Characteristics of a Kick-Ass Writer
Hiring a writer or content marketing team for your business is a great way to utilize your brand voice. More than putting words on the page, a really good writer will be able to embrace the personality of your brand and deliver exactly what you need.
But writers — even passable ones — are a dime a dozen these days (please pay us more than that). That’s why it’s so important to understand the characteristics you need to look for to find a writer who resonates with you, your brand, and your audience.
If you’re ready to capitalize on the storytelling and technical skills of a truly talented wordsmith, look for these traits:
They have the technical chops
Not all who call themselves writers actually have the technical knowledge needed to write effectively. You should notice a focus on structure, sentence flow, and readability in their work. Writers understand how to use those tools to create copy that evokes feeling and drives results. They should be annoyingly obsessed with proper grammar (um, hi).
Review their portfolio with a technically-critical eye or ask a trusted colleague with writing experience to look over their work.
A lot of effective copy comes from a writer’s ability to turn an abstract thought or short conversation into usable content. With a high level of creativity and outside-the-box thinking, they build full content worlds with words.
It’s the ability to spin a story in a hundred different directions, repurposing themes and weaving old and new concepts together. When they apply this type of creativity to your brand boundaries, they enhance all the ways you’re able to reach your audience.
They have a clearly-identifiable voice
A clear brand voice is crucial to a marketer’s success. It conveys personality, style, and attitude so that you’re able to attract the clients you most want to work with.
That’s why it’s important to get a feel for a writer’s personal style. A really good writer will have a clearly-identifiable personal writing style that resonates through the content they create for themselves. Review their away-from-work writing. From social posts and emails to full-blown personal blogs, they’ll display a flow, structure, and expression that is unique to them.
When you can identify that clear style in their personal work, and then also see how they embrace the voice of other brands, it’s an illustration to their attention to nuance. The best writers are the ones with the ability to shift their personal style to embrace other personalities. Which brings us to…
Their ability to understand how words work in branding
Voice and story are the key components of a consistent and effective brand. Look to hire writers with business savvy — the ones who understand the impact of embracing brand voice and telling the stories that built your company.
It’s a hard shift to make as a writer — abandoning the way words naturally flow in order to fit into the bounds of a brand. But really good writers will prove they’re up for the challenge and put in the work to get into your headspace. They’ll chat with other members of your team, analyze past content, memorize your brand vocabulary, and ask for candid feedback as they develop the footing they need to clearly and accurately convey your story.
They can write to get results
A good freelance writer creates feeling. When you need to drive action from the content you publish, you need a writer who can convey the emotion you want your audience to feel in order to react.
A really good writer can convey specific messages for specific results. They’ll take a piece of content and turn it into a relatable story that resonates with your audience. Over time, their skills and consistency will increase social followers, sales leads, and employee engagement; and their work will position you as a thought leader in your industry.
They devour and are excited by words
Great writers become great writers partly because they’re obsessed with reading great writing. Even the most naturally talented writers pull inspiration from others. Their personal style and voice is reflective of the pages and pages of words they’ve read.
When you mention reading to a really good writer, they’ll light up with the most recent article that has moved them or list of three or four titles they’re currently working through. They’ll be able to talk at length about writers who inspire their work, go back to titles from their childhood, and maybe even pinpoint a phrase that made their little pencil-stained heart stop.
It’s how they pull words into their work — by being obsessed with reading them.
They’re really stinking curious
Writers — especially really good content creators — are a passionately-curious bunch. They have to be. They’re tasked with conveying a certain level of expertise for topics they may never have touched before.
What’s more, they have the confidence necessary to publish the work they’ve researched. Even the most creative writers need to have the analytical skills to apply the research they’ve done to the piece of content they’re developing. With the ability to quickly grasp concepts, processes, and technicalities of any industry, they can convey an unapologetic air of authority without years of experience.
They always, always, always want to become a better writer
Find and hire the writer who is starving for feedback. They’re the ones that know how to embrace criticism to learn and grow.
It’s more than their desire for approval for the things they pull from their brains. It’s their acknowledgment that growth is continuous, that there is always room for more and better, and that the fluid expansion of their abilities is fully dependent on the eyes that read their work.