One challenge every writer of every experience level faces is determining when a project is successful. Whether it’s a poem or an instructional pamphlet, a piece of writing becomes the property of the reader once it leaves the writer’s desk. “Success” is a relative term: one reader might love your piece, another might hate it. Writing is one field where it’s all about staying above the reaction and continuing onward, but in the realm of content marketing, the reaction is your business.
If you’re wondering how to gauge the efficacy and impact of something you’ve written, here are some signposts to look for. Keep these in mind not only when writing content, but also when sourcing, editing, and managing the writers upon which your content marketing initiatives depend.
Sign 1: The Content Causes Changes in Behavior
The most fulfilling way a project can be a success is if it has a true impact on the outlook and habits of those who read it. If you write a blog post about efficiency in the workplace and see your coworkers implement your suggestions, you know your project was a success. However, if they don’t do so, that doesn’t mean you weren’t successful. They may still keep your work in mind and simply fail to enact the changes you’ve suggested. In the end, a writer can only plant seeds, not make them blossom.
When it comes to content marketing, the concept of a “change in behavior” is perhaps best expressed when your content generates a lead. A blog post that connects properly with your target audience and leads them to another page of your website, which in turn leads them to download a whitepaper or fill out a contact form, is a critical success. Sometimes it can be hard to track that journey, but the lesson here is to evaluate content not from your perspective as a writer or a marketing manager, but from your ideal customer’s perspective.
Sign 2: The Content Is Shareable
Another indicator of the success of your project is how wide the piece spreads. If people are sharing your piece via social media, you know it’s made an impression on them. Part of this effort means catching their attention to begin with. Compelling titles, coupled with meaningful and fresh content, will get you the readership you desire. Make sure you’re promoting your own posts, however. Don’t solely rely on the odd Googler to discover your content. Don’t get me wrong; consistently published blog content is absolutely a key part of any brand’s organic search play. But that doesn’t mean you should be satisfied throwing content out into the ether and passively hoping it gets some hits.
If you want something to be a success, you have to stand behind it 100%. Create a Twitter, LinkedIn Profile and/or Facebook page as a vehicle to share your work, if your company doesn’t already have one. You can also send email blasts to industry leaders and influencers as a way to attract traffic. Put as much effort into your promotion as you do your creation, and always remember: If you don’t get your content out to the right audience, you can’t blame your writer for a lack of results.
Sign 3: The Writer Enjoyed Writing The Content
Ultimately, if all else fails, the writer of a given piece know if the project was a success based on how you feel about it. Many famous writers like Allen Ginsburg, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson worked under the impression that no one would ever read the things they had written. They didn’t write for the approval of others; they wrote for themselves. While content marketing is inherently rooted in the response of a readership, approaching your project from this perspective could be the key to pulling it off.
Whether you’re writing a first draft yourself or simply helping your hired writer edit a piece, remember that there’s value in borrowing from their specific perspective. That perspective doesn’t always require insider knowledge of an industry or a company. In fact, hiring an effective writer will bring new talents to the table, and help you to more clearly communicate your value outside of technical language and jargon that your audience may not understand. Let your writer take individual pieces of content in the direction that most interests them, and your readership will likely also be interested.
In our experience at Metonymy Media, the absolute best way for writers to judge their successes and failures is for them to work on a team. Download our whitepaper, The Writers’ Guide to Managing Writers, to learn how we give our writers a support system to guarantee success on any writing project.