Google is an insatiable, content-devouring beast. If you are not feeding it regularly, it will quickly lose sight of your business, and move onto someone who will. The only way you’ll know you fell out of favor with this ravenous search engine – your rankings.
But how do you feed the beast AND run your business? The same way you handle other tasks in your life if you’re short on time. You look for someone who can handle it for you. This might be a member of your staff, a friend, a spouse/significant other, an adult child/relative, or a dedicated content creation freelancer. The first step to creating more content is finding someone who can help and that can be hard if you are trusting this person with your brand and voice.
There are 10 million freelancers listed on Upwork and thanks to COVID that number is growing. Freelancing is the new black and there are a lot of candidates to choose from. But there are also many things you need to consider if you’re hiring a freelance writer for the first time.
Select Someone Who Can Get the Job Done
Creating content is no longer about (just) matching nouns and verbs. This person must also:
- Understand your audience. Freelancers cannot create effective content without knowing the audience.
- Know a little (although a lot is preferable) about SEO. They’re writing for two segments – humans and that ravenous content-eating beast, Google (and other search engines, of course).
- Possess an understanding of your business and industry for the same reasons the freelancer needs to know about your audience.
- Be able to find topics on their own. (Unless you want the burden of supplying content topics.)
- Write in your company’s tone (or be willing to establish one) with respect to your brand.
- Possess good grammar skills.
- Understand the analytics behind what sorts of content are working and what aren’t. Ideally, they would work with you to make adjustments.
Use a Dedicated Freelancer
Using a willing employee is great, assuming they have all of the above prerequisites. But if you choose to do so, know that there will be times you will be forcing them, or you will be making the decision, to choose between content production and activities in their actual job description. If your business gets busy, which will suffer your customers or your page rank?
If you use a dedicated freelancer for your content creation, your employee can remain on the job. Use employees as guest posters, but don’t put the entire content marketing efforts on them unless you’re switching job descriptions.
Also, no matter how well-meaning some content producers are, if they make a living in another way, and content production is just a secondary income for them, they may not be able to meet your deadlines. Have that conversation ahead of time. Talk about bandwidth. Ask them to commit to a service level agreement or risk severe delays when their other job gets in the way.
Know You Get What You Pay For
Content marketing is a specific skill set. It requires content creation skills, a strategic mind for what your audience will like, analytics skills, marketing skills, knowledge of SEO, knowledge of how to use social media platforms for business, WordPress knowledge (if that’s what your website is built on), some coding knowledge, a basic understanding of copyright law, and a desire to stay on top of the changes in the content marketing realm.
These skills do not (often) come cheap. A skilled professional will not work for links or a by-line, until they can pay their bills that way. Asking a professional content marketer to work for links isn’t going to happen. If someone agrees to work for a by-line only, they are probably very green. Do you want to trust your branded content to someone who is just starting out?
If you still want to use sites like Fiverr or other content creation sites, do so. But you’re not getting content marketing then. You’re only getting content and it will be up to you to suggest content topics, analyze whether the content worked, and direct the writer as to next steps.
Do you have time for that?
Without a goal, analysis, and adjustment your content won’t do anything for your business.
There Are Things That Shouldn’t be Freelanced Out
Content creation on your site, as well as content curation on social media, can be freelanced out successfully if the person you select to do it understands your audience and your business goals. However, don’t ever leave the relationship-building up to someone who isn’t employed by your business. Regardless of how you choose to have your content created, you still need to be reaching out to customers and building those important relationships on social media.
One final suggestion when freelancing content creation and/or marketing: don’t allow someone to completely take over your content and social presence without checking in. You need to know what they’re writing and sharing. After all, the goal is that people will notice and find value in your content. When they do, it’d be good if you knew what that was.