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Many surf tourism businesses such as surf schools and surf houses are often looking for ways to save cash. And one of the most popular ways to do this is to hire an intern to help you create surf content.

Interns, while often very green in terms of their surf knowledge, have a lot to offer in terms of surf content creation. And, with only a small yet considered bit of guidance from you, they can produce some really killer surf-centric content that will help your business attract more customers.

In saying that, it can be really hard to find the time to coach your intern to create good surf-related content. Plus, the less they know about surfing, the more you’ll need to invest in them. For the patient peeps amongst you, this is no problem at all. But you probably won’t have excess time if you’re focused on getting your business off the ground or expanding into a new area.

So to ensure that you get the most out of your optimistic, enthusiastic and presumably doe-eyed intern, here are a few tips that can be utilised by any and all surf hospitality brands.

Set clear expectations from the beginning

One of the fastest ways to reach rock bottom is by not setting clear expectations right from the get-go.

If you don’t provide them with a solid idea as to what the role involves, there’s a possibility that they’ll end up creating surf content that’s completely off-brand (or worse – they’ll plagiarise someone else’s work).

So before they even start writing, make sure your interns understand your brand’s mission and values inside out. This way, they’ll be able to produce surf content that is on-brand and in line with what you’re trying to achieve as a business.

Another important thing to bear in mind is that quality trumps quantity every single time. So rather than asking them to churn out a large volume of subpar content, tell them that you want to produce fewer pieces that are truly exceptional.

This will not only save you time in the long run, but it will also reflect positively on your brand.

Have frameworks for different types of content

While faster isn’t necessarily better, a few shortcuts here and there will make your life way easier. And one of the best surf content creation shortcuts is to make sure you have different frameworks for different types of content.

For example, if you’re writing a “How To” blog article, you will need a different structure than if you’re writing a Facebook ad. By having these frameworks already set up, it’ll be much easier and faster for your intern to pump out great surf content on a regular basis.

Of course, you don’t want your content to sound like a robot wrote it. So make sure that your intern is able to add their own voice and flair to each piece. But having that basic framework will help you get the ideas flowing quickly so you can move on to the fun part – creating awesome surf content!

Give constructive feedback when appropriate

Contrary to popular belief, people don’t melt into a puddle when they’re given feedback… so long as that feedback is both realistic and delivered in a way that’s respectful.

When critiquing your intern’s work, keep this in mind. If you’re too negative, they’ll get defensive and won’t want to listen to you; but if you’re too positive, they may become complacent and think their work is perfect just the way it is.

Try to find a balance, and be as specific as possible when giving feedback. This conveys to your intern exactly what needs to be improved. They’ll then be more likely to take your suggestions seriously.

You’ll know that your approach has worked when they don’t make the same mistake again or they come to you with questions on how to improve their work in the future. Remember, the goal is to help them become better content creators, not to make them feel bad about themselves!

One final tip: avoid using “you” statements when critiquing someone’s work. For example, don’t say “You didn’t do this right”. Say something like “I noticed that this wasn’t included”. This makes a big difference in the way your feedback is received… even if it may seem like a small change.

Take the time to learn their strengths and weaknesses

Even though the title of “intern” never changes, the person to whom it’s applied to does.

For this reason, you need to remember that this young, ambitious and adventurous person isn’t just seeking a place to crash for the summer and surf. They’re also looking to grow as human beings and learn some tricks of the trade.

With that in mind, you need to give them the right tasks that will help them learn. And to do that you need to learn what their strengths and weaknesses are. This is a crucial aspect of running any business with staff whether they’re paid or unpaid. But with interns, it’s even more critical because they’re still learning and growing.

So take the time to get to know them, what makes them tick and how they learn best. One way to do this is to take them for a surf session – just you and them. By doing so, you’ll be able to see first-hand how they react under pressure and in different situations. Do they need more guidance or are they happy to go it alone?

This will give you a good starting point for working out how to get the most out of them – and help them create killer content for your surf school, surf house or surf camp business.

Make sure they have access to basic online tools

While a professional content creator might be able to create killer content with very little digital assistance, somebody just starting out will likely need all the help they can get – and that’s where you come in.

As their “employer”, it’s your job to make sure they have access to (and know how to use) any digital tools they might need to create great content. This might include:

  • A good word processing program (like Microsoft Word or Google Docs)
  • A reliable way to save and store their work (like Dropbox or Google Drive)
  • A basic understanding of HTML and CSS
  • An idea of what kind of content will perform well on which platform (for example, longer pieces on Medium or Instagram Stories for in-the-moment updates)
  • Access to WordPress or Squarespace
  • An SEO plugin or app like Surfer SEO

With the right online content creation tools and some guidance, they’ll be well on their way to creating content that will make your surf school, surf house or surf camp look good (and get you more bookings)!

Encourage them to learn about surf culture

Let’s be honest… the biggest appeal for interns working at a surf school, surf house or surf camp is probably the opportunity to spend their days hanging out at the beach and catching some waves. But if you want them to create content that will really resonate with your target audience, it’s important to encourage them to learn about (and understand) surf culture.

The best way to do this is by giving them plenty of opportunities to immerse themselves in the surfing lifestyle – whether that’s taking part in a group surf lesson, reading some of the more famous surf quotes or simply hanging out at the beach house and chatting with guests from all over the world.

The more they understand surfing culture, the better equipped they’ll be to create content that will speak to your audience. And the more your content speaks to your target group, the more likely they are to want to reserve with you.

Consider rewarding them for hitting certain KPIs

Ok, ok… I know that your big appeal for hiring an intern is probably that you can pay them diddly squat and still get a lot of work out of them. But if you really want to get the best content possible from your intern, it might be worth considering rewarding them for hitting certain KPIs (key performance indicators).

For example, you could give them a free legrope or rash vest if they manage to increase your social media following by X number of people in a month or get Y number of website visitors to click through to your booking page. Alternatively, you might give them a day off or even allow them to borrow one of your vehicles if they reach their targets.

While it might cost you a little bit of money in the short term, consider it an investment in the long-term success of your surf school, surf house or surf camp.

Besides, if they do a really great job, you might even decide to keep them on permanently (or at least offer them a paying gig once their internship comes to an end)!

Allow them to exercise creative freedom

Last but certainly not least, you should step back and trust that the intern you’ve hired has the creative nouse to produce content that’s anything but dull!

Who knows?

They may have a hidden knack for photography or videography that you never would have discovered if you’d been micro-managing their every move. They might also have a flair for writing that gets your target audience fired up in a way you never could have imagined.

So rather than micromanaging their every move, give them the freedom to experiment and see what they can come up with.

Not only will this help to ensure that the final product is something you’re happy with, but it’ll also give your intern a sense of ownership over their work – which is sure to result in better quality content.

So there you have it!

At the end of the day, your intern might turn into the best employee that you’ve ever had, so it’s important to treat them well and give them the opportunity to create great content for your surf school, surf house or surf camp. By following the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to achieving this.

Thanks for reading!