Home » I need a content writer. Tips to find a GOOD one.

I need a content writer. Tips to find a GOOD one.

Writing for your business can be a slog and and inconvenience, It’s obvious you need a content writer or a copywriter. But how do you find a GOOD one? 


So, you’ve been hearing a lot about digital marketing and Google ranking (*) and you’ve decided it’s exactly what you need to give your business a boost. After all, it’s what all the other businesses do, right? With over 2 million blog posts a day posted on the internet, it’d be silly for your business to be left behind.

It’s true. The world of online business needs A LOT of writing.

A website, a newsletter, a regular blog, social media posts, some witty sales copy. The list goes on. Of course, all that writing needs to be SEO optimised  and the keywords need to be researched. Only, it takes shed loads of time to do it. Time you don’t really have. I mean, who can spend 20 hours a week just on writing ‘stuff’?

So… you’ve decided you need a writer.

The question is: how do you find a GOOD writer?


But really… can a writer help you? 


But before you launch your search, it may be a good idea to pause and consider if it’s a writer you need. I get it. You want to give your business a boost. But are all the other pillars in place?

I’m asking, because if that’s not the case, you’re wasting a lot of money.

It’s been said before: ‘No amount of brilliant copy can save a bad product.’

It may sound harsh or even rude, but it’s true that what seem to be ‘issues with content or copy’, can instead be a product development problem in disguise. So think about it: Does your product fill an honest need, or is it pie in the sky? Is it designed well? Is it priced right? What is your customer feedback?


Do you need a content writer or a copywriter or both? 


With the basics in place -you have an eye-popping good product- it’s time to give it the online attention it needs. Where’s that copywriter, you ask?

Hold your horses!

For most of the ongoing writing, businesses need a content writer, not a copywriter.

Although there is a definite overlap between the two, the difference lies mainly in the purpose. A copywriter is all about selling. Think of it as advertorial. Content writing on the other hand educates, entertains and builds trust. Ultimately, both aspire to increase conversions, but the approach is different.

A landing page and an ad are copywriting because they call for action. A blog post and a newsletter are content writing because they generate interest.

Both need top-notch writing.

The real problem lies in the fact that the industry is a bit murky. Everybody can call themselves a copywriter or content writer. After all, how hard can it be to do a bit of writing?


 Your checklist when you need a content writer or copywriter 


One of my favourite writing quotes is this one from Nathaniel Hawthorne:


‘Easy reading is damn hard writing’


I like it because it reminds me that high-quality content is not something you rapidly whip together. Having a talent for pretty word-knitting is only a teeny part of what is required from a good writer. The real art lies in the editing that makes a piece of writing a pleasure to read. Ruthless delete-button pushing, ongoing rewriting and rephrasing, endless cutting and pasting for optimal structure. Forever questioning how I can say something simpler? How can I best get my point across? And how do I keep the reader’s attention?

Anybody who has scouted freelance hiring platforms knows that some freelance copywriters and content writers are plain terrible.

The real question is, how do you find the good ones? There are a few boxes to tick off.


Get the basics right.

On an absolute basic level:

  • Is your potential writer fluent in English or crafting clunky rhetoric?
  • Does the piece of writing make sense? I’m not joking, I’ve experienced first-hand how the content wasn’t even on topic.
  • Is the writing original? It’s no secret Google is unforgiving with plagiarism.
  • Are spelling mistakes rife?  No need to explain why these are a no-no.
  • Are grammar and the structure supporting the goal of ‘easy reading’. If your audience gives up after two sentences, you’ve missed the mark.


Then check some more.

But there is more. You should also ask yourself:

  • Is the text SEO optimised? Not all content writers and copywriters are well-versed in the concept.
  • Is the style of their writing suitable for your business?
  • How does the writer handle deadlines? Is the writer responsive when you email?


How professional is your writer?

You can expect a good copywriter or content writer to ask you a lot of questions. It’s the backbone that will help them meet your expectations. They will ask about your business, your audience, your goals, your tone of voice, and they will ask for examples of writing you like and/or dislike. Any writer who fails to do this is a red flag.


Do the due diligence

How do you find out if a Copywriter or Content writer does all these things?

First check references (an experienced writer has them available), then make contact and ask questions and request some writing samples.


Time for a trial round

When that looks solid, start collaborating on one or two projects. That’ll give you an indication on how well you work together and whether a longer term collaboration is on the cards.


 What can YOU do to find a writer that nails the job ? 


But you too have a job to do.  (I’m sorry. I get it, you’re busy.) The clearer you communicate, the better a writer can meet your expectations. Honestly, it’s crucial!

So here are some things to get crystal-clear when approaching a content writer or copywriter:

Communicate what you have in mind:

  • What format? A blog? A newsletter?
  • How many words? Long (1,200 words or more)? Or short (500 words)?
  • Does it need to be SEO optimised? Which keyword(s)? Do you want the freelancer to include meta-data?  A stock-free image?
  • Think about your brand, product stand-outs and your audience.
  • Think about the topics you want covered. What would capture your audience’s imagination?
  • Find examples you like.
  • What is your deadline?
  • What is your strategy? Do you need help with that?

And last but not least, discuss the ‘how much?’


‘Price is what you pay, value is what you get’-Warren Buffett


This is arguably the most dreaded part in a freelance project negotiation.  Talking about budget is hard. But it’s just as important as the previous points. Realistic expectations on both sides go a long way. As to the ‘how much?’, a lot will depend on time and the writer’s experience. Some writers will charge by the hour, some will charge by project.

Like with everything, the ‘pay peanuts, get monkeys’ rule applies.  If you’re expecting a 1,000 word SEO-optimised high-quality piece of writing for 50NZD, you’re going to come out disappointed. Unless of course you’re prepared to spend a sizeable amount of extra time correcting, editing and optimising. Maybe it wasn’t such a good deal after all? (Hint: there is a price you pay in focussing on cost rather than value.)

Fact is that Google is not kind to those who fall for slapdash work. Neither is your audience, in case you had any doubt. Remember, it’s the reason you decided to approach a professional in the first place.

The best advice around pricing is to have an honest conversation about your budget. Hiring a freelance writer is a business negotiation. Often, thanks to a forthright and open conversation, the outcome is a long-term satisfactory collaboration for both parties. Sometimes, the answer is that both parties place a different value on the project and can’t agree. And that’s fine too.

So back to that boost you wanted to give your business….


(*) Did you know 92.96% of global traffic comes through Google (Google Search, Google Images and Google Maps)?- Spartoro