Our normal recommendation would always be to hire a professional. People study, practice and work hard to become writers, designers, editors and content creators. The people who do this as a full time job will almost always produce better results than someone trying to do it alongside their main role.
But, there are also lots of good reasons why non-professionals should create content too.
5 Reasons You Should Include Everyone In The Content Creation Process
- New ideas and new viewpoints. By allowing a wide variety of people to put editorial content together your audience can see things from a different perspective. This helps everyone to be innovative and inclusive.
- Skill Development. They say that the best writers read and write everyday. As a marketing professional who has spent decades producing content (whether that be pitches, blog posts or presentations) I find the more time I spend writing, the better I get at it. In short: write more, write better.
- Communication. Einstein was quoted as saying “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. Whether he said it or not doesn’t stop it from being a good observation. Human brains have a habit of skipping over the fuzzy parts of an idea because in our head they make sense (like dreams). It’s often when one needs to explain an idea to others that you really think about the parts that are missing. Saying it out-loud to yourself helps create clarity. This lovely article from Stylist explains why self-talk is helpful.
- Budget. It would be wonderful if all our writing was Pulitzer Prize worthy, but creating truly engaging content costs money. For some (like the New York Times or Buzzfeed) their whole business model is built around paying people to write engaging content. If you’re part of a client-side marketing team it’s likely that’s not your main focus. As such, you wont always have the budget you want to spend on creating content, so you have to find another way.
- Expertise & experience. Sometimes a story can only be told by the person who lived it or the technical expert that understands all the nuances. Even when a professional tells these stories, they often have to rewrite parts that just don;t make sense to that story’s owner. In this instance it’s great if that person can write the story themselves (even if a professional edits it afterwards).
These are all good reasons why someone outside your agency should be involved in content creation. As it’s not their main focus, here are three simple rules they can follow to make their content more engaging.
3 Rules that make it easier for normal* people to create content
*By normal I mean people who aren’t content-creation professionals.
Rule #1. Remember who you’re writing for.
Whenever you’re producing content you’re doing it for two people. The first is you. The main reason you’re creating something is to share something with your audience you want them to know. It might be an award, a new project or to demonstrate your expertise. Be clear about what it is you want to tell people.
The second person is your customer. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s interesting for them just because it’s interesting to you. Try hard to think about them as a person and the job they do. You should be able to easily explain how this makes their lives better.
Rule #2. Inspire, inform or entertain
You can do all three of these things, but it’s most important that you do at least one.
Inspiration: If you choose to inspire people; be clear about what you are inspiring them to do and how your content will give them the tools, enthusiasm and energy to do that thing. Seeing great work, clear success or praise from peers is a good way to inspire people. Then be clear about the benefits to them. Paint a picture of what their life would be like if they were also reaching these standards. Finally, be clear about how they can start that journey.
Inform: It helps to keep in mind the phrase ‘this helps this person stay well informed’. You should be sharing knowledge that helps make good decisions. This should help you to remember that you are doing more than just brain-dumping your information. Your content should help them to have the information they need to be more successful in their role, so content like statistics, diagrams or case-studies are all useful to someone needing to make up their mind.
Entertain: Not everything has to be ‘productive’. A lot of good, engaging content is simply entertaining. It’s interesting or amusing. The best test is to ask; will they enjoy this? In other words, will reading this make them feel good. It’s a fact that not all good content is about feeling-good; but true-crime or exposes are best left to investigative journalism, rather than corporate blogs.
Rule #3. Don’t just tell; describe, demonstrate and do
I’m going to use this rule as an example of itself. Let’s see how it builds:
Version 1. It’s not interesting to only state the facts.
Let’s try adding a description that makes it clearer what I’m saying.
Version 2. It’s not interesting to only state the facts. We only need to look at the stereotypical nerd on any TV show. Writers demonstrate a boring, socially-awkward person by having them recite facts without any passion.
We can then add real life examples that demonstrate what we’re saying.
Version 3. It’s not interesting to only state the facts. We only need to look at the stereotypical nerd on any TV show. Writers demonstrate a boring, socially-awkward person by having them recite facts without any passion. Check out the trailer for Napoleon Dynamite; a character who is designed to be charmless and unengaging is shown listing things!.
Finally we should add something for the reader to do. This could be a call to action, but it could simply be a thinking exercise. For example …
Version 4. It’s not interesting to only state the facts. We only need to look at the stereotypical nerd on any TV show. Writers demonstrate a boring, socially-awkward person by having them recite facts without any passion. Check out the trailer for Napoleon Dynamite; a character who is designed to be charmless and unengaging is shown listing things! To make your writing more engaging, always make sure you add the three D’s (describe, demonstrate, do) to your statements.
Which do you find more interesting, version 1 or version 4?
Get the whole team involved
Hopefully, that demonstrates, describes and tells you what to do to get the whole team involved in content creation. For more stories, tips or examples of our work; find us on Instagram (@dsemotion) or sign up to the newsletter (at the bottom of the page).