“Our clients would love what I did to be a science. Sadly there is a moment when they have to make a leap, and that’s when they sh** themselves.”
This is how John Hagerty, founder and creative director of advertising agency BBH, fantastically sums up the hardest thing about leveraging creativity in the digital space: having tangible proof that what you’re doing is actually working.
As a writer in the digital world, it’s all about reach, keywords, followers, friends, and conversions. If you’re like me and trying your darndest to write content that sells (i.e., provides value to the end user while producing results your clients are happy with), you know that you have some hurdles to overcome. Here are a few things I have learned on my journey that might help you retain your creativity AND keep your job.
Keywords are not the end all, be all
It used to be that ranking high on the search engine results page (SERP) involved a keyword-dense article with oodles of links. And to some degree, it still does. But since Google has taken a harder line to weed out optimized content that provides no real value, we’re left with more room to add creative in (even if it does involve throwing a few keywords into the mix). And that means tapping into our power to connect the seemingly unconnected for our customers.
So, say you’re writing for a health care company who provides wellness solutions for corporations. Their goal is to be a trusted provider of this service, knowledgeable in all areas of the business. Your goal then is to offer useful information and resources that will position your client as a trusted source of information. That means content. Articles about HSA accounts, new laws, and regulations that impact medical spending and even healthy recipes to keep consumers on the right track all have a place in your content strategy. But you’ll have to stand your ground if they don’t see the connection to their business. Read on to find your voice. (I know it’s hard!)
Use your voice
I’m not talking about your writing voice, I’m talking your actual voice. You know what’s best when it comes to content. Once you have a grasp on who your client’s audience is – their likes and dislikes, where they hang out, what color their socks are – it’s easier to determine what they need and/or want from you. And because you’re the writer, you have the freedom to position your writing around those needs creatively. Many people won’t be looking at your writing from a user-generated standpoint so be prepared to explain yourself. Back up why you wrote what you wrote and how you see it benefiting the end user. Repeat after me: I am a writer, I am strong and I know what the heck I’m talking about!
Avoid posting for the hell of it
It’s all fine and good to write to no end in your journal. You don’t have to have a point. But when writing for a client, you have to have a focus. Come on, people! There’s a prevailing misconception that content is merely to drive traffic to a site. While that’s still an important objective, the only content you should publish is content that, once found, is useful and shareable. So, pick an idea and stick with it. If you have an idea but are unsure of how to position it, type a related phrase into the Google search field to see what’s trending.
It takes time to create a legit following for your clients. But spending the time to do it right is time well spent. You’re much likelier to produce results your clients will applaud if you stand your ground and communicate your thought processes along the way.