By Joe Gillespie

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Likely, you have seen websites that feature a blog—or your business maintains one itself. This is outstanding, until you see the date of the last blog was eight months ago. You and your team just haven’t had time in your busy schedule to write anything. The blog languishes, and any visitors you may have attracted either think you don’t offer anything useful to share or that you aren’t diligent enough to maintain the page. And if you aren’t diligent with your blog, there may be a perception you aren’t diligent with the rest of your business …

Blogging, e-books, whitepapers, and other content that businesses use to attract and convert potential customers are proven avenues to inbound marketing success. There’s one little catch: Someone must write that content. That sounds simple, but it’s an area many companies struggle with. And it’s not because you’re lazy or uninterested or devoid of knowledge to impart, but simply because you are busy. That’s an understandable reason, but also can be detrimental for inbound marketing efforts.

If you aren’t able to internally write blog posts and other content, a logical alternative is to outsource the work to freelancers. If done right, these contractors, whether publishing under their names on your website or ghostwriting under your name, can give your blog a much-needed boost. Yes, there will be an expense, but it might not be as significant as you fear—and will be worth it if furthers you inbound marketing expense. Here are some ways to build a team of content writers:

Determine How Many Content Writers You Need

Before you start the process, take a look at your blogging and content goals. Are you looking for several posts a week or just one? Do you want to publish whitepapers throughout the year or just one or two? Answering these questions will give you a better idea of how many writers you should seek. You don’t want to hire too many freelancers for limited work, because if the volume isn’t consistent, they might be apt to turn you down when you really need them. And you just don’t want one freelancer if you will be aggressively blogging, because if he or she unexpectedly has to step back, you’ll be scrambling to find a replacement.

Is Internal an Option?

Before seeking freelancers, check around your business for co-workers who might be interested in providing content. Many marketers look only to their departments for potential contributors. You might discover employees in other departments—ones you had no idea would be interested in writing—might be willing to help. They already have the expertise you seek and could welcome the chance to get their name and picture on your company’s blog.

Check Out Industry Publications

How often do you and your coworkers share an article from an industry-related publication or website, impressed with its content? Contracting the author of that great article to write for your blog is always a possibility. However, before you take this route, there are some concerns you should be aware of. First, many industry articles are produced by professionals in your industry, written to self-promote rather than make money; these authors likely will not write for the competition or if there’s any sort of conflict of interest. Second, staff writers and editors at these publications may be allowed to freelance on the side, but many aren’t looking for extra work. Seek out contributors—writers who aren’t on staff but are presented as writers, not industry professionals, in their bios (or the bios you find on LinkedIn). These are the freelancers who may welcome additional paid opportunities to write in a space they are familiar with and enjoy.

LinkedIn and Google

Good, old-fashioned search engines and social media platforms can direct you toward freelance writers in your industry. Google and other searches (made with a term as simple as “freelance [insert industry here] writer”) may pull up articles written by freelancers or the websites of writers available for hire (and if those pages are coming up early on searches, they likely know a thing or two about SEO …). LinkedIn is another helpful avenue, not only searching for writers and pulling up resumes for you, but also giving you access to professional groups of freelancers.

Writer Boards

Placing an ad on a writer’s job board is always an option that can help you find the writers you need. I personally like journalismjobs.com because it attracts a decent amount of writers with newspaper experience, and because it’s relatively inexpensively to post an ad on it (also, doing so also gives you access to its job board). But there are a number of other job boards out there, varying in quality and cost, for you to choose from. One word of caution: A single ad on some of these sites can lead to dozens, even hundreds of resumes—including those from individuals clearly not qualified to write your content—so give yourself some time on the back end to look at the applications you receive.

Industry Job Boards

Job websites specific to your industry can lead you to knowledgeable writers who can write your content. Two things to think about if you take this route: These sites charge more to post than most writer’s boards, and writers might not come to these sites looking for freelance jobs—it really depends on the industry. Furthermore, you may find someone with industry experience but not much blogging experience, which isn’t necessarily bad, but be prepared for more editing if you bring such an individual on board.

Freelance Job Boards

Some websites offer companies the chance to directly hire writers, or to post jobs and have them accepted by freelancers. Though this can help if you need a writer in a hurry, the results can often be hit or miss. You may be required to pay for this service, and, at least with some boards, the quality of applicants may not be sound, with little chance to further vet the prospect. If a writer jumps at a chance to contract a $25 job (which is in par with, if not more than, content mill rates), he or she may be lacking the chops to deliver the quality content you need. That’s not to say that you can’t find a great writer via this route, but you need to be extremely cautious.

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Joe Gillespie

About the author

Joe Gillespie is a Senior Brand Journalist for SmartBug Media. He graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in journalism and is a two-decade veteran of the newspaper industry. As a Senior Brand Journalist, Joe writes and edits inbound marketing content for SmartBug's clients. Read more articles by Joe Gillespie.

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