How To Hire a Website Content Writer

Updated on April 10, 2024
How To Hire a Website Content Writer

Luckily for you, there are content and copywriters galore on the web. It’s estimated there are around 60 million freelance writers in the US alone. They’re all looking for clients on a multitude of platforms.

Statistic – Freelance writing growth in the US. (source)

The amount you pay for these services and the quality of work you receive in return is mostly based on you. That’s right. You will usually get what you pay for in this world.

How can you find the best writer for your business and how can you train the right writer to be the solution you need? Keep reading to find out.

Subject Matter Experts vs. Generalist Writers vs. Entry-level Writers – The Pros and Cons of Each

There are plenty of horror stories out there about bad writing and the guilty parties that create them.

You pay a ton of money to get content for your website and you’re left with someone who puts in minimal effort, plagiarizes, or blatantly uses AI or software to spin content that belongs to someone else.

When you first start searching for a writer, the first step is going to be to figure out what type of writer you need.

There are three different types of writers:

  • Subject matter experts – These writers can write whatever you want at length, provided it’s in their given field of expertise. Subject experts typically charge a premium for writing on this topic, especially if they have some credentials to back up their words.
  • Generalists – Generalists are great. They have the research skills to write on a multitude of topics. However, they aren’t going to have any professional credentials in any particular niche. The best part of hiring generalist writers is they will usually write for a cheaper price than subject experts.
  • Entry-level writers – The majority of entry-level writers get into this profession as a side-hustle to earn extra money. It’s fine. They write what you want, will listen better to constructive feedback, are trainable, and charge a lower rate than both generalists and subject matter experts.

Before you immediately go after the cheapest possible writer, take some time to think about what you need and what matters most to you.

How to Decide Which Writer is Right for You

There are several different types of people and businesses that want to hire writers. The best way to pick the right writer for your business is to look at some examples.

You’re a Solopreneur or Own an Affiliate Marketing Website

You: You’ve probably done quite a bit of writing yourself. You know exactly what you want and if anyone knows how to make money blogging, it’s you.

Over the years, you’ve become a content marketing expert. You know everything there is to know about building an email list, managing social media platforms, and even search engine optimization.

Your writer: As someone who has done their fair share of writing, it’s going to be difficult to not micromanage your writers. You know exactly what you want and how you want it.

An entry-level writer might be what you need. You can train them to think and write just like yourself. They’ll be decently cheap and you can take your time with training without losing revenue.

Pro-tip: Start slow. Think about the content you first wrote. You didn’t know much. So you probably scoped out some posts on the best niches for affiliate marketing to help you find your way.

Walk this new writer through your old content. Explain what you did well and what you would change if you had to do it all over again.

You Own a Small or Medium-Sized Business

You: Writing isn’t your strong suit. Running your business is your strength. You don’t mind paying for quality. At least, to a degree. As a business owner, you know you need to save money where you can.

Your writer: The generalist is perfect for your needs. They’ll work for 3-5 cents per word. They may have some experience. A problem that comes with that is sometimes newer generalists pick up some bad habits. Make sure to nip these in the bud as soon as you see them.

Pro-tip: Make sure these writers know what you want and how much research is going to be involved. Being upfront is what generalists prefer. If they know right off the bat they’re working for x dollars per post, word, or hour, they’ll be happier and work for more long term.

You Own a Fortune 500 Company

You: You don’t care about writing. That’s something your marketing team deals with. But you do know that you need the best content and it will help drive sales. You want a subject matter expert.

Your writer: This writer has skills and credentials. They’ve done a lot of writing on this topic with multiple bylined articles to show for it. Money is an issue. Expect to pay more than ten cents per word, maybe as much as a quarter or more, depending on the difficulty of the topic and research required.

Pro-tip: Hold out for the best writer and you’ll be glad you did.

Assessing Knowledge and Skills

So how do you figure out if a writer has the skills and knowledge you want for your business writing needs?

The first step is to make a post on a job board. Writers check these on a regular basis. Be clear on what you want and what your expectations are for the project. Some writers want long-term work and others are fine with short contracts.

Once you gather some replies to your posting, choose 5-10 that you think will make a good fit.

Reach out and ask these writers to come up with a trial piece. Give them a topic and/or keywords and let them run with their own ideas. You should also give them a due date to ensure they can meet deadlines.

Is It Worth It to Train a Writer?

The short answer here is yes. When you train your own team, you can expect to get exactly what you want. Keep in mind, not all writers have the talent to output the kind of content you want.

Subject matter experts aren’t always great writers. If you’re willing to put in the time, you can pick up an expert for cheap if they have no writing skills. Be patient and take the time to help them help themselves.

Test Their Adaptability

Every business or entrepreneur has different needs for their web content.

It’s ok to throw curveballs at your writers on occasion. It’s part of the job and they get it. However, you shouldn’t throw curveballs just for the sake of it.

Talk to your team and let them know that different types of content hit people who are in different parts of the sales funnel. Break it down for them.

Let them know that you want them to write informative content that helps people get more interested in a product or service or maybe you want their email.

Maybe you want to use a piece of content to drive interested parties into finally making a sale.

As long as the writers have a goal, they should be able to adapt effectively. If they can’t, you might have to find a different writer. Most writers are aware of this, too. They know that they aren’t going to be the right fit for every client and vice versa.

How to Create an Onboarding and Ongoing Training Program

If you want to hire a team of writers, maybe you are looking to get a marketing agency off the ground as an example, it’s a good idea to come up with an onboarding program.

Starting this kind of program is going to cost some upfront money but in the long-term, it can save you thousands in training fees.

The first thing you should do is require all new writers to view and sign off on any NDAs, training, testing, and the like.

Hiring a team of writers is likely going to require some editors on your team as well. Make them aware of what you expect to see from new writers and report anyone who isn’t adhering to your docs and SOPs.

How to Hire a Content Writer – The Takeaway

Bringing writers on to your team can be scary when you’re first starting out. But after you go through the process a few times, you’ll realize the whole thing is pretty simple and straightforward.

The real key is to know what you want and communicate these wants and needs to your new writing team.

About the Author

Gael Breton is one half of the Authority Hacker Duo. Together with his business partner, they aim to create high quality, sustainable online businesses that you can be proud to put your name to!

Tomas Laurinavicius

Hi! I'm Tomas. I'm a founder, marketer, designer, and blogger from Lithuania, now happily living in Alicante, Spain. I'm a marketing advisor at Devsolutely and a partner at Craftled, building Best Writing and Marketful.