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SallyHow to Choose and Hire a Web Content Writer- Part II: Evaluating Applicants

Content marketing is one of the best ways to generate new business.  However, creating content takes time and web writing skills. For busy law firms and businesses, outsourcing writing talent is a great solution.  You can find qualified writers through referrals or a well-crafted job ad.

Once you place your job ad, you will likely receive a flood of applicants. How do you choose the right candidate for your position? Here are seven criteria by which to evaluate web content writers.  These factors can help guide the interview and decision-making process.

Seven Factors to Consider in Hiring a Web Content Writer

  1. Web writing experience – Web writing is a unique skill that is different from other types of writing.  A writer who is experienced in other genres (for example, fiction writing, journalism, technical writing) will not necessarily have the skills to write effective, compelling web content. When evaluating web writing candidates, consider:
    1. How many years the writer has been writing for the web
    2. What type of web writing he or she has done in the past
    3. The writer’s knowledge of web writing best practices
  2. Industry experience – Industry experience and subject matter expertise are ideal in a web content writer.  For example, if you are hiring a writer to develop content for an intellectual property law firm website, an attorney-writer is ideal.  An attorney with experience working in and writing about intellectual property matters is even better.  While any skilled writer can research a topic, a lack of subject matter expertise can result in generic content, factual inaccuracies or filler copy.
  3. Knowledge of SEO – Search engine optimization is key to driving traffic to a website.  Look for a writer who understands how to gracefully and effectively weave keyword phrases into content and knows how to structure content for the web.
    1. Is the writer familiar with SEO best practices?
    2. Does he have experience writing optimized copy?
    3. Does he know how to structure content to draw traffic and increase conversion?
    4. Can he research keywords and weave them into copy in a natural way?
  4. Writing Samples – If the candidate’s writing samples are not related to the work you are hiring the writer to perform, request additional samples or ask the candidate to complete a short writing test.  Once you have gathered all samples, review them to evaluate the quality of the writing.  Keep in mind that the samples may have been heavily revised by an editor and may not fully represent the writer’s ability.
    1. Are the samples similar to the types of content the writer will be generating for your firm?
    2. Is the copy well-crafted, engaging and structured for the web?
    3. Do the samples contain any spelling or grammatical errors?
  5. Writing Test – Evaluate the results of any writing or editing tests you asked candidates to complete.
    1. Did the writer complete the test by or before your deadline?
    2. Did he or she follow all instructions?
    3. Is the writing of the style, tone and caliber you are seeking?
    4. Will the writing require a great deal of editing?
  6. Availability – If you inquired about availability in your job ad, evaluate whether the writer’s availability will match your needs.  Several things to consider:
    1. How many hours per week is he available?
    2. What is the timeframe for turning around your project?
    3. Does he have other obligations (family, day-job, other freelance clients) that may significantly interfere with completing your work?
    4. If he will be interacting with clients or staff, is he available during business hours?
    5. If he will be working remotely, what time zone does he reside in and will the time difference affect work interactions?
  7. Reliability – A writer’s ability to meet deadlines, respond to client inquiries and communicate in a timely manner is worth his weight in gold.  Some early clues as to reliability:
    1. Did the writer follow your application process?
    2. Does his application include all elements requested in the job ad (such as salary requirements, availability, and the requisite number of writing samples)?
    3. Does he respond to questions and e-mails in a timely manner?
    4. Did he turn in writing tests or samples at the last minute or late?
    5. Does he appear eager and excited to join your team?

PaperStreet’s Web Content Writing Team

The writing team at PaperStreet is comprised of attorneys with knowledge of SEO and web writing best practices. We specialize in web-friendly, well-optimized content that is clean, compelling and tailored to your audience. If you are seeking a web content writer, contact Sally Kane at sally@paperstreet.com.


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