Like most people, writers love validation. It’s extremely gratifying to use creativity to make someone happy. In a nutshell, it’s what writers do. We take what you want to say and say it in a way that best meets your needs. You’re happy, we’re happy. It’s definitely a win-win. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. However, keeping a few simple things in mind you can easily have that satisfying win-win relationship.
The most important step is to know what you want. Are you looking for web content, ad copy, blog entries, tips or press releases? Do you need a script for a speech or talking points? Maybe you’re working on your memoirs and need help sorting out your manuscript. Whatever your needs are, be sure you have a clear idea of what you want so that the writer can deliver.
The next step is to refine your needs. There are several specifics that writers need to know besides the project type:
• Word count and keywords. Knowing the length of a piece is important not only for making the piece fit the project’s needs, but it is also critical for determining cost and budget. In today’s SEO-driven world, keywords are a critical part of any online work and of getting your content seen. Often, you may not know and that’s okay. Writers can happily suggest a ballpark figure on length, and they can even provide some keywords if you need to go in that direction.
• Format and style. Whether it’s a Word document in APA style or an Excel spread sheet with comic sans font, it’s important to know the project’s desired format. Each type of writing has accepted norms and standards, and, depending on the intended audience, adherence to those standards is crucial.
• Audience and tone. Writing for a 40-something business person or for a 12-year-old girl are two very different prospects. Knowing the project’s intended audience helps determine the tone to be used. While academic work is generally quite formal and dry, ad copy or content writing should be engaging and entertaining. Using the appropriate tone for the appropriate audience will go a long way toward getting your message across and making the right type of impact.
• Message and purpose. What is it you’re trying to say and why are you trying to say it? Are you a business reaching out to customers in order to increase sales, or perhaps a non-profit organization looking to recruit volunteers? Knowing exactly what it is you’re trying to convey and why will ensure the writer you’re working with knows too. Again, you may not now and that’s okay. There is nothing like a little brainstorm session with another creative mind to get to the right place.