Hiring a Blog Writer for Your Promo Business? 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid
You have decided to step up your marketing and start writing content. You make a commitment to set a couple of hours each week to write a blog post. But between researching products for presentations, getting orders ready for suppliers, tracking them and responding to clients’ requests, plus a few other fires to put out, your day goes by without a minute to spare.
Fact is, few distributor business owners have both the writing skills and the time needed to write their company blog on a consistent basis. Promotional products business blogs need to be relevant, look polished and represent the brand well.
Considering all these personal limitations and high expectations, it makes perfect sense to outsource blog writing. But there is a right way and a wrong way to hire a writer. It is not uncommon to make mistakes when hiring a writer, or any other marketing professional, for that matter.
Here are six of the biggest of those mistakes. Watch out for them when hiring a blog writer to avoid frustrating setbacks and to ensure your blog works for you in building your brand and expert status.
1. Going With the Lowest Bidder
This is absolutely the most crucial mistake. Remember the maxim: “You get what you pay for.”
Hiring the cheapest writer somehow disregards quality and assumes the only goal for your blog is to have something published on it.
In reality, you want every article published to be relevant to your business and your clients and for that, it must fit a few criteria:
- Proper grammar, spelling and syntax
- A proper structure that is as easy to read to completion as it is to skim quickly
- Research and effort during prewriting so that your blogs are informative and offer value
- Able to capture the unique perspective of your brand or company
Hiring the cheapest writer guarantees none of these things. In fact, you are highly likely to end up with an unprofessional writer who is going to copy the first article they find on Google search. Not good.
Have high standards in mind, and use them to make your budget reasonable. Keep in mind that a badly written blog can cause damage to your brand and marketing goals, making a poorly run blog worse than no blog at all.
2. Not Checking Their Past Work
The best indicator of a writer’s strength is their past work. You will want to see a broad range of writing styles covering B2B marketing topics.
Even if they have not written about promotional products specifically, you want to make sure they’re familiar with the B2B space, which requires a totally different approach than the B2C one.
Check how they structure their content and the versatility of their post types. Some writers work better in an editorial format compared to a list of “X reasons why...”, for instance. Ideally, you find a writer that can do both well. So ensure the writer you have in mind is capable of creating what you need.
You should also look out for a writer who is able to write engagingly in several different voices and can be capable of mimicking your particular brand. At the same time, they should have consistent stylistic devices that make reading their pieces easy and fun.
Hold out for writers who can impress you with their past work and their overall versatility. As a final test, you should also commission a sample piece to ensure they can satisfy your desired writing approach.
3. Not Setting Goals and Expectations
The best writer in the world is going to struggle with meeting your expectations if you don’t make them clear.
Since no one can read minds, you will need to explain the purpose of your blog and what you intend to get out of it to the writer. These guiding principles will help the writer shape their approach to your blog.
For instance, if your goal is SEO, then the writer may take a keyword-focused approach. If the aim is to generate leads and develop brand awareness, quality information and a strong brand voice matter most. If the goal is to create a guide to complex topics in your industry or operate as a sales funnel, the overall strategy for blog topic selection and publishing matters as much as each individual piece.
Make sure you define your goals, and make them clear to your writer.
At the very least, provide an overview of the type of topics you want to cover and what you intend readers to do next. For example, if you have SEO goals, provide a sample of keywords they can work into the writing.
Establish guidelines for how casual or professional you want the language to be. Give a range of article lengths. Tell them what elements they need to include upon submission to make your life easier, such as adding images or including a meta description.
Put all of these guidelines in a document and ensure your writer has no questions. You don’t want them reaching out via email at the last minute just to get a piece done. If they have a document to refer to, they can self-guide and make the process for both of you easier.
4. Going With a Strong Writer Who Doesn’t Get Your Brand Voice
Make sure that any writer you hire can adopt the approach and voice you want to represent your brand. A great test is to provide them with guidelines for a sample article using excerpts from blogs you like and some loosely described ideas you’ve had.
If they can produce something that comes across as similar to something you’d write or close to a blog-style you want to emulate, you know they’re a keeper.
5. Not Establishing a Set Workflow and Process
Right after you hire your writer, your first order of business is to explain how the process for producing the blog posts will work. Provide a deadline for each piece. Tell them whether you want an outline or topic proposal submitted first. Explain how many revisions you might typically go through.
Setting guidelines for touching base is also critical. Even though some professional relationships can work well on autopilot, the last thing you want is for your writer to go AWOL on you. Yet this can easily happen if they didn’t have clear expectations on when you wanted to hear from them next.
Avoid changing the process constantly. Your writer can become frustrated if you make changes too often or add on unexpected things like major changes between drafts. Try to work towards consistency.
6. Not Talking Strategy With Your Writer
When you hire a new writer, you want them to feel they are a part of your team. Tell them about your business values, vision and mission, and get their buy-in. Give them an overview of your marketing strategy and have regular conversations to update them on your plans, new initiatives and other important matters.
Schedule a call or meeting with your writer at least quarterly. Discuss your upcoming plans. Offer both praise and suggestions for improvement. Encourage them to offer ideas you could work into your blog strategy. Make a goal to push your blogging to become better month after month.
Following all of the suggestions above ensures your writer will have the right skills, as well as clear expectations, that help your blog succeed and also develop a professional and productive working relationship that gets better over time. If you can do all this, you will be much happier with the work from your writer and happier about the results they help your blog achieve.
For more marketing ideas that work in this digital age, specific for the promo business, visit the Resources section of ActionMarketingCo.com.
This article was originally published on Action Marketing’s website.
Gloria Lafont is a mother, grandmother and business owner. Throughout her business career she has started, bought and sold a dozen businesses in the branding and marketing field, including a distributor company. She’s currently president of Action Marketing Co., founded in 2007. Her company focuses on helping distributors increase visibility, generate awareness and drive traffic so they can connect with more of their ideal clients and generate more leads and sales.
Gloria is a big fan and supporter of education and the cultural arts, volunteering her time and donating marketing support over the years to help various organizations grow in membership and revenue. She also enjoys the South Florida lifestyle mix of business, beaches and arts.