How To
11 min read

How To Hire Strong Content Writers

Alexandra Fasulo

June 2, 2022

Social media has democratized what had traditionally been the separate categories of news, advertising, entertainment, or personal communication. Today, everyone can have a platform and have their ideas heard since everything we consume across our phones, TVs, and computers is considered ‘content.’ While the seemingly level playing field allows any brand or individual to gain recognition across a multitude of platforms, it also means that competition is greater than ever, so succeeding at gaining that recognition is difficult. 

Every piece of published content requires verbal communication that has the potential to be accurately crafted by a content writer. 

This article will outline why it is essential for brands to hire content writers and how they can do so successfully. 

man typing on keyboard inside room

Why hire a content writer?

Whether it is an Instagram caption, a YouTube video script, or a long-form blog post, every time a brand communicates verbally online, they are making a statement about their brand voice. They are enacting a marketing strategy that engages a particular audience—whether they intended to or not. 

With each post online comes the opportunity to grow the brand, go viral, or tap into the ideal customer base. It is essential that brands leverage that opportunity through high quality, intentional wording. Hiring a content writer to cover these needs brings several benefits.

1. Boost the quality of your content 

Content writers are experienced in their craft and have usually written for numerous companies already, mastering the art of the ideal brand voice and tone to use in each context. 

The way you would write a Tweet doesn’t necessarily have the same style and tone as a script in a YouTube video, for example. Content writers can write effectively with this knowledge, and develop higher quality communications than someone less-practiced.

2. Increase the quantity of content

With the skill and experience of an expert, your brand or company will be able to produce larger quantities of content due to the writer’s speed. Plus, when someone wearing numerous hats within an organization writes content, it can often fall to the back burner, where it is easy to get off schedule. When you have a content writer, one person is dedicated to the task to ensure diligence, consistency, and quality every single time. 

3. Develop a consistent voice for your brand 

While the style of communication in a TikTok is different than an email blast newsletter, a brand must maintain a cohesive voice, even as it adapts to the tone of each platform. Content writers can successfully manage the verbal branding in a uniform way while remaining appropriate for each context.

4. Benefit from SEO

With an understanding of essential keywords and Search Engine Optimization, content writers can boost a company’s SEO results, which increases business and sales. By using the most effective keywords, the content will reach its target audience and drive engagement and performance. 

How to find a content writer for your business

Step 1: Assess your business needs

Before seeking out a content writer for your business, you must determine precisely what your needs are. Like hiring any other professional, content writers have varied expertise, specialties, niches, and skill sets. 

First, consider what kind of content you need. Is it blog posts, website copy, product descriptions, scripts, social media captions, or a variety of things? This will help determine the business’ needs in terms of the writer’s specialty. If you are looking for blog and website copy, someone with SEO knowledge will be more critical than if you need a copywriter to create scripts for videos. If you are looking for social media captions and email blasts, direct-to-consumer communication will be more important than SEO. 

From there, consider the tone of your brand or business. While there is endless room for variation, often, this will partially be determined by the nature of the business and its industry. An individual entrepreneur or influence would likely have a more personal, relatable tone, whereas that would be inappropriate for an educational institution, for example. 

Narrowing down how you are looking to engage with your audience and the tone you will use—for example, technical, academic, personal, informative, sales-oriented, motivational—will allow you to target a writer with experience in that area. 

Finally, determine the scale and scope of the business needs. Is it one blog post per month for a relatively small audience? Or are you asking for thousands of words of copy per week for a multimillion-dollar business? The answer to this will dictate the level of experience that you will require from your writer, which will also eventually dictate the budget and cost of the service. 

person sitting on chair holding iPad

Step 2: Build a top of funnel pipeline

Once all of your needs are identified, and you know precisely what kind of writer you need, the process of sourcing content writers begins. You can easily develop a pipeline of dozens of writers by using numerous freelance writing marketplaces where content writers post their services, accompanied by short bios and writing samples or customer reviews. Navigating these sites makes it easy to narrow down the writers who will benefit your exact business needs.

Where should I go to find these writers? 

  • Fiverr: As a freelance marketplace with thousands of writers available, Fiverr makes it easy to find someone in your niche and speak to them about the possibility of working together. When you use seller ratings and levels, it is easy to tell who is the most experienced and trusted, and it is also possible to reach out to sellers to gain a link to their portfolio or writing samples. Using this site, you can line up a handful of writers to fill the top of the funnel pipeline. 
  • UpWork: Similar to Fiverr, UpWork is home to thousands of content writers and gives customers the option to post their needs and attract applicants from writers who pitch to complete the service. When you use this method, the business can source content writers who are eager to complete the work and believe they are suited for the desired skillset and niche. 
  • LinkedIn: Using LinkedIn, it is possible to search people by keyword and reach out to them directly or to post a ‘job listing’ that will attract applications.
  • Contra: Like Fiverr, or UpWork, Contra is another freelance platform, but instead of viewing potential writers and assessing them based on reviews, the website hosts writers’ portfolios. You can directly preview their work and style to determine if they may be a strong fit. 
  • Legiit: This platform takes a similar model to Fiverr and allows writers to post specific services so that you can search for exactly what you need, read previous customer reviews, and assess quality by reaching out to them and asking for writing samples. 
  • Social Media: Content writers have profiles across social media platforms, making it easy to source potential candidates and get in touch about projects. There are dozens of Facebook groups dedicated to content writing where potential clients can post their projects and attract worthy writers. Furthermore, platforms like Slack also have channels for content writers and clients to meet. 

Step 3: Reaching out to potential writers and asking for samples

As you go through the platforms listed above, develop your long list of potential writers by asking each for a writing sample. Reading their previous work is the best way to get a sense of what they may be able to offer your business and what their expertise is. 

The key is to get a sample on a topic you are hiring for—for example, if you are a personal training and fitness business, ask them for a sample of writing that they have completed about health and wellness or fitness and exercise. 

Even if the writer hasn’t written on the specific niche you are looking for, a strong writer will still adapt to your needs. If they have no experience within your subject, ask for a few samples so that you can gain an understanding of their range of skills and how those skills may translate when applied to your business area. Or explain the tone you would be looking for and ask for examples that may showcase that. While a given writer may never have written specifically about your field, they may have written in a style similar to the one you are looking for and would be able to translate that expertise to your subject area. 

How do I assess if the sample is good?

This step is entirely subjective and crucial to developing your brand voice and tone. When reading their samples, ask yourself if this is the type of content, tone, voice, and quality you would like your business to produce or if it feels mismatched to your brand intentions. They are probably a bad match if the writer seems to insert humor across every sample, and your brand truly doesn’t have a humor angle. There are so many writers out there that have skills across genres and tones that you need to ensure you are selecting one who feels like a natural fit to your brand’s business identity. 

Step 4: Test out their skills 

Even after seeing samples from writers, many business owners will assign a ‘test’ writing sample to assess a given writer’s fit with their voice and have a baseline way to compare numerous writers against each other. 

What should the test assignment be about? 

The test should allow writers to showcase the skills directly relevant to the content you will ultimately have them create. For example, if you are looking for a copywriter, test them out by giving them a sales page to write. If you are looking for a content writer and want to assess that skill set, assign a blog post to write. You can give the assignment and ask for a standard length 500-word piece about a topic within your niche or your business directly. Typically, writers have a large workload already, so this will be a piece you will need to pay for to make it worth their time and to avoid inadvertently weeding out some of the strongest writers. 

How do I assess the writing?

Keep in mind that the quality of the content is far more critical than the length. Focusing on length will force writers to add ‘fluff’ to fill a word count that is too long for the topic at hand. It is far more valuable to have concise, accurate, and catchy writing than long essays that lack structure and are repetitive.

  • Check for accuracy and attention to detail throughout. Ask the writers to link their sources to check what kind of research they did on the topic and to ensure accuracy.
  • Open the document in Microsoft Word to ensure there are no spelling and grammar mistakes that the writer overlooked. 
  • Use apps like Grammarly to check for grammar and style and scan for plagiarism to ensure that writers didn’t simply copy and paste sections of text from other articles or websites. 

Step 5: Try out small projects first

Once you have completed the process of vetting a handful of writers, depending on your content needs, you will have chosen one writer, or a few, to complete the breadth of work that your company produces. To ensure that you have picked the best possible candidate for the job, assign smaller projects first, to test out the writer’s skills and style. This will help ensure they are a good fit with your business’ daily needs. Rather than having them ghostwrite a full book initially, you should get them to write shorter blog posts, the “About Us” section on your website, or social media captions. This gives them a chance to warm up to your business’ style and tone. You also have the chance to iron out any discrepancies between what the writer is delivering and what you need from them. 

Plus, working with a content writer is about more than just the writing they produce; it is also about finding someone you can trust, rely on, and easily communicate with. It doesn’t matter if a writer delivers great content if they consistently miss deadlines, overlook the assignment details, or are impossible to get in touch with. Starting out with small projects gives you the chance to see their skills in action and see if this is a professional that is compatible with your business’ needs and workflow.  

person using laptop

6 Critical qualities of a good content writer 

Throughout the entire process of seeking a content writer, from reviewing portfolios and samples to assessing initial short-form assignments, there are some essential qualities to look for that a strong writer and successful professional will possess. Here is an outline of a few of those qualities that you will want to seek in whomever you hire:

Why technical writing is important

Like finding a carpenter who knows the ins and outs of woodwork, it is essential to find a writer with a robust technical baseline skill set that includes extensive knowledge of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as a vast vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure, form, and flow. Working with someone who doesn’t have these skills will run the risk of publishing incorrect content full of errors which will significantly degrade the level of professionalism that your business presents. If you are not strong in these skill sets and don’t feel able to assess these qualities, use tools like Grammarly or get the input of another writer who can proofread or review the content to gauge the writer’s technical skillset. 

Creative thinker

Content writing requires creativity, innovation, and problem solving. Often, a business will provide writers with a bare minimum when it comes to an assignment, and in that case, it is up to the creativity of the writer to determine how to align everything to create a successful outcome. Look for someone who demonstrates problem solving skills and the ability to think outside the box. 

Why research skills are important

Find a content writer with strong research skills to ensure that the content produced is accurate. Within each piece they produce, ask them to include links to sources they used to gather the information and make sure they reference major platforms, accredited bodies, and vetted information. They should not be using miscellaneous and unreliable websites. To maintain your own business’ reputation, accuracy is essential, and finding a content writer with research skills will make that easier. 

Clear communicator

Content writers should have the ability to distill detailed or complex information into digestible, comprehensible language. When writing about topics where the business owner may be a subject-matter expert, it is important that a more general and broad audience can understand the content to increase readership, engagement, and business success. It is the content writer's job to be the translator in this process, taking the expert knowledge and reframing it to be understandable, compelling, and relatable to a larger group of readers.

Adaptable 

As discussed previously, it is essential to find a content writer who can adopt your brand’s voice and align the content with the overall identity of the business. It is also vital that the writer can adapt to the business’ needs as they develop and take on new projects as they arise. Although they may be a blog-writing expert, it is ideal if they can adapt to writing your website content or a few social media captions as needed so that you can  maintain a consistent voice across platforms. If the writer is adaptable and has managed to adopt the correct brand tone, they should be able to write for many tasks. 

Deadline-driven

Beyond their actual writing skills, it is essential to find a content writer who is professional and easy to work with. This means that they are transparent about deadlines, the progress of a given assignment, and can meet your expectations. Content writers should be making business run smoother, not disrupting deadlines and causing delays. Ensure that you are working with someone who is easy to get in touch with, understands your communication expectations, and meets your deadlines and needs. 

How much does a content writer cost?

The price of a content writer can vary, but typically they charge based on word count instead of invoicing according to an hourly or flat project fee. Some writers do charge according to those methods, although it is far less common. For a general baseline, a price of roughly $50 - $100 per 1,000 words is typical, although this range can vary depending on several factors, including: 

  1. Experience: More experienced writers naturally charge more for their services than those just starting out, so when determining your needs, it is important to factor in your budget constraints. With a more experienced writer, you will be paying more but are likely to ensure deadlines are met and that they have extensive knowledge and technical expertise. With new writers, there is a risk involved; prices may be lower, but you may land a high quality writer who just happens to be newer to the industry.
  2. Delivery time: Many writers will add a fee or increase the price if your deadline is faster than their typical delivery times. These delivery times vary from writer to writer, but if you are asking for a 1,000-word blog post and need it rushed and delivered in one day, expect that you may need to pay an extra rush fee.  
  3. The complexity of the assignment: Depending on the level of work involved in creating the product, writers will charge a different rate. If it is a longer piece that requires extensive research, the time and effort involved will be greater than a short company bio, for example. For different types of assignments, the price-per-word may vary. 

Hiring the right content writer will transform your business

Hiring a professional content writer will bring extensive strategic opportunities to your business. With fine-tuned and well-crafted copy across your website, publications, and public platforms, your brand voice and communications will be elevated. This will allow you to generate more leads, reach the right audience, gain increased interest, and ultimately make more money. Having a professional writer take over these tasks will not only enhance the quality of all the business’ writing, but it will also free up time for other employees to focus on their specialty, overall business strategy, and development. 

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