You’ve realized that you don’t have to write all your own blog posts and decided that it’s time to outsource some of your content creation — but how to find a blog writer that fits your needs and your company’s brand voice?
If you’ve never hired a blog writer before, it can be tricky and a little confusing to try to figure it out. Do you go for the cheapest option? (I have thoughts on how much you should pay a blog writer here.) Ask for recommendations from friends? Look on Fiverr and Upwork? Post on Facebook?
And how do you find a blog writer who is not just a good writer but understands your needs and can help you reach your goals?
I started out as a ghostblogger, and I still do the blogging for a couple of VIP clients; plus I’ve hired blog writers to work on my team and write for my clients — so, obviously, I have some Thoughts about how to find a blog writer that’s right for you!
1. Understand your goals to find a blog writer who understands your needs
I always start our Leadership Marketing Strategy Sessions by finding out the client’s big goals — because even the best blog writer can’t help you if they don’t understand the end goal of the content.
It’s sometimes funny to me how often we don’t consider the end goal of our content marketing strategy. Usually the big goal is to drive more traffic, more leads, and create more sales — but not always. Sometimes clients are focused on becoming thought leaders; sometimes they want to build up their followers and engagement to prove to a publisher that they have a strong brand before publishing a new book.
All these goals are valid, but they also all require slightly different strategies to achieve them.
When I do Leadership Marketing Strategy Sessions with my clients, I often help them tease out what their goals really are so that we can customize the content strategy to reach them. If a blog writer doesn’t offer that kind of coaching and support, be sure you are super clear on your own goals going into the relationship so that you can direct them.
2. Define your brand voice and hire a blog writer who can write in your voice
I have always felt that it doesn’t matter how talented, friendly, expensive, or cheap a blog writer is: if they can’t write in your brand voice effectively, they aren’t the writer for you.
But what is your brand voice? In essence, it’s what you say and how you say it.
When I first got started as a ghostblogger nearly eight years ago, I didn’t realize that my talent for emulating my clients’ voice was special or important — but it absolutely is.
For one thing, if you’ve been writing your own copy up to now, you don’t want there to be a big shift in the tone of voice when you hire a blog writer; that kind of change could make your existing audience wonder what’s going on.
And for another, what happens if the blog writer you hire doesn’t work out, or works for you for a while and then moves on, but your entire voice has changed because of them?
No, you want consistency across all your channels and over time so that your audience feels confident and sees your brand as trustworthy.
If you can’t find a blog writer who offers brand voice analysis as we do, you can create your own brand voice guidelines to help them learn your voice.
3. Find a writer with experience in your industry
While it’s not totally necessary, finding a blog writer who already has experience writing about your industry can shorten the learning curve for a new writer.
The best blog writers will be able to write for any industry, do their own research, educate themselves, and use your expertise to create great blogs. Over time, I’ve found that hiring blog writers with a background in journalism or fiction writing helps ensure that they know how to do research, interview, and synthesize that information into something new.
You might pay more for a blog writer with specific industry experience. Only you can decide if you want to hire a blog writer who can hit the ground running with very little training or if you prefer to hire a generalist with strong skills for learning on the job.
Having written for clients in dozens of different industries — from technical men’s clothing to formulating organic skincare to analyzing big data — my writers and I have developed our skills of research and analysis, rather than becoming experts in a particular field.
Only you can decide what’s right for your business.
4. Find a blog writer whose packages meet your needs
Blog writers work in many different ways. Some charge by the word, others by the hour. Some will agree to write one blog post at a time; others want you to sign a contract for a certain number of articles. Big blog production companies and websites often have their writers work on “spec” (short for speculation), meaning that they will write the post before you pay for it; many freelancers and individual writers can’t afford to work that way and need to be paid upfront.
As you are interviewing blog writers and deciding who to hire, ask them about their packages and how they like to work to make sure that it’s a good fit for what you need and your culture.
For example, our base package offers one blog post per week over the course of a six month engagement. I often get people asking if we will consider doing less, but the truth is that it’s rarely worth it to the company or the client to do so. Over the last eight years, I’ve found that consistency is the biggest predictor of results for our clients. A client who wants only one or two posts per month, or a client who only engages us for two or three months won’t see a good return on their investment. That’s the main reason we have minimum contracts.
Of course, it’s hard to commit to a package or a retainer before you’ve worked with the writer! That’s why we are always willing to do a “test” post for you before asking you to sign a long-term contract. Many great blog writers will be willing to do the same — but you need to be ready to pay for their time. Our arrangement is that if you like the work and sign the contract, the test post is rolled into your retainer; if you decide not to proceed for any reason, we charge you at our regular hourly rate. Easy peasey.
5. Choose a blog writer you have a good rapport with
Working with a blog writer is a fairly intimate relationship. The blog writer often has to interview you, learn your stories and anecdotes, and translate your vague ideas into beautiful works of written art.
So you need to find a blog writer you get along with personally and enjoy working with.
It’s about more than just quality and style. If you interview five different blog writers, all of whom can produce high quality content in your brand voice, how do you choose which one to hire?
Often it comes down to how much you know, like, and trust them.
My friend Kendrick Shope says: All things being equal, we do business with people we know, like, and trust.
After you’ve met with several blog writers and asked for a test post from them, you may simply find that you have to go with your gut and choose the person you feel the best personal rapport with.
That’s not a bad thing!
If you can find a blog writer who you know, like, and trust, the two of you will be able to create beautiful content together!
Got a question about how to find a blog writer that I haven’t addressed here? Let me know in the comments below!