If you’re building a new website, don’t save your content for last. Just like the layout or any other feature, the writing that you’ll include is critically important, and should play a major role as you’re planning your website. You might consider using a website content planner like Slickplan’s, but tools like that won’t mean much if you don’t have the right people to use them.
That’s why you need to focus on finding the best content writer you can. The right person could also grow with you, potentially helping you with content marketing, social media posts, blog writing, and other writing needs that you may have down the line.
Why good writing matters
The pain of bad writing will be familiar to anyone who’s been in business for a few years (or maybe less). For a 2016 article in the Harvard Business Review, Josh Bernoff spoke to more than 500 business people who write regularly in their jobs (defined as spending a couple of hours beyond email). What he found was striking:
- People spent “an average of 25.5 hours per week reading for work.”
- Among those, “81% agree that poorly written material wastes their time.”
- Beyond that, “more than half say that what they read is frequently ineffective because it’s too long, poorly organized, unclear, filled with jargon, and imprecisions.”(1)
Beyond being a boring waste of time, bad writing also does damage to your company in other ways. That’s because, according to Bernoff, a lack of clarity has many knock-on effects: it can “dilute” a leader’s ability to lead, and it can make room for “fuzzy thinking” within an organization.(1)
Clarity, on the other hand, has many upsides. It can create a culture in which managers and employees alike are more productive. Most importantly for those trying to launch a new website, “clarity in marketing tells customers—and workers—that they can trust you.” (1)
So, good writing helps your thinking, it helps your audience understand you, and it builds trust. With that established, why hire a writer?
Why hire a writer?
One simple reason to hire a professional web content writer is that good writing takes time and talent.
If you’re considering a content marketing strategy, hiring a professional writer is a no-brainer. A 2020 survey of bloggers, which had more than 1200 respondents, found that posts are getting longer, and the most effective writers spend more than six hours per post. (2)
You might enjoy writing, you might not; no matter what, if you have plans to publish two blog posts a week over the coming year, you probably don’t have an extra eight, ten, or twelve hours in your week to dedicate to the task. Even if you can carve out the time, you could likely find better ways to use it on other aspects of your business.
The time it will take to write content for your new website is another beast all together.
The balance between expertise and writing proficiency
Once you’re looking for a writer, one of the first questions that you’ll find yourself asking is how to find the right balance between subject matter expertise and writing proficiency. The following example helps to illustrate the dilemma. (3)
If you’re running a company in a highly technical niche, you’ll need a writer who can describe it convincingly. The fact that they produce great copy won’t mean much if the substance isn’t there, since clients won’t trust your expertise. (3)
“Ok,” you say, “I’ll hire an expert then,” and you think you’ve solved it. Not so fast: if that person can’t write compellingly, all the expertise in the world will be wasted, as your prospective clients could find your content too dry. In that case, the only thing you’ll see going up is your bounce rate. (3)
So, finding someone who can write compellingly should be a priority. If you’re in a highly technical business, then place an emphasis on someone who can do research and who has interview skills. That way, they can look up what they need to, and speak to members of your company or other relevant experts for anything else. (3)
Consider different writing backgrounds
This brings us to the different backgrounds that the writers you may find yourself looking at are likely to have. What’s right for you will depend on your needs, and there are pros and cons to each, so consider what kind of work you need done as you make your choice:
- Journalists will be familiar with fact-checking and the interview process, which will likely prove helpful no matter the topic. At the same time, depending on the publications for which they’ve written, they may not have as much experience writing the sort of content that you’re looking for.
- Academics will bring research chops to the table and likely are well versed in technical writing, but they may have a tougher time meeting some of the deadlines required for content jobs. You’ll also need to make sure that they can handle the style of writing that you’re looking for.
- Creative writers may be able to add a different perspective to the assignment. If you’re in the right industry, someone with this background might be best suited to produce the tone that you’re looking for.
- Copy writers, or those with content writing experience, may well bring other skills to the table that complement the writing. Someone who understands SEO, or how to plan a content marketing strategy, could be a valuable addition to your team. For example, someone with content writing experience could help you with your overall content planning strategy moving forward. (3)
Where to find writers
The key here is to look in many different places to find an experienced writer, whether you’re looking for part-time or full-time writers, or plan on hiring freelance writers. Here are some to start with:
- Freelancing sites — Whether these are general freelance marketplaces like Upwork or more industry-specific ones like Scripted, you’ll find plenty of freelance writers looking for work here.
- Job boards — Along with the big names, which are worth including in your plans, remember that there are plenty of job boards and platforms specific to writing professionals and freelancers, like MediaBistro and ProBlogger job board.
- Talk to a writer you admire — If there’s a particular blog or other site that you like, it’s worth reaching out to the writer. They may well not be available, but they might be able to recommend someone who’s a good fit. (4)(5)
Once you’ve found your candidates, it can save you time and money in the long run to give them some paid test pieces upfront. That way, you can see what they produce, they get something out of it, and you can make sure that you’ve found the right fit before you make a longer-term commitment. (3)
How to get the most out of the writer you’ve found
So, you’ve found a quality writer who fits your needs and negotiated the fee. Congrats! But before you break out the bubbly, make sure you aren’t squandering that talent. You need to make sure that you’re giving your writers everything they need, so that they can give back the high-quality content you’re after.
Your writer will need to understand where the pieces that they’re writing fit into the larger architecture of your site’s overall design and the type of content needed. As you gather your content, using a website content planning tool like Slickplan’s can help.
In the planning process, content strategy should come after you’ve determined the architecture of your site. Once that’s set, bringing in writers is a good call, since it hardly makes sense to go to the trouble of plotting out the elements of your site only to put mediocre filler up at the end of the day.
To avoid getting filler, even from expert writers, keep in mind that you need to make clear how the workflow for your site’s design should function. You also need to give them the access and information that they need to be able to write the content you’re after. (3)
For example, if the writer needs specific information about your production process, make sure that you offer availability to speak with the people in charge of that process. Armed with good material based on in-depth interviews, the writer you’ve hired is much more likely to produce better-performing content. (3)
If you need marketing material, make sure that you communicate the buyer persona you’re targeting. That should be something you have a handle on; if you don’t explain it in detail, then you can’t expect a writer to intuit it on their own. (3)
Finally, make sure that you’ve set up an environment in which any writer you’ve hired receives feedback, and understands the structure in which they’re working. Nothing is more frustrating, for a writer or their client, than to turn in a “finished” product only to be told “this isn’t what we’re looking for at all.” Regular communication and feedback throughout the process can help to prevent this. (3)
As should be clear by now, hiring the best content writer that you can for your website isn’t an easy process, but it is an important one.
If you’re already using things like Slickplan’s website content planning tools, you clearly care about content-first design. Don’t waste the opportunity of creating a new site, or updating your old one. Spend time finding the best writer for you, and then give that writer the tools, access, and feedback necessary to succeed.
- “Bad Writing Is Destroying Your Company’s Productivity,” Source: https://hbr.org/2016/09/bad-writing-is-destroying-your-companys-productivity
- “New Blogging Statistics: Blogging still works, especially for the 10% of bloggers who do things very differently…” Source: https://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/blogging-statistics/
- “How to Find Writers and Help Them Deliver Successful Content,” Source: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2020/09/find-writers-successful-content/
- “Looking to Hire Writers? Here’s Everything You Need to Know,” Source: https://blog.hubstaff.com/hire-writers/
- “19 Online Gold Mines for Finding Paid Freelance Writing Jobs,” Source: https://thewritelife.com/find-freelance-writing-jobs/