I’m not a freelance writer. On the contrary, I’m an entrepreneur with more than 8 years experience in online startups and a co-founder of a SAAS (Software as a Service) company.
As we are a technological start-up, I never imagined how essential it would be to hire somebody who is not a programmer or an online designer.
However, we have 3 freelance writers today, who have been working with us for more than 4 years, and this is the reason why I would like to share with you why and how a freelance writer can help tech start-ups.
Helping to tell a story
This was the first trigger that made us think of a freelance writer several years ago. This is a mistake that every start-up makes (ourselves included) by thinking that start-ups don’t need a freelance writer from the beginning. It’s a mistake that I see entrepreneurs with no previous experience with their technological projects repeat once and over again.
Let’s see a well-known and concrete example to understand this better. Let’s take Steve Jobs from Apple as a reference. If we study his presentations, we will see that he DOESN’T focus on the characteristics of the new products but on the benefits, on “telling a story.” I understand it may look simple, but it isn’t.
Focusing on the benefits
During the iPhone presentation, he wasn’t sharing the technological advances of the new product, such as internal memory (16 gigabytes), processor speed (A5) or the display quality (Super Amoled.) The final user is not interested in that.
On the contrary, he was expressing how benefited users were with all these characteristics in a language that potential clients can, first of all, understand. But it’s even more important that they want to make the purchase!
As I said before, this seems easy, but not for an engineer, programmer, or software architect, who are constantly immersed in the specifications. Their communication language is to give cold and exact information, not nice phrases that help to sell.
For example, let’s observe Steve Jobs when he says “Use your contacts as never before” or “Excellent audio quality”; what does this mean for an engineer? That’s almost incomprehensible to us! However, that’s what final users need and want to hear in order to make the decision of making the purchase.
Speaking the customer language
What happens in a start-up, and I say this based on our own experience, is that the founders are so in love with the new technology developed on their own that they want to share their achievements with the world. The problem is that the world is not interested in knowing if we use a quality standard, a development norm or a specific program code such as PHP, Ruby on Rails, .NET or some other.
People would like to know which of their problems we will be able to solve with the new product or service. And this is where a freelance writer should help us.
The advantages of hiring a freelance writer are that they won’t be able to know our software as well as we, programmers, do. This is the reason why they won’t be tempted to share only technical specifications and they will also be able to transmit, based on their experience, what potential clients will want to hear in order to understand what this new development is about.
A freelance writer should study all of our work and then he should be able to transmit it as a story to the rest of the world. The press wants to share a story with their audience. People DON’T want the technical specifications.
An excellent way for a freelance writer to start working with start-ups is to start looking for new projects that arise throughout the world and choose those that they are interested in as writers, maybe because they like what they do.
There are hundreds of start-ups being developed today that have an amazing technology that is capable of changing the world. Their mistake is not “what” they are building, but “how” they are sharing it with their future potential users. With no doubt, it is in these cases that freelance writers can work with start-ups.
Value generation through
their own content
On the other hand, freelance writers can also work with start-ups, like they also do with us, through the content generation of their own.
This means that freelance writers can help founders of new projects with their blogs and communication. At least 3 years ago, the news section of each online development has started to be used more and more frequently as a means of communication. It’s used not only to announce new developments but also to educate and to strengthen the relationship with current and potential clients.
Let’s work on some examples. A start-up such as MOZ uses the blog to teach their community what is going on in the marketing world and in search engines.
As it can be observed, there is a list of newly written articles, but on the right margin, we also see that they advertise their service for new clients that still don’t use it through a 30-day free trial period.
Something that we learned is that in order to generate these types of quality articles, freelance writers shouldn’t have the knowledge about these specific issues as we do because we are involved with these issues all day long.
But at the same time, programmers/developers don’t have the time or knowledge to write a quality article for the reader in a clear and organised way.
What we do is get together in a 30-minute meeting with the freelance writer through Skype and share our knowledge so that the writer can give us back everything that was discussed, in an article ready to be published.
Another example of created value through written content is Buffer’s blog where the latest news and announcements of the social media world are shared.
This is the best way in which freelance writers can continuously work with technological start-ups generating a high added value for the start-up and their users in the long term.
Author: Cristian Rennella from the 21st Century Business University in Latin America, co-founder of EMT, first start-up of the region in the insurance market.
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