The Content Trap

Posted by on Aug 4, 2009 in Management, Production | Comments Off on The Content Trap

Avoid the content trap

Avoid the content trap

One of the things that I’ve found as a producer of marketing and sites for the web is that the most underestimated and misunderstood part of a job is often content creation. On many projects content is one of the hardest aspects of a job to scope. Certainly, one can scope number of revisions, estimated page counts, etc. — but there are all sorts of gray areas within content creation, especially on websites. Sometimes there is existing content that “only needs to be edited,” “or content that’s already been created but needs to be given “a consistent voice and tone” Unless these, and myriad other content-related are nailed down and discussed in depth prior to the start of the job they can be become morasses that sink a job. This is actually a larger topic than this post will cover, and I’ll come back to it at a later date. What I want to share now, though, is how important it is to not short-change your site development process by forgoing a copy writer or content creator and taking it all in-house. There are three reasons for this that I see and am happy to hear more from others, so please comment away.

1. Assuming responsibility for writing site content puts extra burdens on either you, the business owner (the person in a small business setting with the most knowledge of the company), or on your staff. Content creation can be laborious depending on the depth and breadth of the site being built. Your time and your staff’s time is better spent on core competencies and responsibilities like running the business, client management and new business development. Placing content writing responsibilities on staff or yourself means that full attention is given to neither the needed content, nor core responsibilities.

2. Professional copy and content writers are much more experienced with this type of work. This is what they do for a living, and by including them on your site development team you are tasking them with something that is their job and for which they are paid (see point 1 above). This professionalism and experience permits a writer to say things more succinctly and efficiently than you and your staff often-times can. A writer does not completely relieve you of responsibilities, you and your staff, will still have to collaborate and work with them, but mainly in an advisory and review capacity. Efficiency will be gained all around.

3. Creating your website, or revamping your website is an emotional process as much as it is a creative and technical process. Diving into a site build or site redesign will really force you to look at your company’s offerings and define your company in a very public way. This emotional aspect often makes site builds much more challenging than anticipated at the start of an engagement. Bringing in a copy writer or content specialist adds an objective third party to the process who can help to navigate some of the issues that arise when developing one’s site content. This objectivity is useful for the very reason that site owners and staff have biases (often positive, sometimes not) that can impact the copy and content creation process and lead to too much, diluted content.

Bringing an extra resource onto a job does cost money, and in the current situations all business owners are looking for ways to save money — we understand that as well as anybody. Often, budgeting for a copy or content professional will save you and your staff time, and money down the road. It will also help your site, which is a large investment to be the best that it can be and therefore help to better represent your company to current and future team members, the public and, even more importantly, to current and potential clients.

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