10 Tips For Buyers To Effectively Manage Writing Projects

An amazing community of creatives has chosen to work on crowdSPRING. They come from more than 170 countries, speak hundreds of languages, cover all age groups, demographics, experience, religions, etc. They've created work for companies in virtually every country of the world and in most languages spoken on Earth.

To help buyers get the most from their projects on crowdSPRING, we asked our creative community to collaborate on a guides for buyers. The first guide was 10 Logo Design Tips For Buyers (to help buyers understand what to look for when having a logo designed).

The creative process can be very challenging - for writers and non-writers.The key to success is to follow sound practices, develop specific criteria, and provide great feedback throughout the process. Creatives working on crowdSPRING have prepared their top 10 tips for buyers who are looking to run a successful writing project on crowdSPRING. We are again really honored to post this guide. Here we go:

1. WRITE A STRONG PROJECT BRIEF

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The brief can make or break a project. We can't stress this enough. You could have an interesting project with a great reward but if it doesn't have a good project brief, many creatives won't participate. While the creatives are competing with each other, you are competing with other projects. Most creatives have a limited time so they will be picky when choosing which projects to work on. The brief doesn't have to be formal and comprehensive - just make it clear and make it sound like it's written by a real person.

Be sure to have a descriptive title for your project. Write a detailed brief and tell us all you can about your company, your product, the subject you need us to write about, and/or yourself. Remember, just because you understand your company, that doesn't mean that every creative reading your brief will. Help us understand how you see your company (or your products) or your preferences for written work.

Define the problem and define your goals - creatives essentially are problem solvers. Being creative is not something that magically happens - it's a process. If you provide better details - you'll generally receive better solutions to your problem.

You can download a template that will help you prepare an effective project brief when you post your project (the link is immediately below the project description box). Click here to download a copy of the template.

2. HAVE AN OPEN MIND

Unless you want something very specific, don't limit the entries by describing specific written content in your project brief. crowdSPRING gives you an opportunity to draw on the talents and experiences of thousands of creatives from 170+ countries. While you may have a vision, you could be missing out on many other terrific concepts, one of which may be perfect for you! If you're set on something specific, consider describing what you want but inviting creatives to submit other ideas.

If you're not getting what you want, you can post feedback and give further direction. But stay clear of generalities - those types of statements typically leave little room for originality. Bored creatives lead to boring writing, and we want you to get the absolutely best writing possible.

3. SET A FAIR VALUE

The value you give your project will generally be reflected in the quality and number of entries. The amount of your award(s) is a signal to creatives about how much you value your project and how much you value the work we put in to get you outstanding written content. The value you give the project can be expressed in cash money (but it can also be expressed in feedback and well-written briefs - all those things count).

Look to see what awards other buyers have offered for similar projects and if your budget allows, offer amounts you think are fair and reasonable. Adding a second and third award for runner-ups will encourage more work and will give you more choices!

4. LEARN FROM OTHER PROJECTS

Learn from previous projects. You can click the BROWSE link in the header menu and look at prior projects (you can filter and sort to focus on specific types of projects, such as Company Naming or Marketing materials, for example). Note what you like and don't like, find creatives who's work you like and send them a private message inviting them to participate in your project.

5. PROVIDE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK

If you want great results, do your best to provide constructive and timely feedback. A creative can't solve your problem without feedback. Make every effort to provide detailed feedback to everyone, even the entries you don't like. You benefit in two ways. First, creatives will iterate and improve their work to help you find your favorite. Second, creatives will learn a great deal from your feedback. Remember that while you select one or a couple of winners, the rest of the creatives are not compensated for the work in your project. Yet they work very hard to present you with many choices. Help them to learn and to get better by giving them constructive feedback whenever possible.

If you don't provide timely feedback, you're sending a message to the creatives that you don't value your project or their time. Typically, creatives won't participate in projects where buyers are not actively providing feedback.

Don't assume you must be nice. Be professional, be constructive, and when appropriate, criticize constructively. If you don't like the work, make sure you say it. Don't waste the creatives' time by giving them false hope.

6. FOCUS ON THE RIGHT DETAILS AT THE RIGHT TIME

Don't get caught up in details before they become relevant. When your project is for Marketing materials, for example, do not get caught up in figuring out the layout for the content - focus on the content itself. Focus on the details that are most relevant.

7. SCORE ALL ENTRIES

Do not throw around scoring like candy. Typically there will be very few "4" ratings and only one or several "5" ratings - generally the eventual winner. That said, make sure that it's a home-run before you give out 4's and 5's, especially early in a project. Make the creatives work HARD for your appreciation and the golden number. Giving high scores early in a project - unless truly merited - will turn creatives away from your project.

Here is one way you can evaluate entries based on a 5-star scoring scale:

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When scoring, try to score all entries. Remember that creatives will learn a great deal from your scoring. If you don't score entries, you're sending a message to the creatives that you don't value your project or their time. Typically, creatives won't participate in projects where buyers are not actively scoring.

Don't assume you must be nice. If you don't like the work, make sure you score it lower. Don't waste the creatives' time by giving them false hope.

8. DON'T FALL VICTIM TO COMMITTEECIDE

The committee process (so often a litany of compromises over the final look and feel of a product or marketing brochure or other written work) often produces work that is as mushy and bland and predictable as made-from-powder mashed potatoes on a cafeteria tray — and is thus not memorable.

Pick a group of 2-3 (no more than that) people whose opinions you really trust, in-house or not doesn't matter. In fact, people outside your company can be better than insiders. Get their input, weigh it against your own thoughts. Then make your decision. Which leads to…

You're the buyer. Do not let the creative talk you into their work. YOU are the buyer and only YOU know what YOU want. If you aren't 110% satisfied with a work, then don't choose it. And where possible, ask creatives why they've written something in a particular way, why they've suggested certain themes or messages, etc. You've taken the time to write a good creative project brief - ask them to do the same to explain why their work is great!

You make the decision — not the faceless crowd, not the current trends, not even your 2-3 most trusted advisors. Listen to the input, absolutely; do your homework, definitely. In the end though, you decide.

9. CONSIDER PRINTING COSTS

Take printing costs into consideration, if appropriate. This is particularly important if you're looking for written content to put into product brochures, marketing materials, or other content that will need to be printed. Your costs will be impacted by length, use of color, and other factors.

10. CONSIDER THE WRAP-UP PROCESS

Remember that you'll have an opportunity to tweak your favorite written work(s) during project wrap-up. crowdSPRING has specifically built-in a draft step in wrap-up and until you approve the draft, creatives will not be able to provide you with the final deliverables. So focus on the concepts during the project and worry about execution and final tweaks during wrap-up. Don't worry about having the perfect written work at the end of the project or the minutiae of details - you'll have a chance to address those details and perfect the work during wrap-up. Focus your energies on finding the best concept and then work with the creative to execute the perfect written product!

Much thanks to the following talented creatives working on crowdSPRING for their collaborative effort to bring this guide to you: chiz, Jabraulter, MadRooster, Engage, KS_Knight, Typecast, OpenHead, marckohlbrugge, entz, romasuave, jellopudding, nisha0612, ciotog, graphxpro, fackhir, fredK, haetro, holter, DWNees, Rambler001, squarelogo, MGDboston

Last updated: 18-Jul-12 8:12 p.m. GMT