Engaging content is the currency of inbound marketing. Great content lets you attract traffic, capture more leads, and increase your sales.
This message has been out there for a while now – “Content is King” – and the most common objection is that “I don’t have the time.”
The problem is it’s no longer optional. If you want to be found online (and nobody is looking for you in the Yellow Pages), then you must produce and publish content. Google wants original, high quality content from you – the kind of content that people will link to because it’s actually worth reading. This natural linking is one of the best ways to get ranked by search engines, and be found online.
Enter the ghost writer.
Elance predicts a 35% increase in demand for content writing services in 2013. A good chunk of that is going to go towards ghost writing and blogging services. As I write this, Elance has over 19,000 ghost writing jobs, and nearly 10,000 freelancers listing ghost writing as a skill. On the face of it, hiring someone who knows how to write well just makes sense, particularly for SMBs that don’t have a marketing department, and everyone else is busy doing their jobs.
If you have the in-house capabilities and the time, creating your own content isn’t a problem. But, for a lot of companies, this isn’t feasible. According to Gartner, fifty percent of all digital marketing, including content creation, is outsourced. If you are going to outsource your content creation, you need to find someone who will reflect your voice, values, and message.
The biggest risk in outsourcing your content creation is mixing “I don’t have the time to write a blog” with “I can find someone to write some posts cheap.”
This is the pure quantity versus quality trap that plays over and over, and it’s something that you need to be aware of when you take to the internet in search of ghost writers to fill your website. Google is getting better and better at weeding out the low quality content and only returning high quality search results. I question the process that leads people to Elance in search of content creators. When I see a job listing requesting good writing and research skills, with a $3 to $5 / hour rate, I think there’s a BIG disconnect.
Even if you don’t see the value of paying someone a living wage for their work, why would you so undervalue your own business? This is effectively what you are saying when you seek out the lowest price available. It’s seeking out a word count, not the right words.
So, how do you find a good content creator?
- Find someone who takes the time to know you and your business. A good content writer wants to understand your business – your customers, your products, your prospects and customers’ challenges, and your competition. More importantly, they’re going to want to understand you and your brand. You are hiring them to be your voice and the voice of that brand. Their words must align with that voice. Ask your prospective content writers to show examples and discuss how they aligned their content with the values of the company. Find out how their content will lead to more engagement from your prospects. This will be far more illuminating to you than just reviewing their work.
- Make sure they understand more than just the basics. A portfolio of work, good as it may look, is not enough. If your content writer cannot talk to you about content marketing, SEO (what that means today, not the SEO of yesterday), and audiences for the content they’ll be writing, you are going to have one of two things: A really well-written but dull, tone deaf, and buzzword-y blog post that goes out under your name, or a lot of work on your hands editing – time that could’ve been spent doing it yourself.
You may not have the time, or the particular talents for writing, but it should still be your voice and your message that is getting out there. This requires writers with business experience, a fair bit of empathy / ability to put themselves in your shoes, as well as a knack for creating engaging content.