The Right Approach to Find a Content Writing Unicorn for your Startup
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If only it were possible to find the best writer by searching on Google with the keyword “best writer”, the world would have been a well-written place.
Writers are easy to find these days. But a writer who writes high-quality, compelling, authentic and memorable content is rare. You can refer to such writers as guru, magician or wordsmiths that possess the power of storytelling plus an eye for SEO.
While it might sound like a legend, but writers with these powers do exist in the real world. However, finding and vetting such writers might seem like an impossible task.
It sure is a difficult task, but not an impossible one, if you take the right road to the writer-land.
Here is a tried and tested approach you can cheat from-
Write a Creative Job Description
One of the first things that you need to do is writing down clearly what you are looking for. You will only be able to find the right writer when you know what “right” means for you.
There are a couple of things that you need to define –
Type of writer – Choose from the following classification –
Brand Journalists – These are the kind of writers that are trained to write fact-driven, concise content with great story-telling. However, they are not great marketers or hard sellers. So they are good for writing winning community stories or third-party placements, but are not the best for blog posts, product details or such.
SEO Copywriter – Copywriters are considered to be a jack-of-all-trades. They are the ones you need to write high-volume, basic-level and short-length articles. They write content that sells. But they are not essentially subject matter experts (SME). The next level of copywriters are the SEO copywriters, who infuse target keywords to ensure your content ranks well on search engines and improve traffic. These are ones that are meant for branding, blog writing, newsletters, Advertorials and the likes.
Ghostwriter – A little expensive than your average SEO copywriter, a ghostwriter can match your tone/ voice and pass on the credit for the writing to you.
Web writers – Writing for websites and app needs a more technical understanding of the digital journeys along with knowledge of website design, marketing, SEO, brand and user psychology. It is a blend of art and science and that is what you are looking for in a website core content writer.
Freelancer or Full-time – There are pros and cons of each, that you should be aware of. A full-time employee means a commitment to a certain type of writer, increased risk and higher cost on the payroll. However, if your line of work requires a certain level of training, supervision and has a long lead time, then hire a full-time. A freelancer gives you more flexibility in terms of reduced risk and pays when you need the work done. Freelancers need repeat work and thrive on referrals, so they make sure they deliver quality work every single time.
SME or someone who is a great storyteller and proficient in writing – SME is exactly what it sounds like. They have in-depth knowledge of the industry/ niche and can write with a lot of authority. They are a great choice for writing e-books, whitepapers and pillar blog posts. They can take off with a little briefing and can write unique, insightful content fast. But there is a trade-off between choosing SME and great story-teller. SME will probably have better knowledge about the industry but might be an average marketer and might not evoke the same emotions that a proficient writer will do.
Content development or someone who will be involved in strategy, development, marketing and analysis?
Remember that you are looking for a writer and not a content Ninja. Keep the job description realistic and achievable. On a number of occasions, I have seen a job description go way beyond a page, where the company wants the writer to be everything from a multi-tasker to superman plus a writer.
Based on the above decisions, create interest in the job posting by writing a creative job description and earn attention and respect. Like if you require data-driven technical content, say “We write boring, long, technical topics. But that doesn’t mean the content should be boring”. This sets the expectation clear and also intrigue creative writers.
A clear and precise job description will make the task easier for you, because not only will it help you understand what you are looking for but also help attract the right talent.
2. Referral –Next thing you should do is to ask in your circle of friends, business associates, co-working space or PR who work with writers. If someone in your network has experience in getting content written, they may be able to guide you and refer a qualified writer. Referrals and word of mouth is the best approach to get quality writers because you hear about them from someone who has vetted their work.
3. Ask in community, group or forum – Ask away in professional groups that you are part of and someone in your niche might be able to recommend the right fit for your business. LinkedIn and Facebook communities are a great place to find someone who can introduce you.
4. Agencies – One of the easiest ways to outsource your content requirements is to hire a content agency to do it. They have a team of in-house writers or a network of freelance writers that they will provide you based on your niche, tone and content requirement. Some agencies will take care of everything from content ideation, writing, editing to publishing for you along with providing relevant images. They will also engage an editor to send you articles that are top quality. Their prices are also usually cheaper than hiring someone in-house and you can order ala-carte service depending on your requirements like social media pages, product pages or newsletter.
5. Find writers that contribute to top publishing houses and online magazines like Entrepreneur and Forbes. Hire someone who you enjoying reading. Look in your bookmarks for articles in your industry and contact the authors. Buzzsumo and Ahrefs are also great tools to search for content based on keywords and finding content that is most shared(buzzsumo) or highly linked(Ahref) to.
6. Post a job on writer job boards and website – Writer job boards like Problogger and Writer’s den allow you to post a writer requirement for a small amount. But the tons of applicants you get from across the spectrum of quality, it can easily get a little overwhelming and difficult to spot the right one for you. Similarly, post a job requirement on a job website, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. These job sites range from global or nationwide websites, where vacancies range in different careers, including writing, to those that have listings for creative professionals (like designers or artists) or writers exclusively.
7. Ask for a sample or topic ideas – Evaluating a candidate based purely on basis of past work might not always work. So feel free to ask for a test article or ask to suggest 10 topic ideas for your industry, for a price. This will give you a preview into what to expect and right experience level of the person.
Writer marketplaces – Freelancing marketplaces is a little overwhelming place to begin with because there are millions of writer profiles there. While you can view their work, review and portfolio details in one place, it takes a lot of digging to find the real gem. Most of these freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr have clients that want to pay the minimum possible amount for the work and the demand is served by the with a poor quality of work 99% of the times. If you have someone who talks finding a great writer on a freelance finding platform, well let’s just say they have been lucky.
- Never accept any content without checking for plagiarism.
Don’t expect anything too soon. Quality content trumps any marketing tactics you might be tempted to apply. So have patience, keep consistently posting high quality, authentic and valuable content and traffic will follow.