One of the most attractive things about hiring an agency to do your content marketing for you is that you don’t have to worry about finding a writer from the millions that flood LinkedIn, Medium, and Upwork. At Growth Machine, we choose writers who are experts in your field, train them, edit their work, and present you with the finished product.
But out of the tons of skilled writers looking for work, how do we pick the writers for your project? We’ve developed a process to filter through freelancers and find the perfect fit for the voice of your content. Here’s how we do it.
For the most part, no niche is too niche for us to find a good match. We’ve found expert writers on bone broth, hats, party planning, restaurant management, beef jerky, elderly care, and even Australian tax law. If you can build a company around it, we can probably find someone who can write about it.
So where do we find these writers? When we partner with a new client, we head straight to our database of over 5,000 freelance writers to start the search. This huge group of writers has expertise in every subject imaginable, from health to business to technology to fashion to HR to the environment.
Some are fresh out of college and some have been freelance writers for 30 years. Some are generalists and some have a Ph.D. in what your company deals with. They hail from all over the world, but they all have one thing in common: They’re eager to begin working on your blog.
Five thousand options is far too many for anyone to pick from. We’ve got to narrow down the pile and bring forward the most relevant writers of the group. Here’s how we do that.
Our first step in choosing from among the 5,000 options is educating ourselves on your company. Our editorial team, made up of trained writers and editors, studies your website, brand voice, and target audience. From that, we come up with what we think your ideal writer would be, for example, a skincare enthusiast who knows her way around scientific studies and can convey dense information in an understandable way.
We then whittle down our database by adding filters for the writers' price range and subject matter expertise. Our team sends an email to that smaller group, announcing that we have an opening for a writer with expertise in your specific field. We give details on what the writers need to know to be chosen for the project — for example, “We are looking for a writer with experience in the pet industry who can write about dog food, dog health, and pet care.”
We invite them to submit their three best samples on that subject matter as well as explain why they think they’d be the best fit for the project.
After we receive submissions, our editorial team meticulously reads through each one, studying their writing samples and their LinkedIn profiles. We rank the submissions according to factors we’ll explain later in this article.
Occasionally, your niche is tough to find a writer for and we come up short on the number of submissions we receive. This is rare, but if it happens, we first see if we can find a subject matter expert for a more premium cost. If we still can’t find anyone, we’ll ditch our database and reach out to writers in the wild who are writing in your business’s space. Medium is a great place for this, as well as LinkedIn, Twitter, and other blogs. We’ve found a number of writers this way who are still working with us today.
Sometimes there are a few clear winners, and we present them to you as your writers. Other times, we have a few favorites and send you the top 5-7 to choose from yourself. Either way, we’ll show you who you’re working with so you have an idea of who is writing your content.
We like to pick two writers per client, on average. This is a practical decision for us: If a writer gets sick, goes on vacation, or can no longer work on the project, we have a backup already in place. This way, unforeseen changes in your writer team won’t affect the content schedule. We’ll go with just one writer if you have a smaller content plan (one post per week) or we might pick three or more if you have a larger content plan (three or more posts per week).
Once we have our writer(s) chosen, we get them up to speed on our unique approach to SEO, as well as your company and any style preferences you have. This includes studying your style guide and passing an internal video training covering SEO, article structure, plagiarism, copywriting, and more, that we’ve developed for our freelance writers. Once they begin their first article for you, they’ll have completed an extensive video training course from our editorial team.
To free you up to run your business, we’ll handle the writer relationship for you. Our process makes sure we find the best writers for your site, and our editors extensively review their work before you ever see it.
Our editorial team has worked professionally in newspapers, television, B2C and B2B marketing, magazines, higher education, and professional blogs. We know good writers, and we can spot bad ones a mile away.
Here’s what we look for in your writing team:
Clear: Can they convey a point in simple language, or are they burying the information in overly flowery language to appear smart? Good writers don’t necessarily pepper their article with semicolons and big words. Rather than looking for an impressively verbose writer, we look for those who don’t use words like “verbose” unless it's necessary.
Engaging: Is their work interesting? Does it hook us and make us want to keep reading, or are we trudging through the article like we’re back in 10th grade trying to read “Beowulf”? If their writing samples are boring, their work for your blog will be, too. So, we eliminate any writers whose work doesn’t excite us (and trust me, we can get excited by 2,000 words on bee colonies as long as the writing is amazing).
Clean copy: Without a few typos, editors would be out of a job, so we don’t expect perfection. But if the writing samples make us want to grab our red pen and scribble all over our screen, it’s a bad sign. We look for writers who have a strong handle on the English language and don’t require an extreme makeover on every paragraph.
Expertise: Do they know what they’re talking about when it comes to the topic at hand? This is a tough category to gauge because every good writer knows how to become a mini-expert on any topic thrown at them. For our purposes, though, we want a true subject matter expert. We look for confidence in their writing, credentials they disclose, and unique information they share. If the article is full of generic facts that anyone could have Googled, they probably aren’t an expert. But if we walk away from the piece armed with new information (and they have multiple samples within the same subject), they probably know their stuff.
Well-researched: This trait weighs more heavily than the others. There is something to be said for a versatile writer who can dig into research on any topic and produce a compelling, well-supported piece. We have tons of writers on our Growth Machine roster who we could throw into a number of clients' projects in similar industries and they’d kill it. In sifting through writing samples, we look for skillful researchers. This means they can find information from high-authority sources, summarize the information succinctly, weave it into their work seamlessly, and link to their source. If a writer has this and all of the above skills but maybe lacks some expertise, we’d consider them a strong choice.
Tone: Are they adaptable to different tones of voice? More importantly, can they write in the tone you’re going for? We put different mental filters on if you are looking for light and fun versus professional and authoritative. Nailing your tone of voice is key for us, so we look for a writer who is comfortable in that tone from the get-go.
After we find the best writer for your project, we get to producing the best content on the internet. Each piece is edited by your project’s assigned editor, who ensures that it’s as near-perfect as possible when it gets to your hands. Ideally, you’ll love the work so much that you’ll have just a few tweaks here or there to perfect it. Many of our clients don’t even review the articles after a few months of work are completed because they know the articles are solid (bold, but we love it).
After doing this for awhile now, we’ve developed relationships with writers who basically do full-time freelance work with us. We know their expertise inside and out and know which projects they’d thrive on. You might get to skip the selection process altogether because we have an available, trusted writer who we know will do the best work. But when we need a fresh voice or don’t have writers in the wings available for projects, this is how we do it.
Not everyone has the editing and writing background we have, but everyone deserves to have their blog on the front page of Google. Our trusty team of experts will get you there.
There’s no chance Growth Machine would be the company it is today without her.
As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in the creation hamster wheel — only wanting to create, create, create. But even if you write the most poetic, Pulitzer-worthy piece, no one will read it if they don’t know it exists. That’s where content distribution comes in.