Just like so many competitive endeavors, albeit in business, sports, etc., building a team of talented individuals can make or break your content marketing efforts. There are many talented writers out there, but will their skillset match your needs? What things should you be aware of as you find and hire content writers?
The hunt for the best fit can be looked at both objectively and subjectively. If you’re seeking to attract and find content writers, here are some nuggets of wisdom I can share before you begin the search.
The Journey to Find Content Writers: Why Does It Matter?
If your organization is serious about content marketing to attract and convert leads, you need more than someone who’s a solid writer. The reality is that you need writers who comprehend content strategy and all the elements of content marketing. Not every writer is going to have content marketing experience. Can they learn if you devote time and resources to teaching them? Sure, but you may not have that luxury.
Content marketing is a unique discipline that combines several different aspects. They need to understand the fundamentals of content planning and how to execute it. The good news is that many accomplished content writers are well-rounded and experienced.
Key Things to Know Before You Find Content Writers
As you begin your journey to find the best and brightest, there are certain things you should know. These may be things you’ve not considered or didn’t view as relevant. Having this knowledge can help you narrow down your list more quickly.
1. Does Passion Matter?
In looking for content writers, you may be in a niche where you’re hoping to find those with experience. Experience in an industry is great to have as this will reduce training time. It’s not always a must-have, though.
However, experience doesn’t always equate to passion. Should you hold out for someone passionate about the subject? That’s a question you have to ask yourself. On the one hand, passion drives innovation and a desire to be creative. If you think this is a necessity, then add it to the job description. You can include questions about why they are passionate about your subject.
2. Should Content Writers Be Inspired?
Having inspiration, just like passion, is hard to gauge sometimes. It’s not something you see on the outside, but you can identify it in the work they’ve previously produced and how they present themselves to you.
In the world of content marketing, there’s no time to have writer’s block. You live in a production environment where projects have to keep moving. Your content calendar must keep growing with ideas as well. You can determine their propensity and need for inspiration by asking them about how they work through a project. If they can’t articulate how they work, that could be a sign they have trouble focusing and expect a muse to come inspire them to work. You need content writers that have a system and can deliver quality pieces on time.
3. Find Writers with a Thick Skin
I’ll admit that when I was much younger and possibly naïve, I took feedback to heart. It was hard to separate the constructive criticism from a personal jab. I’m sure I’m not alone, but harsh feedback is sometimes impossible to avoid in content marketing. It should, of course, never be personal, but you should review the content to see if it works to meet the goals set. That means the writing itself may be good; it just falls short of being impactful.
If you want writers that can take feedback and become better, then you’re going to need someone with thick skin. Again, this is hard to determine based on their portfolio or resume. It’s about asking the right questions, such as, “How do you handle criticism?” or “Tell me about a time when you received feedback and what you did with it.”
4. Can They Embrace Your Tone?
If your brand already has a defined tone, then you want to find content writers that can embrace it. This is important because content marketing isn’t journalism or academic in nature. Some journalists can make the shift to content marketing, but they are really very different disciplines.
For many writers in those fields, you can see they have excellent grammar and the ability to create clear, concise articles. But writing a news article isn’t the same as writing a blog or eBook. Content marketers must “take a side,” whereas journalists and those in academia remain neutral.
If you are considering hiring writers that are new to content marketing, it could work. You just need to determine if they can make the transition and live within your brand’s voice.
5. Pick Self-Starters
Content writers rarely get a fully developed spec or brief on projects. And in fact, they should be the ones creating this anyway. If writers are unable to do this, it’s a problem. Project briefs are essential to defining goals, keywords, audience, and more. They are vital to delivering effective content, but the best content writers have the skills and motivation to develop these on their own (although feedback from others is useful as well).
You don’t want to be stuck with team members that are great writers but need constant direction. Self-starters and those with natural leadership qualities are, in the long run, a better hire.
You can find out how well they work with or without guidance by giving them a sample project. Give them a few details and see where they can take the project. This will also demonstrate if they have well-honed research skills.
Be Choosy, But Go with Your Gut
When it comes down to finding content writers, it’s okay to be choosy. You’ll likely receive an abundance of candidates who meet the minimum requirements. By considering the tips above, you’ll be able to find writers that have more than just the basics.
Don’t get too caught up on their experience level with your niche or your content marketing platform. Those things can be learned. Passion, inspiration, taking criticism constructively, embracing your tone, and being a self-starter are more intrinsic values. Seek the best writers based on your own logic, as well as your gut. Then you have an excellent chance of building a kick-ass team!