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  • How to Hire the Best SEO Content Writers on the Internet

    How to Hire the Best SEO Content Writers on the Internet

    Quality written content is something that every online brand needs to be successful, yet few have the internal resources to meet the demand of content at scale.

    This creates a gaping need for high-quality, cost-effective content writers.

    The question is, how and where do you hire the best SEO content writers for your business?

    Content Writers: The Key to Successful Content Marketing

    The Key to Successful Content Marketing
    Content is the fuel to a marketing engine. It’s what makes the entire operating churn. And while most competitive brands understand the supreme importance of developing a high-level content strategy, few take the necessary strides to execute with as much precision and clarity.

    A good content strategy is nothing without talented content writers who understand how to write with SEO and persuasion in mind. And if you don’t have the time or skill to handle the demands of copywriting within your own business, you’ll have to make some important decisions to obtain talented copywriters who can bring your brand’s voice to life, particularly if you want to rank online for competitive keywords.

    Why Hiring an In-House Writer is a Big Mistake

    Every brand is free to make their own choice about how to pursue content writing, but if you’re considering hiring an in-house writer, you’re making a costly mistake.

    With very few exceptions, hiring a full-time, salaried content writer is way too expensive and very limiting. (And this has nothing to do with the size of your company and/or revenue. Even companies with several million dollars of revenue per year are often better off going another route.)

    While it depends on location, experience, and a wealth of other factors, the average pay for a full-time content writer is going to land somewhere between $49k to $67k. And if you want someone with lots of experience and skill in your specific niche or industry, you could easily pay six figures. In-house workers provide more control, but it can be expensive.

    At first, paying someone $50k to $70k per year to handle all of your content needs might not sound like a lot. But you have to consider what you’re actually getting from them.

    The average copywriter is only going to be able to produce somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 words per day. If you want your blog post length to be 1K words, then that’ll get you about two daily posts.

    When you take out vacation days, sick time, and holidays, that means they have the ability to produce somewhere around 480,000 words a year (at maximum capacity). If you’re paying that copywriter $60,000, you’re basically paying 12.5 cents per word.

    But that’s just the start.

    Consider that hiring a full-time employee also requires you to provide benefits, pay payroll taxes, provide software and technology, etc.

    When you account for all of these expenses, the true cost ends up being more than 20 cents per word for an average content writer. (If you’re hiring someone with considerable experience and a higher salary, you could be looking at north of 30 cents per word.)

    Maybe you aren’t well-versed in content writing, but you can get some really good copy for 20 to 30 cents per word. Hiring an average copywriter at this price point just doesn’t make any sense.

    Another downside of hiring a full-time SEO content writer onto your staff is that you’re paying for the writer’s time regardless of how much you use them. Don’t have any assignments for two or three days? You’re paying the same rate as you would if the content writer were pushing out thousands of words of content.

    To put it simply, this sort of setup doesn’t work in your favor.

    Other Options for Hiring SEO Content Writers

    Other Options for Hiring SEO Content Writers

    The good news is that you have plenty of other options for hiring SEO content writers to execute on your content strategy. More specifically, there are two major choices:

    • Freelance content writer. The first option is to hire a freelance content writer. Thanks to the booming gig economy and growing sites like Fiverr and Upwork, it’s possible to find and hire freelancer content writers remotely. These writers range from part-time writers and college students to professional copywriters and seasoned professionals.
    • Marketing agency. The second popular option is to work with a digital marketing agency that has its own in-house writers. With this setup, you hire the agency and they deploy their team to tackle your projects.

    Every business is going to have unique wants, needs, expectations, and budgets, so we’ll take the time to explore both of these options for you.

    How to Find Freelance Content Writers

    How to Find Freelance Content Writers

    If you choose to go the freelance route, you’ll need to know how to find good options. And while there are any number of ways to go, these are the most common:

    • Freelance marketplaces. As mentioned, sites like Fiverr and Upwork have thousands of SEO content writers looking for work. And while some of them aren’t worth hiring, others are quite talented. These websites are definitely worth a look.
    • LinkedIn. One of the best things about LinkedIn is that you can search for people by their job title or position. This allows you to find copywriters and vet them before ever approaching them about an opportunity.
    • Networking. Never underestimate the value in tapping your own network to let your colleagues know that you’re in search of a content writer. You never know when a random connection can put you in contact with the right person.

    There might be some other niche ways to find good content writers, but if you cast nets in each of these areas, you’ll come up with plenty of options.

    What to Look for in Freelance Content Writers

    The biggest con to hiring freelance content writers is that it can take some time to zero in on the right person(s). You have to put out feelers and filter out the people who are unqualified. (For some reason, everyone thinks they can write.) Then you have to do test projects, build trust, and go through the process of explaining your brand style, guidelines, expectations, goals, etc. But if you know what to look for, you can streamline this process and get connected to the right SEO content writer much faster.

    Here are a few elements to keep an eye out for:

    • Professional. How does the content writer carry themselves? Do they have a website? A professional email address? A clean email signature? An articulate LinkedIn profile? Little details like this tell you a lot about someone.
    • Experience. Be careful asking for a “writer.” There are tons of different definitions of “writer.” A poet is technically a writer. So is a news reporter or a fiction writer. And while they may be good at what they do, they aren’t always the right fit for an SEO content writing gig. Look for writers who have experience writing the sort of copy that you write.
    • Writing samples. While many content writers won’t list their portfolio publicly – for non-disclosure reasons – you can often pry a sample or two out of them by asking privately. These can prove invaluable when assessing a writer’s skill, voice, and style.
    • Responsiveness. When vetting a content writer, consider their level of communication and responsiveness. How quickly do they get back with you? Are they articulate and detailed?
    • Approach. You can tell a lot about a content writer by how they handle your interactions with them during the vetting phase. If you’re doing all of the talking and instructing, this is a sign that they just want to collect a check and move on. If, on the other hand, they’re asking questions about your brand’s voice, the type of content you want, how often you need content published, etc., you can feel good about their mentality.

    There’s no such thing as a perfect fit, but if you cycle through these elements, you’ll know pretty quickly whether or not someone is a realistic candidate.

    Tips for Managing Freelance Content Writers

    After hiring a content writer, you have to manage them to ensure you get maximum value out of your investment. Here are some helpful pointers:

    • Give clear expectations. Never assume that a content writer knows what you want them to do – particularly when you’re first entering into a new relationship. Give very clear expectations on things like voice, word count, calls-to-action, etc.
    • But don’t overwhelm. While clear expectations are a must, don’t overwhelm with minute details. Dozens of small requests regarding things like font, line spacing, formatting, and ultra-specific keywords will slow a writer down and prevent them from reaching a state of flow. This will ultimately cost you.
    • Set conservative deadlines. When you first begin working with a content writer, set your deadlines conservatively to give cushion for revisions and tweaks. In other words, find your true deadline (when you need to submit or publish the copy) and then subtract 48-72 hours.
    • Keep your writers happy. Skilled content writers are always in demand. If you find someone who is good at what they do, you’ll need to keep them happy. You can do this in both monetary and non-monetary ways. (Bonuses, commissions, encouragement, free products, and recognition are all valuable.)

    Any time you hire a freelance SEO content writer, you have to operate under the assumption that they won’t stick around forever. Thus it’s always a good idea to have your eye on some other talent that you can swap in and out.

    How to Find an Agency

    The other option is to work with a marketing agency. This is more of a hands-off approach – something many companies find attractive. (Having said that, you may lose a little bit of the control that you have when working with a freelance copywriter.)

    Here are some suggestions for finding a good marketing agency:

    • Search Google. If you’re looking for a good SEO content writer, it makes sense that you’d run a quick Google search to see who shows up. This will give you an idea of which companies are successful with their own SEO efforts.
    • Get referrals. As always, referrals are great. If a company that you trust has had success with a specific SEO agency, then this typically bodes well for you.

    You might have some other tried and true methods of finding good business partners, but focusing on these two approaches will typically yield enough options to choose from.

    What to Look for in a Good Marketing Agency

    What to Look for in a Good Marketing Agency

    The good news is that there are a lot of marketing agencies out there. The bad news is that there are a lot of marketing agencies out there! Here’s how you can make sure you’re hiring the right one for your SEO content needs:

    • Research their full range of services. While you can technically hire one agency to handle your content needs and another agency to handle web design, social media, email, and branding, it’s not recommended. You’re much better off bundling services together. Having said this, research the agency’s full range of services to see what they offer.
    • Know what’s included. Never leave anything inferred. When considering an agency for your content writing needs, get clear on what’s included, what’s not, and whether there are any promises or guarantees. (For the record, anyone who guarantees a page one Google ranking is being dishonest and manipulative. However, good agencies will offer satisfaction guarantees and other promises of that nature.)
    • Ask about their content writers. While a marketing agency might not give you the names of their content writers or allow you to speak to them personally (for obvious reasons), they should be willing to give you details about their experience, areas of expertise, etc.
    • Consider pricing. Finally, compare and contrast pricing. There’s a ton of variability in this industry, and you’ll have to determine what your budget is, as well as what makes sense in terms of timing, quality, and experience.

    Not all marketing agencies are created equal. Some offer content writing services as part of their larger mix, while other marketing agencies focus on content as their core service. These latter agencies tend to provide better quality content.

    Tips for Managing Agency Content Writers

    Managing agency content writers is a little different than managing freelance content writers – namely because you might not be able to interact with them directly. Keeping this in mind, here are some suggestions:

    • Get connected with a project manager. A good project manager can make a world of difference. If the agency has someone who is clear and forthright in their communication, accessible, and willing/able to keep you updated at all times, this can make a big difference. Always consider the entire staff when partnering with an agency. If the project manager is hard to get a hold of (or there isn’t a project manager to begin with) you’ll want to reconsider.
    • Make very specific requests. The best thing you can do is provide the project manager with as much detail as possible. If there are specific requests, they can relay this information to the writers so that they can do their job well.
    • Keep the agency abreast. If you really like one piece of copy and don’t care for another, ask the agency to continue using the copywriter who produced the first piece of copy. Most will be willing to partner you with a writer who fits your voice and style.

    If you follow these three tips, you’ll find it easier to get maximum value out of agency content writers. But don’t be too stressed about it. One of the biggest benefits of working with an agency is the fact that these writers have already been vetted and deemed to be quality writers. Trust the agency to do their thing and you should be fine.

    Hire Slow and Fire Fast

    Hire Slow and Fire Fast

    There’s a saying in business that you should be slow to hire and fast to fire. This saying certainly rings true with SEO content writers.

    Whether you go with a freelance content writer or an agency, you should do ample due diligence and research on the front end. Start off with a sample project and keep it focused. Then slowly expand as you get comfortable working with them. If there’s too much friction or the content writer ends up not doing what they say they’re going to do, don’t be afraid to move on quickly.

    SEO.co: Your Scalable Content Solution

    At SEO.co, we aren’t just another marketing agency that offers content as a service. Our entire business is built around the idea that content is king.

    When you work with SEO.co, you get access to world-class content writers who are based in the United States and a part of our SEO company. Our team has collectively produced tens of millions of words of copy for small businesses, startups, established corporations, and even Fortune 500 companies.

    Want to learn more about how we can meet your content needs? We would love to hear from you.

    Chief Revenue Officer at SEO Company
    Industry veteran Timothy Carter is SEO.co’s Chief Revenue Officer. Tim leads all revenue for the company and oversees all customer-facing teams for SEO (search engine optimization) services - including sales, marketing & customer success. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO & Digital Marketing, assisting in everything from SEO for lawyers to complex technical SEO for Fortune 500 clients like Wiley, Box.com, Qualtrics and HP.

    Tim holds expertise in building and scaling sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive growth from websites and sales teams.

    When he's not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach...preferably in Hawaii.

    Over the years he's written for publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal, ReadWrite and other highly respected online publications. Connect with Tim on Linkedin & Twitter.
    Timothy Carter