15 Things To Consider When Hiring a Content Writer [2019]

 

Peter Jobes

Today, there are few more effective ways of successfully marketing a product or service to large audiences than through engaging content.

Businesses that don’t feature blogs or other platforms in which to post content put themselves at a serious disadvantage when it comes to building prominence on the results pages of Google. Search Engine Optimisation is an excellent way for companies to position themselves in the shop window of search engine ranking pages.

With this in mind, the content writers and copywriters of today now have a quantifiable measure for success, which not only helps them to understand how better to optimise a business’s or client’s content but also aids them in measuring their own performance.

Custom Content

Image Source: Dragon Search Marketing

Content is a big deal, so it pays to hire content writers and copywriters that will be fine-tuned in helping your business achieve its goals – whether that’s to boost conversion rates on your website or increase web traffic.

To help you along, here’s a list of 15 key aspects to take into consideration when going through the process of hiring a content writer/copywriter, be it web, marketing or SEO writer.

1. Quality control

There are plenty of considerations to make when looking to recruit a new employee in just about any field of work – but few are more demanding than that of the content writer/copywriter.

Above all, you need to be confident that your prospective employee is a capable writer. Luckily evidence of ability is never too far when considering copywriting applications, and even if a writer doesn’t have an extensive portfolio their CVs will undoubtedly provide significant insight into grammatical ability.

Some employers regularly fall into the trap of failing to scrutinise the writing abilities of their applicants, but in a high-pressure deadline-based working environment, mistakes can multiply. Be sure to invest some time into looking at the skillset of your potential content writer or copywriter. If there are multiple typos on their CV and covering letter, alarm bells should be ringing.

2. Versatility in tone

A skill that many employers forget to search for is versatility in tone. In a role that involves writing for numerous clients, it’s vital that your team are capable of switching tone based on the task at hand. For example, if you have an employee that’s required to write a 1,000-word article for a law firm, followed by a 500-word piece on a new brand of pet food, they’ll need to demonstrate a good level of adaptability to each assignment.

If an applicant is capable of showing off a diverse portfolio then it could make for a good reference point for learning about how capable they are at producing copy with considerably different tones. Finding an employee that can seamlessly shift between conversational and formal language can be an excellent appointment in terms of productivity.

Content Portfolio

3. Experience

The level of experience that’s desirable in a potential employee may differ dramatically based on the job role you’re offering. When it comes to writing-based positions it’s important to be mindful that the industry is highly competitive and it may be difficult for recent graduates to build up a repertoire.

However, for content writers and copywriters, it should be easy to build up a portfolio of existing work – even if they received no payment in return for their articles. Given the wealth of platforms available for passionate writers to display their work, it’s could be considered unusual for prospective employees to fail to provide any examples of their skills.

When it comes to recruitment, be mindful that while a CV that features experience at reputable media organisations can certainly be an advantage, evidence of productivity in producing content online in any manner – even if it’s via a blog – should be seen as a very promising sign of a strong work ethic.

4. Fluent in SEO

Even the most gifted writers in the world wouldn’t be of much use if they’re unable to ensure that their content is searchable on the pages of Google and other key search engines. It’s fair to say that Search Engine Optimisation forms the cornerstone of the content marketing industry and it’s vital to ensure that any prospective employee is aware of keywords before inviting them to join your workforce.

An effective way of ensuring that your applicant has a good knowledge of SEO during the interview process is to show them an existing article before asking them what keywords they would choose to incorporate in order to make sure the piece can be found through search engines.

5. Capable of finding angles

Another key skill to look out for is a prospective content writer or copywriter’s ability to find a strong angle in which to theme an article.

Finding the right topic is something of an art form when it comes to producing content. You’ll want to cover a subject that’s strong enough to attract a large volume of readers while avoiding the prospect of travelling down a well-trodden path. Content marketing is a competitive industry and as such it’s an asset to an agency to have an employee that’s able to find a niche that’s sure to draw in a readership.

6. Evidence of articulation

A key skill to consider, especially if you’re looking for a writer to produce feature-length content, is the ability for a writer to be articulate. This will not only be a strong indicator of a content writer or copywriter’s competence in the realm of keywords, but also an excellent asset in producing engaging articles.

7. Copy editing process

It may or may not be essential based on the job description that you’re offering to prospective employees, but the ability to edit content will always be desirable during the recruitment process.

Grammarly

Be sure to ask an applicant what the copy editing process was like in their previous roles as there can be great potential for adapting to more editor-based roles as and when required.

In a fast-paced industry, the ability to edit work can only be considered advantageous, and when it comes to publishing content, the damaging potential that poor quality control holds is unthinkable. Typos may be inevitable, but consistently poor grammar could do some significant damage to your business’s reputation. In a tight deadline scenario, having a writer on board who’s also competent at editing and aware of the necessary processes could pay dividends.

8. Reliability

Reliability is another vital asset for an employee to possess. While in some cases delays to deadlines are unavoidable, sometimes it’s down to an unreliable writer.

When it comes to hiring new employees for in-house roles, be sure to check for evidence of punctuality and productivity. It’s also worth making sure that a potential content writer or copywriter’s commute isn’t too demanding.

Use tools like Monday.com to manage and track the progress of your employees. 

Monday.com 

9. Availability

Even if you’re looking to hire a writer to work in-house, having an employee available at all times to correspond with clients or pick up a last-minute assignment can work wonders for your business.

Although this skill may rarely be called upon, you never know what’s around the corner, and having a content writer on-hand to make late corrections or pick up work outside of office hours could potentially make or break some client relationships.

10. Enthusiasm

The last thing you want to encounter is an employee that’s failing to find motivation for the subject matter that they’ve been allocated.

In the job role of content writer or copywriter, enthusiasm is much more imperative than other industries. It’s part and parcel of the industry that employees will be tasked with writing content that they don’t have a natural passion or understanding of – and failure to effectively engage with your workload can lead to significant drops in productivity.

Of course, everybody who applies for the role of content writer or copywriter at a company will claim that they have an enthusiasm for writing. It’s on you to find evidence that shows a clear eagerness to write about a range of topics. Clear evidence of enthusiasm can come in the form of active personal blogging or a portfolio that covers a range of topics.

11. Willingness to learn

You never stop learning, which is just as well because content marketing is a dynamic industry that refuses to sit still. There’s always something new to understand and grasp so it pays to have a team that’s perfectly happy to continue learning and adapting throughout their career.

It’s only the content writers and copywriters among us who are willing to change with the times that will stay ahead of the curve when more modern trends and approaches to SEO develops – and in a working environment that’s governed by ever-changing Google algorithms, this could prove to be a key asset to employers.

12. Workplace personality

Of course, it’s vital for employees to fit into your workplace. Hiring a worker that fails to integrate into their working environment can lead to a significant waste of resources and productivity.

Employees Leaving

Image Source: Harvard Business Review

Remember to consider whether a prospective employee has the right personality to suit your office – doing so could prevent significant losses on staff training and induction costs if they decide to move on.

13. Where to look

You won’t have much luck in finding anything if you’re looking in the wrong places. Be sure to find the best talent by consulting the best jobs boards and worker platforms.

LinkedIn is a great place to explore the CVs of its millions of content-based workers, while dedicated websites like CWJobs.co.uk is great for exploring more nuanced skillsets.

If you’re looking for a more interactive approach to the hiring process, there’s the excellent r/HireaWriter sub-Reddit page.

Posting a job on Angel.co could also be a great option. 

Angel Jobs

14. Budgeting

Money makes the world go round, and profit margins are vital when it comes to the production of content. Keep budgeting in mind during the hiring process, the industry is fast-paced and dynamic, so it helps to bring in somebody with plenty of experience – but if their wage demands outweigh the role that they’ll likely be playing in your business it’s important to assess whether their value outweighs their costs.

Consider hiring an agency for one-off projects. It will almost end up much cheaper. 

Content Pricing

15. Turnaround

Content production and copywriting can be high-pressure job roles. Clients can be demanding and deadlines may often be very tight.

A content writer may be fully capable of producing excellent pieces for clients, but if their turnaround time is too long, they won’t be of much use in a deadline-based working environment.

Be sure to inquire about a prospective employee’s productivity in previous job roles, provided they carry relevance. Evidence of performing in the face of looming deadlines can make for an excellent asset to your business.

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Peter Jobes

Content Marketing Manager

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