Every content writer should have feedback moments build into their writing process.
And every client should use those feedback moments.
The number of feedback rounds depends on the writer and the type of content, but you’ll receive the piece you’re looking for thanks to your feedback. Or, as Bill Gates said in his Ted Talk, “we all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” That goes for your content writer and their service too.
However, not everyone knows what kind of feedback writers are looking for, and many clients are afraid of giving feedback. Sometimes they even end up rewriting content!
So here’s how to give your content writer feedback they can use.
- Feedback and your relationship with your content writer
- Tips for giving good feedback
- Decide who’s going to give feedback
- Read the whole deliverable first
- Do your prework
- Create a content brief
- Use all the feedback opportunities
- Don’t rewrite the content
- Use suggesting-mode or track your edits
- Explain your feedback
- Leave suggestions
- Let your content writer know when they’re doing something right
- Remember editing is a two-way street
- Good and bad content writer feedback examples
- My feedback process
Feedback and your relationship with your content writer
I always say you get better content by giving good feedback.
Sure, you can make some edits yourself or even rewrite the piece after receiving it from your content writer. But by not telling your writer about your requirements, they can’t improve the work they do for you. This will cost both of you time and money.
By giving your content writer clear, valuable, and constructive feedback, they can improve their writing to precisely what you’re looking for. The longer you work with them, the better their work will be fitted to you.
Your content writer is valuable—treat them as such. They have years of writing experience, often surround themselves with other content writers to learn from and be inspired by, and many content writers have diplomas, certifications, or awards. Use their skills, knowledge, and ideas.The longer you work with your content writer, the better their work will be fitted to your requirements. Click To Tweet
Tips for giving good feedback to your content writer
1. Decide who’s going to give feedback
Decide who’s going to give feedback—and stick with them.
Avoid big teams giving feedback, as this can be overwhelming to your content writer, and it often turns into a back-and-forth over personal preferences within your team.
I used to write for a company with five of their team members looking at my content and leaving suggestions. Sometimes, another team member came in with more suggestions after I’d started incorporating their edits, contradicting their team’s previous suggestions. After hopping on a call, I adjusted my process, so now clients confirm when they’ve finished reviewing, and they picked two people to give feedback instead of five. It made the process a lot faster too!
2. Read the whole deliverable first
I know it can be tempting to jump in and edit or suggest as soon as you see something you’d do differently.
But half of the times I do this, it resolves itself as I keep reading.
Save yourself some time, and read the whole deliverable before giving suggestions.
Then, as you go through it again, make notes about sentences and words you like or dislike, inaccuracies in the text (you’re the expert on the subject matter after all!), and things like tone of voice.
3. Do your prework
Support your content writer and do your prework.
For example, prepare a style guide (if you need inspiration, take a look at Mailchimp’s style guide here). With a style guide, you know you and your writer are on the same page about things like interpunction, tone of voice, citation styles, and formatting.
Use the outline to add any input, internal links you’d like to use, sources that could be beneficial to your writer (even if you don’t want to include the links in the content), and anything else that could be useful.
You can also share other resources with your content writer, such as your best-performing blog posts, feedback on your content from readers, and a content brief.
4. Create a content brief
This also falls under prework, but it’s so important it deserves its own bullet point: a content brief.
I usually create this with my long-term customers, but for one-off projects or projects where you work with more than one writer, a content brief is a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Include information like your business’ target group, the purpose of the content, keywords, and call to actions (CTA). Make sure to answer any questions your writer may have.
5. Use all the feedback opportunities
I can’t stretch this enough; use ALL the feedback opportunities.
If you have opinions, ideas, and input, share them with your content writer as soon as you have them. Don’t assume they’ll have the same thoughts.
If you read a proposed subject and get ideas to include and existing content to link to, feel free to add a comment or send an email to let your writer know.
This way they know you like that subject, there’s plenty of information to use, and it will save them time. Your content writer can then deliver a comprehensive outline as soon as the time is there, and you don’t have to try and remember what you thought when you first read the subject.
I love it when my clients add lots of input to the outline—the more complete the outline, the better the content.
And if you don’t love the outline or were expecting something else, let your writer know as soon as you receive it. It’s much less work to overhaul an outline than a full blog post!
6. Don’t rewrite the content
First of all, this is a waste of time and money. You’re paying your content writer so you don’t have to write, after all.
Secondly, if you receive the deliverable and then rewrite whatever you don’t like, your content writer will never learn about your thought process and personal preferences. It means they won’t be able to apply this knowledge in their future work for you.
Use all the feedback rounds and if you’re still not happy with the work, hop on a call with your content writer to discuss and make sure you’re on the same page.
7. Use suggesting-mode or track your edits
Sometimes you’ll change some things that don’t have to do with the actual writing. You may fix a typo, add a link, replace a word with a synonym, etc.
But your writer won’t know what you changed until they go into the document’s history and compare the two versions.
I always send my deliverables in Google Docs with suggesting permissions, but if your writer doesn’t, make sure to turn it on yourself.
In most cases, your content writer will see your suggestions, agree, and accept the change.
If you make a more significant change, explain why you’ve adjusted something.
8. Explain your feedback
If you don’t like something, let your content writer know. But explain why and don’t be rude.
- So instead of saying, “I don’t like this,” tell your content writer, “I’m not a fan of this word, can we use something else?”
- If you rephrased something, let them know the language they used was too formal.
If you don’t explain, your writer can’t be sure why you don’t like it.
And if you don’t have a suggestion, that’s fine! Explain the issue so your writer can work with you. Give some examples, if possible.
For example, if the tone of voice isn’t up your alley, send along a blog post with the style you’re looking for or ask your content writer for a more conversational tone of voice and mark the parts that are too formal for your taste.
Make sure your comments are honest, specific, and respectful.When giving feedback (to anyone, not just content writers), make sure your comments are honest, specific, and respectful. Click To Tweet
9. Leave suggestions
A writer is still human, and even if you’re not a writer, you can have impressive sentences ready to go or give your writer some inspiration. Don’t expect your copywriter to think of that great sentence you have in mind—give it to them.
Besides that, feel free to give suggestions for content structure and internal links.
Again, you end up with a piece of content that you can’t wait to publish by giving feedback!
10. Let your content writer know when they’re doing something right
Don’t compliment your content writer to make them feel good (although that’s a bonus), only when they deserve it. This will help build your relationship and inform your writer of your preferences and what you like.
Let them know when you particularly like a sentence, when the intro is spot on, or if they’ve written an outline where you have nothing to add, for example.
11. Remember editing is a two-way street
Sometimes your writer won’t agree with your edit, and that’s ok! They may have put it that way on purpose or learned that something works better that way. Don’t give feedback like it’s an ultimatum (unless it’s about the accuracy, of course).
As I said, you’re the expert on the subject matter, but we’re professional writers who’ve written millions of words. It’s our job to create clear, compelling content to engage your customers. That’s why you hired us!
For example, I had a Dutch client with mostly US-based customers. Every time I sent her a deliverable, she’d change words like ‘favorite’ or ‘center’ to their British spelling. It turned out she was using Grammarly but hadn’t set it to American English. She wasn’t aware of the differences between British and American English spelling. If I’d simply accepted all her suggestions, she would’ve ended up with half a US English website and the other half in UK English.
Good and bad content writer feedback examples
Your content writer should be welcoming your feedback—after all, that’s how we learn what you’re looking for! But there is good feedback and bad feedback.
Please note that the difference between the two isn’t that one is positive, and one is negative (or I like to use ‘constructive’). The difference is that one is helpful, and the other is useless.
“This doesn’t work, please fix.” is terrible feedback. This tells your content writer nothing. What doesn’t work? What needs to happen to fix it? For example, maybe the content is excellent, but you feel it doesn’t match your tone of voice. Let your writer know!
“We don’t use the words ‘holiday’ or ‘vacation’ because they mean different things in the US and UK. Can these be replaced?” is good feedback. Let your writer know what you’re not happy with and don’t just switch them yourself. Your writer will understand why these words need to be replaced by synonyms like ‘trip’, ‘getaway’, ‘break’, or ‘travels’ the next time they write a piece for you. By letting them know why you don’t use these words, your content writer can apply the same rule to future content.
Feel free to give feedback or input on things like:
- Tone of voice
- Content structure and flow
- Internal links
- Formatting according to your style guide
- Copy edits
My feedback process
Before I get started on a piece of content, we’ll discuss it. We’ll talk strategy and where this piece fits in. Feedback, ideas, and input are very welcome at this stage!
Then I create an outline for bigger pieces like email courses, blog posts, and landing pages. I send it for your feedback through Google Docs and give you suggesting permissions. This way, you can edit what you don’t like, share additional information, and leave comments—both positive and constructive.
You let me know you’ve finished reviewing the outline. I take your suggestions on board and create the first draft. I send this to you as a Google Doc with suggestion permissions again. You read the draft and can give your feedback. Share your input, leave suggestions, edit what you don’t like, and let me know if you still have any questions after reading the content. Post any comments you have!
After you’ve finished giving feedback—I usually allow two days to keep the process running smoothly—I go through your feedback and incorporate your suggestions and edits. I add, delete, and adjust your content as needed.
After incorporating your feedback, I send it back to you for one more round of feedback. At this point, there are usually no or only some minor changes. I adjust as needed, and then the text is all yours. (Or I upload and schedule it for you, depending on our agreement.)
Giving good feedback is how you get better content
To recap, make sure you’re specific when you’re giving your content writer feedback. Do your prework, explain, and suggest.
Remember, giving good feedback will help you create a strong partnership with your content writer. And, when you’ve worked together for a while, you won’t have much feedback to give at all.
Are you still looking for a content writer to work with? Get in touch with me now, and let’s discuss what we can do together.
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