Why You Should Ask Subject Matter Experts to Write Blog Posts
I was reading a piece of content the other day. It was something I wrote many years ago, and it was about car insurance. Why was I writing about car insurance? Because I was the writer.
I was given a brief, given examples in the topic, given some extra information, given a handful of keywords and given the page I needed to link out to. And then I was told to get on with it.
Well, looking back, what I wrote has near to no value.
And the reason for that is simple: I know nearly nothing about car insurance.
At Intellyo, we have a team. Our team has experience in design, psychology, front-end development, back-end development, data, SEO, online marketing, etc. And you may have noticed that several different people write for our blog. That is because we believe in the power of subject matter experts.
It’s all about the content
When we’re talking about content, the definition of what content actually is can be a sticking point. I find it enlightening to simply go back to the dictionary.
- something that is contained:
- the contents of a box.
- the subjects or topics covered in a book or document.
- the chapters or other formal divisions of a book or document:
- a table of contents.
Can you really class a blog post, infographic, video or anything else as content if it does not contain any information?
While a professional writer or a content marketer can write beautiful words on a page, they may well not know the topic in much detail. So the content of their content is not going to be as detailed as if a subject matter expert had written it.
Fluff is just fluff
One of the most common mistakes made by writers who are not subject matter experts is using filler. Once I’d written down all I knew about insurance premiums, I had about 200 words. That was not enough. So I padded. I wrote about accidents, about misfortune, about Batman…
Image Source: The Zoom
Yet all that padding, all that fluff, was nothing more than filler. It provided no value, it just made the content fit the word count. When all the value was condensed into a simple, easy to understand 200 words.
A subject matter expert should be able to give you more than 200 words on their topic of choice. But they may not be able to craft it in the most effective way: which is where a professional writer comes in.
Working as a team, an expert and a writer can produce a piece of content that contains all the relevant information and nothing more. Yet they can also get back to one rule that I repeat over and over again:
Successful content tells a new story, or an old story in a new way.
The story you tell, however, needs to give your readers a takeaway. Which is where the subject matter experts come in again. They can put together all the useful info from their chosen subject: you just need to help them craft it into something easily digestible.
But why should you consult an expert first, or even during the process, rather than afterwards?
Editing Costs Less than Research
When you want to write on a new topic, you research it. You find a bucket full of sources, you consult them, you read, you put together a plan, you read some more, and then, finally, you can put pen to paper.
You don’t need me to tell you that takes time.
If you gather your expert’s facts and insights and then edit them into a simple narrative, you don’t have to go through quite so much research time. Just make sure to check with them at the end, too.
On the other hand, Ellen de Vries’ take on collaborating with subject matter experts is another way to produce excellent results working alongside an expert.
However, one area she does not touch on is working with limited resources. For a small team at a startup, for instance, it can be hard to find the time for subject matter experts to produce their own content.
The Content First Approach
One way around this is to have a content first approach. Under this method, your company puts content production at the heart of what they do. So each expert in the team - whether they’re a designer, developer or finance whizz - has to put aside time for creating content.
With this method, you can be sure to produce enough content each month to fill up your blog and create value. BUT, many of those subject matter experts don’t really want to spend their time writing articles or creating slideshows.
The Teaching Sessions
Which brings us to a time light approach. Each expert does not have to give away a day every month for writing. Instead, they give away a couple of hours for teaching. During these sessions, you can gather as much info as possible about your topic, before putting together your content and sending it to the expert for review.
This approach does have a downside, though. It’s likely you won't be able to go into quite as much detail as the subject matter expert would on their own, or working in collaboration with you.
The Brainstorm Sessions
Finally, somewhere in the middle comes the brainstorm sessions. Here, you and the expert sit together and come up with the content’s talking points, the important pieces of information, and any interesting quotes or links you should include. Then you go away and write it before sending it to the expert for review.
What if you outsource content creation?
Outsourcing content creation is becoming more common across the industry. And this brings both new benefits and new challenges. Especially when it comes to creating content with experts.
There are two simple, in house solutions. The first is to make your experts available for consultation with the content producers. Your experts may not like having to spend their time talking to non-experts from outside of the company, though.
The second solution takes longer at first, but should reduce the overall workload with a long term collaboration.
Get your subject matter experts to put together infopacks about important topics, which you hand over to the content production company. Then, when the content/script is complete, your experts have the final say on whether it is good to go.
Whichever method you choose, make sure to take advantage of your expert’s knowledge to the full.
At Intellyo, we value subject matter experts, and will always look to consult with your team during content production. With our AI backed product, this gives the content we produce an edge when it comes to factuality, important in an age of fake news.
For more like this, subscribe to our blog and explore AI backed digital marketing in more depth.