When I went out on my own nearly two years ago, a colleague then put me in contact with another writer. He thought it would be nice for the two of us to compare notes and maybe she had some advice for me.
Writers are generally not social folks so reaching out to a complete stranger is not high on our list of favorite things to do. Before I was going to reach out to her I wanted to do my research and asked for her website.
He provided it hesitantly and said something like, She’s like most employed writers. Her website stinks.
At the time, his comment meant nothing to me, other than she might have a lack of technology skills. Nearly two years later of being in business for myself, I have a little perspective and it has nothing to do with technology.
If you’re looking for a marketing writer you need someone competent and trustworthy. After seven years in marketing and a couple of decades spent as a writer, I’ll tell you — most people can match nouns and verbs.
Writing is no different from cooking in that way. Anyone can follow a recipe. But to find a masterful chef who can whip something out of nothing, who can make everything in your pantry seem more appealing, that takes skill. Here’s how to find it.
How to Tell a Good Writer from a Lackluster One
I’m going to assume you can read copy on the writer’s website or in a portfolio and decide whether someone has mastered the basics of persuasive writing.
If there are a lot of typos, or the text sounds terrible when you read it out loud, move on to the next person. From the people who make the cut, take a look at the following things:
Her Website is Not Great
Like my colleague said, one of the signs of a successful writer is a terrible website. A successful marketing writer is very in demand these days. Google has done a great job explaining to companies why they need good quality content. For this reason most great writers with competitively priced services are working. They don’t have time to fiddle with their site or their marketing. A great writer has plenty of work and gets referrals so marketing is not a top concern. A working writer probably doesn’t blog every day unless she purposely keeps her workload light to do so.
She Has a Social Presence
Often the quote “Writers write.”, is bantered around writing communities, but writers no longer have the luxury of only writing. It’s a lot more complicated than that. A writer must ensure her content is inline with current search engine optimization tactics and must understand social media since much of her content will be shared that way.
A writer with a following is also nice to hire because (if you both agree to it) you’re getting access to her network as she shares the content she wrote.
She Won’t Work for Free
Links do not pay the bills. A good, experienced writer will not write for free unless you have a great service or product she needs and you’re both interested in a barter exchange, or you are a non-profit and she’s writing for you out of the goodness of her heart or as part of a community service obligation for the Court.
She Wants to Know About Your Business, Your Goals, and Your Strategy
A great marketing writer needs to know about you, your audience, and your objectives for the content. Without this she might as well be writing a persuasive essay for her English prof in 1990. Good marketing writing must factor in audience, SEO, marketing message, a call-to-action, and more. Most professional marketing writers take notes on their clients and write in a tone that matches their needs and appeals to their audience and industry.
If you need help finding a good marketing writer, ask businesses with copy you like. You might’ve assumed they handled it in-house but no always. If they outsourced it, they might give you their writer’s contact information. You can also place a request to your network on LinkedIn.
If the writer you approach is too busy to take on your content creation needs, ask if she knows someone. Most of us have professional contacts and people whose talents we trust.
You’ll notice my post is conspicuously missing a call to action — one where I ask you to fill out my contact form and hire me. While I would gladly add this marketing technique to the bottom or your blog posts, my blog aims at helping not selling. It’s up to you as a business owner to decide how heavy-handed of an approach you want to take in your marketing copy.
When it comes to my own writing, I’m an un-marketer — resources not copy; stories over tag lines. That’s what I like to read so that’s what I use here.