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Content marketing: Three things to look for when hiring a writer

It seems like everyone’s doing it these days – Stan Collymore, that guy who plays Phil Mitchell from Eastenders… What’s that? Blogging you say? Sorry, my mistake…

Well blogging’s going from strength to strength these days too and there’s no need to drive to a car park in the middle of the night to do it. Unless you really want to.

In fact, research suggests that almost three quarters of B2C companies were blogging in 2014.

And, if you believe us – which you should, but we would say that – that number is only going up.

At UWP we’re great believers in blogging. Let’s chuck some numbers into the mix to wow and confuse you in equal measure:-

Websites with blogs have on average 97% more indexed links, while 77% of internet users read blogs. And while we’re at it: Blogs that post every day generate four times more leads than those that post weekly or less.

Basically, if you’re not blogging, now’s the time to give yourself a big fat slap on the wrist.

However, not everyone has the time or expertise to be producing regular content. That goes some way to explaining the 320% increase in demand for content writers last year.

There are plenty of writers out there – freelancers and content agencies – so how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Here’s three things to look for when hiring a writer:-

1. He or she needs to know how to write online

In 2015, we don’t consume content like we used to.

While 80% of people read a blog headline, only 20% read the copy.

Attention spans are short and any writer you hire will need to be aware of how to write for a demanding and impatient online audience.

As well as demonstrating a clear understanding of the way web copy is consumed, a writer should also understand how it’s distributed.

Blogs provide great re-usable material for social sharing and a writer should know how to frame their work in order to gain a click within Twitter’s 140-character limit or in a snappy Facebook post.

You may also be sharing blogs via emails or using paid outreach or PR – having a writer that is knowledgeable and capable across these mediums will save you time and effort, while increasing the impact of the content itself.

On a site-wide scale, blogging can support SEO work by adding fresh content to a website. But if you want a blog to rank highly in its own right, your writer needs to be aware of, and up to date with, SEO best practice for optimising content.

This means picking the right keywords, putting them in the right place, tagging appropriately and fine tuning the meta description among other things.

Check they know the vernacular and understand how to make a piece of content perform across all search engines. After all, if no one reads it there’s not a lot of point.

Finally, a bit of tech-savviness doesn’t go amiss. If your writer is competent with your content management system, you might even trust them to upload the content on your behalf – saving you time.

2. A writer should be able to tell your story

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There’s no guarantees you’ll find a writer who ticks all the above boxes and is also an industry expert – especially if your business is niche.

So if you don’t hit the jackpot, look for a writer who has written on a variety of subjects.

A writer that can show examples of informative and factual blogs that cover a range of topics is likely to be able to write equally engaging pieces for your business.

Even if you operate in a so-called “boring” industry, they should be able to breathe life into your blogs.

To back this up, they should be able to explain their research strategies.

For in-depth pieces, our writers often interview clients in order to get a better understanding of the facts and key points that need to be conveyed.

And versatility of style is every bit as important as versatility of subject matter.

It’s essential for a writer to be able to assume the appropriate tone for your business from the off – whether that be formal, chatty or even tongue in cheek.

They should also be able to mix things up too – it’s often a good idea if your blog page showcases various types of content, from the funny to the factual.

Your customers will immediately form an opinion on your business after reading your blogs so it’s crucial you can rely on their writing.

Poor grammar and inaccuracies in any email correspondence should immediately raise red flags, and looking at examples of their work is strongly advised.

3. A writer needs to understand your marketing strategy

A well-written blog on your site is one thing but what’s it trying to achieve?

It’s important that a writer can explain why they have chosen a particular angle and what wider purpose it serves other than just refreshing the content on your site.

Is the blog aimed at positioning your business as a source of knowledge and guidance in your industry?

Are you trying to convey personality and amuse your audience in the hope that they will share it and come back?

Are you looking to directly promote a particular product or service?

Your writer needs to be well aware of your overarching marketing plan so they can create a content strategy that supports it.

A writer who looks at a blog as a singular entity, without considering its impact and use as a marketing tool, isn’t the right person to hire.

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To sum up: Three things to look for when hiring a writer

Choosing the right writer is crucial because quality is still more important than quantity when it comes to blogs. In our book anyway.

Alongside social media, a blog is one of the best ways to convey the personality of your business.

It’s also a versatile and effective marketing tool – with 72% of marketers saying creating content is the single most effective SEO tactic.

So here’s your checklist of things to look for when hiring a writer:-

  • Your writer should be web-savvy, ideally with expertise in SEO and online distribution
  • Your writer should be versatile and able to convey your business’ personality
  • Your writer should consider themselves as a cog in a grander marketing strategy rather than a freelance worker creating one-off pieces

If you want any more advice in choosing a content writer, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

See you next time!