You’re building a website or redesigning your current site. You found a web designer and developer whose work you love. They’d like to highlight your company’s executives with professional head shots. You found a photographer who makes you all look fantastic. Before anyone gets started building the site, they need content. Do you:
A: Copy and paste the content from your current website?
B: Hire an experienced writer to create content for your new site?
C: Ask your brother-in-law to throw something together for you?
All too often, the answer is C. This is your brother-in-law (below). He’s not doing anything else, he said he’d do it for free, so he might as well write your website content, right?
WRONG. Your brother-in-law (or your friend, family member, vague acquaintance, etc.) should not write your website content if they do not have experience. If you’re related to Brian Clark, go for it. Otherwise, you’re likely going to be sorry.
You will likely end up with a great looking website with crisp, professional photos and content that’s too long, riddled with grammatical errors and say-nothing buzzwords. Correction, you may have those things, if your “writer” doesn’t find something else to do with his/her time first.
Your brother-in-law may:
* …or may not know a lot about your company, your industry and your audience.
* Have a content strategy that primarily includes, “Get the words on the site.”
* Have a full or part-time job that does not include writing content for your website.
* Have difficulty taking criticism and the quality of future family gatherings may be compromised if you don’t like what he’s done for your website.
“Yeah,” you may be saying, “but he would do it for free!” Your website is the virtual face of your company, it’s the best of your business as you want it presented to potential and current paying customers. In this case, you get what you pay for.
A professional writer should:
* Spend time talking with you and others in your company to get a feel for your organization and how you’d like to present yourself.
* Work with you to create a content strategy starting with the website. A pro will likely have additional ideas on how you can use a variety of content to enhance your business.
* Be able to devote the proposed amount of time to writing your website and be willing and able to stick to deadlines.
* Not be so attached to the content that it can’t be changed and be able to take constructive criticism.
* Know how to optimize content for search engines. (Note: This does not mean they can/will create and execute an entire SEO strategy for you.)
* Know how to write specifically for the web. It’s not the same as writing for other formats (i.e. print).
It’s really nice of your brother-in-law to offer to write content for your new website. He’s a great guy. Keep your family relationships healthy, hire a professional writer to provide content for your website. It will benefit your business by making you look professional, providing visitors with actionable content and positively representing your brand.