Running a business is rewarding, but it is also hard work. The business owner has to wear so many hats, it’s hard to make them all fit. So many things to do, so few hours in the day – it’s a common feeling. You decide that the best way to make sure everything that needs to get done, gets done, you will hire some people for some of the more specialized tasks that are either time-consuming or outside your skillset. In our digital world, your website can be so critical to the success of your business. You have to have relevant information and content that engages people and encourages them to do business with you. But you’re not much of a writer. Knowing this, you decide to hire a content writer to beef up the articles and blog posts on your site.
Like any other position, the content writer has to be skilled and a great fit with your business. Not everyone who pulls up to a computer can do it. How can you avoid hiring the wrong content writer? There are some things to avoid. Here are 5 things to avoid when hiring a content writer.
Assuming it is all original – When you decide to hire a content writer, you want the writer to be someone who works hard and takes pride in the work. You don’t want a lazy writer who will find want someone else wrote and just copy and paste another person’s work into a document and click the “save” button. Unfortunately, plagiarism is a real thing. It carries real risk. There are services such as Copyscape you can use to check if you suspect something is plagiarized. This can be handy if you desire to hire a website content writer – you can look up something in the writer’s portfolio and check it for originality.
Speaking of the potential writer’s portfolio…
Failing to Review Samples – A writer should have a portfolio of writings for you to review before making the hire. Examine the samples provided. How attention-grabbing is the headline? Is the first paragraph engaging enough to make you want to keep reading? What was used to measure success with the writing? If the person is to be a website content writer, are there reports to show how the writing improved the site’s rankings? What does the writer like to write about? It is not necessarily a requirement for the writer you hire to be a subject matter expert in your industry. However, the writer does need to be good at research, and have a good variety of topics in the portfolio.
Failing to Set Expectations – The very first thing you need to do is write a detailed job description. Entrepreneurs are coached to find a very specific niche when they start their business, and freelance writers are no different. You can ensure you have a better pool of candidates with a proper description. “Blog writer needed” will attract every freelance writer looking for work. “Stocks & Investments Blog Writer needed” will attract writers who have experience or keen interest in that specific niche. This will lead to higher-quality work in less time. Additionally, expectations include specifics about the job. Is the writing to be blogs, social media posts or newsletters? Will this person be a website content writer? Is the purpose to increase website traffic or better brand awareness? Do you already know what you want the writer to write about, or do you want the writer to pitch ideas for content to you?
After the writer is in place, maintain regular and detailed communication so that ongoing expectations are also very clear. If the writer does not know the expectations, then you as the business owner cannot fault the writer for not meeting them.
Hiring the Cheapest Content Writer – Have you heard the expression “you get what you pay for”? This can be true when hiring people. If your #1 criterion is paying the least amount possible, you will likely struggle with poor quality work or lack of reliability. The cheapest writers also tend to be new at writing or from economically challenged areas of the world – and this increases the probability you could be hiring someone who doesn’t speak the language in which your content will be written. (We’ll talk more about that in a minute.)
If you are in a position where keeping costs low is a high priority, go with a writer with a rate close to average. That way you can strike a balance between cost and quality. If cost is a lower priority, go ahead and hire a content writer with a higher rate, which likely means you will get higher-quality work that requires less review and editing.
Ignoring Spelling and Grammar Errors – It’s a bit of a shame to have to point this out, isn’t it? A good writer will not produce work filled with spelling and grammar errors, poor sentence structure, or awkward syntax. If the writer is writing in something other than his/her first language, this could be a regular occurrence. This means the writer may be fully competent with the content, but not fluent with the language. This could mean you spend a good deal of time reviewing and editing the work, which almost defeats the purpose of hiring a writer. The writer needs to be fluent in the language in which the content will be written, and write well enough that significant time does not have to be devoted to editing and revising the work to correct errors.
Content is key in today’s digital world. People are researching, reviewing and talking about businesses online more and more every day. Having a high-ranking website, a blog with a large audience, a legion of social media followers, a newsletter that will benefit a long list of subscribers, and many other platforms require fantastic content. They are key to the success of your business. Having a stellar content writer in place will help you achieve your business goals. Avoid these mistakes when hiring a content writer, and you will be well on your way.