Content Ownership that Sets Up Your Writer to Fail

Content ownership leaving your marketing writer stuck in the middle?

Content ownership isn’t always the same as budget ownership. And when it isn’t, your writer gets stuck in the middle.

When you own the budget while somebody else owns the content, it’s a bit like buying cake for other people while they decide whether they want to eat it.

“A simple site for engineering content”

Jack in Engineering got the idea for a simple site where he could post technically deep content that would attract engineers. He also obtained budget to have content written for it, and he chose a technology marketing writer.

Alice in Marketing has ended up owning the site. She’s responsible for its design and all of the content on it. Most important, she’s responsible for its success with the engineers who visit it.

Jack and Alice decide on the topics they want to cover. They assign them to the writer, who creates the blog posts and articles. Jack approves the content and Alice posts it to the site.

So far, everybody is winning.

Content ownership conundrum

“Why do you keep placing this content where nobody can find it?” Jack asks after a few weeks. “We keep pumping out blog posts and articles and you keep burying them.”

“The execs haven’t made clear to me their vision of what the site needs to do and how it needs to attract visitors,” Alice replies. “Until I know that, I want to focus more on usability and flow than on promotion of content. The plumbing needs to work correctly before you send water through it. That’s how you build a site like this.”

In other words, Jack keeps buying the cake and Alice keeps putting it in the refrigerator for later.

What about the writer?

“So . . . what do you want me to do?” asks the writer.

“Figure something out,” both Jack and Alice say. “You know the product, you know the technology and you know how to write. Come up with new ideas for content we might be able to use in the near term.”

In other words, “Fail.”

The writer is stuck between a rock and a hard place. She’s a freelance writer with plenty of talent, but Jack and Alice have hung their problem around her neck.

It will take Jack and Alice a while to solve their content ownership problem. Meanwhile, Jack wants to keep content flowing and Alice wants to keep building the site.

It’s certainly more than the writer hired on to deal with.

Seems like a waste, doesn’t it? How would you resolve it? What would you do if you were the writer?

photo credit: Jamesy Pena


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”