How to Hire a Content Writer (An In-Depth Guide)

You’ve heard it before — 70% of businesses fail within 10 years.

Creating, managing, and scaling a profitable business is not easy.

But why do so many businesses bail? And how can we keep ourselves in that 30% group?

We can stop working so much. 🤯

Or at least, stop working on the things we can delegate to others.

Because even if you’ve got the skills already (you might have learned how to be a content writer at some point), one of the best things you can do for your business is to learn, instead, how to hire a content writer.

Because…

Entrepreneurs, you shouldn’t be writing your own content.

If you’re an agency owner, business creator, or passion-fueled entrepreneur of any sort…

It’s just not sustainable, practical, or realistic.

Because more success doesn’t come from more work…

…more success comes from smart choices, systems, and a repeatable content marketing strategy.

But how do you find an AMAZING writer? It’s all in today’s blog on how to hire a content writer.

So, let’s not waste another moment! 💥

This comprehensive guide includes the best tips I’ve found for founders like you learning how to hire a content writer for your website and beyond. Ready to skip straight to a done-for-you service that handles ALL the headaches of hiring for you? You need a Content Engine. 🚀

Watch Me Explain How to Hire a Content Writer

How to Hire a Content Writer: Table of Contents

Why You Should Hire Your Own (Contract) Writer & Skip the Employees

How to Hire a Content Writer in 6 Steps

  1. FIRST: Create Your Brand Content Style Guidelines
  2. Nail Your Job Listing
  3. Find the Content Writer in the Haystack
  4. Test Them with a Skills-Based Assessment
  5. DON’T Hire the Best Writer
  6. Find Your E.L.A. Culture-Fit

So You Hired a Writer for Your Blog & Website — Next Steps & Tips

  1. Consider Hiring an Editor
  2. Use a Simple Payroll System
  3. Build Trust Through Authenticity
  4. Treat Your Content Writer Like Gold

Why You Should Hire Your Own (Contract) Writer & Skip the Employees

Nope, you shouldn’t be the only one writing content for your brand.

The first thing you want to do to hire a content writer is to hire a freelancer vs. building a team of employees.

One of the keys to my success that I share in my business coaching system is to build your sustainable brand using contractors that you manage. This will all be part of your own business system you execute to help automate processes while freeing you up to make the big decisions your business needs, like executing your big content marketing ideas.

And instead of hiring a team of employee writers, hire a freelancer. The overhead is much more reasonable, and you get to pay per project – making it a breeze to stay within your profit margins and predict costs.

Plus, this is getting simpler and simpler to do by the minute. Freelance writers are flooding the online job market. In fact, a 2021 study found that 41.8% of the American workforce remains remote.

how many workers are still remote

Source: Upwork

Finding gold-star contractors is becoming increasingly more streamlined to do, and there are even content writing agencies out there that will manage a writer for you. ⭐ If you feel they meet the criteria you’re looking for, then by all means, save yourself some hassle and hire the agency!

Personally, I’m a big fan of telling entrepreneurs to work directly with a content writer if you can. Here’s why:

  1. It’s simpler: You’ll be so much more agile when you can connect brains directly with your content writer. Plus, you can manage that writer within your team/system that you have set up and use whatever software you choose (check out the free payroll system I use at the end of this list!).
  2. It saves time + money: You’ll need to handle the job posting, interview, management, and payment of your writer yourself. But with the right system, this can take less time than working with a third party and having to go through several people with your feedback and ideas.
  3. The quality output is higher: Content generally ends up turning out way better than with a third party involved, as well.
  4. Added flexibility: Working directly with a writing contractor can give you more flexibility when business tasks need to change or rearrange quickly. You can jump in and plan your strategy, redirecting your content writer as needed.

But… There are a lot of content writers out there.

So, let’s review how to hire the right content writer.

If you want the benefits of a personal content writer without having to worry about hiring them, training them, or setting up systems to manage them, you need our new Done-For-You Content Creation Engine. We’ll construct your brand’s personal content engine that will create content for you on autopilot for the life of your business. Talk to us today to get started.

content engine

How to Hire a Content Writer in 6 Steps

Disclaimer: Finding a writer for your blog and website isn’t easy.

These steps WILL take a significant time investment. That’s because finding the right writer for your content matters.

Don’t lower your standards or hire a writer just to get it done. Take the time to find the right fit for your brand, the secret weapon who will help you bring in more traffic, leads, and sales. It’s worth it.

1. FIRST: Create Your Brand Content Style Guidelines

Nope, the first step to finding a writer for your blog or website ISN’T writing out a job listing or posting a “call for writers” on your social media accounts.

Instead, it’s an internal step that will make a world of difference to the success you have with any writer you hire.

You need to create brand style guidelines. These are sets of rules and guidelines for how your brand presents itself across your content and online presence.

If you don’t have these in place, I can guarantee you lack clarity in your brand’s overall presentation. You will not have a clear picture of how you want your brand to sound or look, and without that clarity, any writer you hire will have to guess at how to represent you in your content.

And that’s a HUGE problem, because consistency matters. Your business needs to have a stable personality if you want to earn trust — you can’t be swinging from “professional and facts-driven” one minute to “freewheeling and fun” the next if you want to attract and retain your audience.

Brand content style guidelines give your writers rules to follow so when they write for your brand, they sound like your brand.

By the way, brand style guidelines piggyback on other key brand foundations. If you don’t have these in place, if you’re not clear on them, you need to get clear BEFORE hiring a writer:

If you don’t have any of this clearly set, do not go out and hire a content writer. You’ll be setting them up for failure!

2. Nail Your Job Listing

Now we can talk about creating an effective job listing. This is how to find a blog writer who can actually write.

Because, you have a lot of options when it comes to content writers, and the talent pool is growing by the day (the content marketing industry is set to be worth $600 billion by 2024).

It’s not the site I post job listings on, but just as an example — there are literally thousands and thousands of content writers on Upwork alone.

content writers on upwork

And there are even more content writers on Fiverr — over 25,000:

content writers on fiverr

That said, it takes eons to go out and find good content writers on these platforms. Instead, you want the right content writers coming to you.

This is why your content writer job listing is key – when executed right, I’ve found a way to get an avalanche of fantastic content writers applying for my freelance positions. ⛷️

First, start with the right jobs platform. I prefer Indeed for a few reasons:

  • It’s one of the largest hiring platforms (read: lots of people will see your job listing!) with the most resumes.
  • It gets the most Google hits (read: more people will find your listing).

hire a content writer on indeed

Next, create your job listing.

The trick is to position it in a way that attracts a smart, talented content writer that’s in the sweet spot of looking for hassle-free remote work and will accept a reasonable rate that’s well within your profit margin.

Offering consistent work without micromanagement is worth a lot to a contractor who may normally be used to having to hunt down client after client. There’s a huge pool of talented contractors with digital marketing skills willing to complete projects with you for an extremely reasonable rate.

Once you’ve learned how to hire a content writer and you’re officially ready to post your job listing, cut through all the clutter and make sure to follow these rules when drafting your content writer job description:

  1. Be direct + transparent: The copy must be thorough, upfront, and crystal clear 🔮 on everything your content writer will and won’t do. This way, you’ll both know exactly what to expect from one another.
  2. Be authentic: Reading your job listing is likely the first time your content writer will be learning about the position they’re considering. Start the relationship off by being personal and being yourself so you can start building trust right away. If they don’t connect with you, it’s better to find out now. You may never be in the same room as this person, but you’ll still be building a relationship together.
  3. Sell your vision: You’re an expert in your field and you’ve got exciting things planned for your brand, so share them. Tell writers about who they will be working with – position yourself as a dependable boss and talk about your successes and your long-term goals, too.

Curious what this looks like? Here’s an example content writer job listing for my brand:

job listing for hiring a content writer

🔥 TIP: If you’re asking yourself, “How do I hire a GOOD content writer?” …You can easily pull great writers in with strategic pay positioning. If you’re an expert, trade the time you invest to mentor and guide them, that you would otherwise charge for, as a value-add. Win, win!

3. Find the Content Writer in the Haystack

Now that your listing is bringing in applicants, it’s time to pick your content writer.

You’ll probably start seeing applications pour in by the dozens, if not the hundreds. (When I go out to hire writers on behalf of our Content Engine clients, I see an average of 300 applications for each writer position posted.)

You’ll likely get a lot of applications with writing samples from excited applicants, but your job as a business owner is to be picky and only hire the 1% — the crème de la crème of content writers looking for immediate and consistent contract work.

Be ready — it will feel like a LOT. 😵 But, to find your perfect writer, you need to go through those hundreds of applications one by one. There’s no way around it. It’s a big haystack, and you’re looking for the sharpest needle.

Let’s take a peek at exactly what to look for to find the perfect content writer for your exact needs, based on what I’ve learned from hiring and managing hundreds of content writers since 2011. Get all nine in this free guide.

  1. Grit: I translate this as the aptitude to work from home. Meaning, can your writer manage their own schedule and get your content written even if they have five kids at home? Can they be trusted with a deadline?
  2. Relevant expertise: Real, verified expertise in your topic area. Let’s say marketing, finance, or law is your topic — you’ll need a writer that has real-world experience, otherwise content will suffer.
  3. Research skills: Look for the ability to sleuth Google like a boss and get their content way beyond superficial and unhelpful.
  4. No essay-writing habits: Make sure they can write for an online audience, a skill applicants with marketing degrees sometimes lack.

Now, you’re not going to learn all of this through the writer’s application alone. Instead, you should comb through your pool of applicants and look for the ones who best fit your criteria for hiring. THEN, you need to further cull your list by giving each applicant in this narrowed-down pool a skills-based assessment.

After all, the most important attribute the right writer will have is the SKILL of online writing for your particular niche.

How will you find out who has it? By testing them. 📝

4. Test Them with a Skills-Based Assessment

Above all, you need a writer who can write for the web. Period.

This skill should be two-pronged:

  • They have experience in your niche, or have worked in your niche for years (example: if you’re a finance brand, you need a financial writer with that experience or background).
  • They know how to write online content.

This secret-sauce combination matters more than any other factor.

They especially need the EXPERIENCE in your industry, because no training can replicate years of immersive work. And, if you hire someone without that experience, it will show up, plain as day, in your content — and it won’t be pretty. 🙈

That’s why your skills-based assessment is so important. It will show you exactly who has the experience and expertise you’re looking for.

I like to give all my top applicants a real assignment brief, just like one they would get if they actually worked for me. Here’s some of what I include:

  • The length I’m looking for (I usually just ask them to write the first 200 words — remember, they aren’t getting paid for this, and we just need enough words to see their skill in action).
  • The topic to write about.
  • The focus keyword to use for SEO.
  • The brand guidelines to follow for voice and tone.
  • Examples to follow for inspiration.

content writer skills-based assessment example

The writing you get back from applicants after giving them this test should speak volumes about their skill. More than anything else, your test will help you hire the right person. (Yes — even more than a Zoom interview or their resume!)

That’s why we use skills-based assessments during the hiring stage of our done-for-you Content Engine service: They’re the best way to narrow down your talent pool!

5. DON’T Hire the Best Writer

Testing your potential writers is a great way to further weed out the wrong candidates.

BUT-

What if you’ve hunted through those hundreds of applicants, tested a handful, and are left with two or three rock stars who could do the job equally well? (A great, if tough, problem to have.)

Or, what if you’re tempted by a high-profile writer with an impressive resume?

Here’s my best advice:

DON’T hire the best writer of the bunch.

🤯🤯🤯

No, I haven’t lost my mind. Hear me out:

Instead of the BEST writer, you should find someone who knows their craft AND can be trained to produce amazing content for your brand.

What you need is a writer who will write the content for you, and work directly with you without ego or assumptions.

Hire the writer with skill and potential, who’s willing to learn and grow with you.

For example, maybe they aren’t quite up to speed on SEO writing, but they have a lot of talent and potential, plus experience in your industry. You can easily train that writer on SEO, and with that time investment, you’ll have a secret weapon on your hands. 🐱‍👤

In other words, don’t be afraid to hire a writer who has room to grow.

What matters more is their expertise, their ability and willingness to learn, and their love of writing.

I call this the E.L.A. Culture-Fit, and it’s the next thing you should be thinking about in the hiring process.

6. Find Your E.L.A. Culture-Fit

Again, don’t try to find the BEST writer out there.

Instead, find a skilled writer who contributes to an environment of growth, who has enthusiasm and expertise but is ready to learn more.

That person has the E.L.A. Culture-Fit — they will fit like a puzzle piece into your team.

The E.L.A. Culture-Fit is all about working with a writer who demonstrates EXPERTISE in your industry, an ABILITY to learn, and a LOVE of writing.

ela culture fit

E – Expertise in Your Industry

You need an expert in your industry, because you want them to write authoritative content for your site.

They should be able to write about your niche topic and know what they’re talking about. That’s the only way to get in-depth content that’s useful for your audience.

L – Love of Writing

There’s no way around this requirement.

The best writers are the ones who adore writing. They’ll write long letters to their friends, essays on social media, and comments on blogs. They may write books or other content just for fun.

If you can find someone who LOVES writing and offer to pay them for it, you’ve got a win-win situation.

A – Ability to Learn

Your writer also needs to have the ability and willingness to learn. Even if they can recite all the spelling and grammar rules in their sleep, there’s always more to learn as a writer.

There’s a learning curve to writing blog content, especially if you, like everyone else, learned how to write essays in school.

Landing pages and emails differ from blog content, and your writer must learn how to ace all the content you need them to create.

Finally, you want your writer to learn how to emulate your voice.

These are the basic criteria for hiring the perfect writer. Again, you still want to put them through their paces by using a skill-based interview, but the E.L.A. Culture-Fit can help you find that diamond-in-the-rough writer. 💎

How do I know so much about hiring a writer? In my day, I’ve hired thousands of writers for my agency and their clients. I know how to weed through the mass of applicants and find the writer who will produce the type of content your audience loves.

TL;DR: I’m ready to put my knowledge to use for you, saving you all the time and hassle to find your PERFECT writer. My service, Content Engine, is THE long-term solution to all your content problems.

So You Hired a Writer for Your Blog & Website — Next Steps & Tips

Maybe, by this point, you’ve figured out how to find a writer for your blog and website. You’ve followed the steps, and you’re feeling good.

What now? A few tips:

1. Consider Hiring an Editor

When it comes to talented contractors hungry for consistent work with an impactful brand, there are even more roles to consider filling in addition to hiring a content writer.

Another central theme within The Content Transformation System, enrolling now, is exactly how to tap into this content trend in 2022 and use it to power your own content-based online business. In fact, more and more people are becoming contractors – 50% of Gen Z workers in the US freelanced in 2020!

freelancer population graph

Even the best content writer will miss something here and there. And expecting a writer to upload and schedule their own pieces to publish on your site can pull their attention away from their true skill – content writing.

And that’s where an editor comes in. 🤓

Just like you’ve learned how simple hiring a content writer can be, you should also consider hiring an editor.

Someone who can jump into your shared software that contains the draft from your content writer, make sure it’s perfect, and then upload and schedule it via the backend of your website.

And it doesn’t stop with hiring content writers and editors! Many additional roles can be filled by contractors (like an editing pro who can help you produce high-quality YouTube videos that make money, a CPA, customer support, and more).

This, my friends, is the magic of business automation that leads to sustainability. ✨

2. Use a Simple Payroll System

What about managing the pay for that new writer you just hired?

You don’t need to pay for an expensive payroll management system to effectively track projects and pay your contractors.

Google Docs works perfectly.

In a 2020 report, Google Suite was accessed by 2 billion users per month. It’s a ROBUST platform that offers tons of free and low-cost features. Make it your best friend when you’re hiring content writers.

There are some other great content marketing tools out there, both free and paid. But remember – the name of the game is simplicity.

There are plenty of highly successful entrepreneurs who use free web apps for tracking contractor projects and payroll. Heck, I’ve used them since 2011 with the advice of a mentor who used them even before that.

It’s true, I exclusively use Google Sheets to manage and automate my entire payroll strategy.

automation

And you can use this same method for literally any role you fill through contract work. It really can be as simple as that when it comes to payroll with your content writer.

In my Content Engine service, you don’t have to worry about this part, either. After hiring your writer, we get to work building a simple task management and payroll system for you to track and manage your writer. Talk to us today to get started.

3. Build Trust Through Authenticity

As you work with your hired writer, you can, and should, be friendly and warm without being unprofessional.

Because if 86% of your future customers consider brand authenticity an important factor in deciding whether or not to support you…

…building trust with your contractors should be just as important.

So be authentic. Be relatable. Be genuinely yourself in your job postings, and your communications with your content writer.

That ties in perfectly with my next tip.

4. Treat Your Content Writer Like Gold

Make sure to treat your content writer like a BFF. Because your writer is the person that will lend their creativity and power to you and propel your brand forward.

Being reactive, overly critical, or generally treating your writer like crap absolutely hurts you in the long run – you’ll only alienate them and make them unhappy and unwilling to invest the full power of their creative abilities in your projects. 😵

Not treating your content writer well is a sure-fire way to see massive turnover in this role.

How to Hire a Content Writer (Without Creating MORE Work for Yourself)

The purpose of hiring a content writer should be to help take tasks off your plate.

But without a strategy and a plan, finding, managing, and keeping up with your content writer will create more work for yourself. You need a system.

I’ve been doing this for 10 years… and in year nine I learned the “secret” to finding amazing contractors. Now, I’m using that secret sauce in an incredible new service we’re offering, the Done-For-You Content Creation Engine.

We’ll take care of your content from hiring a writer, training them on how to write for your brand, and implementing systems to manage their work. We’ll even set up a content calendar and topics for you based on research.

If you need a content writer but are struggling with how to put that in motion in your business, this is the service and system you need.

Talk to us today to start setting up your content engine.

content engine

About Julia McCoy

Julia McCoy is an entrepreneur, 6x author, and a leading strategist around creating exceptional content and brand presence that lasts online. At 19 years old, in 2011, she used her last $75 to build a 7-figure agency, Express Writers, which she grew to $5M and sold ten years later. In the 2020s, she's devoted to running The Content Hacker, where she teaches creative entrepreneurs the strategy, skills, and systems they need to build a self-sustaining business, so they are finally freed up to create lasting legacy and generational impact.