In 2016 content writing is at the centre of all successful marketing campaigns so it is no longer acceptable to dismiss it as a secondary need for your brand. The text on your website, your email funnels, social media campaigns, landing pages, headlines, banners and of course your blogs, all need to grab and retain attention.
If you’re running a small business this can be a real challenge because recruiting an in-house professional writer can be very expensive, yet you know how important it is for your brand to produce high quality content.
A freelance writer could be a complete life saver for your business but only if you hire the right one. As a writer and content manager, I’m going to give you 6 tips for hiring a freelance writer to rock your brand.
- Check your values match
There are thousands of freelance writers out there so first of all you need to narrow your search to a small selection of potentials. The responsibility here is on you to take the time to have a quick chat with prospective writers, either on email or via Skype. This is not an interview as much as it is a chat to see if your writers understand your business and its values. Encourage your writer to ask plenty of questions to ensure that they fully understand your brand and the message you want to convey to readers. Most importantly, make sure that your personalities match. It is essential that you will be able to enjoy a professional, fun and responsive relationship with your chosen writer.
- Check writing samples
Don’t be afraid to ask for a variety of published samples from prospective writers. An experienced writer will have no problem in sharing these with you and it will give you a chance to check not only the quality but also the style of writing. Anyone can claim to be a great content writer but you need to see the physical proof! If you are working in a niche industry such as finance, ask your potential writers if they have written within this industry and request work samples so that you can get a feel for whether they could be a match for your brand. A quick tip here, never ask for free articles from professional writers! If in doubt, agree a payment for a one-off article so that you can decide if you want to proceed.
- Cheap isn’t best
You know the expression “pay peanuts get monkeys”? This often applies to content writing! Search on sites like Upwork or Freelancer.com and you will find thousands of writers from around the world. Many of them will be offering content writing services cheaply, such as a 500 word blog piece for just $5. Let’s get one thing straight… an experienced writer, providing original content will charge a lot more than this! This is because an experienced content writer will not be copying content, will probably be a native English speaker, will understand SEO and will take the time to create a piece which suits the voice of your brand. Cheap content can devalue your brand, damage your SEO, prevent you from being successful and even land you in copyright trouble.
- Discuss terms
When it comes to terms such as payment, freelance writers will have different rates and ways of measuring completed work. Some will charge per hour whilst others will charge for the number of words produced. It is important to establish an agreement early on and stick to it. If you are only able to pay by bank transfer but your writer can only accept paypal then it is necessary to iron this out at the beginning. Similarly, be clear about the quantity of work you will be expecting and the deadlines to ensure your writer is comfortable in meeting them. If you agree on 3 blog pieces per week and then suddenly increase it to 10 then you need to be fair in your expectations. Similarly your writer needs to understand your terms of payment and deadlines to avoid frustrations later.
- Communication is key
Once you have hired a freelance writer, start slowly with the assignments you are requesting and remember that communication is key. If your brief for each blog is sketchy or inadequate then your writer will not have the necessary direction to complete the tasks. When I assign content to a writer I always include the following in my brief:
- Required word count
- Style of the piece
- Where it will be published (include a link if possible)
- Level required- eg beginner/intermediate/advanced
- The subject heading
- The deadline
- The CTA (call to action) of the piece
Give constructive feedback so your writer can incorporate your ideas into future pieces, however try to allow your writer to exercise creativity.
- Hire more than one writer
If your content plans are big (and they should be!) then it may be wise to hire more than one writer. It is important that you consider future workloads and create an efficient and reliable workflow. It is also important to take into account times when your writer may be unavailable due to holidays or illness and your content needs to keep churning during this time. You can take two approaches with this. The first is to hire writers who have similar styles or are able to adapt to one brand style so the style is consistent. The second is to assign different tasks to different writers- eg one writer focuses on the fun blogs whilst the other writes your technical eBooks or manuals. However you do it, it’s important to get all your writers aligned to your brand and its overall strategy.
By Charli Day, Writer and Content Manager