These writers make content marketing run. As a rule, the best writers rarely look for work. You are the marketer, after all. TIP: If your writers don’t understand your buyer persona, they’re writing for themselves. Six-step checklist to help your writers be better Buyer persona research: The more your writer can get inside your customer’s head, the more precise the writing will be. Access to your team: Most writers do better work when they feel included. You’ll find tappers invariably get frustrated that listeners don’t know the song. Neither does great writing. For their part, writers need to see content creation as a partnership in which they receive substantive information to build from and feedback to improve. And that’s when you get truly high-performing content.
Below the erupting volcano of content – billions of new articles every month – a secret army is hard at work.
Wherever marketers create e-books, run webinars, promote blogs, and craft events, artisans are hammering, hacking, and whittling the words. These writers make content marketing run. Alas, much of what they produce is junk.
Lots of content goes unread, and not for a lack of bullhorn-blowing. Much of it is poorly written. Eighty-one percent of a group of professionals say poorly written content wastes their time and, in the 25.5 hours they spend reading each week, much of the content they see is “too long, poorly organized, unclear, filled with jargon, and imprecise.”
No matter how much you prepare yourself, your in-house or freelance writers are the ultimate arbiters of content quality. If they mangle the piece, it’s typically for one of two reasons – they aren’t the right writer or you’re feeding them garbage.
Here’s how to fix both problems.
Finding Mr. or Ms. Write
As the chief content creator for Find A Way Media, I’m both a writer and an employer of freelancers. The responsibility for great content lies with the employer; it’s the organization that must deliver results – it’s up to managers to find the writers to do that.
Finding the right writer can be like apartment hunting in New York City: After the 10th viewing, your brain begins to melt and you’re willing to settle for anything just to make it stop. But you can shorten the search if you understand what type of writer you need.
Most writers fall into three broad categories:
- Journalists – Trained to be precise, journalists are supposed to adhere to a code of ethics and be objective. This makes them excellent fact-checkers and concise writers, but they often dislike self-promotion and find the principles of marketing foreign. Writing content for marketing takes some adjustment.
- Copywriters – These are writers raised in the marketing world. They’re often bloggers. They understand web writing, headlines, SEO, and marketing, and intuitively grasp what the business wants to accomplish. But, they often lack the fact-checking and literary finesse of journalists.
- Novelists – This category encapsulates people who write as an art and merely freelance to fund their passion. They are screenwriters, comedians, essayists, playwrights, and novelists. I’ve never found one who cut it as a content writer. That’s not to say they can’t be found, but they are rare.
In my experience, you’re best off seeking someone with experience as a copywriter or a journalist and helping them develop any skills they lack.
To further whittle your list, consider the trade-off between writing proficiency and subject expertise. These factors don’t have to be at odds, but they often are. Most writers either excel at their craft but are unfamiliar with your topic or are well versed in an industry but middling writers.
Which is better? That depends on how you plan to support them.
When in doubt, lean toward writing proficiency. It’s better to be read and shared than to expertly shout into the wind and wonder why nobody likes you. You can always have the writer interview subject-matter experts.
If your content topics are highly technical or emotional in nature, however, it can be better to select a subject expert. Real expertise is tough to fake. Writers for an analytics company, for example, will struggle if they aren’t familiar with concepts like regression analysis.
If your organization crafts content for a tight-knit audience whose members share a common experience, such as startup founders, a writer who isn’t an expert may not work well. A writer who has lived that entrepreneurial life and knows the misery of not closing a round of funding is more likely to be convincing.
Where can you find your ideal writer? Broadly consider these four places:
- Writer job boards: These forums connect writers and employers, and include Problogger, Writer’s Den, the Freelancer’s Union, Craigslist, or LinkedIn groups. Because they’re often lightly moderated, the quality of applicants is across the board. (No pun intended.)
- Freelancing platforms: Sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com add automation to the mix. You can view the writers’ profiles,…