing the copy, the plan becomes the blueprint for the email series, blog posts, Facebook posts, or whatever output we’re working on.

To write the copy I draw heavily from the transcripts. The words and expertise originally come from you. My role is to discard the mass of information that doesn’t matter, and instead mould it into a narrative.

It’s a bit like carving a dolphin out of a big block of wood. You start off in the first place by getting the wood. No wood = nothing to work with.

Then you take out large chunks you definitely won’t need. Then finally you whittle away until the dolphin shape emerges.

Anyway, that’s the process. Again, I’m told by agency people that the process ‘doesn’t matter’, and that people just want money in the bank.

Which may on some level be true. But I think it’s reassuring to know that there IS a process. Even if it does involve sitting in a nest of paper.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.

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