Category Archives for "Content Marketing"

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Feb 15

How to Ensure Your Blog Posts Stay Evergreen

Content Marketing

The best part about content marketing is its versatility. It can be specific to your niche, free and anything you want it to be, plus it’s easy for beginners to get started.

That said, not every aspect of creating content is easy. In fact, content marketers can get discouraged in many ways and end up giving up altogether.

In this instance, we’re talking about the maintenance of content marketing. Updating older content is a great way to boost your SEO, but many marketers don’t take advantage of this opportunity.

Here’s why that should change.

Content’s Final Stage

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Content creation involves a defined process and repeated stages that begin with research. From there, the plan is formed to make new content over time. Once the content is designed or written, it’s published and shared, with not much done after the fact.

But the time after publishing, the maintenance phase, is vital. Unfortunately, in the fury of constantly pushing new content, the end of this process is often neglected.

The content you’ve created to provide long-term value — your evergreen content — plays an important role in your site. These pieces are designed to stay relevant over time and guide new customers to your brand, so they shouldn’t be neglected.

Just think about some of the benefits evergreen content brings to the table:

  • Driving traffic.
  • Backlinking.
  • Authoritative keywords.
  • Site and content continuity.
  • Improved ranking.

Evergreen and constantly maintained pieces serve as a foundation for the rest of your content and grow your authority on a subject. This also alleviates the stress of constantly struggling to source or validate new content.

Maintenance doesn’t have the urgency of creation, however, so it tends to take the backburner in content marketing. Content maintenance is about nurturing a sustainable relationship with your growing audience by keeping your post reliable.

If a loyal customer were to stumble upon an old, outdated post, they may lose faith in your brand.

Content maintenance is challenging though, which is why many content marketers ignore it. Evergreen content requires time, research and updates to stay relevant, which means adding a second plan in addition to your content marketing strategy.

Here are some methods you can use to update and maintain older content:

Technical Updates

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Like anything else, your site needs maintenance over time. Whether it’s broken links or an outdated background, technical issues are likely present in your old content.

Even if it was published in peak condition at the time, there will likely be one or more elements that should be updated.

For example, Google recently made changes to their meta descriptions. The previous limitation of 160 characters is no longer the case, so what was once optimized is no longer optimized.

Maybe your meta description still works for SEO today, but it’s still worth the time to refresh your old content and check for things like this.

You may also want to experiment with new title tags to boost engagement and refresh your post. You may find that you have broken links or links to outdated businesses or businesses that no longer operate, which harms your credibility.

Broken links hurt your SEO, so take the time to find newer information or statistics that emphasize your point and link to those. You can also update your “last updated” timestamp to show viewers that your content is fresh.

Another technical challenge is the way content is consumed now versus how it was consumed years ago. The end of Flash, for instance, has also ended plenty of excellent content pieces that relied upon it. If you created content with Flash, it won’t last much longer as Flash is being phased out. Many sites recommend Flash be disabled anyway, so it’s a change that will come no matter what.

A way to update that content for modern audiences is by switching out JPEG images for PNG images. PNG images have better quality and load times than JPEG images, so if you don’t update them, you may find that you have slower load times that impact your SEO.

Revitalize Your Most Popular Old Posts

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While maintenance is important, you don’t need to update every single piece of old content, nor should you. The best place to start with updates is with your best and most popular pieces, regardless of how old they may be.

You can find out what these pieces are with Google Analytics under the “Behavior” section. This section will show you a detailed breakdown of each page’s performance for the history of your site and the posts that have stayed popular over the years. You’ll then have a list of pieces that are worth maintaining.

If you focus on maintaining and revitalizing these older pieces of popular content, you’ll most likely be able to continue to leverage them in the future.

You may also want to consider why these content pieces have been so successful. Each piece of content has a purpose, so you may learn more about what works and what doesn’t by analyzing your popular pieces.

If you think that an older piece could do better, consider “upcycling.” Upcycling turns your old pieces into a new format, which is commonly done with a video. It’s the same information, but it’s presented in a way that revitalizes the content and gets it more attention.

Make Relevance a New Goal

No matter how evergreen you thought your content was, time will always make your posts irrelevant. Eventually, posts will turn into old news, which requires maintenance to keep them relevant.

One of the benefits here, however, is that you can turn your piece into something noteworthy with your new perspective. So, instead of focusing on updating the piece for popularity, focus on making changes to make it more relevant.

To start, evaluate your content according to three questions:

  • Does your content still pique interest?
  • Is it timely?
  • Will it provide a purpose to your users and your business?

If the answer to all three of these questions is yes, then you have content that’s worth updating.

The most relevant content will be viewed and shared more, so taking the time to revamp your relevant content can improve your content lifecycle.

Once you decide that the piece should and could be updated, it’s a good idea to check the topic with Google Trends to make sure there’s interest in the topic of the old post you’ve chosen to update. If you see too many peaks and valleys, you may want to wait until the optimal time to revamp your piece.

Final Thoughts

Content maintenance isn’t the most exciting part of developing a content marketing strategy, but it’s incredibly helpful for your business. If you want to continue to create evergreen content that grows your business, you need to put in the effort to reach your customers.

This means taking the time with your old blog posts and checking for technical issues, popularity and relevance to see what will work best. It also means making a serious commitment to making these changes.

Evergreen content isn’t designed for overnight success. Instead, it takes up a vital place in your content library that will bring traffic and credibility to your brand for years.

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Feb 09

Using Google Analytics to Improve Content Marketing

Content Marketing

Google Analytics provides remarkable free analytics tools to help marketers get more insights into their audience and improve their marketing efforts.

With so many tools to choose from, however, it can be overwhelming to learn and use them to inform your campaigns.

Fortunately, we’re here to discuss Google Analytics and help you get the most from these available tools for content marketing.

How Does Google Analytics Help Content Marketing?

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Data is used to guide marketing strategy. Google has a huge collection of data related to your audience and your business, so you can use this mountain of data for actionable insights about how your efforts perform and how you can correct or improve.

It also helps you answer questions about your content marketing strategy, such as:

  • Is my content marketing effective?
  • What opportunities am I missing with my content marketing?
  • Where am I losing customers, and how do I fix it?
  • What are some of my trends?
  • Are my efforts more or less effective?
  • What content types perform the best?
  • What are the gaps I missed?

The more in-depth data you can compile and the more questions you can answer, the better your insights you can gain to inform your strategy..

By using a methodical approach of reporting and metrics, you can determine if something is or isn’t working and why. You have the ability to analyze your traffic and audience to determine how customers interact with your business.

You can also decide if your content marketing is worth your investment, or find areas that are performing well, but can still be improved.

Here’s how:

Define Your Goals

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As we’ve discussed, Google Analytics has plenty of resources to measure your performance, but you should customize them to get valuable insights.

Defining goals is the best way to customize this process.

Four different goals that can be used to monitor your marketing strategy are:

  • Destination: a specific location.
  • Duration: session time.
  • Pages/Screens per session: a user viewing a specific number of pages or screens.
  • Event: a predefined action is triggered.

Google Analytics will help you set up your goals and walk you through the process.

Use On-Site Search

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Websites can grow rather quickly, especially with a blog. With so much growing content, it can be difficult for customers to get what they’re looking for unless they get there from Google directly.

Fortunately, you can help your customers find your website and stay there with a search bar. This will not only get them to the page they’re looking for, but it also gives you insights and data through the Google Analytics on-site search terms report.

With an on-site search terms report, you’ll discover the keywords that are most searched on your website and compare them with those you’ve targeted. You may find that your content should be updated with a new keyword and you may even want to create new content to gain better engagement and more traffic.

You may notice a lot of traffic to a specific page within the search, which can be used to:

  • Target pages with marketing campaigns.
  • Link the page with high traffic to low-performing pages.
  • Redesign the site to improve the visibility of your popular pages.

To perform this search in Google Analytics, log on to your account and go to the “Behavior” reports. From there, choose “Site Search” and “Search Terms.”

This takes you to the dashboard of your on-site search terms.

Optimize for Mobile

Mobile devices are used more by consumers than ever before, so it’s important that your site works well for mobile visitors. You should also verify that the changes you make work.

Log on to Google Analytics and find the “Audience” tab on the left side, then find the “Mobile” tab. Expand it to choose “Overview” to determine how well your site performs on mobile devices.

If you’ve defined a goal related to mobile traffic or conversions, it can be included in this report. On the right side, select the goal completion to display with mobile performance. With this information, you’ll be able to look at the conversion rate and goal completion over a time frame.

If you find that your mobile site version performs poorly in comparison to your desktop site version, you know that you need to do more to optimize your mobile site.

With Google’s recent mobile-first indexing policy, it’s vital that your site has high performance on mobile devices to keep your content marketing efforts effective.

Optimize Site Speed

Most sites load too slowly, meaning that they fall below the three-second benchmark for load times. In many cases, these sites take over nine seconds.

As the page load time increases from:

  • One second to three second, the bounce rate increases by 32 percent.
  • One second to five seconds, the bounce rate increases by 90 percent.
  • One second to six seconds, the bounce rate increases by 106 percent.
  • One second to ten seconds, the bounce rate increases by 123 percent.

This information matters for two reasons:

  • Speed affects  your bounce rate.
  • Google factors page speeds into ranking factors.

So, having slow load times will have a detrimental impact on your search engine ranking and traffic. Before you’re able fix this problem, however, you need to diagnose it. It may be a site-wide problem, or it could just be a particular page, so you can identify the particular pages and make improvements.

In Google Analytics, you can find this information under “Site Speed” and “Page Timing.” This report shows you the pages on your site and their respective load times, so you can analyze the particular pages.

You can also find a “Speed Suggestions” report, which will provide recommendations for how to improve the speed of different pages.

Know Your Customers

Gaining an in-depth understanding of your customers is paramount to your content marketing efforts. In fact, many marketers have already prioritized personalized experiences.

By tapping directly into your customers’ needs, you can increase your sales and profits.

Google Analytics Affinity Category reports can help with this. Log on to Google Analytics and find the “Audience” section on the left side. Here you will find “Affinity Categories.” Here you will see which affinity groups have high traffic and low bounce rates or high conversions on your site.

For instance, you may find that you perform well with unexpected segments of your audience. This information will help you develop your future marketing campaigns.

Another helpful report for understanding your customers is the “Audience” report. You’ll find this under the “Audience” section, but you’ll choose “Overview.”

While the overview doesn’t give you in-depth information regarding your customers, it will help you target broad interests like devices and locations.

Final Thoughts

We hope that these tips help you gather information to inform your content marketing campaigns. Keep in mind that these are only a few of the tools available with Google Analytics. Google holds an incredible amount of data about your website that can be useful.

On top of that, it’s completely free. It’s important to make use of what Google Analytics has to offer, so you can learn what is and isn’t working and elevate your content marketing campaign.

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Nov 09

8 Effective Content Types And How To Use Them

Content Marketing





Content has become the currency of the internet, giving you limitless options to promote your brand, engage with your audience, hit new target markets and provide value to your customers.

That said, content is about more than blog posts. There are many types of content out there to keep your message fresh and your audience interested.

Take a look at these eight effective content types and learn how you can use them to drive growth for your contractor business.

Infographics

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Info + graphic, or infographic, uses graphics and visuals to present information in an easily digestible way for your audience. At a quick glance, a reader can often get all the same pertinent information as they would from a longer blog post, making infographics a popular content type.

Infographics get more views, shares and likes than other content types, mostly because of how easy it is to absorb the information. They also have viral potential and are shared far more often than other content types, and they work particularly well for data, statistics and research.

If you have a graphic designer on your team, that’s the person to recruit to create infographics for you. These creative professionals are experts at creating compelling visuals and organizing information in a way that communicates effectively to an audience.

If you don’t have a graphic designer, you can outsource your infographics or create them yourself with plenty of services. This route can be pricey, but worth it for the engagement you’ll receive.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that simply having an infographic isn’t enough for viral content. To make an infographic that stands out, you still need to apply the same principles of effective content and craft a specific, compelling message.

Memes

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If you’ve spent even a minute on any social media platform, you’re familiar with memes. By their very nature, memes encourage sharing and have the potential to go viral. They’re also quite funny, in most cases, which automatically gets more attention.

Unlike infographics, memes don’t require any special skills or graphic design talent. Many sites allow you to include your own text in a standard meme format. If you have a funny idea or the mood strikes, put it in a meme to share.

Memes may not be appropriate for your blog, however. Memes are a social media phenomenon, so it’s best to keep them on your social media pages. You also want to be sure that they still provide some value and aren’t overused.

Videos

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Videos communicate valuable information in a concise, memorable way that is more likely to be viewed by a follower. From music videos to office tours to how-to videos, there are virtually limitless options for how you can use video to promote your brand and attract followers.

Videos are a more expensive content option, but you can start small to begin with and see how they perform. As you learn more about the role of video in your content marketing strategy, you can put more effort and expense into creating professional videos.

Guides

Guides are super-sized posts that go into detail about a topic, often far beyond the length of a normal blog post. They typically include advanced information for your readers that’s backed by research as well.

If you want to create guides, you’ll need a good writer, a graphic designer and the right topic. This content should be top tier and deliver the message in an effective, readable way, especially given the length of the post. The graphic designer will need to fine tune the layout and presentation to ensure the post is attractive and readable.

You can also present your guide as a free download for your followers in exchange for email addresses, which boosts your subscriber list.

Book Reviews

If your following reads books, a book review is a great way to connect with them and present yourself as a thought leader. A book review can be simple or in-depth, depending on how you choose to do it.

Keep in mind that book reviews aren’t suitable for all industries, so be sure you have the appropriate audience and that reviewing books makes sense for your brand.

Rants

A “rant” or opinion piece is a popular content option, mostly because of its light tone and humor. If most of your content is heavily researched and detailed, a rant or opinion piece gives you a chance to express yourself more.

For a contractor business, a rant or opinion piece should be relevant to the industry, such as opinions on recent news or industry trends and changes. With this option, you’re not only addressing popular topics that are of interest to your audience, but you’ll also boost your SEO and shareability.

Keep in mind that a rant or opinion piece should be occasional, since constantly ranting about various topics can come across as obnoxious. You should also avoid personal attacks or people-bashing, since a rant isn’t meant to be angry or rude. Also, welcome opposing viewpoints to prompt a discussion, rather than being guided by your ego.

Product Reviews

Product reviews can help you establish authority and thought leadership in your industry. When you engage manufacturers, developers, service providers and other industry professionals, you gain respect and recognition within your niche.

Product reviews should include brief information about a product, the creator, aspects you like, aspects you don’t like and your recommendation. Complete your review with a call to action.

How-To and Tutorials

A how-to guide is one of the most popular content types, especially in niches that are specialized or technical. With their long introductions, they also offer long-tail search potential.

To plan a how-to guide, you need to identify a problem that’s common in the industry, then draft a post that provides a solution. There’s no limit to the possibilities for a how-to guide, especially for certain industries.

Keep in mind that detailed explanations, diagrams, pictures and videos are all helpful in getting your message across and helping your audience better understand your guide.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Now that you have all these ideas for new and interesting content types, remember that you don’t need to try all of them. Not every type of content is suited to every brand, so if you don’t think that a certain type of content works well for your contractor business, don’t worry about including it.

Still, don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Sometimes business owners will avoid different content types because they don’t know where to begin, they think it will take too long to create or they’re afraid to fail. Many tools are out there to help beginners create all types of content, so take a chance on something new and see how it performs.

Also, once you start learning how to create different types of content, don’t go crazy including something new every day. You’ll likely burn out and exhaust your ideas. Try a few new things each month to see how they perform, then commit to including the successful ones into your content calendar on a regular basis.

There are plenty of effective content types for you to choose from, and the more content you use, the more compelling your marketing strategy becomes. Content must always speak to the audience, however, so no matter what content type you choose, craft a message that the audience will share, listen to and learn from.

 

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Sep 28

Starved for Content Ideas? Here’s How Original Research Can Keep You Blogging for Months

Content Marketing





Wondering how you’re going to keep your content calendar full for the rest of the year? Thousands of contractors struggle when it comes to coming up with content ideas, and a simple strategy can help them: conduct a study or survey.

Original research provides tons of benefits for businesses seeking content marketing performance gains. They can accompany the release of the study with a recap series, for instance. After that, they can dive in-depth into some of the findings for unique takes or insightful real-world applications of the data. At the same time, they can introduce their study to online outlets that get mega traffic with guest posts.

The beauty of conducting original research is that you don’t even have to do all of the content writing yourself! In addition to the content topic possibilities listed above, there’s also a good chance that someone might cite your data or share your report on their own blog. Well-performed research that answers important questions in your field can receive references and citations for months. You may even get quoted as an expert as a result of your own analysis!

The possibilities are practically endless, and they all start from a single research idea. Here’s how to get your own research project off the ground—and how to spin it into content gold for months to come.

Start With a Burning Research Question

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Research tells us something about the world we didn’t know yet. In other words, research answers a question through the data it gathers.

For that reason, all great studies have to start with a great research question. You can quantify something no one’s ever quantified before, such as the costs of never washing your car revealed through the corresponding damage to paint and mechanical components.

Or, you can give a more specific answer to a question that’s already been tackled. A lot of research involves bringing findings up to date, for example. You can also examine how a research question might be answered within a specific geographical location or within a specific demographic. Sure, you might know that a majority of Americans love hamburgers, but how do people in your hometown feel about grilled versus griddle-fired burgers? And would they take a bite out of a veggie burger if given the opportunity?

When devising a research question, keep in mind that it can’t just be something you find interesting. It should also satisfy a number of other criteria, such as:

  • Would my target audience find this interesting and informative?
  • Does my research align with my business goals or my unique brand story?
  • Will this research answer a question that hasn’t been covered yet?

With these criteria in mind, try to approach your research question from the perspective of the unique niche your contractor business occupies. The more parallels the research has with your brand personality and how you approach your business, the better.

Learn Research Best Practices

Research can be hard, especially when it comes time to compile your results! You want your data to tell a story somehow, but you can’t get to that story if your research structure is a mess.

Start by determining what sort of research you’ll conduct. It can be a:

  • Simple survey
  • In-depth survey that includes qualitative responses
  • Review of existing research that combines two or more “knowns” to explain an unknown
  • Manual data gathering from raw data sources
  • Field research with data gathering at the source of information

Those study types are listed roughly in order of complexity and effort required. But don’t underestimate how even the simplest of surveys can turn into a difficult process when you neglect to follow best practices!

First, approach your data in layers. The “layers” of your data refer to different qualities of that data.

For instance, suppose you wanted to conduct a study of the types of restaurants in your hometown. “Chain/franchise restaurants vs. independent restaurants” serves as one layer. “Quick service vs. sit down” can act as another layer. You can also organize the restaurants by location, such as “downtown vs. just off the interstate”.

All of these qualities provide details that can be used later in your analysis. You can make observations like “chain restaurants are more common along busy stretches of road except in downtown.” Or, you can be able to say that “the ratio of chain restaurants to independent businesses has shrunk 50 percent in the past year.” Findings like these tell a story, but you need your data to be organized first.

When conducting surveys, you can make this process easier by including a demographics portion in the beginning of the survey. You can then use this information to discover trends among responses, such as “twice as many business owners worry about energy prices compared to non-business owners.”

Come Up with a Hypothesis That Uses Research Layers to Answer Questions

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Research isn’t just about gathering data; it’s about using that data to prove or disprove assumptions called hypotheses.

Accordingly, you want to go ahead and come up with a few hypothesis ideas before you start assembling your data. Go ahead and predict your results based on your gut instincts or what you consider common knowledge. If your research aims to debunk a commonly believed fact, you can operate on the hypothesis that the fact will be wrong.

If you’re completely at a loss for hypotheses, you can predict that there will be no trends whatsoever among your data.

Use Your Hypotheses to Come Up With Pertinent Survey Questions or Data Sources

Your hypotheses guide your research in very concrete ways. If you’re conducting a survey, a hypothesis will help you determine questions to ask that can directly answer it.

For example, let’s say that your hypothesis is that “people are willing to spend more money at a local establishment compared to a franchise.” To prove or disprove that hypothesis, you can ask things like:

  • How often have you visited a franchise business in the past month?
  • On average, what do you spend within the following ranges: $5-$10, $10-$15, etc.
  • Do you try to support local businesses on purpose?
  • Which of the following reasons encourage you to support local businesses? I know the owner, I want the money to go back to the community, etc.

Assign Categories Early on Within Your Analysis

After gathering all the data you need, it’s time to process that data into something people can digest at a glance. One of the easiest ways to do so is to lump datasets into different categories.

Going back to the local vs. franchise question, maybe you think that people who have lived in the town all their lives are more likely to make a choice compared to newcomers. Or, maybe you think that people who make a certain amount in their yearly salary are more apt to make a certain decision?

Consider these assumptions as secondary hypotheses, and test them out as you compile your data. If your hypothesis is wrong, try approaching data from a new angle.

Of course, you should also leave yourself open to discovery! Sometimes just dropping data into bar graphs is enough to have findings jump out at you all on their own.

Use Your Findings to Brainstorm Different Uses for Your Study

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Completing your study is just the beginning of a new phase: publishing your results and using those results for related content.

Examples of ways to use your results include:

  • A summary press release
  • An in-depth report
  • Sharable infographics or slide shows
  • Blogs discussing specific trends you’ve seen
  • Editorial-style blogs combining your research findings with your own thoughts and other commentary
  • Promotional materials that use your findings to make a point
  • Guest posts presenting you as a subject authority where you get to assert your findings with data to back it up
  • E-books

Sort these ideas into priorities, including your “yeses,” “nos” and “maybes.” Then, work your way down the list!

With this method, you can keep chugging along with new content based off the same information for months. You can also always update your research later with a newer, more-current study.

In this way, original research is the gift that keeps on giving! It can help you make a name for yourself, drive engagement on your content, position you as a subject authority, and so much more. At the very least, you’ll never be lacking for new content ideas.

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Aug 10

How to Find a Content Writer Who Can Spin Your Blog Into Gold

Content Marketing





Writing’s really hard. Even people who do it for a living admit that. Not only do you have to know how to string together sentences that keep people’s attention, but you have to make some sort of blasted “point” out of the whole thing. It’s maddening!

All silliness aside, content writing and blog writing are really complex acts that can appear deceptively simple on the surface. Structure and rhetorical knowledge can help make your point clear, but you also need to be engaging. Add SEO best practices to the mix, and you have even more issues to deal with.

Getting it right takes either a lot of practice or a lot of time spent revising. Even a business owner who happens to be an excellent writer will need help making it all happen on a deadline.

So that’s when you turn to outside help. It can be a freelance writer or a content marketing agency, but the goal is to find a writer (or several) who can meet your guidelines and turn things in on time.

Locating a writer like that is exactly as hard as it sounds! Luckily, there are five tips you can use to make your search easier and ensure you find just the writer you’re looking for.

Always Request Samples and a Trial Draft

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You can find great writers you enjoy working with no matter where you turn as long as you follow one simple rule: check out their writing before you commit. That means requesting samples of their prior work. It also means paying them to write a first draft of what you need that you may or may not ever use.

That’s right: you’re likely going to have to invest in crummy writing to find your diamond in the rough. Ideally, you’re paying several writers at the same time to write the same prompt or a similar one, so you can compare the talents of each person.

While it may seem like money down the drain to receive samples you won’t ever use, it’s better than the alternative of hiring a writer for a multi-blog project only to find out they aren’t a good fit.

Also, be very specific about the types of samples you request. You may wish to see live, published blogs, since these prove that a writer’s work actually gets used. Be warned, though: many freelancers are also ghost writers. You are either going to have to take their word for it that a sample with someone else’s byline is their work, or you will have to go through the effort of contacting the client and hoping they will reveal who wrote their blogs.

If someone sends you samples that you like but that don’t quite hit the mark, ask for more work! Far too many bloggers get passed up not because their samples weren’t good, but simply because they couldn’t read the mind of the job offerer as to what they were looking for.

Avoid Typical Job Listing Sites Since You Get What You Pay For

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In the business world, quality and convenience don’t typically mix. If you want to find a patio chair at the same place you buy your kids’ breakfast cereal, you are going to have to lower your standards on how long that chair will last.

Similarly, if you go to the absolute first place you think of when looking to find your content writer, you’re going to end up with low quality.

The biggest problem? Labor pools from non-native English speakers. They may charge just a few cents a word, but their end product will likely be riddled with broken grammar and be all but incomprehensible. Since Google specifically recommends that you use proper spelling and grammar, having an unreadable blog likely works against your SEO and branding goals.

So as a rule, skip Craigslist, Monster and Indeed unless you really don’t know where else to turn. Definitely don’t just Google “content writer” and hire a person or company that ranks first. You want to know that you can get a decent level of quality, and sifting through the bargain bin is not a good place to find it.

Hunt Down Content Writers in the Spaces Where the Pros Lurk

Some of you are going to be frustrated by the above tip. “If I can’t just look for a content writer on Monster or Craigslist, where should I go?”

Well, our vocal and hypothetical friend, there are several specialty project-related websites where you can find freelancers:

  • ProBloggerProBlogger is dedicated to writers and editors, and it also has an amazing community of professionals. Posting your listing costs money, but you’re highly likely to get responses from mid- to high-level talent.
  • WriterAccess—WriterAccess straddles the line between full-service referral agencies we’ll mention below and simpler job listing sites. The site does a handy job of organizing writers by experience and quality, however, and you do get a personal account manager in the upper tiers.
  • Contently—Contently acts as a broker to find you the perfect writing talent or team for your project needs. Yes, that’s as expensive as it sounds, which is why the platform is mainly aimed at enterprises with larger content budgets.
  • Upwork—The world’s largest freelancer platform happens to be quite picky about letting job-takers aboard. That means you have access to a higher caliber of writers. Note that Upwork also allows agencies to apply to your project offers by default.
  • Guru—Guru is far less choosy about who it lets on its platform, so you will end up with applicants that may not have the firmest grasp of English. Nevertheless, the platform makes a name for itself by having an integrated project management and payment system.

There are dozens—if not hundreds—of other websites like these where you can post project listings and track down decent writers. These are just the top ones you might want to consider during your hunt.

However, you definitely don’t want to overlook your best option: getting referrals.

Ask Fellow Professionals for Referrals

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Referrals are always your best source of freelance writer leads for a few reasons.

First, the best writers out there aren’t actively posting on or looking through job boards. They’re hard at work, hammering out content for their clients. But they may be persuaded to take on a larger workload if the details and the price are right.

Secondly, you can get personal testimonials from people you know and trust. Someone who can appear like a perfect fit online could turn out to be awful with deadlines or bad at following instructions.

Since not every business engages in content marketing, start by asking people whether they have a regular SEO or blogging contract. If the answer is “yes,” follow up by seeing what agency or writer they work with.

If their answer is “no,” then you may have to do some probing. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend, though. Not every company works with content writers, but those who do will likely have strong opinions about who to recommend or avoid.

Track Down Popular Writers from Their Online Work

If you have the budget for working with a top-caliber freelancer, then the place you should start your search is on publication sites rather than a job board.

Start by taking a second to look back at enjoyable industry niche articles you’ve shared or read recently. Keep an eye out for pieces that get a high level of shares and don’t have controversial pushback from commenters. Then, simply find the writer’s byline.

Make a list of several authors using this method. Research to see if they have their own personal website and whether they are accepting freelance contracts. If they are looking for work, reach out to them with a “pitch” for your project needs. Preferably, this pitch includes an offer, details on the level of depth the work will require and a rough timeline for everything to be completed.

Since making a name for yourself as a professional writer these days is tough, expect some sticker shock if they reply! But if quality is really what you’re after, you can likely find a way to work long-term with someone whose reputation and published work you admire.

Work With a Reputable Content Marketing and SEO Agency

All of the tips above pertain to finding an individual, but you also have the option of hiring a content marketing agency to satisfy your SEO needs.

The same rules above apply: pay for samples, avoid bargain bin job listings and look for referrals. But your search should be easier, considering marketing agencies often do a decent job at marketing themselves!

Plus, you can work with several writers at once and have the security of a guaranteed contract. That means you aren’t left hanging if your writer leaves the project; you can simply work with someone else in the agency. You also have access to scale, meaning you can get a higher volume of projects accomplished at once that would normally take a single writer weeks.

In the end, the search for your content writer is all about finding a good fit and knowing where to look. If you fail at first, don’t get frustrated! There are tens of thousands of writers out there who can do good work but don’t have enough of it right now.

Good luck!

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