Fear of terrible content
I bet you'd be lying if you said you weren't afraid of the repercussions of bad blog content. Major brands constantly make the news for social media posts and content marketing gone horribly awry. While 71% of marketers may be increasing their content, the smart ones are being selective about the quality and quantity they publish.
Whether you're looking to bring on the right freelance blog writers or considering adding a full-time staffer to your marketing squad, here are some ways to determine just who's qualified to represent your organization to the outside world:
1. Writing Samples
We're not saying your potential writer needs to have samples of their work published in places like Forbes or the New York Times, but you should be very hesitant if a writer can't provide samples of their work. In addition to having a solid grasp of spelling and grammar, your writer's samples should:
- Cite high-quality resources
- Write in an engaging and interesting voice
- Provide some evergreen or actionable value
2. SEO Knowledge
A writer who claims to understand SEO isn't always what you want. SEO best practices continue to change drastically, which is why it's most important to hire someone who's committed to keeping up with the pulse of search engines.
3. Compelling Storytellers
Former journalists and aspiring fiction writers are often powerful candidates for blog writers, especially in boring industries. If your content is struggling to gain notice, hiring someone with a knack for turning boring facts into a compelling narrative could be just the ticket you need.
For more information on why stories matter more in the age of the internet, check out Why Storytelling Matters: A Data-Driven Explanation.
4. They're Avid Readers
If you ask an industry insider what their favorite blogs and educational resources are, you should never hear stony silence. In fact, that's a terribly dangerous sign. As Nico Lang points out, writers need to read, a lot, in order to get any better at their craft. Many of the world's most talented blog writers are insatiably curious. That same curiosity is what's driven thought leaders like Ann Handley to such great heights.
5. Research Skills
If a prospective freelance writer is an ineffective researcher, your content will suffer. They'll fail to incorporate the newest data and case studies, and they'll be far slower than they need to be. The resulting product's probably not going to be especially authoritative, either.
Today's writers for the web need the ability to harness the right resources, quickly. Fact-checking and a passion for accuracy in their words are also crucial.
6. A Social Following
Writers should amass a following. There's plenty of talented people penning great stuff in secret, but they're hardly content marketers. Your blog writers should know how to write blogs, eBooks, and whitepapers that are easy to promote, which is why a strong social following is an excellent sign.
7. A Thick Skin
Everyone - and I mean everyone - makes mistakes from time to time. it happens. However, your writer's going to need to be accepting of criticism in order to improve. Besides, people on the internet can be cruel. Make sure your writer is open to constructive criticism, and ready to ignore any destructive haters.
8. Healthy Respect for Deadlines
Your freelance writers should never be too flaky or easily distracted to hit the dates on your content calendar. Your content marketing strategy will quickly plummet if you accidentally hire someone who always fails to deliver on time. Make sure your potential writers are prepared to deliver consistently, and don't hesitate to make your feelings about deadlines known.
9. Some Graphic Design Skills
Really excellent blog writers are also proficient graphic designers in basic tools like Canva or Skitch. Hiring someone who can deliver quality visual content will be a huge bonus to your business!
10. Industry Experience
Is it possible for blog writers to create content for industries they know nothing about? Likely, but it's a lot more difficult. Hiring a freelancer who already has in-depth knowledge of trends, issues, and opportunities in your industry can mean your training efforts will be a lot simpler and more streamlined.
Did you love this read? Check out another recent hit, 10 Super Tips for Managing Freelance Writers.