A blog is one of the most cost-effective tools you have at your disposal as a business owner.
Not only does it demonstrate your expertise, but it also provides your ideal customers with answers to their problems.
Written effectively, blogs can be strategically optimized for keywords you are trying to rank for in Google searches, making it easier for others to find you when seeking the type of help you offer.
In fact, according to Hubspot, 55% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority, and B2B companies that use blogs generate 67% more leads than those that don’t.
However, not everyone is a writer or likes to write, and creating a blog also creates a commitment to consistently produce content.
Your time is valuable as a business owner, and you likely don’t have a lot of spare time to sit down each week and draft a blog post. Or, even if you have the time, you may feel you don’t have the writing skills to make it an effective tool.
In either case, hiring a freelance blog writer for your company can provide a solution. But, how do you know if this option is right for your company and worth the investment you’re about to make?
Below we’ll explore how hiring a freelance blog writer can impact your business, as well as some other options available to you, so that you can ultimately decide whether it’s the right fit.
Preparing for Outside Bloggers
Blogging is a lot of work. If you are considering working with an outside blogger so you can focus on other areas of your company, there are several steps you need to take to ensure you maximize your experience your return on investment.
- Goal Plan: Before you begin working with a writer, decide the purpose behind why you want to do so in the first place. Do you want your blog to inform people or generate traffic to your website? Or, do you need more leads to expand your business? Figuring out your purpose will help your blog writer craft a message with your end goal in mind.
- Keyword Research: Determine what topics people are searching for that are related to your business. Ranking sites such as SEMrush help you to improve your online visibility by providing keywords you should use in your article, based on the topic. Another easy way to determine the best keywords is to simply go to Google, and in the search bar, begin to type your topic. A drop-down menu will appear with other top-related searches that will give you some ideas for keywords to use.
- Content Brief Development: Putting together a successful content brief will differentiate between a good article and a poor one. Give the writer little to no direction, and you leave the door open for the writer to run with it in the direction they think it should go.
Several sections need to be addressed when gathering information to supply a content brief to the writer for direction.
- Search Intent: Look for keywords that are relevant to your buyer persona problems. They should have a mid-to-low difficult ranking and have search volume. If you are paying for an article to be written that has a search volume of 10 per month; then you should look for a keyword with a higher search volume. Likewise, if the keyword has a search volume of 300 per month, but a difficulty ranking of 95%, then you’ll need to look for a lower-ranked keyword, so you have a better chance of ranking for it.
- Topic Analysis: Look at the keywords your competitors are using and ranking for. You’ll need to include some of those in the article.
- Outline: Determine what topic titles or sub-titles you’ll use in the article. If you’re not sure, you’ll need to do a keyword search and look at the top 10 articles. Review the top 10 articles and see if you can find common topics they cover. (This is time-consuming.)
- Questions: Research the top questions people ask about your keyword and include those keywords in your brief.
- Sources: You’ll need to provide the writer with sources to use as references to complete the article. This is unnecessary sometimes; however, if the writer is new to you, giving them direction will pay dividends.
- Competitor Analysis: How long should the article be? Review the search results for your keyword and calculate the word count of each piece. If everyone who is ranking has written at least a 1,200-word article and you write a 500-word article, you’ll likely not get ranked ahead of them.
- Images/Videos: Through your research, you’ll see what type of images or videos are being used in your competitor's articles. Look to include similar images/videos to ensure Google sees the content as relevant.
- Content Brief: Know put all this into a brief, that will also include additional info such as:
- Title Headlines
- What the content is about
- What keywords to include in the article
- Style and audience the article should be written for
- Suggested formats, bullet points etc.
- Links to include in the article to link to your other content
If you leave the writing process entirely up to outside bloggers, they will write the article based on what they think you want. Understanding what you are trying to achieve with your blog, and communicating that information to the writer, will make using outside writers more successful.
When it comes to finding a blogger, there are several freelance platforms on the web. You could even do your own searching, putting feelers out on sites like Craigslist or LinkedIn.
However, freelance platforms such as WriterAccess, Zerys and Upwork mediate between the blogger and business provide a higher level of protection. Bloggers often are encouraged to do their best work, and businesses are encouraged to maintain a good relationship because both can be critiqued by the other.
Also, using a platform that holds payment in escrow until both parties are happy with the work allows the platform to mediate any disputes.
Other ways you can find freelance bloggers include:
- Posting a job ad
- Directly contact bloggers (you can use sites like LinkedIn or even Facebook to find freelancers)
- Ask for referrals from other business owners
The cost to you of hiring a freelance blog writer varies tremendously, based on experience, whether you work through a freelance platform site, the size and frequency of the articles you wish to publish, and the quality of services.
While bloggers who have less experience may be more cost-effective, you may end up doing more work in the long run and not getting your money’s worth. Professional freelance writers charge more, but typically you get a higher quality of work.
The Editorial Freelancers Association publishes a range of editorial rates, though notes that is a rough guideline. In general, rates vary considerably and are influenced by a host of factors, including the nature of the work, the time frame and how much expertise is required. According to the site, working with freelance writers directly may cost you anywhere from 6 cents a word on sites like WriterAcess and Zerys to nearly a dollar a word if you hire freelance blog writers directly. With sites like Upwork, you can get writers to bid on your work, allowing you to weigh experience with price.
It’s important to note that if you do hire a freelance blog writer for your business, make sure you agree to a fee ahead of time and that the fee is included in a copywriting agreement that you both sign.
When you directly hire a freelance blog writer, you essentially will serve as that writer’s editor. Even though you won’t write the article, you’ll still need to make time for:
- Editing the work for grammar and spelling errors
- Checking for plagiarism
- Sending content feedback
- Serving as a source of information when needed
- Connecting the blog writer with other content sources, such as business partners, if needed
When the work of a writer is completed, you must then take over any other administrative tasks associated with the article. This includes adjusting the format, adding images, adding links to other blogs on your site, and publishing the blog itself.
You’ll also likely need to provide all relevant information to the blogger before the writing begins, which will require prep time on your part. Information may include topic selection, tone of the piece and word count.
When hiring a freelance blog writer, either through a platform or using your own legwork, it’s important to ask for links to their work, as well as references. This will help you get to know a writer’s style because that plays an important part in what you envision for your blog.
Experience or knowledge of your industry also is important. Though you don’t have to set this as a requirement of the writer you hire, it can be beneficial for someone to at least have some knowledge of your industry so the writer can hit the ground running and not require a great deal of training.
Someone who has experience using Search Engine Optimization is critical as well. When someone searches for a topic that is relevant to your blog topic, you want your blog to appear in the search engine results. Otherwise, having a blog is fruitless if, ultimately, it doesn’t direct potential customers back to your website.
Now that you have the information above, the next step would be to decide whether hiring a freelance blog writer is worth the investment. You also may want to explore whether there are any other options available to you that offer the same advantages, but come with other benefits.
For example, if you plan to generate a high number of blogs each month, it may be more cost-efficient for you to hire a full-time or even part-time content writer. However, if you plan to only publish a few blogs a month, hiring a freelance writer might make more sense budget-wise.
As a small business, though, you might not be in a position to hire a full-time staff writer, since you will need to consider other factors, such as offering health insurance to the employee.
Blogging services, on the other hand, provides the best of both worlds.
A blogging service will:
- Utilize its own experienced writers, saving you the expense and time of adding onto your own staff.
- Do all the keyword research and analysis to target what you should be writing about
- Take care of any administrative duties associated with the blogs, including editing, prepping them for SEO and publishing them.
- Create a network of links among your blogs to increase traffic back to your website.
- Use its experience in your industry to identify your buyer persona and create a marketing plan around it.
A blog is a cost-effective tool that allows you to connect with your customers and potential customers. While freelance blog writers might be the right choice for your current circumstances, other options are available to consider as well.
A blogging service goes beyond simply writing articles. It saves you the costs of hiring additional employees, while creating a plan to drive traffic to your website, taking care of all the administrative tasks that come with blogging, and providing you with growth and stability for your business.
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!