With platforms like Scripted, Contently and the countless of other content creation companies, there is no shortage of supply of content. But getting that supply at a decent cost with outstanding results is often rare.
Some of these services offer relatively expensive ‘blog posts’ that tend to have an overused framework and are overly predictable. With the time it takes to set up the writer, establish the tone, voice, style, argument, word count, purpose, keyword use, etc, you may as well have written the post yourself.
What you’re left with is vanilla-type content lacking human emotion. And the results are that many blogs become devoid of personality and indistinguishable from every other blog out there. In short, you lose any chance of offering distinct value to your consumer.
So how do you stay on top while producing quality content?
Hire freelance writers. I got much better results posting a job ad for a few contract writers on ProBlogger than I did using the aforementioned content tools. Why you need to hire freelance writers comes without question, it’s just good business sense. Mind you, there is some upfront onboarding, but with a dedicated team of writers, they will stick with you for the long run if you treat them well.
When to hire freelance writers
Before you even think about hiring freelance writers, you need to have a content plan. Content plans improve the quality of the content you publish and help you write more. Because when you have a set of parameters that define the direction and scope of your content, you have more time to outline and conduct research, resulting in rich and well thought out content.
And there is the psychological aspect as well. Setting a content plan in place legitimizes your content marketing strategy. It takes it from something you try to do a few times a month to a serious endeavor. It shows your commitment and that alone (with the help of a defined schedule) will also help you write more.
Elements of a great content plan:
Define the style, voice, and tone of your content. Put this with any other writing rules you want your content to adhere to in a style guide that everyone on your team can access.
Define content by the day. Here at Onboardly, we publish PR posts on Mondays, Interviews on Wednesdays and content marketing/customer acquisition Thursdays. It’s easy to remember and helps us focus our brainstorming.
Here is an in-depth guide that takes you through the content planning process step-by-step.
Content marketing as a business tool is not for the hobbyist. It takes a lot of work and investment. And with a structured content plan in place, you’re more equipped to handle the workload. But, you can’t handle producing content on your own. You have your own job to do after all. That’s where freelance writers come in.
What to look for in a writer
There are some challenges when it comes to hiring the right freelance writer. Derek Singleton, Managing Editor of the B2B Marketing Mentor Software Advice says that, when it comes to hiring writers, it’s important to be on the lookout for red flags, like if a candidate uses poor grammar in their emails.”
“Since freelancers are not actually a part of the day to day processes at your company, it’s important to really get to know them upfront—specifically their writing experience and how well (and often) they communicate. Red flags in these areas can signal the candidate may not be a good fit down the line,” says Singleton.
Thankfully, there are some guidelines you can look to so you can figure out which writers are right for you. Here’s a handy visual to help you find the right candidate.
Why you need to foster a writer’s community
In order to scale CM, it’s imperative to set standards and expectations of your team, including contract workers and freelance writers. This is why you need to create and manage a writer’s community. You’ll find that, through your community, you need to identify and respect the roles different writers occupy. When you understand the skills and specialties each writer has to offer, your team will be able to work more efficiently and you’ll be able to produce more content. In other words, work smarter not harder.
The Researcher - This is the writer who has a healthy addiction to research. Use them for in-depth content.
The Machine - Normally has a journalism background, this writer can pump out content faster than a t-shirt cannon. They’re your go-to person when you need a quick turnaround.
The Specialist - They are an expert on a certain topic. You can trust them to produce accurate and well-written posts with great authority. If their specialty is in another area, like SEO, you can use them to optimize your entire content strategy.
The Connected - Also most likely has a journalism background, this person has their foot in the door of the publications/platforms you desire. Use them to ramp up your guest posting/blogging game.
The Generalist - The most adaptable of the group, they are happy to write on any topic. Make sure to provide some outlines and research to guide them along the way.
The Fearless - They’re the most passionate and are probably the one who probably spend their free time participating in poetry slams. They love to create and that’s infectious. Their ambitious ideas will reinvigorate your content. And they’ll be the most receptive to that ‘crazy idea’ you’ve been holding onto.
How do you stay on top of your content marketing efforts? Let us know in the comments.
Photo Credit Galymzhan Abdugalimov via Unsplash