SL: For content marketers who want to explore getting others to post for them, how should they go about starting the search? Do they need a plan?
AC: When you are planning to outsource your content marketing, you definitely need a plan. You must identify your budget and what you are looking to invest on a monthly basis in this process — and you also have to consult with a pro to understand and develop an effective course of action. For instance, you have to have a clear understanding of what social media platforms are good for your business. You must have some sort of idea of the message you are looking to get across. All of this helps with goal identification and finding a content marketing company who can best assist you.
SL: Why would you want to have guest contributors or get freelancers?
AC: I think there are two separate questions here — I think of guest contributors as being guest bloggers or individuals who provide content to a site or blog and who in turn receive a link back to their site. This only works if you have a high traffic blog or a large audience. You have to be choosy here about who you partner with and make sure their message doesn’t confuse your branding or compete with you.
As far as freelancers go, I’m not sure if a traditional “freelancer” can provide comprehensive content marketing strategy and implementation. Maybe they can write content, but there is the implementation and engagement piece that is missing from the mix. In order for content marketing to be effective you must have great content, but it also must be delivered to your audience through a platform that allows for scheduling as well as audience interaction.
SL: What qualities should companies look for in guest writers, what questions should they ask in the screening process or require from the writer?
AC: Always request samples — and get someone who has a background in writing to review their work for quality. You should ask about their turnaround times, when you can expect content from them, and how their pricing structure works. You should also always make sure that they only deal in original content that passes tools like Copyscape. You should inquire to make sure that they don’t outsource their writing. And always ask how they intend to learn about your brand or your business. How involved will you be in their writing process?
SL: How do you find guest writers? Are there sources or websites that you recommend?
AC: So, I can’t really speak about this as it relates to my company. All of my writers are salaried, on-staff employees of Grammar Chic — and all of them work solely for me…none of them are freelancers. This is a different structure for a content writing company, but it has worked out well for us because our writers know each of our clients intimately and understand their business. It was important to me when I started my business that I not work with fly-by-night freelancers, because it impacts the quality of the work, the dependability of meeting deadlines, and the relationships between clients and my team. I hire my writers via my company job postings on monster.com, careerbuilder.com, etc.
However, we have formed some successful long-term relationships with clients via the website Guru.com. That is a great site for networking, bidding on projects and forming lucrative relationships. You can also find many writers who are looking both for short-term and long-term work on LinkedIn.
SL: How do you know if a writer is a good fit?
AC: If a writer can quickly disseminate and understand a topic, and then, write coherently on it in a timely fashion, they just might be a fit for my team.
SL: How do you screen out writers?
AC: I can tell a lot about a writer through their sample. If they can’t do a writing sample that passes muster — that’s the end of the line.
SL: What editorial process or overall process should you use to deal with the writers?
AC: Any quality content writing firm is probably going to have an editor on staff that reviews work before it is sent to the client. This is the structure that we follow internally at Grammar Chic because we believe that clients should not be sent work that they in turn have to proofread or edit. Sure, there may be revisions needed, but what is presented to the clients should always be perfect.
SL: Is there anything to avoid in the process of finding and hiring writers?
AC: Frankly speaking, don’t always go for the cheapest writing company or writing professional — and definitely DO NOT outsource overseas. You will spend more money correcting the writing of a non-native English speaker, when you could have just paid a bit more and kept it stateside and walked away with a better product.
SL: Anything else you would like to add?
AC: Place high importance in the writing that represents your business — no matter if you outsource this function or do it yourself. And remember, just because you know your business well, it doesn’t mean a talented writer can’t understand what you do and craft a fantastic message. After all, this is what writers, like myself, do for a living.