Few business owners have both the time and skill with words needed to do their company blog justice. Business blogs need to look polished and represent the brand well, yet learning to write professionally is a trial-and-error process.
Considering all these personal limitations and high expectations, outsourcing blog writing makes perfect sense. But there is a right way and a wrong way to hire a writer. Many business owners commit hefty mistakes when offering someone the chance to take the reins on their business blog.
Here are six of the biggest of those mistakes. Watch out for them when hiring a blog writer to avoid frustrating setbacks and to ensure your blog is as great as it deserves to be.
This is absolutely the most crucial mistake. Remember the maxim: “you get what you pay for.”
Hiring the cheapest writer you can find creates problems because it assumes the only goal for your blog is to have something published on it. In reality, you want every article published to fit a few criteria:
- Proper grammar, spelling and syntax
- An engaging structure that is as easy to read to completion as it is to skim quickly
- A compelling voice
- Research and effort during prewriting so that your blogs are informative and offer value
- Able to capture the unique perspective of your brand or company
Hiring the cheapest writer guarantees none of these things. In fact, you are highly likely to end up with a non-native English speaker who is going to copy the first article they find on Google search …badly.
Have high standards in mind, and use them to make your budget reasonable. Keep in mind that a badly written blog can cause damage to your brand and marketing goals, making a poorly run blog worse than no blog at all.
The best indicator of a writer’s strength is their past work. You will want to see a broad range of writing styles covering all the topic types you intend for your blog.
Some writers work better in an editorial format compared to a list of “X reasons why…”, for instance, so ensure the writer you have in mind is capable of creating what you need.
You should also look out for a writer who is able to write engagingly in several different voices. They should be chameleons capable of mimicking your particular brand. At the same time, they should have consistent stylistic devices that make reading their pieces easy and fun.
Hold out for writers who can impress you with their past work and their overall versatility. As a final test, you should also commission a sample piece to ensure they can satisfy your desired writing approach.
The best writer in the world is going to struggle with meeting your expectations if you can’t make them clear.
Since no one can read minds, you will need to explain the purpose of your blog and what you intend to get out of it to the writer. These guiding principles will help the writer shape their approach to your blog.
For instance, if your goal is SEO and generating traffic from social media shares, then the writer may take a more “viral” approach. If the aim is to generate leads and develop brand awareness, quality information and a strong brand voice matters most. If the goal is to create a guide to complex topics in your industry or operate as a sales funnel, the overall strategy for blog topic selection and publishing matters as much as each individual piece.
Define your goals, and make them clear to your writer. At the very least, provide an overview of the type of topics you want to cover and what you intend readers to do next. For example, if you have SEO goals, provide a sample of keywords they can work into the writing.
Establish guidelines for how casual or professional you want the language to be. Give a range of article lengths. Tell them what elements they need to include upon submission to make your life easier, such as adding images or including a meta description.
Put all of these guidelines in a document, and ensure your writer has no questions. You don’t want them reaching out via email at the last minute just to get a piece done. If they have a document to refer to, they can self guide and make the process for both of you easier.
Make sure that any writer you hire can adopt the approach and voice you want to represent your brand. A great test is to provide them guidelines for a sample article using excerpts from blogs you like and some loosely described ideas you’ve had.
If they can produce something that comes across as similar to something you’d write or close to a blog style you want to emulate, you know they’re a keeper.
At the beginning of your relationship, you and your writer should know how the typical process for submitting blogs should work. Tell them the deadline for each piece. Tell them whether you want an outline or topic proposal submitted first. Explain how many revisions you might typically go through.
Setting guidelines for touching base is also critical. Even though some professional relationships can work well on autopilot, the last thing you want is for your writer to go AWOL on you. Yet, this can easily happen if they didn’t have clear expectations on when you wanted to hear from them next.
Your writer can also become frustrated if you change your process constantly or add on unexpected things like major changes between drafts. Try to work towards consistency.
When you hire a new writer, you form a relationship that can be quite beneficial to you both. The best way for this relationship to blossom is to have talk strategy, performance and feedback at key points in the year.
Try to schedule a call or meeting with your writer at least quarterly. Discuss your upcoming plans. Offer both praise and suggestions for improvement. See if they have any ideas you could work into your blog strategy. Make a goal to push your blogging to become better month after month.
Following all of the suggestions above ensures you don’t just find a great writer, but that you also develop a professional working relationship that gets better over time. If you can do all this, you will be much happier with the work from your writer and happier about the results they help your blog achieve.