Collaboration Tips for Content Writers and SMEs

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  • Finding the right collaborators 
  • Identifying the best potential content collaborations 
  • Tips for successful writer and SME collaboration

Did you know that only 34% of marketers understand the importance of keyword research?

Of digital marketers, however, 75% use content marketing specifically to generate links.

How can the numbers be so drastically different? 

It’s crucial to ensure your content is optimized if you want to drive traffic to your site and improve your SEO (search engine optimization). But even if you understand the importance of optimizing your content SME, it’s difficult to know what to optimize for. This is where the disconnect between content writing and collaborating with experts comes in. 

Stats like those above show how important it is to ensure fluidity with your collaboration. So, how do you do that? Keep reading for the best tips on getting expert writers to collaborate successfully with subject matter experts and vice versa. 

Content SME and finding the right collaborators 

Organizations value subject matter experts (SMEs), but they don’t always have the time or skills to effectively share their knowledge. Instead of expecting them to do everything, what if we learned how to engage with them and leverage their expertise ourselves?

It’s important to ensure that their expertise translates well to the writers who put together the final content. It can be challenging for writers or content creators to ensure that a subject matter’s knowledge is translated well to a new audience. We want it produced in ways that impact organizational goals and help achieve objectives.

First and foremost, selecting the right SMEs for your brand is key to the success of creating the content at the end of the line. So, you’ll want to start this process by finding key subject matter experts that can add value to your content.

Potential content collaborations 

Once you’ve got your shortlist of potential content SME choices and technical SME choices, you’ll want to narrow it down. There may be a way to do this by being completely aware of what forms the foundation for potential collaborations. 

It’s the job of writers and content creators to keep the reader and audience in mind. But unfortunately, this often means they’re so focused on the result that they miss out on opportunities that arise during the co-creation process.

Because writers will need to go through several cycles of edits before their content is ready for publication, they should be encouraged to use each one as an opportunity to solicit feedback. This should include feedback from the SMEs with whom they are collaborating.

It’s easy to underestimate how much this simple step will improve the content. However, it can also strengthen the partnership and solidify the collaboration.

Successful writer and expert collaboration 

Generally, when writers and experts come together, they come from two very different professional settings. Both will be accustomed to working their way and with their style, so finding common ground for a mutual project can be challenging. 

Here are a few tips to overcome the potential challenges!

1.  Find the right subject matter expert for the job

Start the project by recommending the best SME for the job. When you need to make the final decision on which SME to choose, provide people on the writing project with guidance to assist them in making the best decision possible.

Discuss reasonable time commitments, the level of expertise required, the necessary level of participation, and so on. Starting with a “qualified” and prepared SME can help you avoid major problems with the final level of written copy. 

2. Be clear about the content requirements 

Your subject matter expert should be made clear as to what the expectations for the project are at the end, particularly with regard to the final expected delivery and the types of content to be created. For example, talking in industry-related jargon might be okay if you’re doing a technical piece. But if the outcome for the content is aimed at a different audience, then the collaboration needs to create content that a different audience can digest. 

Having the end goals in mind from the get-go can help everyone be on the same page during the collaboration. 

3. Keep involvement up and request feedback 

The process doesn’t have to be a single interview, the one-and-done process, when using SMEs for projects. You can choose to keep them involved with the writer right from the start to the end of the project. 

This can help ensure continuity of content and subject matter if done correctly. Between the expert writers and the SME collaboration, they’re able to communicate on deadlines, swap notes, schedule follow-ups, and do whatever it takes until the entire project goes from concept to creation and then to published. 

Tools for collaboration 

The age-old saying that a team can only be as good as the tools they’re using. There is truth to this. 

There are different software options that you can consider to aid the team that needs to collaborate on content. Some are made with writers in mind, while others are made to manage multiple projects at a time. 

If you consider these software options, as well as the other requirements within your business, you can find one that will fill the need for optimum collaboration between writers and SMEs. 

Some, like Google Docs, for example, will allow you to track changes and edits, have proofreading capabilities, and can have multiple users on one document at a time. This can help by minimizing the time of the mundane tasks for collaboration projects like sending files back and forth, asking for feedback, and constantly reminding collaborators about impending deadlines. 

Optimum collaboration 

Before you begin, having a framework or structure to work with can be beneficial. The SME shouldn’t have to feel removed from your writer, and it doesn’t have to be challenging to work on projects.

The collaboration process can be difficult to get right the first time or even the fifth time, especially if you have to approach different SMEs. This means that teams might not always have the time to learn ‘how to work with someone new’. However, there are agencies that can simplify this entire process. Contact us to find out how we can manage your writing projects.

Author avatar
Mariah Muller
Mariah is the Content Specialist at Redefine Marketing Group, supporting editorial operations for our clients' blogs and other written content. She studied Spanish Language and Literature at UC Berkeley and has worked in a variety of fields, including tutoring and law. She lives, writes, and watches too much TV in Los Angeles.
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