Our today’s guide is useful to those who:
– need serious terms of reference for a large project;
– aim at long-term cooperation with one author;
– work with a large number of different authors and projects with each of them needing their terms of reference.
So where to start?
Introduce the writer to your business
That seems obvious, but many people forget about proper onboarding.
For weeks/months/years, the author has been studying journalism, style, spelling – anything but your business. That is why you need to put him/her in the way of things. A good author always shows interest in the theme, so discard the one who takes on the task without studying the specifics of your business.
A poorly written section “About Us” on your website will not help.. You’d better outline the key aspects yourself, or select an expert in your company who’ll explain to the author why you are different from competitors, answer any questions and check facts in the text.
Yes, sales are always the ultimate purpose, whatever we do. But the writer needs to be aware of the short-term goals of the project – for example, in the following three months we are working only on the image of an expert (no “buy now” allowed!).
Describe the target audience
If the project is large and long-term, and the author will work on it in an integrated way (blog, website, social networks), it is worth giving him/her full data from Google Analytics and group stats in social networks. The communication should be in a language the readers will understand – from professional terminology to forum slang.
Several tips on including keywords into content:
- read the sentence aloud – if the keyword sounds odd to the ear, rewrite it;
- if the keyword doesn’t fit organically or doesn’t fit the topic at all, don’t use it;
- try not to use punctuation marks in the key phrase.
Sometimes it’s easier to write meta tags yourself – all you need is to use the key queries correctly. But we are now talking about the integrated work on the project; therefore, the author should also write meta tags to the articles.
The minimum set of meta tags is the following:
- H1 – H6 headings
Point out that H1 should be as readable and catchy as possible.
- title and description of the text
To explain what it is, show the screenshots of successful snippets to the writer. It will be clear that the title briefly represents the content of the page, and the description tells what the article is about in 2-3 sentences. Both meta tags contain many key queries; it’s normal, but they shouldn’t turn into a nonsense set of words.
- title and alt tag to the photo
Explain that the visible tag should be attractive for the reader, and the technical one should be relevant to things depicted on the image. The length of tags is determined only by their content.
Do not forget about text structure
Only a person interested in this particular information will read the “blind wall” of text – and only in case there is no more similar material on the Internet. Marketers are fighting for the reader’s attention and the depth of viewing the page, so let’s make articles with a well-readable logical structure.
Describe text content
- Outline the key aspects the author needs to tell about (including some negative points!)
- Give a few links to the useful resources related to your business;
- List the names of reputable authors and their work, which may help in creating content.
- Attach technical product documentation, if available.
- Tell about the most common mistakes in your subject.
Remember that a detailed and precise technical task will make at least four lives easier: yours, the author’s, the editor’s and the future reader’s ones. Enough to invest a bit more time and effort in the proper terms of reference, isn’t it?