Why hire a content writer? [Hint: they'll make you money]
Updated: Mar 21
Why would you pay a content writer when you can just write blog posts yourself? Or get AI to write articles in seconds?
This is the flawed logic behind a lot of terrible websites and failed marketing strategies.
Discover why hiring a content writer is a savvy move for strategic marketers - or any business serious about attracting, engaging and converting customers.
What is a content writer?
A content writer is a professional writer who creates content to support a company's digital marketing strategy.
They write content to attract and engage an organization's customers at different stages of their relationship with the business.
For example, search-optimized blog posts to attract new prospects via Google search, or lead magnets to capture the contact information of potential leads.
Further reading 📖 Understand the buyer's journey and the different content you need for each stage. The buyer's journey explained: Content for every stage of your marketing funnel
What do content writers write?
Content writers write lots of different types of marketing information. It isn't just blog posts (though they are an important part of your content strategy).
Here are five examples of content writing.
Blog posts - short articles that are optimized to rank in search results, to increase your brand visibility online and boost customer awareness
Guides - longers articles that are optimized to rank, but also to establish your brand reputation as experts in your field
ebooks/lead magnets - downloadable guides that the reader requests by submitting their contact details (so you can build your marketing mailing list)
Thought leadership - longer content providing new and original insights into a topic you're an expert on - to establish your expertise and attract backlinks to your site
Video scripts - not all content is words on a website, visual content needs writing too, like scripts for explainer videos or webinars
What's the difference between a content writer and a copywriter?
A content writer creates content that engages and informs readers. They're concerned with attracting your audience and building your brand reputation, so that you're front of mind when someone is ready to buy. Content writing is about 'telling'.
A copywriter creates copy that converts readers into customers. They're concerned with specific writing formulas and techniques that convince a customer to make purchase and choose your business over your competitors. Copywriting is about 'selling'.
Yes, the boundaries are a little blurry sometimes. But they're two distinct roles and required different (though complementary) skill sets.
Controversial opinion alert 📢 Be wary of hiring a writer that doesn't know the difference. Or says there isn't one. It could suggest they're inexperienced and don't know what skills they're supposed to bring to the table. If in doubt, use my 'five things to look for when hiring a content writer' to check their credentials. It's at the end of this article.
What are the benefits of hiring a content writer?
The key benefits of using a professional writer are the same as the benefits as having a content marketing strategy...
Higher visibility with search engines
Getting more organic traffic to your website
Creating a marketing funnel for prospects
Building your brand reputation
Engaging your target audience
Why? Because an experienced content writer has the skills and expertise to do their job well. And a job well done means better results for your business. Let's investigate why...
#1 You get quality content
A professional writer is more likely to produce quality content that people want to read.
Everyone thinks they're a writer. But content writing is a distinct skill - closely aligned to marketing and journalism, touching on human psychology, and with more than a pinch of Search Engine Optimization expertise.
It isn't just about churning out 750 words and expecting it to convert customers.
A professional writer is skilled in carefully crafting articles to
Be more visible in search results - by researching and placing keywords to help search engine algorithms find and rank the content, and by interlinking content to signal topical authority
Answer reader search intent - so the reader finds the answers they're searching for with your business, which builds your reputation in their eyes
Grab their attention - research from Neilson Norman Group shows you've got about 10 seconds to get someone's attention online - can you do that?
Hold their attention - so they stay on your site longer, which improves your bounce rates (another important factor in SEO) and makes them more likely to become customers
Convert their interest into action - by providing an onward journey to other content and landing pages on your site, through internal links and killer CTAs
And that takes the specific skills, knowledge and experience of a professional content writer.
#2 You get strategic content
Every good marketer knows that content works when it is part of a strategy. Whether you call that a marketing strategy, content strategy, digital marketing strategy... you have to be strategic in how and why you create content.
A professional writer will be your partner in this process. They'll seek to understand your strategic goals with any piece of content - and they'll use their skills and expertise to help you achieve them.
You want more visibility in organic search and to reduce your ad spend - your content writer will use their SEO skills to craft content that's more likely to rank (skills: SEO, writing readable content, formatting content for the web)
You want to capture and convert leads - your content writer will create an engaging, readable ebook you can offer in exchange for email addresses (skills: long-form content writing, writing readable content, structuring content for design)
You want to establish your brand rep as leaders in your sector - your content writer will work with your C-suite to craft thought leadership content (skills: research, interviewing, writing authoritative content).
#3 You get regular content
Consistency is key when it comes to publishing content. Search engine algorithms look for a steady stream of new content. And that's difficult to achieve if you're working with limited resources in-house.
According to research, you should be adding new content to your blog 2 to 4 times a week 🤯 Do you have time or capacity for that in-house?
Professional content writers give you time and talent on tap. So you can generate the regular content that Google and other search engines look for.
#4 You get content you can use straight away
Professional writers create content that's ready to go. They've understood the brief, your business needs, and your marketing objectives.
They've included phrases to match your target audience's keyword searches. They've nailed your brand tone of voice. They've fact-checked the fudge out of every stat.
And they've turned in quality content you can publish straight away 💪
You don't need to spend ages correcting it, checking it, or amending it. You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing you've commissioned quality work.
And that saves you stress, time, and money - and keeps your content calendar on track.
Further reading 📖 Learn how to write a content or copywriting brief that gets the best out of your professional writers - and marketing budget. How to write a copywriting brief: with swipe-ready examples
#5 Professional content makes your business look better
You've been there. You Google something, click one of the top search results and start to read. Only to realise the page you've reached is a load of 💩
Poorly written content that doesn't answer your question, reads like it was written by a robot (spoiler alert: it probably was), and doesn't tell you anything new. It's regurgitated rubbish that screams 'We don't care about you. We're just here for the clicks.'
How did that make you feel about the site that published it? Probably angry that they wasted your time and that they think you're stupid enough to read that rubbish... Don't be that business!
Invest in professional high quality writing and be the business people grow to trust. The brand they look for in search results because they know you deliver readable, reliable information.
That's the key to attracting more traffic, building your brand rep, and ultimately converting readers into customers.
#6 A professional writer saves you money
What? How can a professional writer save you money when good ones charge £££ a day?
Research shows that hiring an external contractor saves businesses about 20% compared to hiring an equivalent in-house. That's because you're not paying for things like pension contributions, equipment, training...
Plus you aren't committed.
You can scale up your content writing support as you need it. Need extra help for a campaign in Q2 but got nothing for Q3?
That's not a problem for a freelance content writer that works on a project-by-project basis. But with in-house staff you've got an employee you're under-utilizing.
And let's not forget. It isn't just that hiring an appropriately qualified content or copywriter makes you money.
It's that poor-quality content and copywriting COSTS you money. Through missed opportunities, expensive rewrites, and even just having to ditch what you've commissioned.
#7 A professional content writer adapts to your audience
An experienced content writer can flex their tone of voice for different audiences.
They know when to write more accessible, entry-level content for new prospects. And when to ramp up for more invested, senior decision-makers.
If you're writing content yourself in-house - or using AI to write your content - you might be missing this nuance in your content writing.
And that means losing your audience's attention. Which means missed opportunities for leads and revenue.
#8 Many pro content writers offer strategy
Content writers aren't just about words. They're about the strategy behind them.
You'll find many content writers are also content strategists. They can help you create a content strategy to achieve different marketing goals. For example
A marketing-savvy writer can help craft a kickass sales funnel that moves prospects from: first becoming aware of your business via SEO blog posts and LinkedIn content > to submitting their contact details to receive an ebook > to receiving a drip sequence of marketing emails > to contacting your sales team.
An experienced website content writer can advise on creating content clusters that build your topical authority to support your SEO strategy. Or tell you how and when to use long-tail keywords or keyword modifiers to boost your search visibility.
If you're an overstretched marketing team (or lone marketer), it can be a relief to know there's someone else looking out for your strategy and KPIs 🙂
Should I hire a freelance content writer or an agency?
If you want to commission professional content writing services, you can use a freelance content writer or get content via an agency. That might be a general marketing agency or a specific content writing agency. There are pros and cons to both.
Pros and cons of hiring a freelance content writer
When you work with a freelance content writer, you work directly with the person doing the writing.
You know exactly who you're paying for - their seniority, their expertise etc. There's no risk you're paying senior prices but getting junior service.
You don't have to communicate via an intermediary like an account manager and risk things getting lost in translation.
Freelance writers build knowledge about your business that makes them better at their job over time. This doesn't happen in the same way if your work is parcelled out between different agency staff.
You're paying for that individual's time and talent. Not agency overheads.
If the individual freelancer is off sick or indisposed, your content creation is delayed
Pros and cons of using a marketing agency
Assuming you're using a general marketing agency and they're providing content as part of their package, here are some pros and cons.
You get everything you need in one place - If you have a lot of different work going on, you don't have to manage separate people. You talk to one account manager about all of your projects.
You're covered if someone is sick - Agencies can typically cover your work even if someone if off sick.
You may pay an agency premium - Agencies may charge you more than an equivalent freelancer because they have higher overheads to cover from your fees.
You might get junior writers - You may be paying the same as you'd pay a freelancer, but be getting someone less experienced.
What to look for when hiring a content writer
It's easy to get burned when you're buying professional content writing services. Anyone can set up a profile on a gig website and start offering their services. But it doesn't mean they're any good.
To protect your budget, reputation, and stress levels, here's what to look for when you hire content writers.
Five things to look for when you hire a content writer
Here are five things to look out for if you want to hire a content writer that's any good.
1. Their portfolio
Ask to see examples of their past work. Ideally you want to see bylined content. That means content that's publicly attributed to them and has their name on it as the author.
But be aware that some businesses prefer to attribute content to their marketing team, so not all content writers get a byline. If that's the case, ask to contact the business directly to confirm.
2. Their experience
There's nothing wrong with being at the start of your content career! Some brilliant content writers are just starting out and don't have a portfolio yet.
Look for other evidence of their skills - like a marketing or journalism background, or training they're completed.
3. Their reputation
When you're comparing content writers, check out their LinkedIn profile and look at the recommendations section. See what other clients are saying about their work.
Look out for clients in your sector or who have used the writer for projects like yours (for example, blog posts, thought leadership, or ebooks).
4. Their process
When you talk to your potential content writer, ask about their content writing process. They should be able to talk about their approach to research, how they write, how they conduct interviews if needed, etc.
Listen out for references to your audience needs, your marketing strategy, your brand guidelines and tone of voice, to SEO, to keyword research. This suggests they know their stuff!
5. Their track record
It's notoriously hard to track ROI of content marketing. It's like working out which grain of rice was the best part of a meal. But some content writers may have access to metrics about how their content performed.
Ask about this. But don't be deterred if the writer can't provide it. Often this info is only available from the client themselves - and they don't always have time to track it or provide it.
Ready to hire a content writer?
Check out my portfolio or book a call to get the ball rolling.
About the author
Libby Marks is an award-winning copywriter and content marketer. After 15+ years in marketing and communications, she escaped the 9-to-5 and started Write on Tyne.
Write on Tyne is a small content and copywriting agency dedicated to making marketing managers' lives easier.
We provide top-notch copy for campaigns, content marketing, and websites - underpinned by expertise in marketing strategy and SEO.