5 things to look for in a content writer
Hiring an online content writer can be a big step for a little business. So it's important to get the best writer for the job.
Being based in a little nook of Scotland means the online content I write nowadays is largely for indie businesses. And that's what I absolutely love. But content writing is something I've been doing my whole career – I've done it for American Express, Royal Mail, Thistle Hotels, Virgin, even the NHS – so I know a little bit about getting the right content for the right business.
1. The right kind of writer – I'm a content writer for lifestyle brands, mostly. That ranges from furniture makers to interior designers, from coffee shops to fancy hotels, from to whisky makers to tourist attractions. There are a few areas I've covered outside this remit – like design agencies themselves, accountants, and electricity suppliers – but on the whole I tend to stick with business-to-consumer writing that's all about living well. Other content writers specialise in legal writing, science writing, medical writing, and so on – there are lots of different specialisms out there. So, first of all, when you're looking for a local content writer, look at the types of companies they're happy writing for, and decide if your kind of business would be a good fit.
2. The right voice – The reason to hire a content writer, over writing content yourself, is that you get a professional to make your words the best they can possibly be. But, in order to do that, the writer needs to nail the voice of your company. I started my career in a London branding agency and my years there taught me just how important a strong brand is. You don't want some kid with their baseball cap on backwards writing buzz-word-hot content for you if you're trying to attract fifty-year-old men to play golf at your club. The words on the page matter so much. They represent your company. So it's vital that whoever writes your content writes it in a light that reflects you, your values and the way you want the world to see you.
3. A good researcher – I can't stress how important research is when it comes to brilliant content writing – actually, writing of any kind. Your chosen writer needs to love to learn, read, absorb information. Because who wants to read content that sounds inauthentic?
4. Which leads to the next point: Originality – Without good research behind the writing, your content can easily end up feeling like it's come from any old corner of the internet. Go for a writer who looks at things differently, and, even better, one who loves to stick their nose into every nook and cranny to see if they can find a new, interesting angle on an age-old topic.
5. Someone with a strong grasp of the English language – It's obvious why this is needed – no one wants their customers pointing out that it's 'they're' instead of 'their', or 'past' instead of 'passed' (one of my pet hates), or that it should be a comma instead of a semi-colon – yet it's amazing how many people claim to be great content writers without studying their craft. Years of editing has made me a far more accurate, educated writer than I was when I started out, and, while experience has helped, it's all the extracurricular studying I've done – pouring over the Penguin Guide to Punctuation, the Dictionary of English Grammar – that has really upped my game.
Happy content writer hunting, folks!