Content Marketing Editorial and Writing Services: What to Look For

A cat scrolling on it's phone learning what to look for in a content writing service

Good content writing is critical for the success of your content marketing strategy. Mediocrity, on the other hand, can tarnish your brand.

Something as seemingly minor as simple grammar errors can turn people away from your business. 59 percent of web browsers say they would avoid doing business with an organization that publishes content with spelling or grammar mistakes.

On the other hand, when you have content writing that hits the mark, you have the foundation of a successful content marketing strategy.

Nearly half of marketers say that blogging is their number one marketing strategy. Combine informative blogs with engaging emails and social media posts, thought provoking eBooks, in-depth white papers and more and your brand has effectively become a beacon of insight for your target market.

Finding an individual or agency who can consistently deliver quality content writing and editorial services is sort of the elephant in the room of content marketing.

The content writing conversation focuses on the importance of quality, as well as all the factors that may go into improving quality – better storytelling, consistent brand voice, understanding your audience, and all the technicalities of word count, white space and seamless SEO. Which leaves most marketers hanging.

Where does one find this magical written content?

Unless you already have content writers and editors on your team, you’ll have to find the services your organization needs – either internally, or with an agency or freelancers. And, in the not too distant future, you may even be able to rely on good old AI for some of your written content.

You can just call me and I can help you. Or consider what you should look for on your quest for excellent, lead generating, brand authority building, engaging content writing and editorial services.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Discover why good content writing is the backbone of a successful content marketing strategy, while mediocrity can harm your brand’s reputation and turn away potential customers.
  • Unravel the differences between copywriting and content writing, and how the two can complement each other to create compelling and effective marketing materials.
  • Explore the pros and cons of in-house writing teams versus outsourcing content writing and editorial services to agencies or freelancers, and find the right approach for your organization’s needs.
  • Dive into the emerging landscape of AI-generated content, its potential impact on the content marketing industry, and how it might offer new opportunities for businesses to enhance their strategies.

Copywriting vs. Content Writing and Editing – Is There a Difference?

Can a copywriter write your blog posts? Can a content writer compose your press release? Is there a difference between the two services?

Before you can find the ultimate writing and editorial services, you need to have a clearly defined idea of what you are looking for.

The difference between copywriting and content writing lies less in what is written, and more in the intent.

There are a lot of differences between content and copywriting. Copy is intended to brand. It is, traditionally, your traditional advertising copy. In the digital age, it refers to business landing pages, ad copy, email subject lines, taglines, and other written copy meant to sell like brochures and catalogue product descriptions. Then, content marketing was born and marketers started using blog posts, email newsletters, articles, eBooks, white papers, social posts, case studies and more to engage, build trust and connect – but not directly to sell. And the confusing part: content is meant indirectly to sell.

While there are distinctions in style, tone, and the actual written products, there is also a very blurry line that separates content and copywriting services. A lot of marketing professionals view the terms interchangeably. And for good reason.

A lot of copywriters write content and you can find a skilled content writer who can pull off killer promotional copy. From a practical perspective, if a copywriter already understands your brand voice, it’s not a leap for them to create some of your copy and your content.

Also, as content marketing continues to evolve the way brands communicate with their customers, less traditional advertising is being used in favor of more content. What is happening is the principles of copywriting – to engage and motivate, moving the audience from awareness down the pipeline to a sale – are being used to enhance the principles of content writing – to inform, educate, inspire, entertain, and improve the lives of your audience.

As a result, the best content has the strengths of copywriting at its core, without the reader realizing it. Content is, after all, meant to market your brand.

When looking for the right content writing services, decide if you want one central source (individual or team) to cover all or most of your organization’s writing needs. Or, do you want to use multiple providers? For example, outsource your white papers and blog posts to a freelancer, have your internal team handle the copywriting, and hire an agency who specializes in social media marketing to write and publish your social media posts.

In general, copywriting is recognized as a more specialized skill. You’ll want someone who has specific experience with writing branded copy. Good copy is clear and direct, rather than being controversial, cutting-edge or full of character like good content can be.

On the other hand, content writers may be more adept at keeping your customers interested and offering value with your written content through traits like industry expertise and subject knowledge.

If you can find an agency or hire an individual or team that can do both well, all the better. If you find great copywriting services, and separate but equally as compelling content writing services, that can work as well. All that matters in the end is quality.

In-House or Outsource Your Editorial and Writing Services?

The next burning question – should you hire internal content writers and editors or outsource to freelancers or an agency?

As with the question of using different marketing writing service providers or not, there’s no right answer. In-house and outsourcing both have their pros and cons. It’s not really an either-or solution in reality anyway for most organizations. A lot of companies use some sort of hybrid model to get all their content needs covered.

You may have your staff write some of your content and then hire freelancers or work with an agency to take care of the rest. A hybrid model also offers the greatest flexibility. Have an overflow of content that needs to be written quickly? If you have a working relationship with an agency, you can call on them when your content writing needs become heavy.

Here’s a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each option to help you figure out the perfect content writing formula for your organization.

In-House Writing and Editorial Team

Pros

  • Having writers and editors who you know and trust makes communication about what you want easier
  • Dedicated in-house writers will get to know your brand, as well as your buyer personas, more intimately because they aren’t working for other brands as well

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Limited by your internal team’s talent

Outsourcing to an Agency or Freelancers

Pros

  • Less expensive
  • At scale content writing is possible with an agency
  • With an agency, you may have access to a wider talent pool, which can put you in touch with writers who may specialize in areas where your in-house team isn’t that strong

Cons

  • May take time to get to know your brand
  • Turnover at an agency means you may regularly deal with new writers
  • Freelancer and agency writers are balancing multiple clients, which means you receiving your content on time is dependent on their ability to manage their workload

What’s the bottom line? Quality trumps all. It doesn’t matter if someone works in your office or across the country if the writing is good.

But, how do you know where to find quality?

What Makes a Great Content Writer?

Whether you’re interviewing to hire someone full-time, exploring agencies or searching for freelancers that are a good fit for your organization, here are the indicators of a content writer who should be able to provide the quality content you need:

Experience

Content writing, just like any other form of writing, is a craft unto itself. Which means, the more experience someone has, the more likely they are skilled at their craft.

Ask how many years a potential candidate has been writing content for, preferably full-time. Ideally, you want to work with someone with a minimum of four or five years.

Reach

Content encompasses a wide range of written forms. The content found in an email newsletter is going to be remarkably different from the writing in a well-researched white paper.

Find out what types of content they have written and ask for samples of each.

Specialization

This is a big one – does your writer specialize in your industry? Someone who can engage customers for the real estate industry may not be able to strike a chord with your software clients.

Content writing, because it should be helpful and insightful to the reader, often needs to be written by someone with expert knowledge. This is even more relevant for B2B content writing as your audience will already be knowledgeable.

Turnaround

Depending on your organization’s deadlines, turnaround time can make or break your experience with a writer. When interviewing, communicate your organization’s needs. Your in-house writer will likely be more capable of sticking to tight deadlines. If you are working with a freelancer, make sure you are on the same page about timing and when you need your content. Agencies will often manage the turnaround for you as a project manager will be in charge of making sure you get your work on time.

Willingness to Revise

This won’t be an issue with your in-house content writers, but when outsourcing, you’ll want to make sure your writers are open to multiple revisions. Especially when you first start working with a new writer, it’s likely there will be a second and third draft (or more) before a project is exactly what you want.

Make sure this won’t be a problem. Find out what their policy is for corrections and timing. For example, unlimited revisions within one week or a maximum of four revisions with no time limit. Will their policy work for your organization’s workflow?

Style

Your brand requires a specific tone and style. From professional to provocative, the style of the content will dictate how your audience feels about your brand. Make sure a writer can comfortably write content that fits your brand’s personality. When you look over their samples, pay attention not just to writing skill, but to how close they can get to your brand’s style. If they don’t have something that fits, you can always ask them to write a sample for your organization to ensure they can write in the right tone.

What Makes a Great Content Editor?

Your content is only as good as the editor who refines it. Just as with your writers, they can be in-house or outsourced, depending on what model works for your organization’s budget and workflow. What should you look for in quality content editorial services?

Formal Training

An English or Marketing degree isn’t a must, but some sort of training in SEO, content writing or digital marketing can help your editor act as the tight quality control your content needs.

Diverse Writing Background

Who makes a great editor? An excellent writer! Even with 18 different relevant certifications, your editor won’t be able to properly polish your written content or give feedback to your writers unless they understand the writer’s perspective.

Area Knowledge

As with your content writers, familiarity with your organization is important. A solid editor may be able to catch and correct every comma error and transform choppy text into a flowing river of words, but if they don’t understand your industry, they won’t be able to catch the major mistakes.

Meticulous to a Fault

An eye for detail is what makes an editor an editor. A professional content editor will know how to get your content as close to perfection as possible.

What Makes a Great Content Writing Agency?

Because of the flexibility and cost-effectiveness, as well as the potential for professionalism, a lot of companies opt, at least in part, for the outsourcing-to-an-agency option for content writing and editorial services.

The biggest challenge with this route is there are so many choices, it’s hard to know where you’ll find real quality and where you may be disappointed. To make things more complex, there are agencies that are dedicated to content writing – or you can work with a digital marketing agency that also provides content writing and or editorial services.

Here are a few traits to look for in an agency that’s worth your time:

In-House Editing

Number one, you want your content writing service to have its own quality control. Look for an agency that has an in-house editing team.

Project Managers

One of the perks of working with an agency is that someone will be in charge of getting your project to you and managing issues. Having a dedicated point-of-contact means you can have your questions and concerns addressed quickly, leaving the writer or editor to focus on doing what they do best.

Experience

There’s a huge demand for content. That also means there are a lot of services out there that have popped up just to capture that demand. If an agency hasn’t been in the business for a few years, you may want to look elsewhere to a company that has the experience to know how to properly vet writers and manage quality.

A Reasonable Price

Avoid cheap content writing services. Think of it this way. If someone writing your company’s blog or email newsletter isn’t making much to write your content, they probably aren’t a good writer or don’t have a lot of experience.

Flexible Policies

An agency you can count on knows it has good writers – which means they’re more likely to have flexible policies in terms of revisions and returns, customized work, and approval deadlines.

Types of Writing Style To Look For

When it comes to hosting content on your website, the type of content you create matters a lot to your branding. For example, a data quality assurance company wouldn’t write in the same style as a gen-z fashion start-up.

Each type of writing conveys different information effectively as well. Technical writing is better at explaining high-level ideas and their applications, vs press writing that speak at a level the general public can understand.

Here are a few types of writing to consider as you search for a writing service. Keep in mind what type would serve your company best, and which writing service excels in that respect.

SEO Writing

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, writing will have a greater focus on what Google wants to see. This means prioritizing high-quality content that strategically incorporates keywords.

Writing that will perform well in SEO must be high-value per Google’s latest core update. The higher value content you provide your viewers, the more trustworthy your site is in the eyes of the Google algorithm.

Typically SEO writing is used most in blogs (like this one!) and other website pages (like FAQ’s and Glossary pages).

Technical Writing

Technical writing conveys information about specialized topics, often the sciences, engineering and technology. To write quality technical content requires a deep understanding of the subject matter.

Having technical content on your website helps portray your brand as a thought leader in the field and demonstrate your knowledge to potential customers. Your audience is usually high-level experts in the field, so they’ll have a critical eye for mistakes.

Depending on your industry, finding a writing service that can cater to your technical needs can be tricky. Make sure you ask the right questions when choosing a writing service, so you aren’t stuck rewriting half of the content you’re delivered.

Copywriting

Copywriting is writing for the purpose of marketing and advertising. A copywriter must be skilled at conveying a product or service in a positive light to market it towards a specific target audience.

So to be good at copywriting, a writing service must have a good understanding of marketing strategies, and even more specifically outbound strategies. When looking for a copywriting service, it’s important you brief them with a lot of marketing materials from your company so they can better understand your strategy to align your content with it.

Press Writing

Press writing is developed to be handed out to the media to convey some sort of information from your company. For example, this might mean promoting a product, service, or event.

To be successful in press writing, your team must create pitches, press releases, and other material effectively enough to have a media outlet cover them. The end goal: boost visibility and exposure.

Ghost Writing

The most creatively named type of writing, ghost writing is when one person creates content for a company to publish under their own name. For example, your CEO might have his weekly newsletters ghostwritten to free up his time to do more important tasks.

Website Writing

Website Writing is what makes a website more than just code. It’s what goes on every page to convey to viewers what your company does. Every website’s homepage, about us page, and various landing pages have been meticulously created with the viewer in mind. This is website writing.

Website writing goes hand-in-hand with SEO writing. A good website page will include SEO, so your writer must be versed in both.

Article Writing

Article writing is exactly as it sounds; writing for publication in an article. If your article is web-bound (which, what publication doesn’t have an online version these days) then your article will have SEO writing tied in heavily.

Typically an article is published under a blog domain to educate their readers. But your blog can be whatever you want it to be, and the right writers will be able to work SEO in regardless.

How Good Is AI at Writing Content?

Humans aren’t the only content writers and editors any more. Artificial intelligence is already proficient at writing content with advancements in areas like natural language generation (NLG) and automated storytelling technology.

Chances are, you’ve probably already read AI-generated content. Quill, for example, creates more than a million words a day writing reports for blue chip clients like Credit Suisse and Forbes. Wordsmith lets users upload data, which the AI then transforms into insightful reports. The Washington Post has created its own in-house AI content creator, Heliograf, which has created hundreds of news articles and social posts for the newspaper.

You may not want to jump straight into robot content writing services. But it’s worth paying attention to how this technology unfolds over the next few years. Depending on your organization’s content requirements, AI created content or AI editing services may be just what your company needs to round out your content offerings.

The fact is, content marketing continues to grow and evolve. So should your strategy.

If there are areas where different types of written content would serve your strategy, whether it’s quarterly white papers to establish your brand’s authority, blog posts to build your brand’s reputation as a thought leader, better newsletters to keep your existing customers interested or more social posts to drive engagement, then it’s worth it to seek out the quality services that will get the job done.

Content May Be King, But Only if It’s High Quality

In-house, agency, freelancer, or AI – if it’s good stuff, it will strengthen your content marketing and your brand.

Good writing can capture your audience’s attention. Great written content will compel action. And when the written word is bent, twisted around, folded and warped with a master hand, it can open doors to whole new worlds of possibility for your audience and your business.

Your content writing services are writing the story of your brand. Take the time to find the writers that can make it a good one. If you’ve decided outsourcing is the way to go, look no further! Check out our SEO Blog Writing Services or schedule a free consultation today to learn more.

The post Content Marketing Editorial and Writing Services: What to Look For appeared first on Marketing Insider Group.

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