Content Runner is about connecting Writers and Users, so that the former can provide brilliant content for the latter. We love when people do that, and we also love it when Writers knock it out of the park on the first go, which means faster turnarounds for Users, and faster payment for Writers. Everybody’s happy! So how do Writers go about creating stunning content on their first try, and how do you reduce the amount of time you need to spend on revisions?
Read the Instructions Carefully
This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. When I worked as a teaching assistant in grad school, I was responsible for grading student papers, and let me tell you, most of the poor to failing grades that I had to give out were because a student didn’t follow the instructions, and therefore didn’t complete the assignment. They didn’t answer the prompt, or they didn’t include footnotes, or they didn’t reference the required sources. These papers got poor grades and the students (usually) learned from their mistakes and improved on the next assignment. But the system we use here allows Users to send pieces back to Writers for revision. Writers get to try again on the article in question, which is something I wish my students could have done. So read the instructions! Read them before you accept a piece, read them again before you write it, and read them one last time before you submit it for review.
Don’t Submit Your First Draft
After you’ve written your masterpiece blog post or whatever you’re working on, don’t submit it! Not yet anyway. You want to give it a good, thorough edit before turning it in. Editing your own work can be hard; since you’re so close to the piece it can be difficult to catch mistakes. Here are two suggestions to help though: Get away from the piece, and edit after a day or at least after taking a break to watch some Netflix. Getting your mind off the project makes it easier to come back and read it with fresh eyes. And when you do come back to edit? Read it out loud. I know it might feel weird at first, and if it helps, subject your partner, roommate, or pet to the process. When I was in grad school (I’m going to reference that a lot, so brace yourself) I also worked for my university’s writing center, which is where I learned this trick. When we worked with a client we would have them read us their piece, and the act of reading it out loud allows your ear to catch things that your eyes might miss. Most of our clients would catch their mistakes on their own, especially grammatical issues, and we could focus on more big picture issues.
Don’t Take it Personal
So you’ve written an amazing piece, and edited it and submitted it and, lo and behold, it’s come back for revision. Fret not, gentle Writers! Read the revision notes, then go back over the piece and look for the problems that have been outlined. You may have missed part of the instructions, or there might be something new that the User wants added, or there might simply be some technical flaws that need to be corrected. Don’t see revision requests as character assassination, it’s just part of the process. Maybe the fault is yours, or maybe it’s on the part of the User. You’re both people, and people make mistakes. Just read the comments, and the piece, and make the corrections. Remember that the User has specific needs for this piece, which you’re trying to meet. This project isn’t your Great American Novel; you can afford to make changes.
Write Clear Instructions
I’m sure a lot of Users are reading this and nodding along, but you’re not exempt! Revisions usually come about as a result of a communications error, and that requires at least two parties. When you create an order, think carefully about what you want a prospective Writer to do, and tell them that in the clearest language you can manage. It helps if you can provide a link or two, either to a source they might use to start their research, or to a similar piece to use as a model. If you have specific links or phrases that you need included, make sure to point them out. If you want them to include sources as links in the text, or at the end of the article, make sure you include that too! The better the instructions, the better the article, and the less likely it is to need revisions.
Haste Makes Waste
I hate to use such a cliché, but it’s true in this case. As a Writer, give yourself enough time to do your research, write the piece, and edit it properly. As a User, make sure you get your orders figured out and posted well before you need them. In either case, having enough time to really think about what you’re trying to communicate, either to a potential Writer, or to the final audience, will make all the difference in helping you get it right on the first try!