It’s both frustrating and exciting to hire for content marketing. You know your company needs content marketers to manage your company’s investment. But, it’s difficult to wade through the hundreds of applicants.
You are not alone – hundreds of companies have gone through this. Luckily, many have documented their best practices for hiring content marketers to make it easier for others. Here we cover over 100 tips on bringing content marketers on board, found from your fellow colleagues. Let’s get started.
9 Tips on Writing Content Marketing Job Ads
To locate writers you’ll need to create your job ad. There are several tips for doing this. They are all helpful in building an ad that gets results – and great content marketers.
“You should also insist the candidates send published writing samples, preferably hyperlinks to live articles and not scanned copies of a magazine article from a decade or two ago.
This should be a prerequisite. If someone responds without links to writing examples or asks ‘do you want to see writing samples?’ After you’ve explicitly stated it in your ad, hit the delete button.” Ken Lyons on Search Engine Watch
“At iDoneThis, we think that job advertisements should give potential applicants as much information as possible about the position, the team, and the company’s vision.
Giving the most accurate possible summation of what it would be like working at your company is not just honest, it’s smart, because you will save yourself a lot of time weeding out unfit candidates, whose time you will also, incidentally, save.” Walter Chen on Inbound.org
“Unless you can think of a bottom-line, indisputable reason otherwise, give the writer a byline.” Patti Podnar
“If you want to find quality writers on ProBlogger you should definitely post a general range of what you’re willing to pay. I still check the job board sometimes but I 100% ignore anything that doesn’t specify a range.” Colin Newcomer
“Write a job posting that matches both core skills and desired character traits.” CMI – Melissa Breker
“Lead with questions that allow prospective content strategists to demonstrate past work and knowledge that’s applicable to your project.” CMI – Melissa Breker
“I still don’t see the need for a resume when hiring a writer/content marketer/anyone who does digital marketing. It’s quickly becoming irrelevant, kind of like Monster.com and Ask Jeeves. Why not just hop on a call or use an intro email in place of a resume? Just seems like an extra/unnecessary step. If you want to hire a writer, check out some of their writing.” Brian Lenney
“Make payment expectations clear.” BossBabe
“Unfortunately, proper content marketing isn’t cheap. If you are just looking for something to fill the keyword gaps, then yeah, maybe this works. If you are looking for content as part of a wider strategy, then I wouldn’t put my trust into people I am paying $18 per hour.” Kieran Flanagan on Inbound.org
32 Tips for Finding Content Marketers to Hire
The first step in hiring content marketers is to find people who could be right for the job. Where do you post ads? What do you do if you find writing you really enjoy? Here is how some of our experts handle finding content marketers for consideration.
“Be aware of the freelance writer that will give you a bargain and start immediately on a major project. If they seem overly concerned about losing your business… that’s because you are their business!” Josh Garofalo
“I’d add that long-term you should have an inbound/attraction program. I first heard about this on the Inbound Agency Journey podcast. Matt Sunshine was on and he talked about building a ‘Talent Bank’ so you have people lined up before you even need them. It’s a great listen; I highly recommend it.” Gretchen Roberts
“ProBlogger has worked for me in the past. It’s the same as any job board though – you have to filter the talent. There will be a lot of duds, a lot of maybes and 1-2 superstars. It’s probably not worth your time to turn duds into stars or even mess around with a lot of the maybes. Find the ones that know your niche and have written before within it. Also, make the guidelines clear up front and do a test article.” Alex Birkett
“I’ve switched to getting people in full-time. I’ve invested in training these writers, building up their skills to a point where I feel comfortable letting them take over a project.
“It’s tough work and it’s slow work, but the results are worth it.” Puranjay
“To answer your question, though, I’d suggest focusing your search on professional organizations such as the American Society of Journalists and Authors (they currently have many members who specialize in content marketing).” Bobbi Dempsey
“Prepare yourself: great copywriters and content writers know they’re great… and charge accordingly.
But because your new outstanding freelance copywriter is about to put an end to all the suffering and frustration of working with subpar “writers” — the wasted time, the money you’ll never get back, the embarrassment of putting their work in front of your hard-won audience, the tragic results — paying those fees should be a no-brainer for a smart business.” Joanna Wiebe
“Do some searching to see who is already publishing in your space. If they’re available, awesome – they’re already proven. If they aren’t talent tends to know talent.” Joel Klettke
“There’s also the fact that there isn’t a writer on the planet that can naturally and consistently write ‘viral’ content unless you want to talk about successful novelists, but that’s not the kind of content you’re looking for anyway.
If you’re looking for a freelance writer, then that’s different, but freelancers don’t work for free, at least not if they have the portfolio to back their expertise.” VAHouser on Inbound.org
“One of the easiest ways to find quality writers for your blog is to ask your network. You will be shocked how many people in your network know someone who can help you with your content. They will pop up out of the woodwork like they always existed in your life. Again, always check with your network.” Andy Nathan on Growmap
“‘Writing’ is just a general term. If you are simply looking to “add content” to your blog, which I am not an advocate of then almost anyone will do.
If you are looking to create engaging content that could potentially go viral than that is something different.
I interview a lot of people to write for our blog, and even though they have lots of experience writing just don’t make the cut because they don’t know enough about the internet marketing industry.” Patrick Coombe
“I create a page on the blog for applicants and guest posters. It really helps writers get a good idea of what you’re looking for. It also helps you solidify your goals for the blog.” Siddharth Bharath
“Ask do I want to be a part of the writing process — collaborating with the writer, providing them feedback during the writing process, brainstorming ideas — or am I looking for someone who I can give a topic to and send on their way?” Matthew Bivens of 98ToGo
“The more you know what you want, the better directions you can give. The better directions you can give, the easier it is to find someone to complete the project.” Mike Fishbein
“Look to trade publications to find the perfect fit for your company.”
Michelle Manafy of Inc.com
“Look for someone who has manufacturing, finance, technology or other relevant topic experience on their CV.” Brianne Carlon Rush at The Guardian
“One of the best ways to hire a freelance writer is to take note of the articles and posts that get your attention and contact the authors — more often than not, they’d love to have you as a client.” Karri Stover on Writtent
“Be willing to work with someone and shape them into who you need them to be. Technical skills can be honed, but the right attitude of care and attention is hard to come by.
If you find someone who is 75% of the way there, work with them more hands-on in the beginning. They’ll learn what you need from them, and they’ll turn into a powerhouse.” Joel Klettke
“Our concentration on SEO helped our ads get found more on Indeed.com and other job sites, as well as organically… Our ads were more aesthetically pleasing and easier to scan, and because of that, we saw users applying to more jobs. In the month of January after our ad overhaul, we more than doubled our application rate.” Justin Miller of ERE
“Find one writer and ask them for referrals to other writers and where writers in their niche can be found. Most quality writers will know many other quality writers and more importantly are likely to know which of those writers are most familiar with your niche.” Gail Gardner of Growmap
“Use multiple platforms and outreach strategies to reach writers.” Dave Nevogt of Hubstaff
“If you need general help with copywriting, editing, and proofreading, you might hire a consultant on a monthly retainer. This monthly retainer will cover your one-off copy and content needs.” Emma Siemasko of Next View
“Consider signing up with Skyword, Contently, and possibly eByline. I also have a profile on a new platform called LocalSolo. Many ‘high end’ writers have profiles on these platforms.” Heather Johnson
“If you don’t have anyone on staff qualified to review a candidate’s work samples, find a competent copyeditor to help you.” Brad Shorr Forbes
“Ask ‘Who are my personas going to resonate with?'” Megan Elliott
“Ask people in your network if they’ve worked with a freelance writer in the past, and they may serve you an expert wordsmith on a silver platter.” Jane Callahan Zapier
“If you’re looking for a “great writer” to hire for a content marketing and/or copywriting position, look for people who have built an email list around written content they’ve created.” Will Hoekenga of LeadPages
“To find bloggers, I turn to sites like Problogger, LinkedIn, and AngelList. Then I post a job posting looking for a writer.” Benji Hyam Grow & Convert
“Ask around to see if anyone in your company likes writing and has the bandwidth to take on a few articles a month.” John Rampton The Next Web
“I’d say, especially for those really specific industries, where expertise is near impossible without actual working experience, use your internal team as writers (everyone who works for your organization can be a writer) and outsource the editing.
“That’s the best of both worlds: Your writers bring their on-the-job expertise and real-world stories of real customer problems, and your outsourced editor brings the ability to shape their less-than-professional prose into compelling copy.” Matt Cook of IMR Corp.
“Consider adding a page or section to your “About Us” page for writers who may be looking to contact you.” John Rampton The Next Web
“Last, but definitely not least, give your writer a comfortable workspace and flexible hours. The work suffers when writers are distracted or forced to be creative at predetermined times.” Brad Shorr on Forbes
“I have nothing against the bidding sites. I’ve gotten a lot of client work from them when I was first starting out.
They get a bad rep because it’s not easy to work with people there (so many cheap companies and incompetent people), but you need a healthy mix of competence and affordability.
You can get that on those sites if you use them wisely, pay attention to reviews, and don’t completely undercut your writers.” Bill Widmer
50 Tips on How to Vet the Best Content Marketers
Once you find writers for your open position, see if they have the chops to get the job done. Here we have dozens of tried and true experienced companies sharing their tips for vetting content marketers.
“A superstar content marketer must understand what drives success in their market and within their organization.” Pawan Deshpande at Curata
“When in Rome, speak like a Roman. Before you hire professional freelance writers for your website, make sure they have a firm grasp of the vernacular used in your industry.” Idea Launch
“It’s important to have strict specifications for what you want and need, from deadlines to word counts.” Gloria Kopp Social Marketing Fellow
“If you want your business -and your marketing strategy – to be taken seriously, you’ve got to get the language basics right. Bad spelling and grammar hurts your brand’s reputation.” Neil Patel
“Super-cheap writers are generally spinners and plagiarists and using their services, while economical at the time, can put you at great risk for being penalized by the search engines.” Julia McCoy at Express Writers
“Regardless if plagiarism is happening accidentally or not, it will ultimately fall onto you and your company, so make it clearly known that it will not be tolerated at all.” Gloria Kopp Social Marketing Fellow
“It’s tricky to hire the perfect content marketer for your business because they literally come in all shapes and sizes. Some content marketers are very analytical, meaning they are really interested in proving value, measuring their efforts, and optimizing content. Other content marketers are highly creative and can create relevant, insightful, and engaging content that inspires your readers. More so, others are better at building winning strategies, leading complex teams, or simply keeping to themselves and writing every day.” Jacob Warwick
“To find out what your audience members want, content marketers should be able to talk to them.” Brianne Carlon Rush The Guardian
“Determine what help you *really* need and make sure that you’re hiring the right person/people. If you’re hiring a “content marketer” then you need to find someone who really knows and understands all of the moving pieces involved in content marketing.” Tyler Hakes Optimist
“Ask the right questions: do you provide images? What are your rates and turnaround times?” Writtent
“Ask about the workflow and delivery patterns when checking for remote employment references.” Idea Launch
“Lead with questions that allow prospective content strategists to demonstrate past work and knowledge that’s applicable to your project.” Melissa Breker on Content Marketing Institute
“Remember that content marketing isn’t just writing. There’s article formatting, editing, SEO, publishing, distribution, and more.” Dave Nevogt of Hubstaff
“A skilled content marketing specialist will remain in research mode until she finds the necessary answers, always working on her larger content market strategy through useful, authoritative content.” Neil Patel
“Foreign writers are generally much less expensive but will require a more thorough editorial pass before their work will be able to be used.” Julia McCoy at Express Writers
“Some companies already have marketing help that can do the content promotion/ distribution and all they really need is help with the writing and production. If that’s the case, then hire someone who lives to write and is okay with that being their only role.” Tyler Hakes Optimist
“Don’t worry about educational background and interview skills.” Michele Linn at Content Marketing Institute
“Be specific and ask *how* they got the results they claim they were able to get. It could be that they have no clue what worked, but simply rode the success train.” Jason Quey
“My first content marketing hire was for an analytics person so we could understand what was working and how to improve.” Michael Brenner Marketing Insider Group
“Ask: what content marketing blogs do you read? Is the candidate really interested in content marketing? Do they take personal initiative to educate themselves and grow as a content marketer?” Pawan Deshpande at Curata
“You need someone with demonstrated proficiency in earning audience attention through classic inbound techniques (search, social).” Michael Brenner Marketing Insider Group
“The best content marketer for your business is the one that can best fill the gap that you need. For example, if you have a team leader and an excellent email marketer or lead generation professional, the best content marketer for you will lean toward the creative side, thus supporting your other roles with the content they need to perform.” Jacob Warwick
“Also make sure to clearly communicate the goal, objective, and audience for each piece. In my experience, when this isn’t done from the outset, it’s easy for things to go off the rails.” Kate Eidam of CMI LinkedIn group
“The most effective content marketing writers are genuinely interested in the material about which they write.” Grant Butler CMI
“Adaptability is more important now than ever. Not only because of the changing marketing landscape but also changing demands of the client/brand.” Scott Stratten on Outbrain
“A proficient copywriter knows that 8 out of 10 readers won’t go beyond the title. So, he or she puts extra effort in crafting an attractive one.” Neil Patel
“(Find) people who can research an industry, interview internal and external experts, and find the facts to back up assertions.” Mary Ellen Slayter RepCapital Media
“Don’t expect overnight success. Instead, pick an action and do it again and again.” Neil Patel on Outbrain
“Finding a candidate with the right blend of skills, experience, and culture fit is a major task.” Belle Cooper of Zapier
“I would REALLY emphasize finding someone who totally embodies your top 5 organizational values.” Krista Kotrla Sales Lion
“A strong content writer should be just as capable at editing material written by others as writing their own.” Grant Butler CMI
“Although some might call these “promotional skills” or what have you, good content marketers only become great when they have the drive, ability, and interest in connecting with other smart people.” Gregory Ciotti
“When we started looking for our first content marketing hire, we found that a lot of applicants had the same tendencies. They knew what content marketing was, but many of them couldn’t explain how their efforts tied to revenue growth.
Just like hiring a social media marketer or a PPC marketer, too many people know the platforms, but don’t know how to make money with them. Be careful of applicants who talk in ‘follower growth’ or micro metrics like ‘CTR and quality score improvements.” Jonathan Dane
“If you value your content highly, don’t go to Fiver haha. But also, even if a marketer doesn’t have previous experience or expertise in your area, being able to show that they can proficiently research a topic and produce something that isn’t just regurgitated opinions is super valuable.” Sarah Hewey
“Essentially, I would ask applicants what their framework is for hitting our goals… I’m less concerned about their writing ability… we can hire freelancers for that part if we need to,
but do they know what roadmap to take to get to our visitor goals, subscriber goals, etc?” William Harris
“Successful marketers will have a results orientation. Speak the language of the business.” Mark Schaefer on Outbrain
“At the end of the day, a content marketer needs to excel as a tactical strategist, not just as a writer.” Rob Wormley on Inbound.org
“Create a content marketing library with useful books people can borrow (some book recs: Ann Handley’s ‘Everybody Writes’ and Bill Walsh’s style guides).” Mary Ellen Slayter RepCapital Media
“Does this writer have domain expertise? Do they understand my industry?” Emma Siemasko Next View
“If you’re going to continuously work on new pieces of content, you can’t be satisfied with the knowledge you have.” Belle Cooper of Zapier
“Your first step should always be to type the writer’s name into Google and see what pops up. You should see all their social profiles, other places they have written, and you might even see a Google graph result.” John Rampton on The Next Web
“One activity we always require our content managers to do, other than a writing activity, is one including video. Specifically, we give them a 24-hour deadline to produce a video explaining why they think they’d be a good fit for the team/position. As you might imagine, this shows us their creative side, video acumen, the ability to work under a deadline, and so much more.” Marcus Sheridan
“Look for people who show problem-solving skills with limited resources. For content marketing, everything can be accomplished with time and no money. So which of your applicants show hustle and getting things done with the tools they’ve had available in the past?
Those are the two things I look for:
1) How have you made money?
2) How scrappy are you?”
We also had the person as a contractor for the first 4 posts. We wanted to see the quality of posts first and how much time was spent per post. Some took forever to write one, some were quick. Good idea to know before hiring someone full time.” Jonathan Dane
“I would look for someone with a background in teaching.” Krista Kotrla Sales Lion
“Ultimately, I think of it as finding someone who will be able to have a Leo-like effect on your business. The question is: can this person totally transform my business and change its trajectory? You’re not just looking for someone to produce words on the internet.
You’re relying on a lot of luck if you just post on job boards. You’re hoping the right person comes across your listing. You need to actively reach out to candidates as well.” Walter Chen on Inbound.org
“The person you hire ultimately HAS to be a killer writer, they have to be able to manage and meet deadlines, and they need to be comfortable using the tools of the trade.” Rob Wormley on Inbound.org
“Good writing isn’t just about throwing up some pretty words. Good writers want to know the audience, what they think, and what their pain points are.” Todd Jones
“The difference between good and great is passion. The best content writers on the planet are those that love what they do so much, they do it for free.” Webris Ryan Stewart
“Grammar can be taught – but passion is not that easily acquired, just as appropriate following.” Anastasiya Shyrina on Inbound
“A lot of companies think they can just hire a writer to churn out blog post after blog post and expect results. Not only does this mean that the person they hire is set up for failure, but it means that the company is just spending money and not generating any results.” Tyler Hakes Optimist
9 Tips for Handling Content Marketing Test Projects
Most people suggest working with content marketers on a trial basis. Here are some of the ways they handle test projects:
“The important thing we’ve found is how we assign the test blog for a new writer. We want to test how much of an outline they need from us to write a quality piece, along with their ability to create in a timely manner.” Katy Katz on Inbound.org
“When working with your test project marketers be sure to check in with them regularly to make sure things are moving along and they don’t have any questions.” Mary Green
“Paying to promote your content–or even working with publishers to create custom content–can help you reach a wider audience and do so more effectively.” Inc Michelle Manafy
“Go into detail about your expectations for: Tone/brand voice, Keywords, Word count, Images.” ClearVoice Jorden Roper
“Ask for an outline. An outline may not always be necessary once you’ve worked with a writer for a while, but you need to request one at first.” ClearVoice Jorden Roper
“I’ve found that this process (test project) works so well because it works like a funnel. At every stage of the process, people will drop off, leaving you with only the best writers.” Grow & Convert Benji Hyam
“What you should absolutely never do in this part of the hiring process is ask for free work.
So when they submit their exercises, we also ask how much time it took them to complete their work to get an idea of how quickly or slowly they finish tasks.” Influence & Co Kelsey Meyer
“Guarantee that you are getting full copyrights for any post you fully pay for unless you are offering a byline.” Mary Green
You walk away from this post with several ideas to establish a decent vetting process for content marketers. Good luck and let us know how it goes. And if you’re looking to hire a full-service digital marketing agency, we’ve got you covered with tips and best practices here.