Looking for Professional Writers for Hire? 15 Questions To Ask Yourself
The process of finding professional writers for hire can be daunting. Many entrepreneurs, marketing executives and small business owners resort to writing content themselves because they can’t face posting an ad and evaluating writers, particularly when they’ve been disappointed before.
According to data published in 2018 by Content Marketing Institute, the interviewing and hiring process for a new writer takes an average of 23.8 days. The last thing you want to do is slow down your content marketing momentum when you have buy-in from your partners and executives.According to @CMIContent, it takes on average 23.8 days to find an internal writer 🔍👀. Getting quality content shouldn't be that hard. #ContentMarketing #Marketing Click To Tweet
With the right preparation and strategy, however, finding exceptional professional writers for hire doesn’t have to be a chore. Instead, you can speedily and effectively find professional writers for hire that can boost your online presence and take your content marketing campaigns to the next level.
15 Questions to Consider When Searching for Professional Writers for Hire
To guide your own decision about the best way to launch or scale your content marketing strategy, review the answers to these 15 most common questions businesses have when they hire a content writer. The information you gather from your stakeholders as you work through this guide will pinpoint the right type of content writing service for your business.
1. Do We Have a Content Marketing Strategy?
Without a content strategy in place, you won’t be able to hire a writer that will be able to handle your specific business needs.
The content marketing resource Convince and Convert recommends asking yourself about your goals for starting a blog or content marketing platform. Will the blog serve as the top of the funnel for potential purchases of products and services? Are you trying to build a community around your brand and to connect with your potential audience? Do you simply want to boost awareness of your company and its offerings? Have the answers to these questions before searching for professional writers for hire.
Once you understand your content goals, develop a publication schedule with weekly, biweekly and/or monthly topics that tie into those goals. A content calendar is much more than just a list of article ideas and fuzzy deadlines. This living document should be shared among your project stakeholders and include:
- Identification of which writers for hire will be creating the article content
- Details about where each piece will be published and who is responsible for every step in the publication timeline
- Notes about gaps in the content and a project plan to fill those missing pieces
- Highlights about key events, product releases and other dates that will drive your content milestones
- A bird’s-eye view of your content plan for the entire year
- A workflow that includes approval and input within and across departments where necessary
- Information about regular content types (a weekly Q&A or monthly recipe, for example)
2. Do We Have Existing Content Assets?
If you dig through everything that has been written for your organization, you likely have more content to work with than you thought you did. Just a few of the items that can be updated, rewritten and repurposed by a skilled writer for hire include blog posts, reports, white papers, interviews, press releases, media coverage, original research and data, slide decks, presentations, videos, long-form articles and old web content.
Try to think of at least three ways to use any piece of new content you plan to produce. For example, a research-based white paper can be presented as a series of shorter blog posts, offered as a download in exchange for an email subscription and introduced with a short video that highlights its key points.
Once you’ve identified content assets, you can better create an idea of how much content writing help you need from a professional writer. Will you need a single writer for hire, or multiple professional writers? Do you have the bandwidth to manage the entire project or would it be better suited to utilize a content writing service instead? All of these questions can be considered once you’ve audited your own website for content.
3. Who Is Our Audience?
Developing one or more personas for your desired readers will help your content writer craft content to engage and convert those specific individuals. Ask your team these questions:
- Who is our target audience?
- Why do we want to target this audience?
- What are the main interests of our target audience?
- What motivates our target audience?
- What needs can we fulfill for our target audience?
- What other brands does our audience use to fulfill their needs?
- Where does this audience go to look for news, entertainment and information?
- Does the writer need to know other relevant information to effectively create content for this audience?
Once you have defined your audience, you can gather even more data that allows you to closely tailor your content to this group and to reach them where they already spend time online.
You can also provide these personas to your professional writers for hire so they can target their tone and approach accordingly. A simple buyer persona should include average demographic information for your audience, including but not limited to interests, hobbies, jobs, geographic area, gender and age.
4. How Will We Serve Our Audience?
Ask your team this fundamental question. If you don’t deliver value to the reader, they have no reason to spend time on your site. Examples of ways to provide value include sparking conversation, building a community of like-minded folks, answering common questions about your niche area and providing necessary resources.
If you don’t first define your audience and create personas, you won’t know how to create content they perceive as valuable. Blog writers for hire should always have your brand’s unique value proposition in mind when creating content.
5. Should We Hire In-House Writers for Hire or Outsource the Content Writing?
Some companies decide to hire a full-time or part-time employee dedicated to content writing. If you go this route, you must invest in salary, benefits, equipment and office space for that person. In addition, you may struggle to find the right writer in your geographic area to hire, especially if your business is located in a small town or remote rural area.
When you consider professional writers for hire on a freelance basis, you are not responsible for insurance, equipment and training beyond what your project requires. You will pay either by the project, by the word or by the hour. Although many freelancers and agencies work primarily over email, you can also hold virtual meetings or phone calls when you prefer. Professional content writers who work on a freelance basis are generally more flexible, versatile and affordable than hiring a staff member to write content.
Budget is a key consideration when it comes to professional writers for hire. In general, outsourcing content is much less expensive than hiring a full-time writer. Either way, you should have a target financial number before moving forward with any writing project.
Think about your payment structure as well. For example, some writers and agencies ask for 50% of the total project cost up front and 50% upon completion. For a more in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of hiring an in-house writer for hire vs. an outsourced writer or agency, refer to our guide on the subject.
If you want to DIY your content marketing strategy, make sure you have the time and effort to dedicate to the endeavor. Copyblogger reports that the creation of a short blog post takes about one to two hours for a professional content creator, with writers dedicating an average of five to seven hours for a longer post. If you’re not a writer by trade, you should plan on each of these tasks taking longer than the average.
If you plan to contribute content regularly, especially if you don’t have content writing experience, you’ll see how those hours can add up quickly. If you’re already writing your business’s blog content and have seen limited visitor engagement, you may want to consider trying out a professional writer for hire.
6. What Type of Writers Should We Hire?
When you’ve already developed a strategy and have a content plan, you’re ready to start looking for a writer. However, professional writers for hire represent a broad range of creators with diverse portfolios. Some niches you may consider include:
- Content writers with journalism backgrounds who can deliver fact-based investigative content
- A storyteller who can craft compelling narrative that vibrantly illustrates the true colors of your brand
- Blog writers for hire who focus on creating engaging short-form and long-form posts on a consistent basis
- Ad writers who know how to meet the specific character limit and use keywords in pay-per-click campaigns
- Technical writers who can distill complex topics for your audience for user manuals, instruction guides and similar resources
- Social media writers who can strike the tone your content needs to become infinitely shareable
While many (probably most) content writers do have more than one specialty content type or industry, few are equally adept at every type of content.
7. How Will the Writer Interface With Our Existing Team?
When you need to hire a freelance writer for a project, take time to define the roles and processes required before you start looking for the right person. Decide who will manage communication with and provide feedback to the writer, and make sure that person has the capacity to fulfill those duties. He or she should know how to evaluate good content and should be comfortable giving the writer actionable revisions and asking for rewrites when necessary.
Although professional content writers for hire are generally ready to hit the ground running, they will need direction about your expectations, audience, goals and other content needs. Consider how often you want to have phone or email contact with the writer and what your expectations are for the communication’s length and schedule. You should also decide who will have input into the final content for publication and develop a process for keeping those individuals in the loop.
8. How Can We Evaluate the Professional Writer’s Skill?
Always ask for samples when you hire a content writer. Ideally, the person or content writing agency should have experience relevant to your industry, but even when they don’t, you can still evaluate the general quality of the content they produce. Some factors to look for include:
- A consistent “plot” the reader can follow from the beginning to the end of the piece
- Simple, clear language rather than flowery descriptions and unnecessary words
- Simple, well-constructed sentences and paragraphs
- Easy readability
- A firm grasp of audience
- An engaging style
- Logical organization
You can also give your content writer straightforward questions that will provide insight into their experience. For example, ask how they would define a credible source. If the answers are concerning, you should move on to a different writing agency or freelance writing prospect.
Many content experts recommend asking new writers for hire to produce a sample article. This can give you real insight into how the person or agency would handle an actual assignment. Make sure you ask the individual to write a headline as part of the evaluation because stellar headlines can make or break the number of people who click on your content.
9. Are We Prepared To Produce Long-Form Content?
For a robust content marketing strategy, hire a writer who has experience with long-form content (generally, anything longer than 3,000 words). According to the State of Content Marketing 2019 report by SEMRush, long reads gain three times the amount of internet traffic than shorter articles, along with twice as many shares. They also attract 3.5 times more backlinks from other sites than short-form articles do, which is an important factor in your search engine optimization rankings.According to @SEMRush, long reads gain 3x the amount of internet traffic 👩💻 than shorter articles, along with 2x as many shares. 📊 #ContentMarketing #Marketing Click To Tweet
Longer articles should be carefully structured with H2 and H3 headings that help guide the reader through the article and provide information about your content to search engines. The SEMRush report notes that articles with this type of structure are 36% more likely to perform well in search than articles without these elements. Ask potential writers for hire for samples of long-form content before moving forward.
While you’re at it, encourage your writer to create bulleted and numbered lists. Articles with lists are shared on social media twice as often as articles without lists. How-to and question-and-answer formats are also popular with readers who share content online.
10. What Are Our Search Engine Optimization Goals?
Professional content writers can create content that defines your brand and gives you a voice. Fresh, original content also drives your SEO rankings on Google and other search engines.
Convince and Convert recommends starting with your keywords, thinking of these relevant phrases as the seeds that will allow your content marketing strategy to bloom. The keywords should be descriptive, but not too general or too specific.
Before approaching blog writers for hire, have some ideas about the keywords for which you’d like your company to rank. Use search tools to identify the top 10 sources for each of your main keywords. Familiarize yourself with those sources because they will serve as your main competitors.
A content writing service can help you build a solid strategy around those starting points. You can also try searching the questions your clients most frequently ask. For example, if you are a lawn service company and your customers always want to know how to keep their grass looking green, you may want to try ranking for “keep grass green” and related keyword phrases.
In concert with your SEO goals, think about how you would ideally like the reader to behave when interacting with your site. Do you want to encourage them to sign up for a free product? Subscribe to your newsletter? Share your content? Download an e-book? Clear calls-to-action pinpoint the next steps for your visitors and make content marketing a win-win proposition. You’ll want to make sure you hire professional writers that have the ability to seamlessly integrate a call to action in their writing.
11. Can We Provide an Effective Content Brief?
In the landmark 2007 Timothy Ferriss book “The Four-Hour Work Week,” the author discusses the importance of having a framework in place to communicate with professional writers for hire. Having the following information at hand will simplify the communication process and ensure that your writer can hit the ground running:
- Background information and resources the writer should use to learn about your project
- Demographic details about the audience and desired takeaways
- Content specs, including keywords, keyword frequency, style, tone and length
- Formatting details, such as bulleted lists, headings, links and images
- Appropriate calls to action based on sales funnel position
- Deliverables, deadlines, revision process and document format
Making decisions before you begin hiring writers will help the process go smoothly. Distill these details into a clear, direct, reader-friendly guide that will help your writers deliver engaging, effective content that meets your needs. Defined project objectives, goals and deliverables are essential for a smooth, stress-free relationship with your writing team.
12. Does Our Business Have a House Style?
Using cohesive language across your content will help build brand recognition for your company. If you don’t already have a style guide established for common titles and terms associated with your business, make a decision so you can communicate it to your professional writer.
For example, should your company always be called XYZ Widgets and Whatsits in print, or is it OK for the writer to default to just XYZ after the first reference? In addition, you should also tell the writer if you prefer AP style, Chicago style or another common style guide. If you aren’t sure, professional content writers for hire should be able to recommend a style guide and make adjustments to customize content for your firm.
13. How Will We Measure the Success of Content Marketing Campaigns?
Before you start publishing content, ask yourself how you will measure the return on investment you receive from your content marketing efforts. Do you want high rankings on Google for your keywords? Will you look at leads generated and new email signups? Will you measure the traffic to your online presence? Or will the barometer of success be whether you sold more products or services as a result of your campaign? Knowing the answers will inform the type of content writing you need to meet your goals.
Many companies start with simple tools like Google Analytics. When you install this plug-in on your site, it gathers data about visitors and how they interact with your content. This will allow you to get real-time information about what topics and types of content perform the best with your audience. If the content writer for hire you’ve been working with isn’t delivering high-quality content that has the basic skeleton of rankable content, then it may be time to move on to hiring a different content writing service.
14. Are We Aware of the Red Flags of Using Writers for Hire?
Understanding when professional writers for hire are not a good fit is just as important as knowing what makes a writer a great fit. Even if a person’s experience and portfolio are top-notch, you should still be aware of these common red flags that should encourage you to turn a candidate or agency down:
- Lack of respect for your opinions about content creation
- No specialty areas; even writers who are true generalists usually take on substantial content for one or more industries
- Failure to ask questions or take steps to understand project scope and requirements
- Lack of understanding about research, plagiarism and acceptable resources
Trust your instincts; if something seems off, consider going with a different writer for hire.
15. How Will We Distribute Our Content?
Avoid investing in content marketing without a clear plan of where and how you will publish your work. Do you have a marketing plan in place for your website or blog? Who runs social media marketing for your organization? Refer to the question above where you developed audience personas. Where do those people get their news, information and entertainment, and how can you make sure your content reaches those channels?
You’ll also want to make sure you have a plan for getting the most out of each article your writer for hire produces. Did your writer source other industry influencers that you can then tag on social media to help increase engagement? Are there guest posts you can put on other sites that link back to your article to make sure it starts solidifying external links? Are there other posts on your blog that can link to this blog post to help boost internal linking structures for the term it’s tareting?
Get Your Content Marketing Strategy off the Ground Using Professional Writers For Hire
When you’re ready to take the next step in your first or 50th content marketing campaign, professional writers for hire can help. Here at BKA Content, we work with small businesses and large-scale enterprises alike, with custom content solutions you can scale as needed for your brand. Our team of dedicated account managers and vetted writers makes it easy for you to worry less about your content and more about your business. Stop by our Content Shop to get the feel for our services, or contact our team directly when you’re ready for a comprehensive consultation.
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