Hiring Fantastic Content Writers: The Ultimate Guide
No matter if you’re trying to get an ideal content-publishing schedule, get more variety, have an expert voice, or just don’t have time to write yourself, hire a content writer and you’ll find it pays dividends.
However, there are an awful lot of hacks in the writing world, and you need to know what to look out for if you don’t want to get burned with AI-written content, spun articles, plagiarism, sub-par English, or any other kind of inferior content when you decide to hire a new writer.
We’ve worked with loads of writers and content producers over the years and learnt all of the tricks regarding what to look for. We’ve had some A-team hits and some Z-list misses, and in this article we’ll cut to the chase and tell you how to save time by getting the right hire first time around.
The Best Sites for Hiring a Content Writer
There are tons of avenues for you to find high quality writers through, with specialists for every field of knowledge and fitting every budget. Some of the most tried and tested are:
Problogger – The quality is very high here. Unlike some other sites, when you place an advert here, most of the respondents are likely to be suitable.
iWriter – Another high quality way to get reliable custom articles from established writers.
Upwork – Teeming with freelancers at affordable rates, you can browse through individuals yourself or post an ad and filter through those who respond.
Scripted – Only the top 2% of freelance writers who apply to Scripted get accepted, so you can be sure that you’ll be getting a vetted writer if you go through them.
Blogs and Article Aggregation Sites
You no doubt have some favorite bloggers, read about things related to your business/niche online, or perhaps you’re into sites like Medium and come across poignant content on the regular. If and when you do come across an author you like who will be able to write something relevant to your site, you can invite them to do a guest post.
Writers on platforms like Medium will often be particularly enthusiastic about external work since many of them are hobbyists who haven’t found a way of really breaking into proper writing work yet, so you might just find yourself a rising star if you decide to hire them as a content writer!
There are several platforms for buying pre-written articles on a range of the most popular topics. These can be good in a pinch or for one-offs when you need to fill a gap in the publishing schedule, but we would advise not relying on them too heavily as the quality control is poor and many will need polishing to meet your standards. If you don’t have time to search for and hire a writer though, these can be a life-saver.
Reddit and Forums
If you’re open to considering more unconventional routes, you can always keep an eye open for interesting writers on Reddit, forums, and other social media. While most of what people write and post to sites like these are internet mulch, you can come across some very insightful longer-form comments and threads which are clearly being contributed to by people who know their stuff and can string a sentence or two together. There’s never anything to lose by shooting them a message and propositioning them with some freelance work if you really like the cut of their jib – the worst they can do is say no, and most people will be flattered that you asked!
If you’ve got a website up and running, you may already have been getting approached by freelancers and contractors looking for work in writing, SEO, etc. With a brand new website/domain, there won’t be many and the quality of their services will likely be suspect.
However, once your domain authority (You can check your domain’s authority rating here) starts getting past 30, you should start to see a spike both in the messages you’re getting and the quality of the senders. Having a quality website means attracting attention as people will find it a boon to be associated with you, and of course, if you’re getting approached by high-quality writers, it’s a boon for you too!
What Should You Look For In a Writer?
First and foremost, as with any other product – when you’re looking to hire a new content writer, you need to balance their quality with their cost! These two factors vary tremendously within the writing community, and while it’s certainly not 1:1 (you’ll get some expensive duds and some cheap superstars), to some extent you’ll get what you pay for.
At a minimum, they should have a native level of the language you want them to write in, and unless you employ an editor or proofreader, they’ll need to have an above-average grasp of grammar, punctuation, etc, as well.
If you’re someone who needs quick turnarounds, location and timezones may be something to take into account.
They’ll need a style and tone of voice which not only reads well but fits with your brand and the kind of content you expect them to put out, but most importantly they’ll have knowledge and passion for the topics you give them. A great writer who has to write about something they hate and know little about may well give worse results than a mediocre peer who is writing about their favorite subject!
Always ask to see past work, and on sites which have reviews, give them a quick scan to check that other people have been happy with the work done and no issues like ghosting, missed deadlines, or plagiarism have popped up.
How Much Self-Promotion Should You Allow?
If you’re letting guest posts and contributors onto your blog, how much should you let them promote themselves? Simply having a published article to their name gives them some level of publicity, but many will be hoping for a bit more than that.
If they’re a well-respected person in the niche with a ton of value to add, then in general you can let them self-promote as much as they want. On the other hand, if it’s an obscure no-name writer self-promoting themselves, it will probably go down badly with most audiences.
Qualities To Look for in B2B Copywriters
With B2B copywriters, the standards and stakes can be higher since corporate clients are expecting slick, professional content that’s a cut above the average consumers’ fare. Previous experience in either the particular clients’ industry or a similar sector at an executive level will be particularly important here, and being able to write naturally in the tone of industry peers means that their work will be more readily accepted.
Look for to hire a content writer with excellent communication skills, a natural grasp of jargon, and the ability to be influential through their writing. This level of professionalism is what we want at B2B, more knowledgeable persuasiveness and fewer ‘tie downs’, ‘teasers’, and click-bait tactics.
What Makes an “Expert” Writer?
There’s a distinction that should be made between subject matter experts and those who can actually write well on a given topic. Subject matter experts in certain fields often won’t be able to write content well or simply won’t have the time or interest in doing so – after all, they’re too busy doing work in their subject – medical research, engineering, etcetera!
Expert writers, on the other hand, will be adept at writing about an industry vertical despite not necessarily being subject matter experts in terms of their education or work history.
What we look for when we hire is the quality of the writing. It’s the produced result that’s important. We’d pay extra for commercial content, but most writers tend to know their market rate, so we judge on value over price.
During the hiring process, keep in mind that the most important thing should always just be the quality of the writing itself. Don’t get distracted – their accolades, educational achievements, where they’ve been published, etc, are all secondary to their actual ability to make content that fits your needs and works well. We’d pay extra for commercial content, but most writers tend to know their market rate, so we judge on value over price.
When You’ve Found Someone
Whether they’ve reached out to you or you to them, it’s important to keep a good relationship with your writer, especially if you’re hoping to get someone long-term. Communication, honesty, and fairness (both in terms of pay and in expectations regarding deadlines, quality, etc!) go a long way in business relationships – remember that you’re dealing with people, not writing robots. Even if you just find someone for a one-off, if you like what they do, spread the love by making sure to show your appreciation by giving them a good review/testimonial and recommending them to others!