Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Software companies need more than top-funnel assets to survive, but creating product-oriented articles can be tricky. A great product writer is hard to find, yet, they already exist among your writing crew today.
In this article, you'll learn how to properly water the writers in your garden and produce more product-focused content for your business.
Why develop product-oriented writers?
"How could I possibly expect you to make content that connects with my best users if I don't tell you who they are, why they use my product, and the best ways they could use it?"
These were the exact words a Senior Product Manager told me as we were talking about content development. It brings to light a fair point for teams wondering why their content isn't helping lift paid service (or Pro) conversions.
The problem is likely due to resource allocation. You want product-oriented content, but no one can write it for you.
The more you empower writers with technical writing skills, the better product team can load balance tasks. I guarantee your Product team is an untapped wealth of knowledge. They certainly have more value to share than just support articles. But most of the time they have so much other shit to do, that writing a blog post gets placed on the backburner.
Now imagine you have a dedicated writer who's buddy-buddy with your product team. The writer can produce super detailed, product-oriented content and get sign-off from your Product Lead or a PMM. All they have to do is make some edits and suggestions, then your article is off to editorial for copyediting.
Think of the value of this in scaling a team, and giving free users the content they need to master your product and upgrade to a paid version.
6 tips for creating product writers
Watering writers isn’t just a necessary chore: It’s a pact between you and the writers you’ve taken under your wing.
1. Pay attention to the signs. When a plant needs water, it tells you. There are two ways to tell when writers want more: Curiosity and usage. Curious writers will question your product. They'll point out flaws, possibly offer recommendations. If they are not genuinely curious to learn more and are willing to devote time to your product, the writing will stagnate anyway.
If your product is relevant to their business, such as, data dashboards or marketing automation software, a good writer may even end up using your product. If you have a curious writer using your product, water them.
2. Create an incentive. When the work is more technical and involves doing more than writing top-funnel stuff, you should offer a damn good reason for the writer to scale in. An incentive could be more money per article, more articles per month, or a higher retainer. Talk with the writer to find out: (1) if they want to do more work with you (2) what incentive they need to do their best work.
3. Educate. I'd argue to educate any in-house or freelance writers about your product, a basic intro course at a minimum. Product-oriented writers should go a step further. Provide one-on-one lessons, pay for a course, give access to any exclusive communities or industry publications. Help product writers continually learn so they don't go stagnant with the content.
4. Connect. Fluid communication between the writer and Product is essential when developing product-oriented content. Don't be the bottleneck. Give the writer a weekly meeting with Product to ask questions, see new updates, get content ideas, and build a repertoire between teams so everyone can do their best work.
5. Encourage use. To develop product-savvy writers, they have to use the product — even if it's a sandbox account they can play around on. What I love about encouraging product use is the end result, hands-on educational content. As writers become more product-orientated, they can whip up quick instructional videos for the article, grab helpful screenshots to support different points, create templates, and offer readers new perspectives on how to best use your product.
6. Set objectives and key results (OKRs). What's the end goal here? I can think of one off the bat: lift in paid registrations. While that is the entire reason you're investing in product writers, set other objectives to keep Product and Content motivated.
A few OKR's to set can be:
support the user onboarding process
create more templates
support product launches
improve free user engagement
lift conversions for specific customer segment
build an education hub
The OKR's you go after are up to you. The important part is to keep your writer (who I guess at this point is ... a product marketer?) motivated to create great content for users so you can make more money from your content.
Got questions? Want to share your thoughts? Let's connect on Twitter.