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Hiring Freelance Content Marketers: How to Find the Perfect Fit

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Rosemary Richings
Rosemary Richings
Hiring Freelance Content Marketers: How to Find the Perfect Fit

Thinking of working with one or more freelance content marketers?

The reality is that you’ll likely have far too many freelancers to choose from.

For instance, did you know that from 2014 to 2016, there were more than 2 million freelancers in the U.S.? And the number of freelancers is still growing!

Not to mention, the freelance economy is booming worldwide as well.

That’s exactly why hiring freelance content marketers is both overwhelming and appealing.

The Value of a Freelance Content Marketer

Businesses will often have a head of either marketing, content marketing, or both.

And if a business is small enough, business owners will do their own marketing.

However, marketing is a lot of work!

But if you work with a freelance content marketing specialist, you get to lighten the load a bit.

For example, one content marketer might be a specialist in a specific type of blog content, and one might specialize in sales or landing pages.

What Happens If You Make the Wrong Choice?

Unfortunately, the wrong choice will waste both your money and your time.

And this often leads to you hiring extra people to compensate for poor results.

Yet, the worst case scenario is much more likely to happen if you make hasty decisions and approach the hiring process blindly.

How Do You Choose the Right Candidate?

Want to know what makes a freelance content marketer a good choice for your organization?

Here some qualities to look out for, when figuring out who to hire.

The Candidate’s Reputation

Reputation can tell you a lot about the quality of the work that you’re getting. And you can spot that immediately based on factors such as:

  • Testimonials
  • Past clients
  • The press or “featured on” sections of a freelancer’s website

But what about newbie freelancers? Newbie freelancers can have a great reputation as well!

If someone is brand new, you can determine their reputation based on stuff like:

  • Guest posts they wrote
  • Work history
  • References

Social Proof & Its Impact on Reputation

On the freelance lifestyle website, Freelancer FAQs, Sally Acquire put it best when she explained the importance of social proof, in the following way:

“Social proof is an endorsement that you’re worth hiring. Other people have taken a chance on you already so the risk factor for hiring you goes down a notch.”

And that endorsement is more powerful than you think.

Because chances are you can remember at least one incident where you bought something because a friend or family member recommended it.

And that’s exactly why this principle applies to the hiring process as well.

Because if you recognize the company that shows up on the candidate’s testimonial page, it will likely influence your opinion.

But what do you do if there are no testimonials and the freelancer is unable to provide references?

If that’s the case, then the candidate may not be a good fit. Because they’re only worth working with if they can provide valid proof.

Numbers & Stats

Numbers and stats are the most important things to be on the lookout for when hiring freelance content marketers. And these numbers and stats cover key factors such as:

  • Number of comments
  • Social media shares
  • Google search rankings

So, what’s the best way to find these stats?

Freelance content marketers often include a content engagement highlight reel on their website.

What Content Engagement Highlight Reels Actually Look Like

Here are some content engagement stats from a blogger I follow on Twitter:

freelance content marketers stats sample

So why exactly are these numbers significant? Because it proves that this writer can not only write but also put her marketing thinking cap on as well.

What do you do if you’re unable to find relevant stats?

If they’re unable to provide relevant stats, then just ask!

Here are some questions that will help you determine the value of any content marketer:

  1. How many views did your blog get this week?
  2. Can you show me some examples of results that the websites you’ve worked on generated?
  3. What levels of engagement have your most recent email marketing campaigns produced?

Don’t, under any circumstances, be shy about asking these questions. Clients ask these questions a lot more often than you think.

Other Relevant Skills

Being a great email marketer, content writer, YouTuber, etc, is great and all. But there’s only one problem with that.

The average content marketer’s work isn’t only about telling a story. They also need other relevant skills to reach their target audience.

Applying This Approach to a Hiring Scenario

Let’s say you’re working on an upcoming product launch and you’re thinking of hiring a sales page copywriter.

And let’s also pretend that you’ve managed to narrow down your choices to two freelance content marketers:

Candidate 1:

A WordPress expert, who also has:

  • Several years of work experience as a content marketer in a corporate environment
  • A relevant client list
  • A sales page-focused portfolio

Candidate 2:

A J-school grad with:

  • An impressive client list and portfolio
  • Some content marketing experience
  • A generalist when it comes to freelance writing specialties

Which one would you choose?

More likely than not, you’d choose candidate one.

But why is that the case?

  • They have a background in one of the most popular CMS platforms on the market
  • They know how to market content to a large audience
  • Specialize in the type of content you’re looking for

5 Questions You Must Answer Before Hiring

If you want to get a great return on investment on your content, you need to take a goal-oriented approach.

And one rule applies, no matter what type of content you’re looking for. The ideal creator of that content is someone who can listen and respond to your goals, values, etc.

Before you start researching freelance content marketers, here are some questions you need to know the answer to:

1. Why Do You Need This Type of Content?

Far too often businesses take a one-size-fits-all approach to content, and that never works! No idea what I’m talking about? The one-size-fits-all approach starts like this: “Joe Schmoe found success with blogging so I will too!” Because that isn’t always true, this is an essential question to start with.

2. Who is Your Audience?

You need to hire someone who understands and can speak to this audience.

3. What Content Does Your Audience Read & How Do They Typically Consume It?

Your audience might not consume content in the way that you immediately assumed. And if that’s the case you might want to consider hiring a specialist in an alternate type of content.

4. What Are Your Company’s Values & How Are they Different than Your Competitors?

So what falls under the values category? Everything from customer interactions, to how you create your products or services applies.

5. What Is Your Tone & Voice?

For example:

  • Are you on a first or last name basis with your customers?
  • Are things like humor and sarcasm part of how you communicate?
  • Do you use slang or emoticons?

Why These Questions Are Important

Any content marketer worth working with will ask you about your audience and your values. But, they can’t help you unless you have sat down and put careful thought into the answers.

And knowing the answer to these questions will help you narrow down the list of candidates.

Because it will help you determine which candidate(s) will produce content that:

  • Suits your audience.
  • Resembles your typical tone and approach to things.

And if you want to work with freelance content marketers, you’ll make their job easier, and have better results if:

  • You provide detailed answers to their questions.
  • You give them access to relevant resources. Anything that will help them get to know what your brand’s voice is like is perfect!

But what do I mean by “resources”? Here a few examples:

  • Social media posts
  • YouTube videos
  • Brochures
  • Advertisements (print or digital)
  • Links to recent event listings via platforms such as Meetup and Eventbrite

Other Considerations

Cheap and fast projects will likely seem enticing but they’re (rarely) practical.

Never lose sight of the fact that quality content isn’t about overnight success.

It’s about what will happen over the long-term when freelance content marketers try out targeted marketing campaigns, such as:

  • Putting your brochure on a community bulletin board.
  • Doing keyword research and other activities that are good for SEO.

Never, Ever Forget About Audience Engagement!

Stats and social proof are definitely important.

But you should never get too caught up in the game of “compare and contrast.”

For instance, if one of the candidates got 100 Facebook shares, and another one got 1,000.

Picking the candidate with the highest number of shares seems intuitive. But those shares won’t mean anything unless the interactions are also more in-depth than:

  • Pressing the “like” button. And that is fine, by the way, if they also comment on what they read!
  • Writing comments such as “nice post”

And that’s exactly what meaningful audience engagement is all about.

When recruiting freelance content marketers, the ideal candidate is a conversation starter.

High-quality freelance content marketers can also make sharing info about a company an enjoyable experience.

And any content marketer worth working with will know exactly how to do that.

More Outsourcing Resources Here:


Image Credits
Featured Image: Created by Rosemary Richings, October 2017.
In-Post Photo # 1: Screenshot by Rosemary Richings. Taken October 2017.
In-Post Photo # 2: Created by Rosemary Richings, October 2017.

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Rosemary Richings

Rosemary is a copywriter, editor, and content strategist that creates website & blog content for B2C retail and E-Commerce brands. ... [Read full bio]

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