For content marketers, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.
They know that creating top-quality content will fuel their success, but finding talented writers seems to be getting harder.
With more people than ever spending time online due to lockdowns and work-from-home mandates, many organizations discovered last year that content marketing presented a prime opportunity to get and stay in front of their target audiences.
But, about two-thirds of B2B marketers have been asked to do more with the same resources over the last year, according to research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
In small organizations, the content marketing staff is typically just one person.
Even at medium- and large-sized companies, the content marketing team is often in the two to five-employee range.
This explains why 50% of content marketers say their organizations outsource some content marketing activities even though their organizations value creativity and craft in content creation and production.
So, How Do You Find Talented Writers To Fuel Top-Quality Content Creation?
I asked a couple of content marketing pioneers and thought leaders to tackle this question.
This dynamic duo has an extraordinary amount of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
The first is Rebecca Lieb, who wrote “Content Marketing (Que Publishing, 2011)”, one of the first books on that topic.
As a high profile and well respected analyst, educator, practitioner, strategist, advisor, author and speaker, Rebecca has been at the forefront of digital advertising and media since the beginning.
She’s also published a significant body of original research, including a large body of work on the topics of content marketing, content strategy and converged media.
The second was Robert Rose, the Chief Strategy Advisor for the Content Marketing Institute (CMI).
Robert is a sought-after consultant, best-selling author, keynote speaker, and one of the world’s most recognized digital content strategy and marketing experts.
He is the author of three best-selling books including “Killing Marketing (McGraw Hill, 2017)”, “Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing (CMI, 2015)”, and “Managing Content Marketing (CMI, 2011).”
Here are my questions and their answers.
Who really needs top-quality content creation?
Rebecca Lieb: “It’s hard to think of a brand, product, or service that doesn’t need excellent content – and search is only the beginning.
Content can help customers decide that they need you, it can establish thought leadership and authority in your industry, or it can simply be so fun, amusing, and delightful that it makes customers and prospects like you more.
Perhaps they’ll even share it, amplifying your brand, reach, and message.”
Robert Rose: “In a word: Everyone. It matters not how big your business is, every business that seeks to create value for customers is as much a media company as they are in whatever business they started as.
But this is no secret of course, and so as I’ve said before, not every company will have a great content strategy – but every successful company will.
What should they look for in talented writers?
Lieb: “The ability to write in the style and tone of voice of the brand, as well as some subject matter knowledge and experience.
They don’t have to be PhDs on your subject matter – a good writer is adaptable – but by the same token, you probably wouldn’t hire a science writer to sell soft drinks, for example.”
Rose: “Answering this question with “writers that are talented” seems both unhelpful and circular, so I’ll perhaps answer the question [of] what you should prioritize.
I’m a firm believer in talent over subject matter expertise.
There’s an old saying (I don’t know if it’s true) that UPS didn’t hire drivers and teach them how to provide customer service. They hired great customer service representatives and taught them how to drive.
The same is true with writing.
In my business, I’ve always had much better success with hiring talented content creators and teaching them the business.”
How should they evaluate a writing portfolio?
Lieb: “Do you like the style and tone? Is it clean and professional? Is it broadly aligned with your subject matter, voice, and tone?
For example, if you’re a tech company, have they had other tech clients? If they mainly do CPG work, it might not be the right fit.”
Rose: “To me, a great writing portfolio is when I’m interested in reading, even when I don’t care about the topic. When I look at a writing portfolio, I want great stories, compelling world-building, and solid characters – not just a neatly formatted view of the “facts.”
This is why I always recommend against someone reviewing a portfolio, and then saying, “Okay, now write me a sample for my industry.” Nope.
If they’re good at what they do, then they’ll only be good once they can do the same level of research for your business. And for that, they should be paid.”
Do you have any tips for interviewing writers?
Lieb: “Ask about their work: was research required, how did they go about it? How many rounds of edits are included in their price? Can they turn the project around on your deadline?
Ask deeper questions about samples of their work that you’ve read. Do they seem professional? Are they asking you questions? (They should!).”
Rose: “Yes, my favorite question is to ask writers to tell me their origin story. I find great writers have thought about their own story and can tell it well.”
Would you share a few places to find top writers?
Lieb: “To find freelance writers, start by asking: What are the sources of written information on your topic? Trade publications? Scholarly or academic journals? Blogs on the subject matter?
Go where the experts are and get in touch with them. If they won’t or can’t write for you, it’s likely they can make good recommendations.”
Rose: “There are plenty of great content marketing agencies – especially those that have been formed within (or adjacent to) traditional publishers that have top writers available.
CMI actually has a directory of them here. Otherwise, my favorite thing to do is to identify the writers at magazines, newspapers, or other publications that I really enjoy, make a list, and contact them directly.
Many of them offer up freelancing services – or are freelancers themselves. This is usually a more expensive investment – but well worth it.”
5 Must-Read Articles About Content Creation
In addition to the great advice above, you should also read five articles about content creation by my colleagues at Search Engine Journal, who also have an amazing amount of E-A-T:
10 Specific Places To Find Top Writers
What can I add to all of this advice? Well, you can always check out freelancing platforms and writer job boards like:
- Fiverr: A global platform connecting businesses with on-demand freelancers in the simplest way possible.
- Guru: A platform where professionals can connect, collaborate, and get work done.
- LinkedIn ProFinder: A freelancer recruitment platform for helping people hire freelancers.
- ProBlogger Job Board: A leading marketplace for blog-related jobs.
- Upwork: A work marketplace that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways.
And, you can also check out content marketing platforms like:
- Contently: Powers the content marketing programs of some of the world’s most valuable brands through their complete content marketing solution: Expert content strategy, an industry-leading content marketing platform, and one of the highest-rated creative networks. They’ve received numerous honors, including G2’s #1 Enterprise Content Creation Solution and Gartner Peer Insights’ Customer Choice.
- Scripted: A leading provider of original written content for thousands of customers – ranging from small businesses to large enterprises. Their curated user-base of writers and editors collaborate with clients to produce a wide variety of engaging content, including original blogs, newsletters, web copy, video scripts, social media posts, and much more.
- Skyword: A solution recognized by customers and analysts year after year, having been named a 2020 Gartner Peer Insights “Customers’ Choice,” ranked as a leader in the Gartner 2021 Magic Quadrant for Content Marketing Platforms, and consistently rated a leader in content creation, experience, and distribution by their customers via G2.
- Textbroker: A top online platform for custom-made, unique written content. The online marketplace brings together customers looking for unique and exclusive textual content with more than 100,000 U.S.-based freelance authors who can write about virtually any topic. Their parent company was founded in Germany and offers its services in 36 languages.
- WriterAccess: A talent marketplace with nearly 2,000 clients, and more than 500 agency partners. The platform offers streamlined workflow tools to empower marketers to easily go from the ideas stage to publishing on their websites. Acquired in April 2022 by Rock Content, a global leader in content marketing solutions.
Whichever approach you take to finding talented writers or freelancers, remember that they need to create high-quality content in order generate results.
Why? There are three key reasons:
- You need to create valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, drive profitable customer action.
- Google has been reducing the rankings of low-quality content since the first Panda update back in February 2011.
- Millions of articles and blog posts are published daily, so cranking out more average content won’t help you stand out.
And, when you migrate to Google Analytics 4, you’ll be able to measure distinct user interactions with the articles and blog posts on your website by using enhanced measurement events, including:
- Scrolls: The first time a user reaches the bottom of each page (i.e., when a 90% vertical depth becomes visible).
- Video engagement: For embedded videos with JS API support enabled, the following events are triggered: When the video starts playing, when the video progresses past 10%, 25%, 50%, and 75% duration time, and when the video ends.
- File downloads: when a user clicks a link leading to a file (with a common file extension) of the following types: document, text, executable file or program, presentation, compressed file, video, audio.
And, you can mark any of these events as conversion, add a monetary value to your conversion events, and start measuring the economic value of your content marketing program.
This will enable you to identify the writers, topics, and posts that are generating the best bang for your bucks.
This will be a game changer.
Up to now, finding talented writers to fuel top-quality content creation has been what Avinash Kaushik, the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, calls “a faith-based initiative.”
Soon, it will become a normal cost of doing business.
So, you will want to know how to do it before your competitors snap up the best ones.
Featured Image: Khakimullin Aleksandr/Shutterstock