What Makes a Great Content Writer

Keeping your digital channels full of fresh, on-brand content requires a great content writer. Often times this job is handed over to an intern (because she knows her way around social media) or an administrative assistant (because he’s got time between answering phone calls).

We hate to see businesses fall into this trap. Finding someone who has the right experience and is qualified to speak on your company’s behalf is key. These seven guidelines help us (and can help you) evaluate and chose content writers.

1. Fundamental understanding of your business challenges and goals
Being a good writer isn’t enough. Whoever writes your social media marketing content must know what its ultimate purpose is, whether it’s to generate leads, acquire new customers, or give people enough information to choose your company over the competition. Without an understanding of precisely how the content on social media is supposed to improve your business, the person responsible for writing it is probably going to fail at the job.

2. Understanding of your marketing strategy
It’s important to differentiate between a goal and a strategy. Your marketing goal might be to sell 1,000 widgets in the current quarter. Your marketing strategy involves how you’re going to reach that goal. The person responsible for writing social media content must understand how to execute that strategy on each of the various platforms you want to use. Your company’s marketing strategy will also affect the tone and style used on different platforms. One approach might work fine for a blog post but fail miserably with a downloadable e-book. A qualified content writer will know which approach is right.

3. Understanding of the audience
Ideally find someone who is (or has been) a customer or client of your business. The content writer needs to understand who they are writing for, and what better way than to actually have used your product or services. In any case, the content writer must understand the audience’s psyche and how to motivate them. If they don’t, it will be very difficult for them to write content that is compelling and effective.

4. Understanding of the technical aspects of your business
Every business has its jargon, its technical terms, and its complex concepts that are confusing to people not intimately familiar with the business. If your audience is other people in your business or industry, your content writer has to communicate like an insider. You can’t fake it—an expert audience will spot an amateur right away.

5. Ability to communicate complex concepts concisely
This can be a tricky line to navigate. How can you make it easy for the audience to understand your overall business, or the aspect of your business that you’re trying to communicate, while you still execute your desired marketing strategy? Fortunately, this is a skill you can test. Give a prospective candidate something to write about and see what they can do.

6. Excellent communication skills
This is different from tip #5. This is about the nuts and bolts of writing: grammar and spelling, choosing the proper tone, and getting the right words in the right places. You can test this, too, by asking to see samples of a candidate’s past work, or by giving the candidate a writing assignment.

7. Ability to generate original content
The massive size of the online world makes plagiarism easy. But you don’t want your business caught stealing someone else’s online content. It’s unethical, and not only that, content that’s not generated directly by someone who understands your marketing goals and strategies probably won’t accomplish the desired effect anyway. Your content writer should be an original thinker with lots of ideas (and you should have safeguards in place to spot plagiarism).

Indeed, effective content writing is a set of specialized skills and you need just the right person to be responsible for communicating the essence of your brand to the world.