Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What It Takes to Succeed as a Content Management Provider

Recently, I acquired a new client who runs a small service-based company. When this person contacted me, I was told that three blogs per week would be needed plus assistance getting things put on social media. No problem. For those of you looking for a writer, I don't always charge to go and schedule your posts through your social media account. I only charge if it becomes a time consuming activity. Anyway - I had no idea that the client also had a content management provider. When my new client asked if I could help with content rewrite on the site in addition to blogging, I said yes. Then, I was put in contact with what I was told was the "web company." As a professional writer, the results were less than stellar. I also saw some flaws that I had to immediately tell my client because their errors were casting a bad light on my client's service. So, in this post I hope that writers, business owners that are considering a content management solution, and content providing companies learn something. That 'something' being that the Golden Rule is still important and that you shouldn't try and talk down to people.

Check the Process That the Content Management Provider Uses to Complete Your Work

Look, a one or three day turn around time is great, but if you don't understand the process of what it takes to bring your content from idea to publication, then there's something wrong with it. If it's so muddled that you have no idea who you're supposed to email, that's a problem.

While many content management providers look for ways to provide a system of checks and balances to ensure what they post is quality, that process still needs to be reviewed to ensure that you understand how it works. For instance, first I was told to write a post and send it to two people. When I did that, I was told that there was a new process:

  • Send to person A
  • Person A would then send it to Person B
  • Person B would eventually notify the social media person
  • Social media person was to schedule the post
Within 24 hours, that changed to me posting it and then notifying person A who would double check my work and then notify the social media person. That brings me to my next couple of points.

Do Your Job as a Content Management Provider

As a content management provider, your job is to provide accurate, thoughtful, and timely content. You are professionals. That means that your work on client sites should be error free. I should not have to point out words that you misspelled at the bottom of your own post. Most back office content systems have spell check. If you're doesn't, copy and paste your work into Word or even Google Docs to double check your spelling. "Curtsy" and "courtesy" are not the same thing. As professionals, you should know this. 

Continuing with the "Do Your Job" tip, when someone new comes into the picture it is still your responsibility to do your job. My client asked me to post things to social media. Then, I found out that the client had a social media manager with this company. That person told me that if I wanted to do it, then it was fine. My response? "Well, then why is my client paying you to do it?" 

It's highly unprofessional to essentially take someone's money and yet pawn the work off on someone who was already doing it for free. It's also highly unprofessional to set yourself as a gold standard when spelling and process are sub-par. 

Treat Other Service Oriented Professionals as You Want to Be Treated

As a writer, I've been screwed over by two or three content providers by not being paid. However, I don't treat other content providers with the contempt and disrespect that I have for the companies that screwed me over. I understand that content providers occasionally end up working with crappy writers. Yet, much like anyone in the world who wants to have a successful relationship, you can't take out your past experiences on someone else. 

This means that when you talk to a writer (especially one that has a mutual client as you) that you talk to them as an a partner. You are no better than the writer. You are no worse than the writer. You are an equal. You must keep in mind that certain writers (like me) are more than happy to help you out when you need it, but won't tolerate being talked down to or being disrespected. As I've been known to say: you need me more than I need you. I can walk away from taking additional work that your people can't complete and it won't hurt my bottom line. I'll still have plenty of work now and even in the future. The question is whether you will be able to find a writer with my skill level that is within your budget.

Don't Talk Down About the Writing Profession

I get it - we've all done things as professionals that we didn't necessarily want to do. I've been quite lucky in my adult life. I can't really think of a single job that I didn't enjoy to some degree. If nothing else, I feel like those previous things gave me a varied work experience that enables me to get along with and negotiate with pretty much everyone. I've also been exposed to a lot of good and bad management techniques. Yet, I don't get on the phone with lawyers that need content and tell them how much I hated working for an attorney. For the record, I've worked as a paralegal. Did I encounter some difficult moments? Yes. Do I tell other lawyers how much I hate lawyers? No. That would be suicide and also it would be a lie.

So, if you're in content management and you've actually worked as a writer in the past, don't disparage the profession. It wasn't right for you, but you obviously didn't totally change professions. You essentially became a curator or a manager. When you talk like that, it just leads me to believe that you sucked at writing and people knew you decided to hire a bunch of writers and back end people to try and make money providing content. Whatever works for you, but you won't get and keep good writers if you talk poorly about the profession that they chose. 

Clients Should Double Check the Work Received

If you've hired a content management provider, then you should double check the work they are putting out for you on a regular basis, There are some people who would not go so far as to contact you about the errors others make. That could cost you business. When I'm on Facebook or Twitter, I don't get particularly worked up when I see that regular people make a spelling or grammatical error. Yet, if I'm reading something that is put out as a business entity, I expect that the spelling and grammar will be correct. I don't mean a fast-finger typo (teh instead of the). I mean outright mistakes that should have been caught. Those types of errors can cost you business. 

Writers Must Be Able to Deal With Difficult Situations

If you're a new writer or an aspiring writer, you should know how to deal with difficult people and situations. I know that when you have no work that it can be very tempting to take whatever is tossed your way in the hopes that you can continue to grow your business...even if the work or the people providing it have the ability and most likely will make you miserable. You have the right to assert yourself. You have the right to say no. You have the right to choose the type of clients (work and personality) that you will have on your roster. I don't necessarily advise that you tell people that they need you more than you need them because for a lot of writers that's just not true, and if you say it the wrong way, you can upset people. A bad reputation does get around. So, you have to be selective about who you work with and how you respond to others. 

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Play nice...the hand that feeds you can also choke you.