Marketing Bootcamp

How to Hire the Perfect Blog Content Writer

How to Hire the Perfect Blog Content Writer
Image credit: Apple

Finding a regular blog content writer can be tough, despite the fact that there are thousands of freelancers out there ready and willing to write content for you. Having hired many writers myself, I like to think I’ve perfected the process of locating the talented ones.

1. Know what you need.

The first thing you need to do is determine exactly what you need a writer for. With a blog, you essentially have two options -- a regular contributor under their own name, or a ghostwriter selling you content. Finding a ghostwriter is a lot easier and certainly more reliable. Someone who will lend their name to your blog generally needs some name recognition already, which means they likely have their own obligations and might not have the time to work for you as much as you would like. 

They also might have a higher price tag than you’re willing or able to pay. Some of the top-tier bloggers out there make a heck of a lot of money contributing to a handful of sites and have to carefully consider the value of working with you.

Given that a ghostwriter is easier to find, cheaper to hire and more beneficial to your own personal branding, I assume most of you out there will want to find one or two of your own before looking for more professional freelance contributors.

Related: How a Ghostwriter Can Breathe Life Into Your Startup's Content Strategy

2. Locate potential writers.

So, where do you find freelancers to ghostwrite for you?  You have a few options.

  • Put out a casting call on Craigslist, your own website or another classifieds hub.
  • Go to a content mill like Textbroker, Writer Access, Zerys or Constant Content.
  • Go to writer communities or industry forums where potential writers may contribute.

With the first option, you tend to get a lot of low-quality submissions. There are no feedback methods, so it costs a writer nothing to shotgun bland or poorly-written content in the hopes they pass and can make some money. However, I have found some diamonds in the rough here, and several of my past employers have also found great writers through Craigslist.

With the second option, you will get a wide range of content, but writers do tend to have incentives to perform well, as it affects their standing on the site. However, when you find a writer you like, you will have to be circumspect about recruiting them outside of the platform. Some platforms, like Textbroker, will outright censor your communications if you attempt to solicit or give contact information. You will also, of course, have to pay for the content you receive.

The third option is a lot more like a personal connection and will allow you to choose and interview potential writers before taking them on. It’s free, unless the community has a membership fee -- but you’re not guaranteed to find a writer you can use.

Related: The 15 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs

3. Test and hire.

I recommend using all three methods, with a moderate budget for option two, to get a broad range of submissions. Some of this content will be unusable, of course. You can discard it, or use it as a base to create something better. Some of it will be solid content you could use but might not quite fit your voice. Keep an eye on these writers, and ask them to alter their voice  Once they get it down, they could be a perfect fit.

Essentially, what you’re doing is testing a bunch of writers to see who fits best and who adapts best to your standards. Ideally, you will be able to narrow this list down to a perfect candidate or to a small handful of them you can keep on retainer. I've personally worked with several dozen writers before I narrowed down my choice to a new full-time hire.

Once you’ve chosen a writer, you need to establish the terms of a contract. There are some standard ghostwriter contracts available to use, generally with the same terms all around. The writer must be paid on time for their work, they must submit their work by the deadline, you own the rights to any work purchased and paid for, the writer is an independent contractor and both parties have the right to terminate the contract, etc.  A contract is very important, both for peace of mind and for potential dispute resolution.

Once you have a signed contract in hand, you’re good to go. Ideally, your relationship with your chosen writer will blossom and grow, and they will become an indispensable part of your business machine. If for any reason the relationship doesn’t work out, you can always contact your second choice.

Related: How to Stop Writing Yawn-Worthy Content