I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my writing and I love to create content that I can feel proud of – even when my name isn’t on it.
I do a lot of writing for a variety of clients and also for my own niche sites and blogs. Every website or blog will have a different image or voice. The first step is to get a feel for that website. What story is it trying to tell? How do the readers respond? What works and how can I capitalize on that in the content I am developing? Is there something that could be improved I can mention to the client?
Analysis is the first important step, next is the nitty gritty.
First, I use Google Alerts to stay on top of current trends for my client niches. This shows what’s trending and what people are likely to be talking about. Staying current provides the authoritative, up to the minute edge that will grow my client’s business. If they aren’t already doing this I ensure that I am so I can forward this valuable information or make suggestions.
I don’t believe in just cranking out a piece and getting paid. I take the extra steps to ensure my clients are putting my skills to the best use. If I see something trending that looks exciting; I’m not shy about sharing that information. My client can then decide if they want to run with it or not.
Once topic ideas are generated or a working title is assigned; I use a few different software products and plugins that assess strong keywords and phrases. Working these into a piece allows potential searchers to find the page.
This initial research also helps show how successful a post or page is likely to be. Evergreen content is always a good choice, so I try to get a good blend of that and current trends. Google loves both the stability of evergreen material and up-to-the-minute content, so it’s a balancing act. The best websites have both.
Outlines and Mind Maps
The next step is to outline the page or post. I often use mind mapping software for this process. Freemind is a fantastic free software that makes pre-writing simple. Use it to generate a workable structure for any content type.
Writing & Citing
Next, it’s time to write the content, ensuring the use of credible sources and tracking them as I go. Many times content doesn’t require this, but certain topics that Google refers to as “Your money or your life” must be backed up with credible sources. Websites that ignore this are at risk for deep penalties and no one wants that.
Do you find source citation cumbersome? Fortunately, there are citation websites that make it easy. Easybib is my favorite because it’s free, fast and does citations in the 3 major formats: MLA, APA and Chicago style.
Proofreading and Editing
Once I’ve compiled the piece and cited my sources, it’s time to check for grammar, spelling and proper title case. I use Grammarly, which not only find mistakes, but makes recommendations for improvements. Paper Rater is another fantastic free option.
Creating a Working Title or Headline
My final step is always the title or headline. What is going to grab the readers attention? The sheer amount of information overload on the net makes this the most important step in the process. A title must do two things: tell the reader what the piece is about and make them want to read it. This is, by far, the hardest part of the job for a content developer.
Formatting, Uploading and Other Extras
Ok, the content is developed, everything is proofread and it has a great headline. Now what?
Most clients take the original files and have their webmaster upload and format the content.
Smaller businesses that use WordPress sometimes want their content uploaded directly to the platform by the author. This is simple enough and I am happy to do it. I even use their plugins to generate the meta descriptions, rich snippets etc. if needed.
Photos & Visual Content
Every client has different needs. Some of my clients need help seeking out good images to use for their posts and copy. I’m happy to source images and to rework them in Photoshop.
I like good shareable pins. These days, everything is visual, so posts without featured images don’t do as well. Most of my clients have separate editors and graphics people, but smaller businesses may need help in that regard and so I try to be open to meeting the varying needs of different clients.
Sharing to Social Media
Again, most clients will have social media managers that handle this, however, I have done social media work as an extra service.
Some smaller clients have confided to me that it can be nice to have one person who can handle the multiple aspects of content development.
It’s less work for them to track everything and having one “go to” person simplifies life when you have questions or concerns.
As a freelancer, it’s important to ask what a potential client needs if they aren’t sure. Prices quoted vary depending on the depth of the task and amount of work required. For example a simple blog post, content only will be less expensive than developing content with extra requirements.
This is why I have a free quote feature on my website. It helps ensure that I and my potential clients have a full understanding of one another’s needs and what to expect. It’s vital for a strong working relationship.
So, there you have it, a brief overview of what I do to ensure the content I develop is top-notch and my clients are satisfied. If you are a fellow freelancer feel free to mention anything else I should add that I might have missed!
Are you a business seeking content development? Contact me now for a free quote. I’m currently for hire and accepting new clients!