Easy-to-read and interesting content is important to have but not always easy to find. Say you need someone to write a white paper on dosimetry in nuclear medicine or the study of tribometry in engineering. Even if you understand the topic, you won’t always have the time or skills to write about it. In that case, you might want to hire a writer who is an expert in that field.
Most businesses, however, just need a good content creator. You need someone who can explain who you are, what you do, and what services you offer. The content creator you hire doesn’t have to be a subject area expert to write your blog, put together sales copy for a product launch, or craft interesting press releases that attract attention. Instead, the person you hire needs to be able to do research and take guidance from you.
Good content creators will pick up the topic and voice quicker than you imagine if they have the tools they need. They don’t have to be an expert with a long work history in your field, but they do need a few skills to get the job done.
The Ability to Research
Image via Flickr by MagneticNorth
The person you hire to put together video content or write articles for your business needs excellent comprehension skills. He needs to be able to sift through a lot of information and understand it quickly. Good writers are good readers. They know how to follow research trails – online or off – and ask questions when they don’t know something. They won’t rely on Wikipedia for material. You want to hire a professional who questions sources that don’t have name recognition or credible sourcing of their own.
Reading is part of writing, but so is finding good information. Maybe you’ve decided to hire a journalist to put together articles for your newsletter or magazine. He doesn’t have to understand the minutiae of your industry. All he needs to know how to do is find people who can give him the information they need. Online research and interviews are crucial tools for many freelance writers. This is what enables them to tackle almost any subject.
Your Brand Guide
Your brand guide does much more than remind people what fonts and colors to use in your marketing or how to present your logo. This is the guidebook your writer or content creator will use to make sure all your content has the same look, feel, and voice. Without it, the writer may get lost in a myriad of details. For example, if he’s writing about tribometry, he might get mired in particulars about slip resistance and different types of friction, when all you wanted was a concise explanation of why people should wear your brand of shoes in the rain.
Is your brand voice technical and professional with an emphasis on the details? Or do you want to use a down-to-each, friendly persona that educates with basic but interesting information? Knowing this helps decide the direction your content creator will take to complete the article, infographic, or video. Should he focus on obscure scientific analysis or broader information? What a content creator researches guides what he writes. Make sure you haven’t sent your freelancer to do the job without giving him any direction.
Resources You Trust
Most business owners know their industries well, including whom they admire, who the frauds are, and where the best information is. Think about the newsletters you subscribe to, the websites you monitor, and the content you love. If you’ve been in your industry long enough, you know who the respected voices are. Help your freelancer learn the industry faster by sending him links to these resources.
When first taking on a new industry or topic, freelancers have to ask themselves whether a resource they want to use is credible and reliable. Knowing whom to trust makes this process easier. A professional content creator won’t copy from those sources, but he will use them as a springboard. This allows him to make sure he’s on the right track with his research.
Feedback and Criticism
One of things writers want the most and receive the least is feedback from a client. When a finished piece is submitted, it’s very rare that every word is perfect. It’s not unheard of for a writer to give you a draft and never hear your opinion of it. The only way a writer ever improves is through constant editing. In order to make sure your content creator is providing exactly what you want, you have to tell him when something doesn’t work.
It’s also important to realize that a few mistakes don’t mean a finished piece is trash. A professional content creator can make something completely new and fresh with a few small changes. Don’t panic if a detail or two is incorrect. Let your writer know, and give him a chance to fix it. You may be surprised at how quickly he can turn something you thought was junk into a gem.
When you’re ready to hire a professional freelance writer or any other content creator, remember that the subjects and industries he’s worked in matters less than the content he produces. You want someone who can take the smallest details of your business and turn it into compelling content for your current and future customers.
Hiring someone who is both a doctor and an excellent writer or both a scientist and a journalist is nice, but such people are hard to find. And most of the time, they’re not interested in freelancing. They have their own careers.
Instead, look for freelance professionals who tell engaging stories. They need to be able to understand what they read, find credible research to use, and take direction well. Their writing or content creation resumé matters much more than previous job experience within your industry. A great writer can take any topic, even tribometry, and turn it into content people want to consume.