Sometimes it’s best to have your in-house team handle all your content-related projects – especially if they’ve worked with you long enough to know what works and what doesn’t in your industry.
Besides, from 9am to 5pm on every business day, they’re all yours. You can reach out to them anytime and ask them to write your content. You also get to ask for several edits and revisions until you’re satisfied – many freelance writers only allow a limited round of revisions.
Those are just a few benefits you get from in-house writers.
But sometimes, you might also want to consider using outside writers for a few reasons:
- You probably don’t have the resources to get enough full-time writers. You’ll need to incur expenses on training, health care, insurance and so on.
- An in-house content team might have too many tasks on their hands already and can’t take on any more workload when you need them to write.
- You could also come across a freelance writer who you feel can write content that generates leads and sales more than those written by your in-house team.
And so on.
A recent study from HubSpot reveals that the more blog posts companies publish per month, the more traffic and leads they get on their website. Companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month get almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.
In other words, posting at least 4 articles every week is what’s ideal for growth. An in-house team might not have enough hands to pull this off if they really want to create high-quality content. So at some point, working with freelance writers might be a decision you need to make to help you reach your marketing goals.
Here are some tips for finding and working with freelance writers to achieve maximum results.
1. Hunt for specialist writers
Writers who focus on your industry read your industry surveys, stories, e-books, etc. for leisure and work. They’re naturally familiar with relevant happenings in your space. When you ask them to write on a topic, it’s easy for them to create something that your audience will find useful and interesting out of experience working in your industry.
A generalist writer, on the other hand, only writes because you pay them to. They don’t know your audience or which words makes them tick. They might do some research and know a few things about them and your industry topics. That’s fine, but they won’t have the wealth of experience that a specialist has acquired working in your niche over time.
If you’re the content manager in a martech company, for example, you don’t want to hire a writer who will have to google “why a/b testing is important” when you ask them to write an eBook of maybe 5,000 words. Imagine how many things they’d have to Google or even how many times they’d have to call you before completing the whole book.
Larry Kim is a leader in the PPC space – and he blogs a lot. He not only writes for his blog but also regularly contributes to publications like Search Engine Land, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, etc.
So 2 years ago, when he did an AMA on Inbound.org, Vinny La Barbera asked…
“How in the world do you find time to blog so much – especially for other sources – without sacrificing quality?”
“Most of the content I write about for the WordStream Blog, Search Engine Land, Inc. Magazine (etc.) are just case studies and data that I’ve stumbled upon while doing work in AdWords or lessons learned while promoting/marketing my own content. Having an unlimited supply of data and case studies to blog about is quite an advantage.” Larry replied.
It’s pretty much similar to what you get from a good specialist or niche writer. Give them a writing task to work on and they know where to look for the relevant studies, examples, stories, etc. to create content or copy that drives conversions. They simply know your industry better than a generalist writer.
However, this also doesn’t mean that you get too narrow with your search for specialist writers. You mostly won’t find a writer who precisely centers on your niche. If you’re in the PPC space, for example, you probably won’t find a writer who writes about PPC only. But you can get one who writes about marketing; it’s still closely related.
So where do you go to find your ideal writer?
Tip #1: Go to your industry blogs and look at the recent authors published there. Reach out to them and see if they’d like to write for you.
In a post on Content Marketing Institute, Barry Feldman asked the former editor at The Daily Egg – Kathryn Aragon to share her means of finding good freelance writers. She said:
“My favorite way to find writers is to discover them through articles they’ve written. I immediately send them an email telling them what I like about their work and ask if they’d be interested in writing for our blog.”
Tip #2: Another approach you can use is to ask for recommendations from folks in your network who have worked with writers. They can introduce writers who have actually created high-quality content for them before.
Tip #3: Last but not least, placing ads on job boards is another great tip and a lot of people have found great writers through it. However, as opposed to asking for recommendations and reaching out to writers who you find through content they’ve written, you’d be depending on a lot of luck using job ads; you can only hope your ideal writer shows up.
But then, there have also been lots of success stories of people who have found great writers from job ads. So you can try it out too.
2. Before hiring, see their published samples
Like Crew’s CEO, Michael Cho mentioned in a post on Zapier, there’s no excuse for a writer to have no writing samples.
There are enough outlets on the web that a writer can use to showcase their portfolio – regardless of whether they’re a beginner or experienced writer. “…Medium, a personal blog, Twitter; you should have published at least 3 things before applying for a position that involves writing.” He says.
Samples show the capabilities and writing style of a writer. If a writer says they has 7 years of experience, their samples will tell you how true that is. If those years of experience aren’t visible enough in their samples, you need to look for some other writer.
One of my clients at Premium Content Shop once said to me, “While I was not looking for a writer at this point, I really liked your style and would be happy to see how we can work together. Can you share more about your rates, SLA, etc.?”
And I’m not sharing this to brag about my clients or the kind words I get from them; it only drives home my point: if a writer’s sample doesn’t show the quality you’re hunting for, don’t hire him or her.
3. Share your goals with the writer
A results-driven writer doesn’t just want to start a project because you’ve made an upfront payment or because they are going to get paid after they complete the project. They want to know what you’re trying to achieve with your investment in their writing. However, if they’re not asking and you’re sure they can do a great job, go ahead and share your goals with them.
Corey Wainwright, Director of Content at HubSpot, mirrors this same idea:
“…we would tell our freelancer about inbound marketing, how we talk about it, what tactics we promote, how those tactics relate to the software we sell, and how our software helps enable marketers trying to implement those marketing tactics. Remember, you get all this stuff because you live and breathe it every day. Your freelancer does not. And even if they work in your industry, every company has its own nuances. It’s your job to fill them in.”
To give you an idea of how you can share your goals with the writer, see how a client in the SaaS niche recently shared hers with me:
“I need the article to be relevant to all our clients (we have a large variety) but since Instagram is of particular importance to fashion e-commerce sites, put more emphasis on them. i.e. use fashion stores as examples, the tips should work most importantly for fashion stores, and so on.”
While writing this piece, her goal kept buzzing in my mind. When I wanted to cite any example, I looked for one in the fashion e-commerce industry. If I needed a statistic, I got it from the same industry. And so on.
4. They may cost you more, but only hire writers who write high-quality content
Results-driven writers don’t care much about word counts (at least, not before considering the quality of their work).
They pay more attention to putting relevant and well-researched words together to write great content. After that, they then look into meeting your word count requirements. They will almost certainly charge you (way) more than many other writers, but you’ll be getting content that will drive conversion for your business.
In line with #3, you need to see a writer’s samples to know the quality of content they can provide.
Here are a few things to look out for in them:
- The headlines. A stat from Copyblogger says, “80% of people will read your headlines. But only 20% of those people will read the rest of your content!” Put another way, everyone sees your headline, but only a few of them click-through – if thy find it useful.
If your headline is not attractive enough, your prospects simply won’t read your content, let alone convert. So take a look at the headlines on the writer’s samples: Are they unique? Are they benefit-driven headlines? And so on.
- The opening paragraph. After the headline, your opening paragraph is what tells readers whether your content or copy is worth their time or not. You need to check for this in the writer’s sample too.
- Body and sources cited. One of the elements of good copy or content writing is the use of facts, figures, stories, etc. to back claims or assertions up. Checking for this in the writer’s sample might take a bit of your time, but it’s worth it. If you hire a writer who has the habit of citing wrong or misleading sources, you might end up denting your blog’s/company’s reputation.
Zach Bulygo, the blog manager at Kissmetrics, puts it this way:
“Think about this: you write an article for your company’s blog, thousands of people read it, and some of what you wrote turns out to be inaccurate. Can you imagine what damage this can do to your company and your personal reputation? Keep in mind, your blog is a reflection of your company. If there are any issues with the blog, it impacts how people view your product.”
If you hire a writer to create a blog post, for example, you get a high rate of conversion from it; you can repurpose it into an eBook, infographic and so on. That’s how much a great writer can provide even if they’re expensive.
You won’t get all of that from a low-quality writer. Even worse, they’ll end up wasting your money.
Working with freelance writers can make your life easier. Following the tips above, you can hire writers who will help you put out the content that your prospects want to see, while saving you the time to create content yourself and expenses of hiring and setting up an in-house content team.
Guest Author: Victor is a freelance business writer (for hire) and the founder of Premium Content Shop. He has been featured on sites like The Next Web, MarketingProfs, Forbes, Inc.com and so on.