The Specifics of the Writer Hiring Checklist
Your must-have basics are now covered, so what’s the next step? Determining which specific skills and characteristics a writer must bring to the table to ensure they’re the right fit for your organization or agency
Subject Matter Expertise
It can be difficult to find writers who specialize in a specific industry or who have a substantial background in niche subjects. You may find talented “generalists” who are very good at research and can deliver well-written pieces, but is that enough for you? Readers can be keen authenticity detectors, so writers who have a deeper understanding of what a company offers bring more to the inbound or content marketing arena.
All great writers have their own unique voice. Content writers, though, must use that voice to align with a brand’s message. It means thinking about the audience they are writing for and the desired goal of your marketing campaign. One great way to “test drive” a writer is to ask them to familiarize themselves with existing content on a website and then write a piece that reflects its tone. Of course, if you’re looking for a writer to establish that tone, you’ll want to find a writer who’s up to that task.
Inbound marketing depends on clear and digestible content. Readers want to know a brand is an industry leader, but they want the information delivered in plain language that’s easy to understand. Good writers understand the rules of writing and are familiar with major style guides like the AP Stylebook or Chicago Manual of Style. Much more than grammar and punctuation guides, they also address issues like layout, formatting, or citations.
Even if you use a go-between like a content creation service, it’s important to have a good line of communication with the writers who work for you. A writer should feel comfortable asking questions that can help them write better, more relevant content. Most writers do not do their best work in a vacuum, and the best ones will look to the client as a partner who shares the goal of creating valuable content. Make sure the communication process with a writer is easy and open, and that he or she understands what’s expected.
Revisions are an important part of the writing process and it’s important to establish expectations and timelines for them. Revisions and writing fees often go together, and it’s a part of the process you’ll need to keep in mind when formulating your content production budget. In other words, if you hire writers at the lower end of a rate scale, you may find you will be doing some of the revisions yourself. In fact, many companies use freelance writing services to generate first drafts that are then revised in-house to match a brand’s style and tone. Decide ahead of time what you want from the writers you hire.
Writing for SEO purposes is about creating great content that is valuable and enjoyable for audiences to read while also attracting the search engines like Google who are responsible for ranking a site. Writers who understand how SEO works are worth their weight in gold. Search queries – the words potential leads type into a search box – are extremely valuable, providing publicity, revenue, and exposure far beyond other channels such as social media.
While no writer must understand SEO, for the purposes of content marketing, it’s in your best interest to find one who does. At a minimum, a content writer should understand the basics like writing unique, non-plagiarized content, keywords for ranking well on SERPs, and hyperlinking and backlinks, which search engines put a huge emphasis on.
Last, but certainly not least, how much do you pay a freelance content writer? The question lacks a simple answer, as fees can vary based on expertise and the work involved. Factors that affect pay rates include type of assignment (website copy, blog posts, eBooks, etc.) and the amount of research required. It can be tempting to go with writers who are willing to work for the lowest rates, but that can end up being a costly mistake. Here’s why.
You’re hiring a content writer to tell your brand’s story. Big or small, every business in today’s user-driven world needs to establish its brand as an industry leader offering the most valuable solution to a customer’s problem. Great content is integral to a brand’s success because it builds audience trust and wins business. Paying for qualified freelance writers, then, is necessary to boosting a brand’s bottom line. Always think in terms of quality first, as today’s search engine algorithms continue to be tweaked to seek out relevant content, not keyword-stuffed web pages or blog posts.
The two most common ways freelance writers get paid is word count and an hourly rate. It is possible to find great content writers to work within your budget, especially if you’re in a position to offer steady work to a writer with expertise in your subject.