Offloading your white paper first draft
Earlier this year, a client who owns a marketing agency dropped this assignment in my email in-basket:
- 1,500-word narrative-style white paper.
- All interviews were transcribed.
- A basic outline was complete.
My job: pull all these elements together into a cohesive first draft of the white paper. This assignment weaved quotes from subject matter experts into a flowing narrative that provided a subtle marketing pitch. While I did have to write the intro, it was essentially an editing job because all the pieces were already in place.
Why do it this way? Think about it: The first draft of a white paper is an imposing chore. Somebody has to set aside about eight hours to get all the main concepts on paper in a plausible order. If you’re a busy content-marketing pro trying to keep 17 balls in the air every day and you have the budget to outsource this job, you should.
After all, a white paper will be tweaked to within an inch of its life by the time it’s ready to be published but all those fixes will happen in small, manageable bites of time. But setting aside a major chunk of time to produce the first draft is a major blow to your workflow.
A couple months later, another client asked me to do the same job on a totally different topic. In both cases, I handed in the first draft and let them worry about the rest. This is a great option if your workload’s really piling up.
Managing your subject matter expert blog
One of my clients put me to work on the copy of a high school principal who writes about leadership issues for K-12 teachers and administrators.
This principal enjoys the challenge of writing about his profession but he has a school to run, a family to raise and not much time to work on mastering his writing skills for a consumer audience. My job is to:
- Whip his blog posts into readable shape.
- Add photos from a stock image source.
- Add subheads, links, bullets and any other HTML formatting.
- Add SEO metadata.
- Offer ideas for future blog posts, preferably timed to coincide with activities on the school calendar.
- Maintain an editorial calendar.
This blog is one of the most popular destinations on the client’s website. The client now has me managing three blog contributors.
Rescuing your 4,000-word magazine feature article
I do substantive editing for a top fitness journal that serves personal trainers and other people in the wellness sector. Most of the magazine’s contributors are industry professionals who do not write for a living.
I have a free hand to do all the reorganizing, trimming and rewriting required to make these articles look like they’ve been produced by professional writers.
One of the keys with these articles is to recognize the writer’s authority on the topic and to avoid changing the meaning of what they’re saying. I also make a point of reassuring the writers that despite the fact that the Track-Changes version of their copy looks like it’s been hit by a train, they have still done a fine job of bringing all the info together in one place and I’m just helping streamline the way it reads.
Now these writers look forward to my edits and often send compliments to the client.
What I do: