If you’re in the market for a new content writer to work for your company, finding the right fit is vital. Your new writer will be a steward of your brand, shaping the perception the world has of your company. Writing is, for the most part, indelible––the most enduring form of communication. Finding the right person to entrust that power to is crucial.
But hiring a writer is hard (trust us, we’ve hired plenty). The usual signs you’d look for to tell whether someone is a good fit don’t apply. Writers don’t study for a wordsmith’s equivalent of a JD, MBA, or Ph.D. Most don’t even have a degree in writing.
This essentially means that anyone can be a writer. There’s no real barrier to entry, the same way there is if someone wanted to become an engineer or an accountant.
Everyone can write. But not everyone should write.
If you’re hiring a writer for your company, you need someone who gets it. You need a trusted professional––not some aimless freelancer who moonlights a couple of articles each week.
So, how do you separate the experts from the pretenders? Regardless of whether you’re looking for someone to write a few blogs per month or want to bring a full-time content writer on board, there are a few ways you can tell whether a writer is going to be a good fit for your company.
Here are 6 ways to tell if a writer is a good fit:
Let’s take a closer look at each of these ideas.
Perhaps the quickest, most effective way to find a writer that’s a good fit for your company is to ask around for an introduction. You can ask anyone for a referral, but here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:
If you know enough people and keep these two guiding principles in mind, you’ll likely be able to score an intro to a qualified writer in no time at all.
Think about the content you read online today: what businesses in your industry have great written content? This shouldn’t be a competitor, as it’s unlikely they’ll happily introduce you to their marketing team. Instead, focus on your vendors, customers, and other partners.
Failing that, ask someone you trust. You don’t want to ask your friend whose last three businesses have failed––ask someone that’s running a successful business and is plugged into a network of talented people.
If your business operates in a specialized industry, it’s going to be important to find someone with experience writing for businesses in your space.
Writing generic lifestyle content is easy. It’s an area of writing a lot of entry-level writers gravitate towards. But it’s much harder to write content that’s a real value add for a specific industry audience.
If you’re an accounting firm that wants to create content about the latest tax regulations, you need a writer who understands those regulations. Or if you’re a rubber products manufacturer, you want someone who has a basic idea of how the manufacturing process works.
Looking for a writer with experience in your industry helps you hit the ground running. Otherwise, you’ll spend countless hours educating your new writer on basic concepts and making revisions to their work.
Every serious writer you meet will have a portfolio, and reading it gives you a sense of the writer’s capabilities and writing style. The portfolio will contain a selection of the writer’s work that they’re proud of. Ideally, the examples will be split across different subjects, types of content, and publications.
Skim the content in the portfolio. Do they cover topics somehow related to your business or industry? Is the spelling and grammar all correct? Has any of the work been published in notable publications? Is the writing cohesive and easy to understand or dense and overly complicated?
Answering these questions will help you to discern whether the writer is competent but it’s not the only test––you need to verify their skills for yourself.
Before you commit to hiring a writer on a full-time basis or putting them on a monthly retainer, start with a few small trial projects. Assign them some relatively straightforward work then step back and watch how they perform.
First of all, evaluate the basics. Is the work delivered on time to the specifications you requested? Then, evaluate the content itself. Does what they’ve written make sense and show that they understand your business? Is there a logical structure with a clear narrative?
It’s rare for a writer to hit it out of the park on their first piece of content for a new company, but you should be able to judge whether the foundational skills you need are there. One thing we should note: any trial projects should be compensated.
All writers are, on some level, curious people. They seek to understand big, complicated ideas and break them down into simple stories anyone can understand. A big part of that? They ask smart questions.
Be wary of the writer who gets an initial brief and starts writing without asking any questions.
Great writers ask smart questions. That’s how they discover interesting, insightful ideas to include in their writing. Pay attention to the questions your writers ask: they should be asking you about your target audience, your products and services, your company’s unique value proposition, and more.
Like any other hiring decision, it’s important to trust your intuition. If you get a bad vibe from someone straight away, take it as a warning sign. Now, we’re not saying you should make decisions entirely based on your first impressions. Take the time to interrogate your intuition and understand why you have a bad gut feeling about someone.
Ultimately though, writing is a people business. You need to be able to connect with your writers, and they need to be able to connect with you, leaders in your business, and your audience.
If you don’t think they have the professional credibility to do that, it’s likely they’re not a good fit for your business. Look for people who will fit right in with your team––reliable professionals that you can tell will be easy to work with.
Finding an accomplished writer with the skills to make a difference in your business is difficult, but fortunately, you’re in just the right place. We’re Hire a Writer, and if you want to, well, hire a writer, we can help.
We’re a collective of professional writers with expertise in a wide array of industries and experience writing for some of the world’s top brands.
Interested in learning more? Reach out today – we’d love to hear from you.