When I worked as a journalist, I wrote about the economy, politics and local events. And although I would like to consider myself a super smarty-pants in all of those fields, I wasn’t. I just did my research, made a lot of phone calls and conducted hard-hitting interviews (well, maybe not THAT hard hitting).
Good content writers are just like journalists. They can cover a lot of varied topics and write compelling content armed only with their strong research and interviewing skills. Companies waiting to find writers who are experts in their field may be limiting themselves. Writers are in the business to make money, and unless you have a full-time gig to offer them, they’ll most likely remain diversified.
A better approach to hiring writers is to find people who have a strong portfolio, have a genuine interest in your field and who are willing to learn what they don’t know. Perhaps even more important: you’ll get far more bang for your buck if you hire a writer who also understands marketing. As a business owner, you don’t just want to produce random content. Content marketers have an eye for how they can make the content work for you, how they can repurpose it into multiple pieces of content across different channels, and how they can align it with your company’s business goals.
When interviewing a content writer/marketer, here are the questions they should be asking you:
- Who is your audience/target market?
- Do you have branding guidelines? What is the tone and voice you want in your content?
- Do you have buyer personas so they can address the fears, needs and wants of your target audience?
- What are your goals for the content? For example: brand awareness, thought leadership or lead generation?
- Who are your top 3 competitors, so they can research what other people are writing about in your industry – and differentiate?
- Do you want to educate your customers about a particular problem in your industry or do you want to discuss your products and updates?
- How do you plan to distribute the content?
- Do you have analytics in place to monitor the content to make sure it’s working?
When you hire a writer, you should also be ready to allow them to interview key people in your company. A half an hour interview can provide the writer with quotes, ideas, inside information and the perspective of the people closest to your target audience. I find that 5 thought-provoking questions can yield an enormous amount of information for multiple pieces of content.
While we’d all love to be experts in everything and we’d all love to hire that person. Yet common sense tells us that that person doesn’t exist (except perhaps on Jeopardy). Writers with strong research and interviewing skills, combined with an eye for marketing, will generate top-quality content that your target audience actually wants to read – and leave them coming back to your site for more.