3 Tips for Finding Good Writers

Whether you’re an individual marketer or an agency, hiring writers will usually be one major hassle. 

While hiring writers itself is easy, hiring creative, high-quality content creators that will pivot off your ideas and write something extraordinary doesn’t happen often. 

At the start of 2021, we had 20 full-time writers on our payroll. 

365 days and 7000 applicants later (<3% hiring rate), we have 250 content writers creating north of three million words per month. 

I’ve been doing most of the hiring and wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned over this period.

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1. Asking the Right Questions

After they pass the initial screening process, we start off by sending a brief to our potential hires, carefully tailored to ensure that they have everything they need in order to start writing. 

More often than not, both good and bad writers asked questions; the difference was in the type of questions they asked. 

Writers we would usually end up hiring asked stuff that wasn’t included in the brief. 

The bad ones would usually simply ask me to repeat the stuff that was already given to them (sometimes even bolded and highlighted in the brief), which is a huge red flag. 

The writers in the latter category were rarely hired since they already displayed an inability to understand and process instructions, or, at the very least, didn’t care enough to even bother understanding the contents of the brief.

2. Deadlines

Freelancers often lead hectic lives, and we try to ensure that our content production process has enough leeway that we can completely ignore deadlines. Writers that kept me in the loop and informed me if they would be late usually ended up being hired. 

Accountability is important and if a writer is manning up and calling it as it is, it does show a lot about their work ethic.

This rule for proper communication is something we expect people to follow after they join the company as well. 

3. Google Docs

This might be a weird one, but it’s an ingenious way of figuring out if your content writer is actually a content writer or if it’s just someone that had good English and decided to make an Upwork profile. 

Our brief asks for submissions via Google Docs. Most people ignore that instruction entirely, but the ones who follow it sometimes send a link that we can’t even open (i.e., they don’t set the access to “Anyone with this link”). So, me or someone else from our hiring team must manually ask for access which just wastes everyone’s time. 

I noticed that the people who usually mess up the access settings will also deliver subpar content. Again, it just shows how much they care about their work.

Over a quick study of 150 applicants who didn’t submit their articles with the right access settings, poor quality and a definite lack of followed instructions were common in most of them. Only 8% of these writers ended up in our company.

Please note that these tips don’t mean that you still should screen for readability, sentence structure, and grammar issues – those are a given!

Hope these help your writer hiring process 🙂

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