Hiring a professional writer to keep your blog running smoothly is a great way to make sure you’re taking advantage of one of the best inbound marketing strategies. Your strengths lie wherever your business lies, whether that is real estate, plumbing, financial investments or home security – in other words, not in writing.
Choosing a freelance blogger, especially on the internet, can seem a little daunting. How do you know what you’ll be getting? How can you be sure you can trust the person you hire? Here are some questions to ask that will help you pick the best writer for the job the first time around so your blog will be full of great content in a timely manner.
1. What kind of content do you usually create?
Most freelance bloggers do much more than writing blog posts. Many will also create whitepapers and ebooks, sales copy, email marketing copy, newsletters, etc. Some write journalistic articles, others write full-length books. Some double as editors while others double as planners or marketers. Find out what other projects they like to work on and see if they own up to any limitations. All writers have them, so don’t always trust someone that says they can do everything
2. What industries do you focus on?
Most good bloggers can pick up enough to write a few general posts about any industry, but writing in-depth content that is interesting and engaging requires not just more knowledge, but more passion. Any writer claiming that they can write long-term about any industry at all is probably not as good as it as they think they are. Be sure to ask for writing samples from many industries to see if the writer you’re thinking about can back up their claims.
3. Which styles and tones are you most comfortable with?
Every company has a tone that their either already using or trying to achieve with their blog. Some like light and funny content while others prefer more objective and serious posts. Most freelance writers are good at writing in many different styles and tones and good ones can adapt freely according to their clients’ needs. Ask to see samples of a few different styles – not just the one you’re looking for – so you can see the range that the writer has. That way you know you’ll have a balanced writer who can offer you what you’re looking for every time.
4. How do you research your pieces?
No writer is going to know everything they need first hand to create great content. Researching is an important part of the process, even if it’s just scanning the competition to see what’s going on in the industry. A good freelance writer will not only be adept at researching, it should also be something that they enjoy doing. Learning about new things is part of the writing process and genuine interest is the best way for a writer to compose compelling content. Find out what publications the writer is familiar with, see which they consider reliable or go-to sources for general information (hint: not Wikipedia), and what process they use to learn about new publications and new information in a variety of industries.
5. What do you know about SEO?
Search engine optimization is a constantly changing game and incorporating the best SEO practices into every blog post and website piece should not be something that a freelance blogger considers an “extra” unless you’re asking for extensive keyword research. Today’s SEO focuses heavily on great content, but strategic keyword placement is still important. Using the best current SEO practices should be a natural part of any freelancer’s writing process to ensure smooth keyword incorporation into headlines, headers, content areas,and meta descriptions.
6. What does your work flow look like?
You want to know what kind of hours your freelancer keeps. It’s okay if the hours don’t match up with yours all of the time but you do want to find someone who is occasionally available for live discussions. You also want to find out how revisions are handled. Are they included with the price of writing or are they extra? Most writers will offer 1 or 2 rounds of revisions for blog posts and 2 or 3 revisions for long pieces such as ebooks and whitepapers. You’ll also want to know what turnaround times to expect. When you submit a request for a piece, how long does it typically take to get back? What about revisions?
Steer clear of any writer who hesitates to make revisions. It can take a few tries to nail the style and tone you’re looking for, especially in the beginning of any collaboration and a writer who is looking for a long-term relationship will understand this and be willing to cooperate.