Your tech company has decided that it needs to invest in content marketing. Maybe you’ve got an editorial calendar and a full content team already. Maybe you’ve got nothing, but you know that content marketing is the best, least expensive form of marketing your company can invest in, and you’re panicking, thinking “oh god, we should have started blogging yesterday.” In any case, you need b2b content writers, and you need them now.
You’re about to head over to a job board to take out an ad, but I am going ask you to stop right there. Do you know what you’re looking for? Do you know who you’re looking for? As a tech firm, you’ve got pretty specific content needs, and there is a sea of freelance writers out there. Once you take out an ad, a ton of them will respond.
It shouldn’t be overwhelming to find freelance content writers. Before you take out that ad, ask yourself these questions to make sure you drill down and hire the copywriter who is right for your company. In fact, after answering these questions, you may not need to take out an ad at all, because you’ll be able to go directly to the content writers you need.
But first, before you start your search, one all-important question:
Are you willing to tell your company’s story?
This may seem like a pretty dumb question — we are talking about content marketing here, which is all about brand storytelling — but some tech companies are afraid to tell their stories. Why? Because telling the stories behind your business means you have to be honest with your clients.
People love a good story, but no one remembers a story in which everything went perfectly well. Stories are built around conflict, conflict means something hasn’t gone according to plan. A lot of companies hate admitting that.
Take the example of a SaaS firm that’s committed to a blog post at the end of every sprint. Writing a blog post about the bugs you’ve fixed means you have to admit the bugs were there in the first place. Your developers have to be cool with that.
So, if you’ve searched your soul, and you’re ready to tell your tech company’s story, let’s find some writers.
What’s the tone of your existing content?
A company’s blog usually has a particular tone. Some tech companies’ blogs are super-informal, almost like personal blogs. Some read like news releases. Some are reports about new features. Some are slick operations that read like long-form magazine journalism. How does yours read? Look for content writers whose work matches the tone you want for your website.
Rather than posting an ad, look at some writers’ portfolios (while you can find these on Contently or Skyword, or even on LinkedIn, a Google search will turn up individual freelancers’ sites and portfolios as well) to see samples of their work.
If you want an informal blog, look for pieces with a conversational tone, and maybe hit up bloggers who have been blogging personally. Interested in a press release ambiance? Look for someone with a background in PR. If you want a blog that feels more like a trade magazine, find a writer with a journalism background. In fact, you may even want to hit up the writers of your favorite trade magazine. Chances are, if they aren’t editors, they also work as content and copywriters in your industry.
What is your existing marketing team like?
Your marketing team may be a one person operation. (Or even a no-person operation, if you’re the founder of a start-up.) Or you might be the head of a well-oiled content marketing machine, just looking to fill out your stable of writers.
If you’ve got a small operation and need someone to handle all the content marketing, you’ll need someone who has the availability to write a lot. You may expect your freelancer to find images for blog posts, handle SEO, schedule social media posts, and write sales copy for your site and email campaigns. If that sounds like what you’re looking for, be up-front about what you’re looking for. That’s a lot of work, and freelancers will want to know what they’re applying for before — not after — they’re contracted to work with you.
If you’re looking to slot a new writer into a pre-existing team, think about the culture of your team. What sort of writer do you want to join your existing freelancers on your marketing department’s Slack? Do you want someone who has worked successfully with a team before, or are you going for a certain type of personality?
How do you verify any of this? LinkedIn. Look for writers with the experience you want, but also see if they have testimonials. Those testimonials will help you evaluate the writer: do they communicate well? Do they meet deadlines? Play well with others?
You can also get an idea of a writer’s personality from their social media presence — check Twitter to see if their personality matches your company culture.
You’ll also want to look at content writers’ specialities. Which brings me to my next question:
How much onboarding are you willing to do?
There are a lot of great content writers out there, but not all of them understand technology, and while some of them can be brought up to speed quickly, there is likely to be a learning curve for every writer.
It will be somewhat less steep for someone who has been writing about tech for a long time, or for someone who has worked in tech themselves. Or you may want to hire a writer who has worked in your field. A writer who was a teacher will understand the pain points addressed by your edtech, for example. A writer who worked as a sales rep will understand why the features of your CRM are vital to sales teams. A writer who worked in a doctor’s office will get why your healthtech is so important.
That said, you may end up having to pay a little more for a writer with a lot of experience in a particular industry.
Lastly … ahem.
I mean, there’s always me, guys.
I’m an edtech writer with journalism experience. If that’s what you’re looking for, contact me and let’s talk about your company’s content today!
(And if I’m not, that’s cool. You have some ideas of where to start looking for content writers now.)