Partnering with a great writer is a key step toward successful content marketing. Whether it’s for freelance or in-house arrangements, here’s a useful guide to help you hire content writers.
Working with a content writer is an important step toward actualizing your content marketing goals. Writing is sometimes seen as an easy job and gets underestimated. But when you combine the magic of good stories and proven SEO techniques, you can gain an influx of new leads much faster than a traditional outbound approach.
In the words of marketing expert and author Seth Godin, “Content marketing is the only marketing left.” One of the reasons is that a consistent flow of great content can lead to a higher rate of converted leads. According to ABG Essentials, content marketing takes website conversion rates about six times higher than other marketing strategies. What’s more, data from DemandMetric shows that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing tactics, but it’s able to generate around three times as many leads per dollar spent.
Whether you’re looking to maintain consistent blog posts on a company website or develop some useful case studies on your clients, the right content writer should be equipped to sync with your needs. In this fast-paced, digital age of content consumption, most companies need help from skillful content writers to stay relevant.
So now you might be wondering, where to start? How do I find a great content writer among a bevy of potential candidates? How do I set the fee for each gig? Worry not. We’ve compiled the complete guide to help you hire the best professional content writer for your company, be it freelance or in-house. Check out the tips below.
What makes a great content writer?
An understanding of strategy. A great content writer is not just an executor. They know how to spin an otherwise boring topic into stories that are interesting and exciting to read. A good content writer will know the talk of the town and adapt your content to ride the wave accordingly. The best ones do this while also ensuring it’s relevant to your marketing objectives.
A knack for SEO. SEO knowledge is what differentiates good content writers from great ones. They know how to do keyword planning, utilize insights, and play around with phrases to make sure your content appears at the top of the search engine results. According to Zerolimitweb, 71.33% of all clicks on Google go to the top ten organic results on the first page. That’s why SEO is important for bolstering your rank in the Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPs).
Adaptability and flexibility. A multitude of writing skills is important for any great content writer. Ideally, they should know how to cope with different languages, adjust editorial plans on the fly, massage story angles, and pivot their tone in accordance with the audience.
Research skills. Good research equals good content. A great content writer knows how to source reliable data and embed it into their writing to strengthen arguments and add to a story’s credibility. According to a SurveyMonkey study in the US, 82% of adult readers say they’d prefer to read a data-based article rather than an opinion-based one.
Finding and hiring the perfect content writer can take time and effort. But if done successfully, your brand can put out engaging stories and cultivate a closer relationship with its target customers. When consistent, content writers can improve your sales, traffic, and brand awareness.
Where can I find a great content writer?
So now you know what to look for and have decided to hire a content writer. But where exactly can you find them?
The outbound approach
LinkedIn. There is a legion of writers waiting to be hired on LinkedIn. When searching, you can use specific keywords like ‘freelance content writer’ or ‘freelance editor’ and filter the results down to those who are available in your desired geography.
Medium. Medium is an online publishing platform hosting millions of writers. Try to search for posts related to your industry and see if you can find high-quality and engaging content. You could then reach out to the author to see if they’d be open for a freelance gig.
Freelance Marketplace. Freelance content writers are everywhere, but you might not have the time to scour the internet looking for the perfect one. If that’s the case, we suggest you take advantage of a managed marketplace like ContentGrow. Unlike other more chaotic freelancer sites, ContentGrow is an invite-only platform. It offers a service through which the team works with you, one-on-one, to assemble a mix of experienced and qualified freelance content writers, tailored specifically for your niche and geography.
The inbound approach
Your own website. Post the vacancy for a content writer on your company’s website. This helps filter out candidates because only those who are interested in your company first would visit the website and find the information.
Always remember to be selective when picking a content writer for your business. Just because their previous articles look good, it doesn’t mean they can write as well about your industry. Test them by asking for an article on spec before hiring. By doing this, you can also see whether their writing suits the voice of your brand and if they can deliver without delay.
Should I hire in-house or freelance?
Both in-house and freelance content writers can do good things for your company. But there are some points of differences that you need to keep in mind before deciding which type you want.
Why should I hire a writer in-house? In-house content writers can be a great addition if your company has sufficient time and a budget for one more full-time employee. With them being part of the company, you will get more consistency in your content overall. This works well if you’re looking to publish often across all channels. They will come to know your company inside and out, and thus be able to tailor a more strategic editorial plan that aligns with your key messages.
Hiring content writers permanently also means that you have them ready at all times. You will never have to worry about missing important coverage or scrambling to the phone looking for someone who can write a time-sensitive story at a moment’s notice.
Why should I hire a freelance content writer? Hiring a freelance content writer is basically just working with a vendor. With no overhead costs of insurance, training, HR weight, or a permanent salary, working with a freelancer is by far the better option for an SME looking to stay lean.
Extra effort may be required at the beginning, especially when establishing a division of duties, writing guidelines, and the overall workflow in the content operation. But once you get that up and running, you can expect a smoother process while also getting high-quality content at a cheaper rate.
How about hiring a content marketing agency? If you want to combine the professional touch of in-house talent and the low-commitment advantage of a freelancer, you may consider working with a content marketing agency. It’s often a win-win solution, as an agency will come equipped with more resources and you can expect them to reach the agreed KPIs.
Depending on the agency’s rates, you may or may not be getting the best bang for your buck, but the good news is that you can always parse work out on a per-project basis to see which agency is right for you.
How much should content writers be paid?
If you have found the perfect in-house content writer, you can actually decide their salary based on the company’s policy. But if you want to hire a freelance content writer, it’s a trickier calculation. Standard writing fees vary depending on the nature of the work, timeframe, and the assignment. Expect some of the best freelancers to give you a quotation, typically on a per-hour, per-word, or per-article basis.
To get a baseline, you could check the standard editorial rates via the Editorial Freelancers Association (efa.org). There are also some rates databases and rates calculators online that you can make use of.
For example, TechCrunch pays a US$300 flat fee for a 1,800-word article. Agoda pays US$50 for a 500-word article. Ernst & Young pays US$150 per hour for 1,500-word articles about business and economics. Of course, this fee also depends on the writer’s quality and productivity. The more difficult and technical the order is, the more the content writer is likely to deserve.
Things to know before hiring content writers
Note that this is not an instant process. You will have to spare some of your time to find the best candidates. Consider it as an investment. If you’re finally able to connect with the perfect content writer and form a steady working relationship, it will significantly free up your business development efforts.
Engagement does not always convert to sales. Yes, content marketing is a great tool that can help boost your sales, but it’s a long-term game. When you see increased traffic not leading to sales, don’t be disheartened. People might not buy from you now, but at least they’ve visited your website, they know about your existence, and they may come back when they’re in need.
Be very specific about KPIs. Whether you plan to hire in-house or freelance content writers, you have to be very specific about the KPIs. Are you looking for pageviews? A strong SERP? The overall number of engagements with the content? Put that in writing and give a reasonable timeline for writers to deliver. If they’re unable to reach the KPIs, take pause and assess whether the targets were realistic in the first place before discontinuing. Ask questions and adjust accordingly.
Integrate content with other marketing efforts. Content marketing is fashionable, but don’t do it just because everyone else is. You need to know how content will help achieve marketing goals and synergize with the rest of your company. What problems will it solve? How can it complement the rest of the marketing efforts? These are some questions you need to ask and answer before hiring your content writer.
Long-term relationships almost always work better. This is especially true if you’re working with freelance content writers. It is important to maintain a good long-term relationship rather than changing your writers every now and then. It affects your overall consistency and can take up a lot of your time when it comes to training and coordinating. Unless there’s a big change or major issue, working in the long-run with a reliable freelance content writer is the ideal route.
Now you know the A-Z process of identifying a great content writer, sourcing them properly, and the pros and cons of hiring in-house versus freelance.
If you’re interested in a platform that can help you get the job done better and faster, we suggest checking out the ContentGrow. The company provides consultation and a hand-picked roster of freelance content writers that can help strengthen your marketing game. The firm routinely supplies freelance talent to some of the world’s top brands and media.
Save time and money when producing high-quality branded content. ContentGrow helps marketing teams work with perfectly-matched freelance writers and journalists at preferred rates. Fill out the form below to get your own shortlist of talent or visit the site to get started.