As companies weigh their bets on the best writer for them, they might request a writing sample. This type of assignment gives them more insight about the writer’s abilities. It helps to ensure the candidate can write clear, compelling content in a way that’s consistent with their company’s voice and tone. In this post, I take you through a writing and editing exercise to create a blog post about application analytics. I had some experience in writing about analytics, but this topic was completely new to me. Fortunately, my process is tried and true.
The writing assignment
For this exercise, I had to write a 500-to-700-word blog post about white labeling application dashboards. The company, which is known for its analytics platform, wanted the post based on the following content:
- A thought leadership video from one of the company’s subject matter experts (SME)
- A customer testimonial video about their experience with the concept using the customer’s product
- A company resource page on white labeling
I had three days to complete the assignment, along with a shorter landing page writing assignment, and return it for evaluation. So I got to work.
Initial research into application analytics
At first glance, unfamiliar topics can seem overwhelming. But they’re not, if you start digging deeper to learn what they’re about and find a way to connect them to known concepts.
To begin, I watched the two videos. They both had strong, valuable messages, but the amount of information wasn’t enough. I also read the resource page on white labeling. But, I needed more information to help me connect:
- The scope of the company’s mission
- Their products and how customers were using them
- The importance and value of “white labeling” to their customers
To learn about the company and its portfolio, I reviewed their site for relevant content. Because time is of the essence when writing, I didn’t read in-depth, but rather scanned the information, slowing down to read only the key sentence or paragraphs that could help me build the post. This information included their existing related blog posts, related product marketing information, and product documentation.
A deeper understanding of white labeling
I also dug deeper to understand the concept of white labeling. I was concerned with the word “white” in that it might give off a negative connotation and offend People of Color. As a writer, I factor in cultural awareness to ensure a positive user experience for the prospective audience when they read the content I’ve written. This level of sensitivity is valuable whether your content is for a regional, national, or global audience.
In my search of the company’s website, white labeling appeared to be a topic that customers were already familiar with. After a Google search, I learned that white labeling was a concept broadly understood in business and industry. Fortunately, it wasn’t related to race at all but rather a practical concept. The term stemmed from the use of a blank white label that record companies used on vinyl recordings of music from new artists that they sent to radio stations.
Eventually I had just the right amount of information to help me start crafting a blog post.
Word crafting the post
When I write, I tend to start somewhere in the middle of the piece. It helps me to build the key points and weave sections around it.
One of the videos outlined three tips for white-labeling but in a negative tone, that is “don’t do these things” versus “do these things.” I had seen other tips for white-labeling in a blog post on the company’s site, so I ended up combining those tips with the ones in the video to create a more complete list of tips. I also worded them in a positive tone that would enable readers to envision the possibility of white labeling for their own application.
Next, I went into the customer experience and summarized what I could from the video. I included a customer quotation but edited it for a stronger message and added a comment to the reviewers. In my comment, I stated that, if this was an actual blog post, I would let the customer know I edited their words and would seek their approval with any changes before publishing.
The post still needed a section that could lead into the two paragraphs I had just written. In thinking about the audience and keeping in mind that not everyone understands the concept of white washing, I wrote an overview-type section that enabled me to factor in the history of white labeling back to the music industry. Besides, I always like to tie a bit of pop culture into my posts when I can, so this seemed like the right catch for me to use in the introduction.
A summary never seems like enough to end a blog post. I always try to end with some type of call to action (CTA). The CTA in a blog post helps to keep your audience’s interest and builds traffic to other topics while they’re there. The company didn’t normally use a CTA for its posts, so I decided to go ahead and create one of my own. For this post, I included the links to the two videos as well as links to key content pieces from the company that included white labeling.
The polishing process
My rough draft was complete, but my work wasn’t done. I still needed to polish it with a solid edit. I’ve discovered I view my writing more objectively when I step away from it for a few hours or even sleep on it.
To keep myself on schedule for this project, I used a two-phased editing approach. The first phase involves a heavy edit with rewriting, reorganizing, and reflowing. It’s where I really carve out the words to get just the right mix and order. The second phase is light and doesn’t allow for much rewriting unless something just doesn’t make sense. It’s more like a proofread to make any final tweaks. If I spend any more time than these two phases allow, I’d end up rewriting the whole thing. No one has time for that!
I felt confident in my abilities to provide the company with a solid post and delivered it ahead of time. The post included:
- An SEO friendly title and headings
- A catchy introduction
- Practical information in a scannable format
- A CTA to learn more information about the topic
The company was so pleased with my work, my style, and my approach, they invited me to keep writing for them. And, I still am.
Keep reading to see the final result of my application analytics blog post.