There are a lot of people who call themselves content writers. It seems to be the catch phrase in the freelance world. They reason, “If content marketing is in, then I need to call myself a content writer.”

This, understandably, creates confusion for those who hire content writers. After all, you can’t call yourself a doctor if you aren’t one, right? But this scenario often leads to frustration and disappointment and can throttle the openness a person has to working with content writers in the future.

Mind the Gap between aspiration and experience.

So how can someone bill themselves as a content writer if they aren’t one? It’s simple. There isn’t a degree, certification, or board to manage those who use the term content writer. But even if those things were in existence, I don’t think it would change much.

A good content writer is known by the results he or she has produced for clients. In the end, results are the only measuring stick that matters.

If you pick a good content writer, you will likely have a great experience. If you pick someone posing as a content writer, you may just overlook anyone else who uses that same title.

Here is what to look for:

  • Do they ask for a “buyer profile” or “buyer persona” first? This is Marketing 101.

  • Do they ask for the final form (or I like to say distribution channel) in which that content will appear? You write differently for the web than you do print.

  • Do they ask for a list of keywords that you’ve refined through research and testing? Some words are simply weighted more than others based on the industry or vertical in which you exist.

  • Do they ask about a call to action? Marketing is measurable and should be measured.

  • Do they offer ideas that might improve your response rate? Perspective matters.

Content writers must:

  • Think like a salesperson.

  • Appreciate the form and function of marketing technology.

  • Parse messages with an understanding of the unique characteristics of a variety of marketing channels.

  • Create content with search engine optimization and search engine marketing in mind.

  • Act on behalf of a client much like a consultant or coach.

  • Communicate like a human.

If you don’t see these qualities represented in the candidate you’re considering, then pass. You’ll be glad you did.

What do you look for when you hire a content writer?

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