If you don’t know a long-tail keyword from a call to action, then setting up your first consultation with a copywriter, business blogger, or ghostwriter can be intimidating. But I’m not here to quiz you on your encyclopedic knowledge of content marketing jargon (or lack there-of). In fact, there are three essential things we’ll be talking about that you know way more about than I do, and they’re the most important things you need to focus on as you prepare for our first conversation. Forget about the nitty-gritty details. For this chat, think big-picture.
Know your budget
In dreamland, you wouldn’t have to worry about dollar signs at all. Dinner (and rent and payroll) would grow on trees in your spectacularly landscaped backyard, and you could run the business you wanted exactly the way that you wanted with zero limitations. But this isn’t dreamland, and your business—and all of its investments, content included—are governed by your bottom line.
Before you talk to anyone, be it a graphic designer or a web developer or a commercial realtor or a blogger, you need to know what you’re able to budget for a certain expense. To save yourself and your prospective service provider time and energy, be up front about the money you can earmark for this venture.
Why it matters: If you’re hazy on your money situation before we get on the phone, I’ll spend my prep time planning a content strategy that isn’t going to work for you. When we’re talking one-on-one, it’ll be clear in seconds that it isn’t going to fly, which means we’re both wasting our time. When you’re clear and honest about your budget, that means that I can develop a plan that satisfies your needs, your goals, and your purse strings right off the bat.
Have a timeline in mind
You’ve heard it before: “It’ll be ready to launch soon.” “It’s in the pipeline.” “It’s in the early stages at the moment.” Now consider who you’ve heard those statements from. Did you think those products would ever be ready to hit the market? Probably not.
Now, your website may well be launching soon. It really might be in your developer’s production pipeline. And sure, it’s in the early stages of beta testing. But while you know and trust that your project is coming along, the service provider you’re speaking to doesn’t know or trust that your “soon” really means in the next few months rather than “sometime in the next few years.”
Why it matters: If you want me to take your project seriously, you need to get serious about when you need materials and when you’re intending to launch. A consult with an open-ended timeframe often results in a discussion about concepts and importance of X versus Y. Conversely, when you tell me you’re going to be launching, for example, a speaking tour on Dec. 1 and you need guest blog posts ready to go a month prior to that to hype your pre-sale, I know that your plans are ready for a supporting content strategy.
Think about what you want your result to be
A lot of people clamor to tell you what you need. The thing is, your business isn’t exactly like any other business. It’s yours, and that makes it unique. What works for a multi-million-dollar company two towns over isn’t necessarily what’s going to make customers hit your “buy now!” button.
Instead of mimicking what’s worked for others, I suggest you go about your content marketing another way. First, consider your product or service and ask yourself what would make it a success. Do you want more eyes on your product’s website? Do you want to build a community around your consulting business? Do you want to earn an influencer reputation in your industry? Each of these wants is valid—there is no right answer. The more you think about your ideal end result, though, the better your service provider will be able to strategize a solution to get you to your goal.
Why it matters: There are a lot of components in a content strategy. Your niche, your target audience, your secondary audience, your current visibility, your professional history, your product offering, your industry—these are all moving pieces that ghostwriters and content strategists like myself take into consideration before we write a single word. They dictate everything from how often you should blog to what keywords you should incorporate into your posts. Careful research helps me figure out how these elements can successfully interact, but it’s you telling me what your endgame is that allows me to develop the right content path for your particular project.
Preparing yourself for a consultation with a competent ghostwriter doesn’t have to mean going crazy over industry-specific terms. When you schedule a conversation with me, you don’t need to know content marketing buzzwords. That’s my job. Your job is to think hard about three things:
That’s it. If you put in that work, I can do mine. It’s as easy as that.