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Please help me talk to my writers

Discussion in 'Copywriting' started by Will.Spencer, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. #1
    I am working with a number of content writers and a number of firms which employ content writers. I intend to expand the number of writers I work with by at least four-fold in the next year.

    When the writers deliver great content, I am absolutely ecstatic. However, when the writers deliver content which is unusable, I frequently find myself at a complete loss for words as to how to explain to them what exactly is wrong.
    SEMrush
    Here are five article submissions from a new writing firm:
    I can explain that the technical details in these articles are not correct. That much is easy enough. Where I am failing is explaining why the writing is also not acceptable. I cannot find the words to explain why the writing is unacceptable.

    This is causing me to lose writers who could probably be coached to success.

    Can someone help me to explain what needs to be improved in these articles? I can "see" that it needs serious improvement, but I cannot explain "why" that is so or "what" needs to be improved. :eek:
     
    Will.Spencer, Mar 13, 2007 IP
    SEMrush
  2. nandini

    nandini Peon

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    #2
    I think you should develop an interface which atleast automate few of the things, and can hire one guy who needs to be online for 7-8 hours a day and will coach and train new writers...

    This way you can help train those writers who have the potential but not proper guidance. Plus the support guy can also help you check for duplicate or plaigirized content.
     
    nandini, Mar 13, 2007 IP
    Ajeet likes this.
  3. GAdsense

    GAdsense Well-Known Member

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    #3
    I agree with nandini, that could be a very beneficial solution plus you can direct the person to do as many things as required by the time. If it is done with right approach then I believe it can prove to be very good for your business.
     
    GAdsense, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  4. Will.Spencer

    Will.Spencer NetBuilder

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    #4
    What would this person tell this writer?
     
    Will.Spencer, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  5. GAdsense

    GAdsense Well-Known Member

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    #5
    Hiring a person who can explain to your writers about what you exactly want, what are the technical problems due to which it need serious improvement in the article, what are the biggest mistakes writers are doing, maintaining a task sheet and a record sheet about each and every writer. This way you can work with best writers who are delivering you nice work. Moreover that person can search for more writers. And many more things he can do in 8-9 hours per day.

    Hope this helps! :)
     
    GAdsense, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  6. sebastianrs

    sebastianrs Active Member

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    #6

    ... and I got an editor for that job. Whenever I want a quality review of an article including analysis of any aspect, she can do it. It's tough to find a real good editor but unless you are not willing to pay well, you should find a good contact soon.
     
    sebastianrs, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  7. Will.Spencer

    Will.Spencer NetBuilder

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    #7
    Imagine that you were this person -- what would you tell this writer?
     
    Will.Spencer, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  8. GAdsense

    GAdsense Well-Known Member

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    #8
    It depends, If I was the person I should have first read the articles with full concenteration and then I would have informed them about the problems. We can even train them before they start writing articles. This way the chances of getting low quality articles decreases up to 99%.

    Wish you best of Luck! :)

    Let me know if you are willing to hire a person. I will try my best to help you. Let me know via PM about your budget as well as about work load and related details.
     
    GAdsense, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  9. sebastianrs

    sebastianrs Active Member

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    #9
    I can have my editor take a look if you want. Basically, I am just at the same situation as you are - I can't tell what is wrong although it reads horrible.
     
    sebastianrs, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  10. geegel

    geegel Well-Known Member

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    #10
    By looking at the first article alone, here are a few recommendations.

    Hope this helps.

    Regards, George
     
    geegel, Mar 14, 2007 IP
    Will.Spencer likes this.
  11. jhmattern

    jhmattern Illustrious Member

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    #11
    Honestly, I'd rip out a virtual "red pen" and highlight everything that's wrong, offer an example for correcting it (with one piece, not all), and then hope they learn from it. You don't have to explain "why" it's wrong. It's wrong... fix it... end of story.

    If you're working with these writers on a regular basis, it might be worth setting up a private area on your site with writers' guidelines and basic grammar reminders if you tend to work a lot with writers who struggle in that department. Have a form added to your site where they can write (or copy/paste from their own desktop publishing program or whatever) and submit to you, and have a spellchecker and/or grammar checker built in if possible. Not a perfect solution, but it might be worth the time or investment up front if it saves a lot of headaches later.
     
    jhmattern, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  12. sspoldir

    sspoldir Guest

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    #12
    I think jhmattern hit it right on... Create some documentation (SOP, process flow, etc) for how you want these articles created. Take it a step further and use camtasia or camstudio to walk them through the details for what you consider the best articles are (use actual examples) and what makes them good. Then show them what can make an article "bad" and that those things are not acceptable.

    Once thats done create a system to measure the articles you get back, it could be as simple as "go, no go" and use that data to improve the process or to find new writers who can produce the quality you want. Wash, rinse, repeat until your process produces the results you want (ie: 99% article acceptance rate, etc).

    -SS
     
    sspoldir, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  13. mharad

    mharad Peon

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    #13
    What is the pay range for an editor? Thanks!
     
    mharad, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  14. jhmattern

    jhmattern Illustrious Member

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    #14
    Actually, now that I'm thinking of it, a client of mine has an interesting tool that would be great for the "how" aspect of giving this kind of feedback.

    The tool is at www.reviewbasics.com, and you can sign up for free. You could do it two ways:

    1. You sign up, get the articles submitted to you, upload them and use the tools to leave feedback on what's working and what's not, or

    2. If the writer is creating a lot of content for you, have them sign up and post the material on the private review board. They would send you a reviewer invitation, and you would just go there and leave the feedback visually, and have them fix it before actually sending anything to you.... cuts down on some of the email back and forth, and it's kind of fun to play with. :)

    Jenn
     
    jhmattern, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  15. stilloutthere

    stilloutthere Peon

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    #15
    I looked at the first example, and it seems the writer is putting down what he or she would say to someone who was there to interact with them. In addition to being confusing, it has a very casual tone to it. At least tell the writers that you want something more formal.

    I think the idea of hiring an editor to work with the writers is a good one. It can be easier to teach technical people to write decently than to get good writers to understand the technical details of your subject.
     
    stilloutthere, Mar 14, 2007 IP
    Will.Spencer likes this.
  16. DeniseJ

    DeniseJ Live, Laugh, Love

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    #16
    Run-on sentences, for one. In the first article you linked to, the very first "paragraph" is one sentence. I've noticed a similar theme throughout the other articles as well, although I'll admit I didn't read through them all thoroughly.

    Like Jenn mentioned, you don't have to tell them why it's wrong. If they don't know why they shouldn't use run-on sentences or what the word "grammar" means, then they probably shouldn't be writing in the first place.
     
    DeniseJ, Mar 14, 2007 IP
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  17. smileydog

    smileydog Peon

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    #17
    Will, I disagree - you should tell them why it's wrong - it's poor writing. S/he is unskilled as a writer. They don't know how to write clearly - line up ideas, facts, conclusions, etc. You may not be able to "coach" this writer(s) to success. For example, along with the run-on sentences and misspellings, it is replete with useless "filler" phrases: "In a nutshell", "the whole idea behind".. and my personal favortie, saying "utilize" constantly instead of USE. This sentence is a good example: "Another point to take into consideration is has to do with"... what??? This might get the word count up but does nothing for your reader, who long ago clicked away from the article.

    Especially for technical writing, you need more of a newspaper-writing approach, or even scientific: clarity is highest priority because the subject itself is difficult - you don't need the writing getting in the way. Although finding someone who has both the tekkie knowledge AND can write in plain Englsh is going to be a hunt.

    All I would tell this person is that it is clear they are not a very experienced writer in your topic - and leave it at that. You should not have to tell them how each sentence is wrong - there is no way this writer will be able to fix it properly. This writer needs a few more writing classes under his or her belt. Don't spend your time teaching them, unless you are paying them so little it's worth your time to re-write these articles yourself, and don't want or can't afford to pay for someone with the chops to do it right.

    IMHO.
     
    smileydog, Mar 14, 2007 IP
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  18. DeniseJ

    DeniseJ Live, Laugh, Love

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    #18
    Well that's the point I was trying to make, Smileydog.

    I agree that whoever wrote those articles doesn't have the necessary skills to write for that topic. I also agree that the OP should let the writer know he/she doesn't have the skills necessary.

    When I mentioned that you shouldn't have to tell a writer why something is wrong, I meant what you said - tell them it's wrong, but don't go line by line explaining in great detail why it's wrong.

    If you have to do that, like you said - they obviously need to brush up on their skills a bit before trying to make it as a writer.
     
    DeniseJ, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  19. GAdsense

    GAdsense Well-Known Member

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    #19
    I hope Mr.Will-Spencer found thier solution but if you are facing any kind of confusions, do let us know and I will give my point of view.
     
    GAdsense, Mar 14, 2007 IP
  20. Will.Spencer

    Will.Spencer NetBuilder

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    #20
    I am reading and trying to assimilate everyone input. More input would be great!

    I have to write to the fellow who manages this writer and try to explain what I need to him, anything that can help me do that would be very useful.

    Some days I just want to scream "LOOK AT WIKIPEDIA -- THAT'S WHAT I WANT." :D
     
    Will.Spencer, Mar 14, 2007 IP