Quality writing is key to both your business’ recognition and reputation. The more value you provide through written content, the more likely potential customers are to return to your site and/or enlist your services.
Thankfully, you don’t need to be a wordsmith yourself to generate strong content for your business. Whether you’re looking to establish an ongoing blog, put out a whitepaper, or redesign your website’s messaging, a professional writer can work with you to create unique and engaging content.
Finding a professional writer may be easier than ever, but choosing the right one for your business can be tricky. To make this process easier, we’ll use our experience as a content writing agency to cover everything you need to know about hiring a professional writer for your business.
What is a professional writer?
Many people will offer to write for you in exchange for money - but that doesn't make them a professional writer.
A professional writer should be able to show you a portfolio of their writing experience that spans several years. While skill is subjective, successful writing should be compelling, help brands communicate their message, and (where relevant) get the reader to take action.
In order to do this, the expert writer will demonstrate they can understand your intended audience. They'll be able to use your in-house style guide to create content that aligns with your brand strategy.
Perhaps most importantly, they'll be proactive in their research and ask you questions to have a clear understanding of the customer avatar.
What content can a professional writer help you with?
Professional writers often niche down and specialize in one area of content creation. Here are the different areas this covers:
- Blog posts, website copy, and landing pages
- Promotional copy like sales letters, emails, and paid advertising.
- Technical writing, research papers, and white papers
- Content marketing
- Press releases
7 tips for finding the perfect professional writer
Here are 7 tips that we use inside our content agency to find the perfect writer for every piece of content.
1. Evaluate different services
You can’t make your first move without first settling on the type of writing service you’re looking for. Here are the most common options:
Do you need an in-house employee who will perform ongoing work, day in and day out, for your business? This can be an effective option if you need a moderate volume of content for years to come, but keep in mind that in-house employees require training, additional stipulations, and can be expensive in the long run.
Outsource The Work To A Freelancer
Hiring a freelancer has it's pros and cons, but it's a great option to try different writers before moving them in-house. Here are some great ways you can find a freelance writer.
Post Ads on Freelance Writing Platforms
You can post writing jobs on many online platforms to find qualified writers.Some of the more well-known ones are:
- Freelance Writers Den
Use Social Media / Google
Using a Google search is also a good way to find content writers. If you read an article you like, you can Google their name and add "Writer". You'll often find they have a website where they advertise their writing services.
For high volume workloads, you can turn to an agency. Agencies can provide you with access to several writers, though many seem to concentrate more on quantity and speed than quality and unique value.
The other alternative is to go with a professional writing company. A company, differing from an agency, can provide you with niche-specific, authoritative voices, and as many hands as you need on deck.
This can be likened to hiring a pre-trained team that works together and understands your subjects, rather than a pool of unrelated writers from an agency or freelance platform. Examples include Eleven Writing.
2. Consider your needs
A good place to start is to think about how much lead time you’ll typically be able to provide for projects. Will you give your writer a list of topics weeks in advance, or will they be expected to respond to article requests within a day or two?
The amount of work you expect to assign is also important, especially if you’re considering hiring an employee or contracting a freelance writer. Agencies and companies typically have more flexibility in terms of workload, since they can assign more writers to your business as needed.
Editing services are another factor to consider. Some agencies and companies keep an in-house editor, but many do not. While you can rely on quality writers to double-check their work, having an editor can improve the quality and professionalism of your content. When hiring freelance writers or a writing company, be sure to ask about whether they include editing and how the revision process works.
Lastly, you should think about:
- Communication — If active discussions are necessary, how would you prefer to communicate with the writer?
- Workflow — What kind of processes will be necessary to get the job done? Do you have your own in place or are you looking for the candidate to offer their expertise or here also?
3. Create a job description
Regardless of what type of writing service you’re hiring, it’s good practice to create a job description ahead of time. This gives you a chance to get all of the factors you considered above onto paper and reflect on what your business needs from the writer you hire, whether it’s a one-off gig or an indefinite partnership.
Tip: A carefully crafted job description will save you a lot of time. It’s much easier to consider a handful of applications from highly-qualified, well-suited applicants than it is to sort through a pile of responses from writers who don’t meet the criteria. So, be sure to make your expectations clear from the beginning of the hiring process.
4. Get samples
Once you have received applications or reached out to some professional writing services about your project, you should then ask candidates for examples of content they have written in the past.
The examples should be on a topic related to your business’ niche or reflect a writing campaign similar to the one you’re requesting. Make sure to read through the examples carefully — do they evoke the sense of engagement that you want your audience to feel when they read your content?
5. Agree on a rate
Now is the time to talk about money. Make it clear what your budget is, and make sure you know what you’re getting in return.
Some writers and companies charge per word while others charge per article. It’s also not uncommon for freelancers to require a retainer. If you need extra services, such as for a writer to publish articles in your CMS, be sure to ask whether that is included in the price as well.
6. Trial a new writer
At this point, it’s time to settle on a few top prospects. You can pay for a short trial — a single blog post, a rewrite of a single web page, or a few hours of writing — to test out your working relationship with a new writer or company. This is a good chance to evaluate whether they match your communication style, whether they can deliver on deadline, and whether their quality is at the level you expect.
If the trial doesn’t go perfectly, that’s okay. It takes time to develop a relationship with a professional writer or a writing company, so it’s not uncommon that a test article won’t exactly match the style you had in mind.
But, don’t settle for an article that doesn’t fit your needs. This is a good chance to give the revision process a dry run and to see whether a writer can quickly incorporate feedback and adapt to your business. At the end of the day, the ability to respond to feedback is one of the most important things you need to look for in a professional writer.
7. Making a decision
It’s time to make a hiring decision. Lean heavily on the trial when weighing the pros and cons of a particular writer or service, as that should reflect the writer’s ability to produce high-quality content that will drive customers to your business.
Some things, like alignment with your business’s voice, can continue to evolve over time as a writer gets more feedback from you on more articles. Other things, like punctuality and compliance with your article briefing, are important markers of a writer’s professionalism that should be present from the start.
Hiring a writer or writing company is a major investment in your business, and one that pays dividends in the long run. There is simply no substitute for high-quality, engaging content when it comes to attracting and holding customers’ attention and loyalty. By following this process to hire a professional writer, you can ensure that you’re getting the right person or company for the job.
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A frequenter of Washington's North Cascades, Michael is happiest ascending a glacier on his skis or jotting away about the great outdoors. With a PhD in Oceanography, the core of Michael's work with Eleven focuses on conservation, environmental science, and other related issues.