You’ve convinced your team that killer content is what will take your organization from meh to fantastic. Great! So now who’s going to write all those assignments to fulfill your plan of content marketing domination? This part can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re starting from scratch or you’ve taken a few wrong turns in the past.
Network, Networks, Publications, and the Interwebs
The best way to uncover great talent is to ask for recommendations. Coworkers who also use freelancers, other writers in your stable, colleagues at networking events … you get the idea. You’re hiring — get the word out, and you might find qualified candidates in your network.
If that doesn’t pan out, start searching writers associations. There are several — the Editorial Freelancers Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors are just two examples. Freelancers affiliated with these kinds of organizations pay for membership and, in the case of ASJA, are vetted and accepted based on their professional experience.
Another way is to identify publications or articles that have the same voice/tone/expertise/target audience you’re looking for and approach the writers directly. For an IT project, for example, you might find a writer with bylines in CIO magazine or Computerworld.
Professional writers usually have websites with clips and biographical information. For technology writers, I try to read the clips to see if they’re writing tech reviews, trend pieces, or executive Q&As. They’re different, so you want to make sure they have the expertise you’re looking for.
Now it’s time to make contact (this is the easy part). Writers are either available or not but, in my experience, they’re usually responsive either way. If they charge more than you’ve budgeted for, that’s OK; keep them in your contact list for future assignments (the ones with tight deadlines that you might be willing to pay more for). You never know what next year’s content budget will be, so don’t throw away a good writer’s contact, just refile it under “maybe.” The Editorial Freelancers Association has a good price list for reference to help you put together competitive compensation.
It’s not necessary to do an in-depth interview if you’ve already determined this person has the right experience. Don’t hand over the entire project, but give them an assignment with detailed guidelines and expectations, and see how they do. When they turn in the work, that’s when you decide whether they’ve earned their next assignment. Did they hit the deadline and give you what you asked for? Were they open to rewrites? If they missed the mark, did they resubmit good copy after some guidance? If they were good but still not a solid fit for your specific project, save their contact information to recommend to others in your organization.
Tips on Training
Finally, you can hire nothing but award-winning writers but, if you slack on your end, you won’t get the best content possible. There are a few things you need to do to help the process along:
- Provide clear instructions. Spend time crafting the assignment letter, give specifics about what you’re looking for, what format it should be in, who the audience/client is, the desired style and tone, exact lengths and deadlines, and whether you need social media copy or teasers, etc.
- Give feedback. I know, you have a huge to-do list and circling back around to give feedback to someone who already did a good job just seems like extra work. However, not coaching your team only hurts you in the long run. Feedback, whether positive or negative, is essential if you want to train your writers to give you clean copy moving forward.
- Provide face time to trustworthy writers. If you’ve worked with the author and trust their judgment, let them sit in on a call with clients so they can hear firsthand the project needs/purpose.
Follow these tips and you’re sure to find, hire, and re-hire great writers.
Since we’ve already done the legwork, you can take the easy route and contact me for your content creation needs.