Hiring Your First Content Writer: A Guide for Consultants and Experts

Let's talk about how to hire a content writer for your consulting business. 

At some point, you’ll want someone to write content on your behalf. But since YOU are the primary expert the expertise is trapped in YOUR head. How do you translate what you know into a content piece through a content writer? Let's lay that out now.

By the way, this is the same process I use. I hire writers to translate big blocky pieces of content and turn them into elegant, structured content with headlines and bullet points.This is a tested process that works. Hopefully you can leverage it as well.

Step One: Choose Your Topic

It’s easy to create content that you think is interesting, that you find exciting, that you want to share. And it's really disappointing when that content does not resonate in the marketplace. So, make sure the content you create is grounded, pragmatic, and useful to your prospect.

  • Work with small, tight ideas. To keep that simple to understand, think about how to execute “X” in 24 hours. Whatever you offer in your content piece should be immediately useful and valuable. If they can do it in a day, it becomes more useful and valuable. Stay away from the big-think pieces that make you look smart. They’re good for your ego, but they're hard to digest for your prospective client. 
  • Examples of success. What I'm talking about are qualitative results from previous work, whether that work was done with a past client, a prospect before they became a client, an old boss, an old company or an old colleague. Quantify the value that was created. Calculate it, then tell the story about how that measurable metric came about.

Step Two: Gather Your Assets

You’ll need to gather some things before you hire anyone to do anything, and it's really easy to skip over this or mess this up. The typical mistake that's made here is we hire a writer to write, and we don't give them enough guidance. 

Let's look at some structure. 

  • Give your writer an example of the end product. Begin with the end in mind. Give them an example of what your desired content looks like. For example, show them a link.
  • Give your writer some starting tools. You need to get them at least a main idea and a transcript. This transcript is how you solve for the fact that you are the expert. Give yourself a prompt and talk that prompt through. This transcript does not need to be totally eloquent. That's not the point. Get some basic bullet points out of your head so you can give those bullet points to your writer of choice. From that, your writer can then supplement, add and refine. They can do their writing thing.
  • Give your writer a path to get there. Provide some sort of template here in the center: a way of getting from this transcript that you've given them, that core asset you've given them, and getting to the end result that you want. Articulate what you want in your content piece, and why you want the element.

Now they have real instructions and examples that came directly from you. The chance of you getting a high-value writing product back is now much higher.

There are a couple of additional considerations before you move on to hiring.

  • How many pieces do you want done? I highly recommend that you get more than one article written. Create article work in batches. Get five done, or ten or fifteen. It’s worth your time to set up the structure. You’ll get back big, good chunks of work instead of little piecemeal articles, one at a time. So think about your work in batches.
  • How quickly do you need this work delivered? Do you need it in a week? Do you need it in a month? Whatever expectations you have are fine, but just be clear with yourself, so give yourself an appropriate schedule. Since you're better organized, your hiring process will now go so much smoother. 

Step Three: Find a Content Writer

You can go to Upwork.com, for example, and begin to find people to hire. Upwork.com is not the only place to go, but it's a good starting place if you're hiring someone for the first time. In the search function, type in in “article writer,” then simply scroll the options that are available to you. 

How you think through this page matters a lot. So let me give you some criteria:

  1. Look for a base level of reviews. Make sure that this person already has some level of experience on the platform and they've been highly rated already. 
  2. Check for required education or experience. Are there certain specific skills that they need, because you want a certain kind of writing to be done? Are there certain topics or familiarity that the writer needs to have? Some of that you can find out immediately just right here in the short summary. You may have to click into their profile and read a bit more, but this should jump off the page for you. 
  3. Look for personality or enthusiasm. Look for candidates who show some personality upfront. There are people who are functioning like people. You need to work with real people, because you need your content to have the sensibility of real people. So you're looking for some level of personality or enthusiasm for the work that's being done.

Save the candidates who meet your criteria. On Upwork you use a “heart” to save the profile. Now, is this the person you need and the skills that you need? Maybe. 

You'll find five or ten people that you think you'd want to work with. Now, notice what you've just done. You've essentially pre-interviewed them and given yourself a shortlist. I know it feels good to put out a job description and to get 115 responses back. But then you have to sort through all those people and figure out who fits. 

Instead, you can preemptively give yourself your own shortlist to respond to. Reach out to them. Tell them, "Hey, I've got this project. Would you be interested in working on it?" They'll just tell you what they want to do. Yes or no.

That response you get back will tell you a lot if you want to work with that person. If they have interest, if they show you personality and enthusiasm, great. Work with that person. If they don't, great. Work with someone else. But make this easy for yourself and choose the obvious candidate. You're going to get a positive gut response, feeling about one of the people that you reach out to. Select that person and move on.

Now Begin the Work

Now that you've chosen your person, begin the work. That's why you got organized. Don’t give yourself more bureaucracy. Don't double, triple-check and quadruple-check. If you've made a decision, select that person and begin. But remember that you cannot step away at this point and expect everything to turn out well.

  1. You must provide feedback. You've just hired a professional who is going to act like a professional. They will ask questions about your template. They’ll want some dialogue about your expectations. They want to do a good job for you. That person knows some interaction is necessary to make sure they meet your goals. So you've got to be available for the feedback. 
  2. Make sure the feedback has structure. Did the writer follow your template? Did they follow your instructions? If they didn't, you can always direct them back to the instructions you gave them. Did the writer suggest improvements? As they better understood what your expectations were, did they make suggestions? Did they make improvements? Did they go above and beyond? Because that's what pros do. This is how you can check to make sure you're working with the right kind of person, because they're making constant suggestions on how to make the process better.

Once you've gotten to the end result, review it, approve it, publish it, and move on to the next piece of content. At some point, you will hit a moment of personal bandwidth. You just can't keep creating all these content pieces yourself. But because you are the expert in so much knowledge is trapped in your head, you need a process for translating what you know into useful content pieces. A writer can help you, but you must give them a process, so they can be the high-performing professional you need.

Leave a Comment