Content writing is important for your digital marketing; hiring the right content writer will help draw the desired attention to your business.
It follows that if you desire the right type of attention for your business — via digital marketing — it’s crucial that you hire a talented, capable content writer. Content writing is not as simple as some would think. It takes the right type of content writer to achieve the results you need for your digital marketing and subsequently, your business.
Listed below are seven tips for hiring a content writer for your digital marketing, including a real-life example that shows how and how not to hire a content writer. First, let’s talk about who a content writer is.
What do content writers do?
Content writers produce text for online and print publications and for marketing and corporate communication purposes. These written texts are tailored to suit the peculiar needs of the company.
The right copy will adopt the right tone, style, and language to ensure that it is well received by the intended audience.
Think of a content writer as a doctor of words, and the organizations they write for as patients. Different medications should be prescribed for different needs. As in the case of a medical doctor, a good content writer knows what type of content is suitable for each client.
Seems tricky to be able to identify a good content writer, right? Let’s break it down.
How do you hire a content writer for your digital marketing?
1. Clearly outline the tasks you want your content writer to perform.
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do before you set out to find a content writer.
It’s important for you to know exactly what you need the content writer for, especially if you’re hiring someone virtually. Identify what things will be expected of them, such as how much content will be required of them, whether they will publish the content or simply write it, whether they will design images to accompany the text, or whether they will use search engine optimization tactics or if someone else will be in charge of this.
A good way to ensure that the content writer knows what is expected of them is by communicating your strategy. That way there will be no discrepancies and future conflicts can be avoided.
Be proactive in providing clarity.
The reason why you should clearly define the role is that the lines often get blurry. Content writers end up doing much more than they signed up for, causing conflict between them and their clients. People most often hire content writers to produce content for the following channels:
- posts for blogs;
- copy for email marketing;
- copy for social media pages; and
- other content for the organization.
A colleague once got into a misunderstanding with one of his content writers. The writer had thought that they would only write articles and email marketing copy. The problem started when my colleague (who had just been promoted to head the digital marketing department) assumed that this content writer would also write copy for social media campaigns. They couldn’t reach a compromise and he had to let the writer go. He was new on the job and hadn’t considered the importance of highlighting the details of the job description.
Never assume. Make sure you know the scope of the work. You’ll then be able to narrow down what exactly the content writer will be doing and how much you can afford to pay for it.
2. Seek recommendations.
You’ll rarely go wrong with recommendations. If you don’t know where to start, seek out referrals from others. Find writer groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and ask for help. Better yet, follow writers and see what they post. Study what others say about them and their work. If you can’t get access to some of these groups, speak to colleagues and ask for recommendations.
You can also go on freelancer sites such as Upwork and Freelancer, search for writers and read the reviews about them. This might be difficult, sifting through lists and lists of writers, so it’s probably best to ask colleagues. Asking for recommendations could provide insight into how that particular content writer works, how much they charge, and how a working relationship with them might turn out.
3. Look for a content writer with some experience in your industry.
While content writers can often adapt to various industries, it’s best if you find someone who has some experience in your industry. This eliminates the time it might take them to get used to writing for your industry. You can start to get the results you need sooner rather than later.
Another alternative to dealing with a content writer who is skilled at writing but doesn’t know the technicalities of your business is employee training. You’ll have to pair them with an employee who knows your business.
4. Ensure that they are qualified.
Look for someone with a degree in the humanities or a degree that’s closely related to your industry. This is important because a degree in the former equips them with the skills to be able to deliver quality content in terms of grammar, style, and communication. With the latter, the writer has the technical knowledge of the industry and can produce insight more naturally.
You should also find someone who is well-acquainted with social media platforms and the other platforms where content will be placed.
They should know the importance of social media analytics, branding, and marketing. You don’t want someone writing for your business when they don’t understand how these things work. It’s bound to show in the style and tone of their writing and, of course, this wouldn’t be good for your business. Audiences won’t connect to your message or brand.
5. Review samples of their work.
After you’ve identified a writer you’d like to hire, one of the first things you should request is samples of their work. You want to be sure that they really can do what they say they can.
Another thing you should look for is their ability to sell an idea with their writing. Content writing isn’t just about filling pages with tons of research and opinion. It’s about using these words as a persuasive tool that supports lead generation. No matter the length, your content writer should be able to deliver persuasive content whether they’re writing an article, sales email subject lines, or a product description.
If the writer does not have these skills yet or doesn’t know how to use them in your particular industry, you can either decide to train them or find another candidate. Either way, you’re making the best decision for your business or digital marketing team with your eyes open.
Be careful when asking for a writing test.
Often, there’s no need to ask for a writing test, as their samples would suffice. You can tell whether the candidate is worth hiring or not. If, however, you think you need to conduct a test, do pay the content writer whether you’re using their content or not.
Many times, content writers are scammed into writing for free, under the guise of writing tests. Word gets around fast. Before long, writers will brand your company as one that takes advantage of prospective hires. In the end, you will have done yourself a disservice as the type of writers you’re looking for will go where they won’t feel cheated.
Always check for plagiarism!
When reviewing writing samples, you should check them for plagiarism or copyright infringement. Find a software product that detects plagiarism and intellectual theft. Hiring someone who indulges in plagiarism will only embarrass your organization and hinder your digital marketing efforts.
6. Decide on the job location and be sure to take care of the legal stuff.
As most companies continue to explore other ways of doing work, you might want to consider remote work as a possibility. Most content writers are already working virtually, so you might want to consider having them work from the comfort of wherever they are. But you’ll have to consider remote team communication challenges and how this might affect your startup.
There’s also the option of working on-site or developing a hybrid work model. Content writers can often work from anywhere so, if you’re trying to save on office space, there’s perhaps no need to have them work on-site.
Be sure to communicate all legal technicalities. Have a contract drawn up. Let the prospective hire know how they will be paid, when, and what the other terms of the agreement are. You should both agree to the terms before appending your signature and send them a copy of the executed contract for their records.
Having a contract lets everyone involved recognize the implications of contravening the agreement. It encourages the signatories to fulfill their own end of the deal and protects you from legal battles. Things to include in the contract include:
- a clear definition of the services the content writer will render;
- the duration of the contract;
- how much you will pay the writer;
- rights, ownership, and royalties (if any);
- termination agreement; and
- liabilities, and the jurisdiction responsible for conflict resolution.
7. Pay your content writers well.
The turnover rate for content writers is high. This is often caused by two problems; content writers (who are often freelancers) have their hands in too many pies and content writers are often paid poorly. Because of these factors, many are constantly on the lookout for a job that can pay their bills.
If you don’t pay your content writer well, you will likely need to hire someone else within a short time. Turnover will impede the progress of your digital marketing operations and will probably be more expensive than the cost of paying your content writer well.
Getting used to your new content writer might take a while, just like it might take you some time to get used to a new doctor or a new shoe, but you can both be in sync after a while.
Content writing is a creative skill. It can easily be affected by poor working conditions. Do your best to keep your content writer loyal to your brand. If they feel good about it, they will write well about it.
Here are a few simple things you can do to keep content writers loyal to your brand:
- Provide time to get acquainted with your business.
- Make progress gradually; don’t set standards too high that they might struggle to attain.
- While conducting a performance assessment, motivate them by applauding successful efforts.
- Create a favorable working environment that boosts creativity.
- Make sure remuneration is adequate.
- Keep your writers informed of new developments.