If you’re a business owner or simply someone trying to run a website, you know very well how overwhelming this can be at times. Content curation, content writing, social media management, website optimization, hosting – we better stop here and we didn’t even get to other areas of your business. The point is, instead of spending hours upon hours conducting research and writing content, you’re much better off hiring someone else to do that for you.
Time is money. Which means, instead of spending all that time on creating content, why not hire a professional that will do it better than you ever could? Even though outsourcing may seem expensive at first, it certainly pays off in the long run. In fact, outscoring content writing can turn out to be a great investment.
Which brings us to the next, and most important, part of this article. What to look for when hiring a content writer?
- Skill Level
Before you even consider hiring someone, ask for samples of their work. Ideally, you’d want the writer to send you a sample that is at least somewhat related to your business. A great copywriter can be terrible at storytelling, but great at technical writing and vice versa. When you’re evaluating the writer’s skill level, also pay attention to things like spelling, grammar, flow, readability and their ability to capture the attention of the reader.
- Experience in Your Niche (Industry)
A writer may excel at writing landing pages, but have little to no experience with technical writing. There are thousands of great content writers out there, but only some are good and experienced enough to handle your project. Someone who’s used to writing about business and finance, probably won’t do a great job producing content related to fitness. A great way to make sure you find a good writer is to come up with a very specific and detailed job description. It’s important to make sure everyone’s on the same page before working on a project together. Ask them questions and let them ask you questions. Communication is important.
You get what you pay for. Hiring a content writer is an investment, an investment that can pay off tenfold if you’re willing to put the money in. Good, experienced content writers cost money. Even if price is a factor for your business, try to view this as an important investment (which it is) rather than just “throwing some content up on the website”. A good writer will write compelling content that captivates the reader, regardless of the topic.
- Turnaround Time
Do you need someone who can get content back to you within 24 hours or are is your business not dependent on deadlines? Communicate with the writer and create a schedule you’re both comfortable with. Good content writers have a tone of steady clients, so don’t be surprised if they aren’t able to squeeze you into their tight schedule sometimes. Establish boundaries and a turnaround time that works for both. Make sure to include this in your job description.
- Portfolio and Referrals
Does your writer have a very specific style? Can they write in multiple voices? Do they conduct thorough research? Which topics are they most comfortable with? Ask the writer to tell you about themselves and their writing before signing the papers. If possible, contact their previous clients or read some reviews. Most content writers have a website up, so you can take it from there and do a thorough background check of your writer. Asking for contact information of a couple of people they’ve worked with in the past will also help make up your mind.
Once you narrow your list of potential content writers, it’s time to pick out the best of the best. Asking for referrals, establishing the price per word and assessing the writer’s skillset is pretty much common sense, but after you narrow the list down you’ll probably want to conduct a short interview with potential employees. Instead of sticking to cliché interview questions (you’d probably have answers to most of them by this point anyway), consider asking these 5 questions:
1) What book have you read recently?
You must read in order to write well. Good content writers are avid readers. Don’t let them weasel out of the question by naming a few popular business books. Ask about their favorite piece of literature. What do they like the most about it? What are their favorite writers?
2) What is, in your opinion, the difference between content and copy?
Content is value-oriented, while copy is sales-oriented. Every writer knows that, but it’s always good to get an actual, honest answer from a writer. Every writer views copy and content differently (even though these two categories often overlap) and finding out how they feel about his will help you decide whether this is the right person for the job or not.
3) How do you optimize content?
Website content optimization is a must and most content writers nowadays are familiar with at least the basics of SEO, but finding out how a particular writer goes about optimizing the content for search engines (while not ruining the user experience) can show to be very valuable later on.
4) What is your writing process?
Ask them to describe their writing process. This is a great way to gain some insight into their personality, as well as work ethic. Ask the writer to tell you about their writing process, even about their work environment and personal schedule.
5) Can you recommend a website, within my industry, with great content?
Clearly, this will require the writer to do some research (unless they’re somehow familiar with your industry or brand), but once they answer the question and come up with a website or two with great content, you’ll know whether this person is going to work for you or not. A good writer can smell well-written content that sells a mile away.