So, you’ve decided to delegate in your business and you’re going to be hiring a writer – congrats!
Hiring a writer can feel surprisingly vulnerable…will they be able to sound like me?
And once you receive your first draft from your writer…can you be honest about the changes you’d like to see?
As a nutrition copywriter for dietitian entrepreneurs and copywriting mentor, I’ve given AND received my fair share of feedback. Here are 11 tips and tricks for how to give constructive feedback on writing so that you can have a productive and professional relationship with your writer.
Starting with – well – the end.
Begin with the end in mind
You and your writer have the same goal – to produce copy that provides value to your business!
Starting to work together can have a bit of a learning curve – understanding your unique tone and word choices can take time – but when you choose the right writer for your business, you’ll quickly get into a groove.
And just think: how amazing will it feel to have one less thing on your plate?
Set specific expectations
Before either party agrees to a business arrangement there are a few things you need to discuss.
Start by nailing down expectations for deadlines, clarify who does the keyword research, and talk about the overall goal of the projects. Will they need to include stock photos in blog posts? What about infographic creation? Trust me when I say clear, concise expectations will make your life and your writer’s so much easier.
If you already have a strategy in place for a project – like ongoing blog posts – you’ll have to fill your writer in on what action has already been taken. Don’t make it vague and abstract. Show them example pieces, and tell them what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. The more detail, the better.
Talk about money. Discuss when and how payments will be received. Will they be paid a portion upfront, or will it be received in full after all edits are finalized? How soon after finishing a piece will they get paid? If you drag out payday your writer will find someone else to craft irresistible reads for.
Do a test project
Finding your writer is a bit like dating – not every pairing is perfect!
So, start out with a test project to get a feel for each other’s expectations, make sure you can work through feedback and edits together, and see if their writing style can match the tone you’re aiming for.
If it doesn’t work out, no harm done! Don’t compromise your sanity by hiring a writer who isn’t the right match just to be kind. But, if they do check all of the boxes, you might just be a magic fit!
Keep your end of the bargain. Don’t wait days and days to provide your notes to your writer, or they’ll be biting their nails anxiously awaiting approval…or scrambling to fit your edits into an unexpected day around their other client work.
I once had a client who had a very specific vision for her copy projects…but couldn’t convey it to me. At all.
As I completed a few test projects with her, she simply sprinkled “needs refinement” throughout the writing again and again. That’s it.
Needing more information, we met for calls and chatted via email. I explained the need for more specific feedback multiple times and unfortunately “needs refinement” continued to be her go-to.
Despite loving the vision she had for her business, and despite wanting to provide copy that she loved, I simply could not nail the flow that she was looking for without specific feedback from her.
Eventually, we parted ways because it just wasn’t a good fit.
No writer – including me – expects to nail every piece of copy from the get-go. Edits are normal and expected…but helpful edits are clear and specific and enable your writer to get closer to your goal.
Use the comment feature
If your writer nails every piece on the first draft with zero edits, you’ve found a mythical being who’s from another planet.
But seriously, it’s very normal that you’ll want to request a few edits!
When I want to request any changes or leave some positive feedback, I like to use the comment feature in Google Docs. It’s like attaching a sticky note to a piece of paper – you can leave a note about how the writer can course correct their writing to match what you are looking for.
It’s helpful when asking questions like, “Can you link the source here?” or mentioning a point that may need clarification.
Use suggestion mode
Suggestion mode is an amazing feature that lets you “make edits” without permanently changing the document. In suggesting mode, you can type, delete, and add line breaks. And it all pops up in a different color. Plus, each edit has a small comment box that goes with it for additional notes.
When your writer opens the Google Doc to see your changes they can accept or reject them using the “check” or the “X” and respond to your comments with their thoughts on the request.
With this feature you can:
- Add words, sentences, or paragraphs to the document
- Create a strikethrough in a section you want to be taken out by highlighting it and hitting the “delete” button
- Suggest line breaks
- Change fonts and their sizes
- Add bold, italics, or underline words
You did hire an expert, so they might have a good reason for writing something a certain way. Before rolling up your sleeves and rearranging their entire document, leave a suggestion, and let them accept it or maybe even offer an even better edit.
This way, they get a feel for how minor tweaks can match the tone you’re shooting for and learn how you want things done in the future.
Plus, explaining your reasoning is much more helpful. Compare these two comments:
“I think this wording will more closely match the tone of the previous blogs.”
“I don’t like what you wrote here.”
Words have a lot of power – something you already know if you’re hiring a writer! Think about how your own comments will be received and consider whether or not they clearly explain what you mean.
This will help the writer understand why something was edited. Coming back to a writing piece and seeing your hard work deleted and rewritten without an explanation can be so disheartening. So, get clear on what you want to be edited and why!
Include what you love
So, you’ve hired an excellent writer and they’re doing a great job – excellent! But don’t forget to tell them. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds when you start editing, especially with the first few projects.
Remember, you’re talking to another person. If all your writer sees is paragraphs chock full of deletions and edits, it’s easy to get discouraged and think, “I must’ve been way off the mark.”
Highlight the good so they know what to keep doing for future projects. Plus, hearing compliments is fun and keeps writers motivated when clients rave about what they nailed!
Polish the title
The title is the VIP of an entire blog post. If it doesn’t interest the reader, the rest of the article will promptly be scrolled past – no matter how well written.
A title can be well written at first glance, but always look for areas of improvement before publishing a piece of writing on your website. Here’s a great resource for making sure you’ve pieced together a proven, irresistible title.
And if you can work in a keyword that makes sense and reads smoothly, take the opportunity! Tell Google what your blog is all about early on in the article.
Add links to other posts
Your writer may be the best on the planet, but you know your content better than anyone.
As you outline what you’d like to be included in a blog post, be sure to include any links to other resources such as previous blog posts, podcasts you’ve hosted, or YouTube videos you’ve created. It will help them create a high-value post that’s worth your readers’ time and stay on par with your website’s tone and overall mission.
For example, I usually find 2-3 example pieces for inspiration and include internal links that can be incorporated into blog posts. Adding internal links will help a website gain authority in Google’s eyes, and your reader might just find a valuable nugget of info in one of your other posts!
End with a strong CTA
A reader might get all the way to the end of an exquisitely written blog, email, or landing page and then…click away. But why? Without a Call to Action (CTA) people default to doing nothing.
If your reader has made it all the way to the end of your blog post…they’re interested in what you have to say! Give them a clear and confident next step.
If you want your reader to do something like sign up for an email list, download a free guide, or purchase something at a discount you must tell them.
You and your writer should ensure that each piece of copy is working hard for your business. Whether it is a blog post, a social media caption, or an email, clearly and confidently tell your readers what to do next.
If you’ve never hired a writer, the process can seem daunting at first. It’s natural to wonder,
“What if it doesn’t work out?”
“How can I be sure they’ll understand my goals?”
“Can they really help me grow?”
It can take a little time to find the right person, but after doing a test project or two, you’ll know for sure.
Instead of worrying about the “What Ifs” consider how hiring an organized, strategic writer can help you elevate your business. How much of your time would they free up? Maybe you’ll spend less time trying to figure out what the heck SEO is and even smile to yourself when a beautifully written blog post pops into your inbox like magic.
And with these tips on how to give constructive feedback on writing projects that you delegate, you’ll feel empowered to make sure that when you click publish, you’re really happy with the work.
Are you ready to delegate? I work with dietitians who are doing their best to make their private practice thrive. Let’s come up with a strategy to grow your business together. Start here, to discover what you can expect when you work with me.