Really good writing is something that we’re obviously passionate about at RSM – especially our resident writers who always aim to be at the top of their game.
We do a lot of work to find the perfect writers to bring on to our team, and since we’ve uncovered the why and what and who parts of the process, we’re giving away our secrets at how we identify the top writers in the supersaturated online space.
It’s certainly not a perfect science. There are thousands upon thousands of writers searching daily to find their next great gig or full-time role. Sifting through the hordes can be daunting, but by following these few tips, you’ll find the writer who will do the best work for your business.
1. Start with a detailed and transparent job description
Target the right writers by being incredibly clear in your job posting. Ask for writing samples and a cover letter, and outline expectations, pay structure, and rates from the get-go.
If it’s part of your interview process, let candidates know they may be required to complete a writing test. If you’re able, pay them for their efforts on the task – you’ll hook better writers by acknowledging the value of their time.
2. Pay attention to their initial communication
When you’re first in contact with a potential new writer, focus on the way they write to you and the professionalism they carry through their communication. With evidence of well-thought-out and complete ideas in a simple email, you know that they take care to pay attention to the words they use on a daily basis.
Don’t hire a writer whose emails don’t build your confidence in their ability to write. Their very first interactions with you should be stellar, solidifying the feelings you had upon review of their resume and writing samples. If they’re not living up the hype, cut them loose and move on.
3. Consider style and brand voice
Does their natural style fit your brand voice? OR Do they display the ability to adjust their style and embrace brand voice?
Great writers have the technical AND style chops to adjust their wordsmithing to match the voice of your brand. If their personal voice doesn’t quite match your brand, take the time to ask for more styles that reflect their ability to shift tone, attitude, and presentation.
Don’t hesitate to ask for more samples or to assign them a task to create a short piece that fits within your guidelines. Gather as much information from them as you can to ensure they’ll be able to hit the ground running.
4. Review both published and personal work
Less experienced writers can be JUST AS GOOD as someone who has been writing for 15 years. If they don’t have a broad portfolio (or even if they do!) ask to see work from a passion project or personal blog. It won’t only give you a further glimpse into their ability, it’ll help you get to know them personally on a bit deeper level.
When I was first looking to break into writing, I’d only share the pieces of my portfolio that I thought embodied the structure and professional style that business would look for. It wasn’t until I started sharing my personal work that I really started connecting with the clients that I really wanted to work with. When they offered a response to my personal work, I knew they cared about more than just my ability to mill-out content. It built a deeper connection and more trust from the start.
5. Trust your gut
Do you like their stuff? Do you see potential there?
If their body of work feels elevated, well-rounded, easy to understand, IF YOU LIKE READING IT, and if you can see potential for how their work will move your business forward, you’ve found a keeper.