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How to Find Great Writers and Coach Them into Creating Great Content

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
How to find great writers and coach them into writing great content

Is it impossible for you to find good writing talent?

You’re not alone! It’s a common problem in normal times. It’s only gotten worse during this period of record-low unemployment and high demand for writing talent.

This article will explain what you need to know to find the right writer to meet your needs and get the content you need from them in just one or two drafts.

Types of Writers

The first thing you need to figure out is the type of scribe you need to hire. The issue is often that a writer isn’t bad. They’re simply the wrong type of writer for the job.

The three main types of writers are:

  • Journalists. Journalists are trained to be observant, precise, accurate, and objective. They are supposed to follow a strict code of ethical behavior and practices. Journalists write in a concise style. They’re usually excellent fact-checkers. In some cases, they may be ineffective promotional writers who struggle with authoring marketing copy. If you need a factual writer with a tight style or someone to create a blog post, a journalist could be your ideal choice.

  • Copywriters. Copywriters specialize in promotional, marketing, and advertising writing. They understand writing for websites, social media, and search engine optimization. They can also be good bloggers when a more promotional bent is needed. They typically understand what businesses want to accomplish and know how to deliver copy to achieve it. If your writing project is about marketing, promotion, and getting results, a copywriter could be your best choice.

  • Creative writers. Creative writers are people who write for art orr a more artistic medium at least. They often do freelance projects for brands to fund the creative projects they really care about. They are typically playwrights, novelists, essayists, poets, and joke writers. Some may be able to write corporate copy, but be aware that may not be their background.

It’s best to hire an author most closely aligned with the needs of your project. If it’s facts you want, go with a journalist. If your content requires spin, go with a copywriter. Try to find someone with industry or related experience. You don’t want to waste time training on style or the workings of what you do. A little coaching is fine, but the copy won’t be convincing if it’s written by someone who doesn’t understand what you do at all.

Always consider the balance between writing proficiency and subject matter expertise. Some writers excel at their craft but know little about the topics they write about, or they’re middling writers who know a lot about an industry.

Which is the better option? It depends on the support you can offer them. If you can’t devote much time to editing and rewriting, hire the better writer. It’s probably better to have highly readable content. And you can always pair a great writer with a subject matter expert to ensure a piece of content is accurate and communicates everything effectively.

However, if your content topics are highly technical, it can be better to select a writer who is a subject expert. Actual knowledge is tough to fake. Writers for a law or financial firm, for example, will struggle if they aren’t familiar with the nuances of law and finance.

If your business markets to an industry-specific target audience whose members share a common experience, such as sales leaders, a writer who is not a member of the “club” will come across as inauthentic. Industry insiders know when a scribe is an impostor.

Where to Find Writers

Once you know the types of writers you want and the knowledge and skills they should possess, where can you find them? Here are some possibilities:

  • Referrals and word of mouth. A referral will typically get you the best writer. Top talent rarely needs to look for work. They have clients keeping them busy. The easiest way to find top writing talent is to ask around. You know you’ve found a quality writer when they specialize in a niche subject, and it keeps them busy.

  • Content marketing platforms. Content platforms are more costly than other options but are usually worth the extra expense. Examples include Contently and Skyword. They thoroughly vet the writers on their roster. They also typically provide an editor who ensures you get clean, top-quality copy.

  • Writer job boards. These forums, such as Problogger, Freelance Writers Den, and Freelancers Union, connect writers with people who want to hire them. The quality of the applicants on these platforms varies, but it is possible to find decent talent on them.

  • Freelancing platforms. Sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com use automation to match writers with businesses that want to hire them. These platforms provide a better experience than job boards because they include ratings and reviews, which can help you gauge a writer’s quality and what it’s like to work with them. These platforms are often crowded, but it’s possible to find good talent on them.

It’s not enough to evaluate writers based on their previous work alone. They may have worked with some fantastic editors who polished mediocre copy. Always schedule a call with a writer, and ask them how they went about crafting pieces that you’ve read. Their ability or inability to explain their process will tell you much about the quality of copy you can expect from them.

As a final step, always ensure you provide authors with a complete brief when you assign them a piece of content. Include everything they need to complete it, including title, keywords, length, points that need to be included, subject matter expert contact info, interview subjects, brand writing standards, and more.

If you hire the right writer for the job and clearly define your expectations, you’ll get top quality content delivered on time and budget.

Want to learn how to become an expert conversational writer? Check out our top tips.

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