If you aren’t a content marketer or haven’t worked with freelance blog writers before, you’re in the right place if you need to hire one. I’m not here to sell you on hiring me. Rather, I’ll provide you with the information you need to hire a solid freelance blog writer.
Before I begin, I want to share my general philosophy as it relates to blog writers. I believe the best freelance blog writers have digital marketing experience or, at the very least, a solid understanding of it. They should have deep knowledge of how content marketing is used to meet lead generation goals.
Why is this important? In order to create content that engages your audience and meets your marketing goals, a well-crafted blog post takes much more than writing skills. It’s about writing content that addresses the intended audience while helping you to achieve digital marketing goals, like improving your SERP.
Such writers can be more challenging to find but, they are out there, and can be found with the right hiring strategy. These writers are typically up to date on content marketing best practices and should provide you with valuable advice as it relates to your overall digital marketing strategy as well.
The Good and the Bad News About Blog Writers
There are plenty of freelance blog writers out there that are willing to take your money, write without a content brief (this one is mine - feel free to download for your own use!) and crank out a wordy, irrelevant blog post. A poorly written blog post doesn’t speak to your audiences, it lacks SEO keywords and a strong argument.
My point here is that content writing is not just about filling space, it should and can produce significant results. By results, I’m referring to the following types of website metrics that your content should impact:
- Time spent on your website and bounce rate
- Do website visitors return to your website to read more content
- Conversions: Do blog visitors sign up for your newsletter or buy your product after consuming content?
- Social sharing of your content: how many shares, when and where?
A well-crafted blog post should serve its intended primary purpose or goal (and yes, you should ask that when creating any piece of content), whether it is to educate your readers about current issues or provide guidance on how to use your product.
It should educate and engage your audience so they spend more time on your website getting to know your company. It should make them love your company even more if they’re already a customer. It should help convert prospects into buyers. Bottom line; your content marketing should produce results, and your blog writer should help you focus on that.
In order to avoid hiring the wrong candidate, I’m going to share with you how to sift through the moderately good to bad blog writers. So, let’s get started. Here’s how to find the right candidate that will produce the results you need.
How to Find Freelance Writers for Your Blog
There are a multitude of places to find strong blog writers. I think one of the first places to start is by asking your social media network for help. Your former colleagues might have worked with a strong writer they’re willing to recommend. If a writer has worked with a colleague and produced good work, this route could save you time.
If this isn’t an option or doesn’t produce any results for you, I would recommend posting the role on your website and sharing a link to the posting on your corporate and personal social media accounts. Ask your coworkers to share it with their networks as well. You could also post on LinkedIn or Indeed.
Of course, there are no shortage of sites today where you can post your role. If you’re in need of a tech-savvy writer for your startup, AngelList can be a good option. There’s also sites where freelancers converge like Online Writing Jobs, Problogger or Mediabistro.
Wherever you decide to post your job, there are a few, must-have criteria that I would include to help you refine your candidate pool. In fact, I would lead with: A strong writer with a background or working knowledge of online marketing is highly preferred. My additional criteria would look something like this:
Experience writing for your industry (this is uber important)
A minimum of three years experience as a writer
A background or education in marketing or journalism
Knowledge of SEO strategies as related to content marketing/blog post creation
An online portfolio with links to their work
While there are no shortage of writers out there, you can find the best blog writer for your company by clearly defining the role and requirements.
How to Interview Freelance Blog Writers
Now that you’ve got your gig posted and you have some candidates to choose from, peruse through each candidate’s online portfolio and writing samples to make sure that your applicants meet your requirements. Then, narrow the group down to those you feel comfortable moving to the next round.
For next hiring phase, I would recommend asking your candidate pool to take a simple writing test. I’ve been asked to do this before and as long as it’s not a lengthy piece (around 500 words), I don’t mind. Or, request that each candidate write a blog post ideal for today’s search engines, around 1,000 to 1,400 words, and pay each writer for their post.
The next step is to clearly outline the assignment and expected approach. If you do already have brand messaging and detailed information about the persona your blog post is meant to target, share this information with your writing candidates.
If you are preparing your blog for launch and there are no writing samples for candidates to review for tone or style, you can use a different approach. In this case, include a content brief (here’s mine - feel free to copy or download!). This provides a clear set of instructions for everyone that you’re asking to complete the test.
Now, email your request to complete the test to your pool of candidates. Next, you’ll move into the evaluation phase of your hiring process. By allowing your writers to choose their own topic, you’ll get an idea of their creativity. You’ll also be able to see the quality of their writing and how well they followed your instructions.
If you can claim witness to the trifecta of great topic ideation, engaging writing and an ability to follow instructions, you’ve likely found your writer.
Finding a Freelance Blog Writer Isn't Easy
After reading through this post, you might be thinking that you didn’t realize it was going to be this challenging to find a freelance blog writer. There are other options out there, like hiring a content agency, which can also be a great way for a small company or team to generate enterprise-quality content.
However, be aware that content agencies are pricier and just like writers, there are plenty out there that claim to be experts at it, but after you review their own blog and client work, it’s just that, a claim.
The content and startup experts at Grow and Convert, for example, are a great example of a content agency that achieves demonstrable results because they not only put out great content for their clients, but themselves as well. In fact, you can check out their blog for more advice on hiring a freelance writer.
The other option is to hire in-house for your role. However, I think this option should only be discussed when you have a strong in-house marketing team built and a digital marketing manager that can supervise and direct your in-house writer.
Whatever you decide to do, take your time to find a solution that works best for your business and content marketing needs. Still have questions or need help? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to have a quick chat.