June 20

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How to Hire a Content Writer in 2020 (Successfully!)

By Doug

June 20, 2020


​Hire is a ​Content Writer in 2020 Successfully!

This article will give you all of the information you need to find and hire a ​content writer in 2020.

You are an entrepreneur or marketing director in a company looking to hire a ​content writer for your web and blog content creation. You are a little worried because you know how relevant content is to your business success. Since writing is not your strong suit, you are concerned that you will make a wrong hiring decision. You will do almost anything to avoid wasting time and money on a failed content writer. On the other hand, you do not have an unlimited budget. You want to get the most bang for your buck.

Great.

Let's get you up to speed so you can achieve spectacular results by hiring the best content writer for your project.

First, let's examine at how a great content writer is different from other times of writers.

hire a content writer

​The 5 Essential Skills of a Great Content Writer

When looking to hire a great content writer in 2020, you want someone who is a master at five different skills. The more skills a content writer has, the more likely he or she will produce amazing results for you. A higher skill level comes with a cost, however. The higher the skills a content article writer brings to the table, the more likely you will achieve your goals. Pinching pennies on content marketing is a common and fatal mistake.

Research

Writing does not happen in a vacuum. Great writing requires research. The best content writers perform several layers of research. The first layer is subject matter research. This could be as simple as finding information on Wikipedia. Subject matter research could involve deeper academic or professional research. The second layer is scope and coverage research. What topics are covered? The final layer of research involves positioning. Positioning research looks at the top ranking blogs, articles and keyword searches to discover what the Google algorithm prefers.

You may do the research yourself and provide it to your content writer. Alternatively, you may engage your content writer to perform the research.

Great writing

The best content writers are literate, educated, and fluent; they command written language with grace and ease. Their writing is easy and fun to read, even if the topic is dull or tedious. Grammar, punctuation, syntax, word choice, sentence structure, and the organization must be flawless. If a content writer cannot meet this standard, you should not consider him or her.

Great content writers use the active voice, not the passive voice. If you do not know the difference, consider these two sentences.

"Most people search for cheap content writers."

"It is true that most people are searching for content writers that are cheap."

The first sentence is active. The second sentence is passive. The first sentence has a lot of punch; the second is flabby. You want to hire a content writer that has punch.

Another metric is sentence length. Shorter sentences are easier to read and convey more meaning than longer sentences. A great content writer will have sentence lengths of 12-15 words. If there are more than a couple of sentences over 15 words, beware.

You should run a potential content writer's samples through Word or other analytic software. This screening will eliminate the vast number of people that call themselves content writers. Here are the Word readability statistics for this article.

hire a content writer

The average sentence length is 12.2 words, there are no passive sentences, and the reading difficulty is slightly above 7th grade. This is excellent writing (if I do say so myself.)

Adaptable to Many Different Styles

Writing style refers to the formality and structure of writing. A great content writer should be able to write in a manner comfortable to your readers. If you are writing to young, single women, the style could be breezy and conversational. If you are writing to professionals, the technique could be formal. Think of writing styles like restaurants. Some are informal; some are very formal. A great content writer, like a great chef, can produce writing appropriate in many milieus.

SEO Skills

hire a content writer


SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to how an article is relevant to Google. A great content writer in 2020 will know exactly how to make the Google search algorithm happy. Thousands of factors affect how a blog or article ranks. A great content writer will be knowledgeable about the elements he or she can influence. Later in this article, I will show you what questions to ask about SEO skills.

Understanding Page Authority

Page authority is another aspect of search engine optimization. Page authority refers to how authoritative Google sees your article. The number of people that read and link to a page determines page authority. A great content writer will understand the importance of page authority and know how to develop it.

Ability to Create Relevant Images and Infographics

Images and infographics are essential components of any article. Generally, a picture should occur every 200-300 words. Google loves infographics that convey a lot of information in an image. Great content writers in 2020 can produce images and infographics to complement the article. Of course, if you have images and infographics, a great content writer can weave the words around them.

The more you expect from a content writer, the more you will pay. However, even if you simply need a plain text non-optimized blog post, you should be looking for a writer that could give you full-service content.

Here's an example of an infographic:

hire a content writer

What About Other Types of Writers?'

​There are four types of writers:

  • Content writers
  • Journalists
  • Authors and Ghost Writers
  • Copywriters

Journalists train to research, investigate, and engage in straightforward reporting. Journalists can be content writers. However, unless qualified, journalists lack most of the essential skills of content writing. They work in the 2,000-10,000 word range.

Authors and ghostwriters are storytellers. They have command of emotional expression and take their readers on a journey. They may be very fluent with the written word, but lack SEO, page authority, and graphic skills. Their writing starts at 50,000 words and goes up from there..

Copywriters write to sell. They are skilled in advertising, sales page, and email copy. Typically, their assignment is to create a compelling reason for a reader to take action. If trained, copywriters can be excellent content writers. They work in the 1 to 1,500--word range.

In comparison to the other writers, content writers work in the 500-5,000 word range.

hire a content writer

When you want to hire a content writer, make sure that his or her experience and training is in content writing, not one of the other forms of professional writing.

Should a Great Content Writer Have Subject Matter Expertise (SME)?

If you need highly technical content, hire a content writer with appropriate subject matter expertise or someone who is a quick study.

If you have an audience that expects professional jargon, hire a content writer with that expertise.

If you cannot find a content writer with expertise, you will have to prepare a technical memorandum defining terms and explaining concepts. A great content writer can translate technical knowledge into a readable article.

Otherwise, the best content writer in 2020 will be able to write competently on most subjects. Subject matter expertise should be low on your list of requirements.

The Questions a Great Content Writer Will Ask You

hire the best content writer

Most content writers will respond to your inquiry. They want to sell themselves. That's normal. What you are seeking is the best content writer. That person will interview you to see if there is a fit. Be prepared to answer the following questions. If a candidate does ask some of these questions, why is she doing so? A professional content writer will want to know much about your assignment.

What Are Your Goals When Hiring a Content Writer?

How Does Hiring a Content Writer Fit Into Your Business Strategy?

The best content writers do not want to write in a vacuum. They want to know how their work fits into your business strategy. If you cannot answer this question, you are not ready to hire a great content writer in 2020.

Do You Have a Written Content Management Strategy?

A written content management strategy lists the reasons for content marketing, strategy, and tactical execution. For example, your content marketing strategy might include blogs, articles, and emails, supported by a back linking campaign and YouTube videos. Your strategy should consist of the definition of key performance indicators (KPIs) linked to business outcomes. If you cannot link sales results to your content management strategy, you may waste your money. You should include a content calendar for at least a year out. Seasons may dictate the type, frequency, and nature of your content.

How Important Is Page Ranking?

Page ranking concerns how Google ends up with search engine results. The higher the ranking, the more likely the content will show up on the first page of a keyword search.

Page ranking may not be necessary if you have a broad audience, such as an active email list or blog subscribers. In that case, your content writer has a known audience.

If page ranking is imperative, have you done primary and competitive keyword research? Primary keyword research refers to the types of search terms someone will use to find your product or service. Competitive keyword research reveals the keywords your competitors are using. Several tools assist in this research. Are you motivated to perform this work? If so, have you researched primary and competitive keywords before hiring a content writer?

​Will You Hire a Content Writer to Do The Primary and Competitive KW Research?

Maybe you find keyword research beyond your interests and talents. The scope of your content writer's engagement will broaden if you delegate keyword research. The fee will rise significantly because of the time and cost of in-depth analysis. At this point, you will be hiring your content writer for consulting services, which include content writing. The best content writers in 2020 can perform this work.

hire a content write to perform keyword research

How Do You Intend to Manage Your Content Writer?

The best content writers must know your management process to evaluate the cost of the project. Here are some of the basic questions you should be able to answer?

Who Is the Point of Contact?

Your content writer will want to report to one person, not a committee. That person must be reasonably available to respond to questions and comment on drafts.

Who Is the Final Decision-Maker?

If the point of contact is not the final decision maker, who is? A great content writer does not want to write and re-write because different levels of authority have different visions of the content. You must have a coherent management plan approved by everyone that has veto power over the assignment.

How to Avoid Mission Creep?

As the project unfolds, people will want to add more ideas, topics, and themes. A great content writer will ask you how to prevent it. If you do not have a solid answer, expect the content writer's fee to either be much larger or based on an hourly rate. Good content writers will not take the risk of an assignment that starts with a narrow scope only to balloon into something expansive.

How Many Drafts Do You Expect?

Generally, a great content writer will expect to provide two drafts. Two drafts should be sufficient if you are organized and clear. If you cannot answer this question, you will pay a higher fee.

What Is Your Turnaround Time?

The best content writers expect a 24-48 hour turnaround time for your team to comment. If you cannot commit to a hard stop turnaround time, do not ask for a short deadline. Plan on a higher fee.

Do You Have Examples of Content You Like On Your Website or Blog?

Great content writers are highly adaptable. If you have examples of the type of style and content, your candidate will be interested in it. Do not leave out competitor examples.

Do You Have a Content Brief?

A content brief is a formal document that contains a content writer's essential information. The content brief defines the scope of the engagement, including headlines, keywords, searcher intent, your KPIs and goals, secondary keywords, links to ranking articles, etc. If you have not prepared a content brief, the best content writers will politely decline to work with you. They are not interested in unprepared clients.

Content writers may agree to prepare a content brief. However, you are now hiring them as content consultants, not purely writers. You will pay consultant fees, not writer fees. Some writers do not want to be consultants and decline these engagements.

What Specific Services Do You Need From A Great Content Writer?

content writer services

Writing Only

Be clear on what services you want. The simplest and least expensive service is simply writing. A content writer will​ turn your research, your SEO research, and your content brief into a blog or article. The rule is "Garbage In, Garbage Out." If you provide your content writer with poor information, you will receive a poor product.

SEO

If you expect your content writer to conduct keyword research and optimize the blog or article for Google, ask for that. You will pay for this additional service as there are out-of-pocket costs and additional time associated with SEO.

Images

Normally, you would provide the images and infographics to your content writer. If this is not possible, you may hire a content writer to create and curate images for the project. This will be an additional cost.

Publishing

​Do you have a website to host the blog or article? Will you upload the article yourself? If no, then you may hire a content writer that can publish the project on another site. There are many public sites that accept articles. The content writer may have his or her websites that are appropriate. Again, this will be an additional cost.

​Building  Page Authority

Page authority is usually ​your responsibility/ Obtaining backlinks to the blog or article is a tedious, time-consuming process. You can, however, hire a content writer that has this capability. At this level of engagement, you moving from a pure writer to consultancy services.

Content Marketing Strategy

Finally, you may hire a content writer with strategic consulting experience to help you craft a content marketing strategy. Strategic consulting is a much different ​skill than pure content writing and there are fewer writers who are also consultants.

What is Your Budget?

Your budget will dictate what services you will receive. The best content writers strive to earn the equivalent of $100 to $250 per hour. Therefore, they have to be fast and efficient. If you are not organized, expect to pay more.

Per Word

Suppose you want to pay a penny a word. A 500-word blog would cost $5. You might find someone in Sri Lanka to write at that rate, but not a competent, well-trained native writer. If you want to pay by the word, you must have a detailed written content marketing strategy and a complete content brief. All you need is someone to translate concepts into words. Even then, the best content writers will charge a minimum of $1 per word with a $1,000 minimum.

Per Hour

If you are less prepared, you might find a content writer willing to take on consulting and writing. As mentioned earlier, the best content marketers will be charging $100 to $250 per hour. Some will charge as much as $500 per hour. You take the risk that the content writer will over-bill. That is the cost of being unprepared.

Per Project

Some content writers will charge a flat fee for a project. The advantage is the fixed cost. The benefit to the content writer is the built-in premium for efficient, quality work. The best content writers consider the scope of the project, the tasks requested, and the length of the project. The content writer will double or triple the estimated hours and multiply times the desired hourly rate. That product will be the project price. The content writer takes the risk of completing the project within his or her desired hourly rate.

There are a handful of content writers in high demand. For example, one writer commands a fee of $10,000 to write an About Page. She can charge that because she has 50-100 companies lining up to hire her.

If you want professional-level services, you will pay professional-level fees. If this is unaffordable, you can go with the Sri Lankan writer at a penny a word or something in between.

Where Can You Find Great Content Writers to Hire?

You want a great content writer. Great content writers do not post on Upwork, Fiverr, or other gig sites because they do not need to. You have to find them. Fortunately, that is not too hard.

Google Search on Relevant Keywords

The first step is to search on keywords relevant to your business. Read page 1 blogs and articles. Ignore the ads and YouTube videos. Every blog and article will state the author and usually the contact information. If you like what you read, search the author. Does he or she have a website?
What other published articles and blogs appear? Great writers will have top page rankings.

Does the writer seem to be an employee or a freelancer? Search out competitor blogs and articles. Who wrote them? Again, search the authors. Follow the same process with industry blogs.

As you find writers, create a spreadsheet with the author's name, contact information, links, and notes.

When you have a list of 10 candidates, reach out with an inquiry email. Your email should be short and simply ask if the writer is taking on new projects. If so, ask permission to send a content brief for their consideration.

If you are looking for a content writer/content marketing consultant, the writer's webpage should provide that information and a fee schedule.

Referrals

The second approach to finding a great content writer is to ask your professional network for referrals. LinkedIn is probably your best approach as people are there to network. There are a large number of professional writers listed on LinkedIn. You might spend some time searching for people who list themselves as content writers.

Posting on Job Boards

The final approach is posting on sites like ProBlogger or Blogger Pro. Writers that frequent these job boards will not rank in the top 1%. With discernment and preparation, you might find quality writers at a lower price point.

finding the best content writers

As mentioned before, if you are hiring the best content writers, do not go to gig sites like Upwork and Fiverr. Writers that list themselves on those sites generally are not professionals. Anybody can register as a content writer, so buyer beware. If you are looking for super-inexpensive writing without much sophistication, these sites are fine. If you have a small budget, these sites work. However, gig sites will not list the best content writers.

Conclusion

You began reading this article with some anxiety and concern about hiring a great content writer in 2020. Working with the best content writers is a collaborative process. The equation is simple. The more prepared you are, the lower the fee you pay, and the faster the completion. The less organized you are, the higher the price and the longer the process.

I have created a checklist to guide you as you hire the best content writer in 2020. Fill out the form below to ​download it.

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