When you run a business, your content is one of its most important aspects. It sets the tone for your branding, informs readers about topics in your industry, and positions you as a thought leader in your niche. That’s if it’s done correctly. If not, however, you’ll end up with content that doesn’t drive any traffic or generate leads and sits still on your site collecting cobwebs.

That’s why it’s crucial to hire the right content writer. A recent survey found that 64 percent of marketers want to build a better content strategy, likely because you need expert writing in every area of your business in order for it to succeed. This could be landing pages, email marketing, blog content, lead magnets, etc. If you aren’t a good writer or don’t have one on your team, your business is in big trouble.

Hiring a content writer that suits your business needs is something you can’t do without. It makes all the difference to onboard an employee that’s the right fit for your brand because they’ll be able to deliver your marketing messages and craft them to suit your goals.

If you’re about to hire your first writer, be sure not to make these five mistakes during the process.

1. Not researching beforehand

You know you need content and someone to write it, but is that all you know? You can’t expect to hire a suitable fit for the job if you aren’t even sure what your goals are in hiring this person and what you hope to achieve with their arrival. By doing research before you start the hiring process, you’re better equipped to ask the right questions and find the right person.

Ask yourself these questions before you put up a job posting:

  • What goals do we want to accomplish by hiring a new writer?
  • What action do we want readers to take after consuming our content?
  • Can our in-house team take on content marketing?
  • What keywords are our main focus?
  • Do we have the budget to hire a writer?
  • Can we provide adequate training if needed?

These questions are important because they form the groundwork for finding the right fit and give you something to consider during the process.

2. Hiring the cheapest option

Those that are just starting out as content writers may request a smaller salary or cheaper rates, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting a good deal. Financially, it may seem like a good idea, especially if your budget is on the lower end. However, it’s not worth it to hire someone for less only to end up with subpar content. You get what you pay for and it’s not wise to skimp out on high-quality copy.

Often, candidates lower their rates or request a smaller salary because they’re inexperienced and desperate for a writing opportunity no matter what the pay. This isn’t to say that every low-charging writer isn’t good at their job, but people who know their worth will charge accordingly. Those who know their worth will charge at a higher price because they know they can deliver.

When you hire someone who’s worth their rates, you’ll get content that’s:

  • Optimized for SEO
  • Tailored to your target audience
  • Spellchecked and grammatically correct
  • Clear and concise
  • Authoritative

3. Disregarding their references

References are an essential part of any resume. They give you direct information into what candidates look like as employees, what their work ethic is like, if they’re good at what they do, how they manage time, and so much more. Ignoring them means you miss out on valuable information that could help you determine if that candidate will be your first writer or not.

It’s up to you what you want to ask references about based on what you want to know and what’s most pressing to you, but here are a few to start:

  • Can you confirm the candidate’s previous employment and responsibilities?
  • What makes the candidate the perfect fit for this position?
  • What are some of their strengths and weaknesses?
  • How reliable is this candidate?
  • What was their biggest achievement?
  • Is there anything else I should know?
  • Would you recommend them for this position?

If you try speeding through the hiring process, the chances of bringing on the wrong person are high. You may be in a rush to get your content plan flowing, but it’s better to wait for the right fit who will help your business reach its goals.

4. Skimming their portfolio

A writer’s portfolio is the most important part of their resume. It’s the key to knowing if their writing style fits your branding, if it’s at the quality level you need it to be, and if they understand your industry. It’s essential to look at candidates’ portfolios first thing and read through each piece thoroughly.

Pay attention to different aspects of their writing. Does it seem like they wrote each piece with SEO in mind? Did they do a good job of speaking to their target market? Are there catchy headlines and subheads to break the pieces down? Do they include optimized images?

Look out for articles or other content in their portfolio that helped them reach a goal, such as increased traffic or improved engagement. This is a good indicator of a writer who can help you reach the same goals. If they’ve already done it for another business, they can do it for yours too.

5. Failing to provide clear directions

Have you ever read a job post that was messy, unclear, and unprofessional? That’s precisely how companies hire the wrong candidates.

The hiring process is complicated enough. When your job posting doesn’t give specific directions or information, the chances of hiring the right fit are slim to none. You shouldn’t expect the process to run smoothly if applicants aren’t sure of what to do, how to apply, or what to include. That’s why you must create a clear, optimized job listing.

Here are a few tips for creating a job listing that will attract the right applicants:

  • Write down the must-have qualifications. The more specific you are about what you’re looking for, the better chances you have of finding the person that matches everything you need. If you’re seeking a candidate with particular qualifications, skills, or experience, include that in your posting. This will prevent those who don’t match your criteria from applying and lessen the workload for finding the right writer.
  • Incorporate keywords. It’s easier for candidates seeking a content writing position to find you if you include SEO in your posting. If you only put that you want a “writer,” you’ll receive all kinds of writers’ applications. That’s not what you want, however, so it’s important to detail the type of writer you’re looking for and in what industry. Use keywords in the title, body copy, meta description, and if possible, the URL. If you’re using your website to accept applications, track your analytics to see how your posting is performing.
  • Include the location. Unless you seek a remote employee or contract worker to do your content writing, it’s vital to add the location of your office. When people search for non-remote work, they add local keywords to their search. If you fail to do so, those in your area won’t be able to discover your open position.
  • Keep it clear and concise. There’s no reason your listing needs to be three pages long. Few people are going to read every word, and it doesn’t detail what you’re looking for if you’re rambling. Shorten the process by having users fill out a conversational survey before submitting their application so you know where they stand and if they’re qualified.
  • Create a career section on your website. Many companies take advantage of their brand website by posting open positions directly there. It serves as a landing page for job seekers interested in your company and can make a massive difference in the number of applications you receive as well as the quality of the candidates.
  • Leverage video content. Users love video, and video marketing is a great way to grab people’s attention and provide them with information about your company in a unique way. Adding video to your job seeking process makes your brand stand out from all the rest who are also looking for professional applicants. You can upload videos of your team, the work environment, and more to show potential candidates what your work culture and its team members are like. This gives them a clearer idea of what to look forward to and if your company is right for them.

Over to you

Hiring your first content writer is a big deal. They’re responsible for the quality of the content on your website and how your brand portrays online, so going through each possible candidate without rushing the process is important. Do your research beforehand, hire based on the best fit, speak to their references, and read their portfolio pieces. Taking every step is worth it because it means your content marketing strategy will lead to better business.