If you’re looking to build a connection with your target audience, creating great content – and then promoting your content – is fundamental. And while anyone can write a blog post or share their thoughts on social media, only so many people are truly great writers. The excellent content these writers create can spur explosive new growth for your business.
Top-notch content marketing writers combine the writing, research, and marketing skills they’ve learned over time with something they’re born with. This is that so-called “it factor” – the innate writing talent one shows from childhood. Great content marketing writers infuse their talents and skills into dazzling copy throughout your content creation process – blogs, articles, white papers, you name it.
So, then, how can you find, identify, and hire these top-tier content marketing writers? Below, we’ll fill you in on what qualities make for great content marketing writers and how you can start working with them.
The 11 qualities you should look for in a content marketing writer
Below are the top 11 qualities you should look for when hiring content marketing writers – and why they result in top-quality content.
1. Has a curious mind
Although a content marketing writer might not be on your in-house team, they should be as curious as your team members about your subject matter. They should be excited to research the topics about which they write and unafraid to ask questions so they can learn more (and produce the best possible content in the process).
The best content marketing writers truly want to know how things work, and they enjoy explaining them in writing, too. And best of all, their explanations are more than crystal-clear – they’re exciting.
2. Asks the right questions
A content marketing writer’s research may involve interviewing expert sources – and often, that includes you. If anything, the writer interviewing you is part of your initial conversation since the writer should ask about your business and your content goals. The more obviously their questions show that they’ve read about your company and subject matter, the more you know they’re cut out for great content.
This means more than asking, “can you tell me more about your services?” as compared to a simple “what do you do?” You should look out for questions like “I know the audience wants to know about your X, but how does your Y play into this?” Any questions that help the writer learn about your company and services while clearly benefiting your audience – and the content – are exactly the right questions.
3. Communicates clearly
Clear communication is the bedrock of any successful content marketing strategy, both within and beyond the content itself. Of course, a great writer’s content should be clear and digestible – free of typos, full of artful phrases, more like stories than dry explanations. So too should their communications with you – their emails to you, their phone calls with you, any supplemental comments they leave on their copy.
Your content marketing writer should communicate with you clearly and often. You should expect regular updates on how their work is progressing, and the writer should ask for resources and other tools they need to make the content the best it can be. They should also be clear on what resources they need and how they’ll help. You’ll know your writer of choice is truly excellent if their writing and their conversations with you are equally clear and enjoyable.
4. Takes time to understand your brand
Like a chameleon, a great content marketing writer should blend right in with your brand. They should embody your voice while still retaining a touch of their distinct approach. This way, they create content that evokes all the ideas in your brand deck while still writing with a unique flair.
Great content marketing writers will always keep your reader base in mind as they create your content. After all, your audience is key to your branding. The best content marketing writers will always keep your story and the people who should be hearing it front-of-mind.
If you don’t yet have a brand voice, a top-notch content marketing writer can help get you on the right track. This writer can work with you to figure out how you can convey your values in all your text-based customer touchpoints.
5. Learns quickly
You should look for content marketing writers with a track record of excellent writing in several fields. This suggests an ability to learn quickly when the writer is wading into unfamiliar territory. It can also showcase a knack for writing clearly and compellingly about more complex concepts within their expertise areas. This versatility to go from 101 to graduate courses means that your writer can create high-quality content about pretty much anything.
For example, let’s say a writer’s current clients include a meeting management platform, a corporate card provider, a small business lender, and a direct-to-consumer LED lighting company. You can infer from these clients that the writer has ample business-to-business (B2B) content writing experience, especially in the financial space. You can also see that the writer is experienced in business-to-consumer (B2C) non-financial content creation as well.
This client base suggests that the writer can learn about new topics quickly and break down even the most complex topics clearly and excitingly. You might want to read their content yourself and see whether you find yourself understanding concepts you previously struggled to wrap your head around. If so, this writer can distill the essence of even your most complicated ideas via approachable, riveting content.
6. Gets the facts right
A great content marketing writer should be diligent and patient enough in their research that their copy is as factually sound as it is engaging. This way, their writing represents your brand both excitingly and accurately. And in the event the writer can’t quite find what they need in their research, they shouldn’t hesitate to ask you for more information.
You should speak with potential writing hires about how they ask their clients for clarity and for help understanding concepts. Look out for answers that signal how the writer cares about getting the facts right and will go the extra mile to make sure what they write is true. Although nobody knows everything, a writer’s desire to get things right gets them pretty damn close.
7. Ability to write in different styles
Just as top-notch content marketing writers should be brand-voice chameleons, they should be equally comfortable writing formally and informally. They should also be familiar with different style manuals such as AP and Chicago. Similarly, they should have no trouble adhering to your company’s internal style guide. This versatility should be the backbone of how the writer all but becomes their clients each and every time they create content.
8. Experience with different types of content
Some sources will tell you that the best content marketing writers are experienced bloggers with a background in SEO and digital marketing. That’s a great starting point, but you should look for writers experienced with more than just blogging.
Articles, social media posts, and white papers should be within an excellent content marketing writer’s purview. So too should webpages, product listings, and email newsletters. The best content marketing writers will bring experience with a variety of content types to the table – perhaps some you aren’t yet incorporating. The writer can help you do so.
9. Meets deadlines
Writers are (perhaps falsely so) notorious for living and breathing by their deadlines, but that doesn’t mean they’re always hitting them. It’s a good idea to verify that the content writer you’re considering can get you the pieces on time. You can do this by reading testimonials, talking to references, or trying a brief trial to assess how they work.
10. Remains open to edits and new direction
Edits are a normal part of the content writing process, and you should expect a handful of changes before your content is published. With the best content writers, these edits will typically be small and easy to tackle. If you request any edits, the writer should be happy to make them.
You might also realize upon receiving the draft that your instructions were unclear or ideas that were great in theory aren’t working in execution. Or maybe you’ve realized while your writer is drafting a piece that you need the content to include more than what you outlined. In that case, the writer should be glad to accommodate these changes.
You should expect the writer to work on these edits right within a few business days, though likely not immediately. You also shouldn’t ask for substantial changes in direction overly frequently. Once every so often is fine, but more frequent requests for a change in direction may be disrespectful to the writer’s time. Just as you expect clear writing, the writer expects clear directions from the get-go. Aligning on both at all times is the bedrock of great content.
11. Shows a passion for the work
Let’s say you’ve narrowed your choice of content marketing writer to two candidates. One of them is an expert in your field, but their writing, though accurate, isn’t terribly exciting, and it’s also a touch technical. The other writer is experienced in your field but not an expert, but their passion and rigorous fact-checking shine through. You also enjoy reading this candidate’s writing more. Their passion is enough that you rightfully choose them over the expert.
A lack of passion can be the difference between purely informative content and content that’s both filled with information and a joy to read. There’s certainly a benefit to informative content, but at the end of the day, you’re not just creating content to educate people. Your goal is for your audience to truly connect with you. Exciting content is far more powerful on that front than accurate but dry writing. In content, passion often wins.
What every content writer should know about marketing
Content marketing writers typically don’t themselves market your content – that’s on you or other firms you hire. That said, content marketing writers do need to know some marketing basics to create high-quality content – after all, “marketing” is in their job title. You should look for content marketing writers who check the below boxes.
They should have some SEO knowledge
By no means do content marketing writers need to be full-on SEO experts. Some of the more technical parts of SEO won’t affect their copy quality. Instead, they should know about SEO readability, keyword usage, duplicate content in SEO, and internal and external linking. Content writers who consider these factors in their copy generally create superior content that leads to superior results.
They should understand the role content marketing plays in a strategy
Content marketing is a path toward audience maintenance and growth, brand awareness, and a reputation of expertise. Its role in a marketing strategy is to initially draw in customers and keep them engaged with your business. Plus, after your content first attracts customers, your future content can keep them aware of your business and how it can meet their needs. The goal is for consumers to stay engaged enough that, come buying time, you’re the first pick. Your content marketing writer should know this all, and their copy should serve these purposes.
They should understand the power of language in marketing
Think about the last time you saw a billboard or a public transit ad. Sure, the images probably caught your attention first, but then your eye turned to the handful of words present. There probably weren’t that many of them, but they likely told you everything you needed to know.
This is the work of copywriters, and although copywriting and content writing differ, great content marketing writers also understand that concision and emotion are key. Sure, content writers turn out orders of magnitude more words than copywriters per assignment. But they choose their words with full knowledge of how language can both educate people and inspire them to take action – namely, buying from you.
Ways to hire a content marketing writer
Ready to hire a content marketing writer? Here are the three most common ways to do so.
A boutique agency is a small company that typically offers a narrower, sometimes more niche range of services. For example, a content writing agency may be a boutique agency, whereas a digital marketing firm may span more services. With these added services come a larger staff and a less boutique feel.
Boutique agencies may also specialize in certain fields. You might find content writing firms that specialize in finance, healthcare or tech, a specialty emerging field like cannabis content writing, or perhaps certain content formats such as blogs and articles. Some may also specialize in working with certain types of other agencies, such as SEO firms, marketing or PR companies, and web development businesses. Boutique agencies may thus be advantageous if you’re looking for highly specialized content writing.
Boutique agencies are also known to be more client-oriented than larger or full-service agencies. They may be more willing to customize their services or strategy to your exact needs. They may also be more communicative and flexible given their smaller number of clients than larger firms. They’ll get you exactly what you need and be there with you at every step of the way.
You can find freelance content writers through online marketplaces, but doing so is often ill-advised. Sure, the low rates you see for writers in these marketplaces may tempt you, but you get what you pay for.
According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, the median rate per hour that a freelancer charges for marketing writing is $51 to $60 per hour. For business and sales writing, this range increases to $61 to $70 per hour. On online marketplaces, though, you’ll typically see rates closer to $10 or $15 per hour, or maybe even less. You can assume these rates are low because the writers’ content quality isn’t high enough that they can charge the median hourly rate.
Even if you do find a high-quality writer on these marketplaces, you’ll be working solely with that writer. There’s no agency with other employees to step in if your writer falls ill, takes a vacation, or is otherwise unavailable. They also don’t benefit from editors and other help to double-check content quality and accuracy. Think carefully before going this route.
You can think of content marketplaces as online marketplaces where you can find higher-quality writers. This arrangement likely sounds enticing, but it’s not without its faults.
Namely, the marketplace company typically acts as an intermediary between you and the writer, which can cause communication interruptions. You also don’t always know who’s working on your content, which can make it difficult to deliver feedback directly to the person writing it. You’ll likely get pretty good content, but the actual workflow can get messy. Boutique agencies can get you the same or, often, better content quality while acting more like a true marketing partner than a freelancer or employee.
Why you’ll find the best content marketing writers at boutique agencies
Boutique content writing agencies are small enough that their hiring decisions can have tremendous impacts on their bottom line, so they only hire the best. Their writers come in with the right skills and talent, as well as diverse subject matter experience. The agencies then refine these skills through dedicated hands-on editing and review sessions on each client’s brand voice and subject matter. They also teach their writers skills that expand on their initial SEO knowledge so that their words don’t just read well – they yield results too.
This training process is part of onboarding and each employee’s long-term experience with a boutique agency – learning is a never-ending process, especially in writing. In fact, boutique content writing companies highly prefer writers who enjoy receiving constructive feedback and using it to grow and learn. Writers at boutique accounts spend their days writing and learning new related skills, and that’s all they do, so you’ll know you’re in great hands.
Where the writers handle the actual writing, management and leadership couple their own writing prowess with advanced account management skills. You’ll have no trouble reaching your agency contact when you have questions, and you’ll hear from them often with updates. The result is excellent content from a reliable team, with equally reliable communication and access. There’s simply no better place to find outstanding content marketing writers.
Hire The Stellastra Effect for all your content marketing writing needs
Ever since The Stellastra Effect opened its doors in 2016, we’ve stayed boutique and specialized in creating SEO content, blogs, articles, website content, and landing pages. We most often do so for SEO agencies, PR and marketing companies, web developers and designers, marketing teams, and product manufacturers. This is our core client base, but given our boutique model, we regularly customize our services to fit a variety of clients and needs.
Our team is just the right size so that we have a great writer on staff for any topic or content format. It’s also large enough that the team can pick up the slack when a co-worker is unavailable. Plus, as we train employees, they tell us that our in-depth edits and feedback on their work help them grow. And before long, these writers regularly turn out such strong copy that our edits are minimal.
That said, we do always guarantee at least one round of edits in our work. We know that creating great content for our clients means putting even the best copy through a rigorous fact-checking and revision process. Our testimonials can show you exactly the kind of results we can achieve for you, and you can request our case study to put numbers to this praise.
At The Stellastra Effect, you get more than content marketing writers. You get a full-on content creation partner – for now and for good.