Companies looking to become (or remain) visible online need understand the importance of content writing. A good content writer does so much more than rustle up a couple of words on paper to entice an audience. We write web copy, we’re SEO specialists, and we’re also reporters and researchers.
Now that many companies, startups, and small businesses included, understand the power of having the right messaging for their audience, the need for content writers has increased and evolved.
Finding the right content writing service for your needs
First, identify the type of content you want. The type of content you require will determine which type of content writing service you use for your content.
These are the most popular because they make up the core of most brand marketing strategies. You can find excellent writers for blog posts in writers mills (also known as content mills). The writers here only need to understand the products or services superficially before crafting exciting and creative blog posts to drive traffic to the site.
These guys are commonly known as generalist writers - affordable jacks of all trades.
Long-form content (Ebooks)
These are valuable long articles falling within the range of 5000 to 15000 words or more. They offer readers extremely valuable information, so readers don’t have to look any further for information. For this type of writing you need a subject matter specialist - good in-depth content requires industry expertise. These are tier-1 writers you find featured in respected journals and publications.
With this type of writing, you need someone to thoroughly examine a particular scenario and form conclusions and actionable proposals. Once again, you’ll need the services of the subject matter expert writer.
This is information-dense content that uses lots of data and jargon and focuses a lot on details. The best type of writer for white papers is a technical writer. They focus on highly technical subjects and break it down to more straightforward, understandable concepts for the reader.
With technical writers, you can expect sequential thinking and a methodological approach to the subject without complicating it for non-technical audiences.
For this type of writing, you need the unique skills of a grant writer. Grant writers essentially tell stories about the company or corporation and convince their audience with their words to provide funds for projects.
They appeal to the emotional part of their audience in a very rational manner - which is a surprisingly specific (and often rare) skillset.
Advertisements need copywriters that can condense long winding messages into short bursts of persuasive, informative messages. They are very concise and don’t waste words. Copywriters are great for creating precise copy for landing pages and home pages.
The goal should be to find a writing service that has writers with a mastery of all of the above writing styles.
Have a budget, know your budget
Content writers charge per word, per hour, per page, per project or are on a retainer for their services - so there’s no clear cut answer to how much content writers will charge for their services.
However, they exist in five tiers with the first tier being the most expensive and experienced and the last being the least expensive with the lowest rates. It’s crucial for anyone employing the services of a content writer to understand that you get what you pay for.
Beginner and intermediate writers are often paid per word, hour, or project. These content writers determine the rate type depending on the kind of publication they are working on. For example, a consumer magazine that typically advertises very high profile products like Apple will attract a per word rate while technical or scientific writing will attract hourly rates.
The myth is that the more expensive the writer, the better they are. That may not necessarily be true. Their work may not be excellent compared to lesser-known writers; however, they may have clout on social media that helps your product or services to get sold. As a result, they will charge you according to what they bring to the table along with their writing.
With that being said, your budget should reflect the caliber of writing you are looking for. For example, if you set aside $200 - $400 for 4000 words, you’ll find a writing service with cheap writers. They’ll provide content, but you may end up spending hours editing the article which diminishes the value you got for your money.
If you set aside $1200 -$2000 for 4000 words, you’ll get excellent writing but without any bells and whistles to make it world class. This is the kind of work you would expect from your in-house writer if you had one - and the usual for top-of-the-line content creators.
If your budget is $5000 for 4000 words, then you have access to the best writers in the industry, and you’ll also benefit from their social media clout, bylines and additional aspects like conducting interviews. At this rate you’re buying into a persona, more so than just writing.
Once you've determined how much you want to spend, you can find a blog writing marketplace that provides the caliber of writer you want.
Identify the target audience
To identify your target audience, you have to do a target audience analysis. Once you know your audience, you can choose a blog article writing service that has the right kind of writers to meet their content needs.
For example, at ContentFly, we’re a content creation service that offers services for SEO writing across dozens of niches. So, our clientele is primarily companies looking for generalist/SEO writers to create content (blog posts, mainly) that attract customers, who then go on to buy their products or services.
There are, broadly, three different target audiences (who you’ll target at any given point):
- Direct users of your product
- Influencers whose opinion of your product can influence sales
- Decision-makers about your product
Content targeted at users of your product can be blog posts, social media posts, newsletters, and email campaigns. This type of content can be created by generalist/SEO writers, copywriters, and social media writers.
Influencers need information that helps them make an informed opinion to recommend or not to recommend your product. They will benefit from long-form content, guides, or manuals about the products. A technical writer is often the best person to create content meant for influencers, because they can drive in-depth thought leadership pieces.
Decision-makers need content that helps them understand your product in and out because they decide whether to advocate it or not. Any content targeting the decision-maker should be by subject matter specialists - writers who know your product and market inside out, and can communicate it adequately..
For those looking to engage in a broad-based content strategy, it’s best to focus on full-suite writing services that offers different tiers of writers.
Questions to ask before outsourcing content writing
When looking for a content writing service consider the following:
1) Do they understand your buyer persona
The service must understand your market audience to be able to craft content that appeals to them. Remember, they write for your audience.
2) Do they know SEO, WordPress, and HTML?
They don’t need to be experts, but being up-to-date on the information and using it when required guarantees that your website looks and works professionally. Besides, search engine algorithms are constantly changing, so writers need to keep up for your content to stay fresh and rank high.
3) Can their writers adapt to trends
You don’t always need a blog post. Sometimes you need a newsletter or an email campaign or copy for a landing page. If the writers are unable to move from one writing style to another seamlessly, then you aren’t getting value for your money.
The service needs to keep an ear out for what the competition is doing, and if it’s a worthy trend, adopt it into their work.
4) Is their content original
They say imitation is the best form of flattery but not in writing. Since your content is ghostwritten, everyone seeing it assumes you wrote it - if it’s copied from elsewhere, then you’re the one in legal trouble. A good content writing service has its own plagiarism checks.
Understanding content writing best practices
Mutual best practices
To get the best content from a blogging service marketplace, you have to abide by some consistent guidelines. At ContentFly, we typically recommend our clients stick to some of the following best practices for content writing:
Both parties must avoid project creep
Project creep is where you or the content writing service decide to increase the scope of work, diverting attention away from the original task. That usually means that the approved work doesn’t get completed at all or is not completed satisfactorily.
Scope creep occurs when too many parties are invested in the project. So, limit the number of people with a say in the project from your end as a client, and implore the content service to restrict the number of personnel involved as well.
For total avoidance of scope creep, it’s essential to have clearly defined requirements and scope of work. Make sure there’s clarity on your part, and don’t try to get more work done cheaply - that’s a quick way to get blacklisted.
Have strict timelines
The best thing you can do for the project is to come with strict mutual deadlines that accommodate you and the blog article writing service. Don’t have shifting goal posts where you expect the writers to deliver work earlier or accept multiple pushed deadlines from the service.
Mutually respecting each other’s work processes and time allows you both to remain professional and work expeditiously. Strict timelines encourage efficiency and result-oriented actions.
Provide outlines and background information
When writers receive adequate background information, they’re properly equipped to craft precise copy that meets the requirements of the clients. Before the writer begins, we at ContentFly provide him/her with a detailed writing brief and an outline to help them along their creative process.
That is one of the reasons why our writers have a reputation for creating excellent copy on any topic. Businesses hire us to write their content for them, and the excellence of our work is based on the depth of background information we insist on from our clients.
Requirements are everything.
Expectation management with content writing services
A good writing service must ensure that:
1) There are no grammatical errors in their work
Poorly written work filled with typos and poor grammar and tenses takes credibility away from the source. In this case, you’re the source, since the article is ghostwritten. The last thing you want is an article you’ve paid for to be the source of your clientele losing trust in you.
2) They know how to leverage keywords
Keywords are crucial for leading a target audience to a specific article. By doing simple things like including the keywords in the headlines of the article or using words closely related to the keywords in the text, you can create content that ranks highly. Unfortunately, most writing services are still backdated in their SEO knowledge - a good writing agency writes with your search rankings in mind.
3) They include stats to support their claims
To give the content credibility and authority, writers must provide correct attribution and cite studies, research, and case studies when quoting something as a fact.
4) They (can) write longer posts
This one’s a bit controversial, but we’ve generally found that long-form articles are significantly more performant than shorter ones. A long piece has a much better chance of ranking higher on search engines compared to short articles.
Long-form writing is an art, and most SEO writers struggle with anything more than short fluff writing. So look for a writing service with the necessary expertise for longer pieces..
5) Formatting is done on all articles
There’s no place for a wall of text in any content, and it’s the responsibility of the writer to format articles cleverly and appealingly for legibility (and conversion!). Nothing screams “amateur content agency” more than a massive wall of text being delivered to your inbox every week.
Most young companies typically don’t have the budget to employ a full-time content writer. That’s where services like ContentFly step in. ContentFly provides clients with native English writers who write a thoroughly researched article, optimized for SEO across dozens of niches - delaying (or entirely eliminating) the need for an in-house writer.
Hopefully this guide offers a solid primer on building and staffing your content marketing operation. Good luck!