It’s not enough to have a great website. The graphics and media can be exceptional. But if you don’t have the right words on the page, even the best designs fall flat.
Content has always been a key element of all website designs and online marketing, but as the internet and its various blogs, websites and marketplaces continue to mature, content must mature along with it.
If you haven’t thought about the type of content you’re putting out on your site lately, you’re already remiss. Are you still trying to write it all yourself? Are you struggling to remember to even update that blog? Is your content still bringing in the readers it once was?
Perhaps it is time for a refresh.
Unless you’re a skilled writer, well versed in modern content development, it may be in your best interest to turn the reigns over to someone else.
Hiring a content writer is much simpler than you might imagine. There are thousands of writers out there with millions of articles, websites and blog posts collectively under their belts.
But how do you know if the writer you’re considering is the best one for the job? Consider these points.
1. The Type of Content you Need
Not all writers write the same sort of content. One writer may be especially strong in copywriting skills. But if you don’t need a long form sales letter, that writer may not be the one you need.
Others are excellent at writing headlines and short advertising pieces, but may not be strong at more informative content. Before you hire a writer, spend some time thinking about what specifically you need and who the best writer would be for that job.
2. The Voice of your Website
Good writing has voice. When you read it, you should all but hear the author speaking to you. If the voice of a writer is too casual or too formal for your site, it’s not a good fit. Find someone who sounds like you’d like your website to sound. Otherwise, you may be accidentally sending the wrong tone and message to readers.
3. Your Project Goals
Are you in the building stages or simply improving an existing website? Is your budget allocation going to change over time? Before hiring a writer or even discussing the project in depth with content professionals, you need to know what your plan is and how the writer fits in. Build the plan first and then find the professionals you need.
4. Your Budget
Speaking of detailed plans, you need a detailed budget. It is poor form to tell a writer you’ll have new work every week and then not get back to them for three months due to your own budget concerns. Of course, new businesses and new websites need flexibility, but if you are going to need content on a regular basis, you’re going to need the budget to support it.
5. The Person Managing Content
If you’re a sole proprietor running a business or building a website, it stands to reason that you will be the person managing content. If, on the other hand, you have a team of people working with you in the company, it is a good idea to decide ahead of time who will be handing the requests and delivery of content.
6. Editing and Revisions
Delegating the management of content can save you time and headaches, especially if that same person serves as an editor for the content you’re creating.
Every writer needs an editor, and as the content is going on your website, it should be you or someone on your team checking over the written work. Serving as an editor and getting the content posted can be a time consuming task, and it might be best if it is delegated.
7. Your Timeline
What are your goals for this specific project? Are you looking for almost daily work or is this a one-off assignment? Writers have preferences on the types of assignments they take on, and if you are going to need a rapid daily turnaround, you need to be able to tell the writer this upfront. An honest writer will be very clear with you about what you can expect.
8. Your Keyword Selection
SEO may have changed, but it’s not dead. As you have content developed, you should be thinking about what keywords are relevant and doing a bit of keyword research ahead of time to maximize your investment. Just skip the keyword stuffed content as it can be potentially more harmful than helpful in terms of readability.
9. The Writer’s Preferred Content
If you have been working with a particular writer or would like to work with a writer, be sure you know their preferred content. Most writers can be flexible and write about roofing materials as easily as technology, but they might enjoy technology a great deal more (or roofing, for that matter).
If you can find match between what you need and what they enjoy writing about, you will be able to create killer content.
10. Experience Across the Industry
Your writer should have ample experience across the industry. You may be able to pay less for a new writer, but you will wind up doing a bit of training as well. On the other hand, you can pay a bit more for a true professional and skip the training grounds.
11. Freelance or in-house
Are you going to need a steady stream of a variety of styles of content? It might be worthwhile to hire a writer full-time to keep in house. A full-time writer will be dedicated to your projects and can almost guarantee a rapid turnaround and work on larger projects without nickel and diming you with hourly or word rates. A freelance writer, on the other hand, is an excellent investment if your writing requirements are more fluid or not as comprehensive.
A writer who can’t meet deadlines isn’t a writer you want to hire. The content writer is creating the pieces you need to build a project and run a site. If you can’t count on that writer to create what you’re looking for and to deliver it in a timely manner, you are paying for a bad service.
Finally, check out the references you can for a writer. A writer who is recommended by a contact or friend is probably a good bet as business owners don’t typically recommend people they don’t like working with. You should also check out samples of previous work or a portfolio if they have one so that you know what to expect from their finished works.
If the design and format of your website is the skeleton of your online business, the content you have developed is the flesh that transforms your site into a true creation. It’s imperative to find a content writer who understands what you need, has the ability to create it, and is easy to work with.