What to Look For When Hiring a Content Writer
The written word is far from dead. Blogs, Instagram captions, Medium articles, ebooks and Facebook posts make up just a fraction of outlets where the written word is present today. Couple this with the overwhelming amount of content a company needs to publish online to stay relevant, and it's clear that writing might be more important than ever.
Yet, finding an experienced writer well-suited for your organization can be tough because the barriers to entry for writing are so low today. Anyone with an internet connection has the potential to be a writer, so it can be difficult to differentiate between the "good" and the "great".
That being said, following the steps laid out in this article is a terrific place to start.
Why You Should Hire a Writer
There are many different kinds of writers available for hire. Depending on your company's specific needs, a freelancer, in-house position (copywriter, email marketer, etc.), or agency could be the best option. The framework below can be applied to any route you choose to go with.
1. Nowadays, written content is inescapable.
The written word is everywhere. Social media content, your company blog, website copy, and YouTube scripts are just a few channels that incorporate writing.
In order to keep up with the increasing demand of content marketing, your brand must be publishing valuable content on a consistent basis. This is why it's wise to have someone on staff who's a true wordsmith to ease the workload.
2. Writing is a skill.
Maybe you'll get lucky and have an intern who's an amazing writer, but chances are you'll have to go with a specialist to get top-tier quality. It takes years to hone any craft, and writing is no different.
What To Look For in a Candidate
1. First and foremost, a passion for writing.
This may seem obvious, but it's worth noting. Whoever you hire will need to be creating content for your brand on a daily basis, so it's best to choose someone obsessed with their craft as opposed to a hobbyist.
How you'll know: History is the best truth serum. If they've always wanted to be a writer, if they create online content consistently and carry around a notebook with them at all times, chances are they're passionate about writing.
2. A portfolio to back up their passion.
It's easy for a candidate to talk about how much they love writing. It's much more difficult for a candidate to back up their claims with proof. A portfolio is that proof. If a prospect doesn't have a hearty portfolio of work, it might be time to move onto another candidate.
How you'll know: Ask the candidate where to find their portfolio and which social media platforms they're most active on, then examine their work closely to see where they stack up.
3. Ability to write in a variety of voices.
No matter what type of writer you hire, they're going to have to come in and quickly assimilate the tone and voice of your brand, so the ability to write in a variety of styles is paramount.
How you'll know: If the prospect has experience writing fiction or writing for a wide variety of industries, it's likely they're versatile. If it's unclear whether or not they're truly versatile, give them a writing prompt to test this during the interview process.
4. A Cultural Fit
If you're a peppy, animated company that uses loads of exclamation points and emojis in your content, it probably wouldn't be best to hire an ex-mortician as your writer.
Remember, whoever you hire will be facilitating a lot of the touch points potential customers will have with your brand, so choose a writer you feel will represent your organization well.
How you'll know: Apart from your own intuition, allowing your colleagues to sit down and spend time with the candidate could prove effective.
Things You Shouldn't Prioritize in Your Search
1. College education.
I'm not saying a college degree related to writing isn't important or a "bonus" for a candidate, what I'm saying is it shouldn't be the focal point of your hiring process. Real-world experience and proven ability should trump all other qualifications. Plain and simple.
2. Bestselling authors and public figures.
There are talented writers out there who prefer freelancing and ghostwriting to publishing their own work, on social media and beyond. Just because a candidate doesn't write for a big-time publication or have ten books published shouldn't mean you automatically automatically scrap them.
The content marketing world is a cutthroat one, and it's more difficult than ever before for your company to break through the noise. By hiring a "rock star" writer, you could very well be taking a step in the right direction when it comes to making your brand iconic.