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How To Find Good Writers and Help Them Craft Great Content [Checklist]

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How To Find Good Writers and Help Them Craft Great Content [Checklist]

Updated June 16, 2022

When you finish this article, you will leave entirely and utterly convinced.

That’s every writer’s hope, right? Yet, a great deal of writing fails to convince anyone of anything because it’s poorly written, and that carries a tremendous cost.

Some rather dated studies put that cost around $400 billion. I imagine that number has only increased in recent years.

Why are marketers paying so much and wasting a lot of people’s time? Well, you may not have the right writer. Or you may be feeding the right writer garbage. Or perhaps it’s both.

Writers emit boring, derivative #content for two reasons: They aren’t the right writer, or they were fed garbage, says @cgillespie317 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Finding the right writer

As the editor-in-chief at the writing and design studio Fenwick, I’m both a writer and an employer of writers. After six years of helping clients set up content operations, I am certain the responsibility for great writing lies with you, their employer. Many a promising writer was fired not because they lacked skill but because they were not provided the necessary materials to execute well. In some cases, they were assigned the wrong project.

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The responsibility for great #writing lies with the employer, says @cgillespie317 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Finding any suitable writer can be a slog. Almost every organization I talk to is in some phase of looking for a new or additional one, but the marketers have a difficult time finding prospects or gauging their skills.

Of the writers you’re likely to encounter, most will fall into three groups:

  • Journalists– Trained to be precise, journalists are supposed to adhere to a code of ethics and be objective. This makes them excellent fact-checkers and concise writers, but they often abhor self-promotion and find the principles of marketing foreign. Writing content for marketing takes some adjustment.
  • Copywriters– These are writers raised in the marketing world. They’re often bloggers. They understand web writingheadlinesSEO, and marketing and intuitively grasp what the business wants to accomplish. They have domain knowledge. But they sometimes lack the fact-checking, storytelling, and literary finesse of journalists.
  • Creative writers– This category encapsulates people who write as an art and freelance for brands to merely fund their passion. They are screenwriters, comedians, essayists, playwrights, and novelists. I’ve never found one who cut it as a content writer. That’s not to say they can’t be found, but they are rare.

In my experience, you’re best off hiring a copywriter or journalist and teaching them about your industry. They already understand working under a deadline and anticipating readers’ questions. And they tend to know how to kill their darlings.

Your best #content bet? Hire a skilled writer and teach the domain knowledge they lack, says @cgillespie317 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

To refine your list, consider the trade-off between writing proficiency and subject expertise. These factors don’t have to be at odds, but they often are. Most writers either excel at their craft but know little about the topic, or they are middling writers well versed in the industry.

Which is better? That depends on how you plan to support them. If you can’t devote much time to rewriting, give more weight to writing proficiency. It’s probably better to have content that’s enjoyable and shared than dense and ignored. And you can always pair the writer with subject matter experts for interviews and gut checks, a la, “Hey, does this sound right?”

This chart reflects that concept as the y-axis indicates writing proficiency and the x-axis is about subject matter expertise. Someone who is highly proficient with lesser expertise will create content people will read but not find very useful, while someone who is an expert but not a proficient writer will create useful content, but people won’t want to read it.

But if your content topics are highly technical or emotional in nature, it can be better to select a subject expert. Real expertise is tough to fake. Writers for an analytics software firm, for example, will struggle if they aren’t familiar with concepts like regression analysis.

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Or if your organization markets to a tight-knit audience whose members share a common experience, such as sales leaders, an inexpert writer will quickly expose themselves. They’ll spend a lot of time writing about basic topics that beg questions nobody is asking, like “What’s the difference between sales and marketing?” Industry insiders quickly sense an impostor.

Where can you look for writers? Consider these four places:

  • Referrals and word of mouth: Of all the options, referrals net the best results. As a rule, the best writers rarely look for work. They’re inundated with clients starving for their rare mixture of writing proficiency and industry expertise. The easiest way to find them is to ask around. You know you’ve found a quality one when they flip the interview around and ask you questions, are weirdly limited to one niche, and are already booked solid for the next few months.
  • Content marketing platforms: Content marketplace platforms are pricier than other alternatives but potentially worth the cost. Platforms like Contently and Skyword curate their pool of writers and sometimes provide an editor (often a former news editor) who ensures top quality.
  • Writer job boards: These forums connect writers and employers and include ProbloggerFreelance Writers DenFreelancers Union, Craigslist, or LinkedIn groups. Because they’re often lightly moderated, the quality of applicants varies widely. And because most boards cover all industries, it is difficult to find domain experts.
  • Freelancing platforms: Sites like UpworkFiverr, and Freelancer.com promise to make matchmaking easier with automation. You can view the writers’ profiles, client reviews, and past work. But, with millions of freelancers, it takes a lot of dredging to find a fit.

To evaluate candidates, simply looking at their past work won’t do. According to Brad Hamilton, editor-in-chief of the investigative journalism nonprofit The Hatch Institute, “You can’t tell how good someone is based on something they’ve published – you never know, they might have had a fantastic editor.”

If you really want to save time in your evaluation, schedule a call and have them walk you through their samples to tell you how they got the story. Their ability or inability to explain will tell you a lot about what would come from them.

Finding the correct writer takes time. It is work. But unless you’re happy to spend money on content nobody will read, it’s worth it. Once you’re certain you have that writer, it’s your job to give them something worth writing about.

Once you’re certain you have that #writer, it’s your job to give them something worth writing about, says @cgillespie317 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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Supply your writer with substance

The first rule of content writing is GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t supply your writer with substantive, thought-provoking material, they’re unlikely to invent it. It’s like casting a great actor in a movie with a rotten script.

The first rule of #content writing is GIGO – garbage in, garbage out, says @cgillespie317 via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

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I’ve talked with many marketers who have content created because, well, everyone else is. They think it’s simply a matter of filling a bucket with words. Sometimes they begin the conversation, “Will you need anything from me?” To a skilled writer, that’s a deeply worrisome thing to hear. It’s on you, the marketer, to understand your audience and what the content is supposed to achieve – and offer that as a foundation to the writer.

What can you give your writer to improve their writing?

6-step checklist to help your writers be better

  • Buyer persona research: The more your writer can get inside your customer’s head, the more precise the writing will be. Personas based on real people, not composites, are best, and they should include first-person quotes.
  • Access to your team: Most writers do better work when they feel included. Invite them to the office or to a virtual gathering to meet your team and set up ongoing opportunities for them to communicate with the team.
  • Access to your customers: For all writers, the well of ideas eventually runs dry. Give them ways to get reinvigorated, such as interviewing It breaks them out of their pattern and gives you a never-ending fountain of fresh, authentic stories.
  • Data: Content marketing writers rarely see data on how their content’s performance. Sure, they might see the number of shares, but they don’t get to track their engagement from piece to piece or A/B test headlines. Subscribe them to performance reports in your marketing system or Google Analytics.
  • Feedback: Most writers never get more feedback than “thanks.” If they don’t know how they did, they can’t grow. Always track and share edits. Even better, build a style guide together. It’ll save you both a lot of time.
  • Structure: If every deadline feels like an emergency, your content quality “I’ve never regretted waiting until the next day to publish,” says Caroline Vella, freelance content writer and editor. “I can’t say the same about rushing work through. Sleeping on it not only saves you from mistakes, but it also brings a fresh perspective.”

To provide structure to your writers, consider a project management tool like Notion (my personal favorite), Asana, or Airtable. Oh, and invest in a written content marketing strategy.

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Stay involved throughout the writing process

It’s been a journey, so let’s recap. Have a writer? Have research? Have data? Have structure? Great. You’re halfway to effective writing. The next step? Remain heavily involved in the creation process if you want results.

Marketers I meet frequently want writers who run the content operation on their own. But it’ll be much more fruitful if you play the role of editor. It’s one thing to be creative and invent; it’s another to provide constructive criticism and play devil’s advocate. Rarely can one person do both, which means it takes a team of at least two.

If you entrust writers with the responsibility to do it all, you may develop a case of what the eminent psychologist and author of the book Influence Robert Cialdini calls the tapping problem.

In his test, one person thinks of a song in their head and taps out the tune on the table. The other person guesses the song’s name. Try this with a colleague. You’ll find the tapper is invariably frustrated with the guesser because they think the answer is beyond obvious. But it’s only obvious because they already hear the tune in their head.

Marketers who don’t offer clear briefs with suggested outcomes, quotes, links, and statistics to their writers are like Cialdini’s tappers. They shouldn’t be surprised when their writers create something different than what they had in mind.

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Behind all great content is a great writer supplied with material

Great content doesn’t happen by accident. Neither does great writing. If you want to savor the fruits of content marketing, you must invest in finding and training the writers who ultimately determine its worth. For their part, writers need to see content creation as a partnership in which they receive substantive information to build from and feedback to improve.

When marketers are paired with the correct writers, magic happens. And that’s when you truly get high-performing content like this article, which hopefully leaves you convinced.

Please note: All tools mentioned are identified by the author. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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MARKETING

8 Effective Ways to Ensure Ecommerce Business Success

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8 Effective Ways to Ensure Ecommerce Business Success

It is a known fact that the global consumers are favoring ecommerce, and the reasons for ecommerce business success are many. 

According to a Statista forecast, the retail ecommerce revenue in the US is expected to cross 1.3 trillion dollars by the end of 2025.

Image via Statista

While brick-and-mortar stores are gradually losing their dominance, the digital marketplace is blazing. More and more ecommerce brands, big and small, are coming up and gaining a foothold in this ever-expanding landscape.

If you are one such ecommerce business striving to taste success, you know how demanding and competitive things can be. And you only beat the fierce competition with aggressive ecommerce marketing strategies like digital advertising, content marketing, social media marketing, etc.

In this post, I will be sharing 8 key factors you need to focus on to ensure your ecommerce business success and sustainable business growth. 

Let’s get started.

8 Key Factors for Ecommerce Business Success in 2022

The future of ecommerce is bright and the small businesses that jump on the bandwagon early will reap great benefits. But what does it take to taste this success? 

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Here are the 8 key success factors for ecommerce businesses.

1. Target a Niche Audience 

The secret to ecommerce business success lies in understanding your target audience and focusing all your efforts on engaging them. Instead of trying to attract a broad audience on the search engines, select a niche audience specific to your small business, understand their pain points and interests, and position your brand to meet their needs. An SEO tool like Semrush or Ahrefs can help you with your research to build a strong marketing strategy based on real insights.

The goal is to make your product unique and market it to a relevant audience that is more likely to make a purchase. This strategy can increase customer loyalty and win repeat customers for your small business. Therein lies the secret to your ecommerce business success. 

2. Go Mobile-First 

The pandemic has accelerated our shift to ecommerce and given rise to m-commerce. Insider Intelligence estimates that by 2025, m-commerce sales will account for 44.2% of total ecommerce sales in the US.

So it’s clear that the success of your ecommerce business relies on the mobile-friendliness of your site. Having a mobile-friendly online store can help you deliver a seamless online shopping experience to customers on the go.

You can begin by running Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and building a progressive web application (PWA) for your online store. A responsive design for your website will help boost sales and pave the way for your ecommerce business success.

3. Choose the Right Distribution Channels 

Your audiences are active on different channels and if want your products to be visible to them, you need to choose the right distribution channels. 

If your business model focuses solely on your ecommerce website, you should broaden your perspective and consider other sales channels. There are several other options to sell your products like Amazon, eBay, social media, affiliate marketing, and so on. You can manage your sales process effectively with the help of sales CRM tools. These tools integrate your different sales channels and makes your sales process more efficient.

Conduct extensive research to figure out which of these channels are preferred by your target customers. Showcase your products in an attractive way to boost your ecommerce sales. This digital marketing strategy can contribute to your ecommerce business success.

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4. Create Unique Content

You heard that right. To ensure that your ecommerce brand stands out in the crowd, you should invest in high-quality and diverse content. 

Today internet users are flooded with content and to grab their attention you need to think out of the box and create content marketing strategies that truly grab their attention. Remember, video content is ruling the landscape delivering great results. You can use Premiere Pro Presets to create unique and impressive videos and stay ahead of the competition.

Gather insights from customer data analysis, see what your competitors are doing, and learn from your previous digital marketing campaigns to create a more targeted content marketing strategy for your small business. 

5. Continually Update Your Email Marketing List 

Marketers rely on email marketing to achieve diverse marketing goals. Emails can be used to generate leads, nurture them, build relationships with customers, ensure customer satisfaction and boost ecommerce sales.

But to leverage the power of email marketing, you need to be smart about your email lists and use the right email tools to manage them. There’s no point in sending a thousand emails when only a couple of hundreds of recipients are your target audience. 

That’s why segmenting your email lists and keeping them updated is crucial to your ecommerce business success. An effective way to manage your email lists is to ask for the recipients’ feedback on your emails and the information they prefer to receive.

By analyzing the responses, you can make more strategic decisions and ensure the success of your ecommerce business.

6. Deliver a Great Shopping Experience 

The expectation of customers in terms of customer experience has skyrocketed and that’s why you need to work towards improving customer satisfaction.

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Personalized communication could be one of the biggest game-changers, be it in recommending products, reminding them of abandoned carts, or introducing them to your latest offerings. Creating user story maps can go a long way in making your personalization efforts more effective.

Right from the moment customers land on your page to when they make a purchase, you should strive to create a smooth customer experience. You can also consider incorporating an AI-powered chatbot into your website to take your customer service to the next level.

To make your customers happy, offer them special deals and discounts. Such moves will surely boost your ecommerce business success.

7. Invest in Social Media Marketing

Social media, can be immensely effective in creating brand awareness, extending customer service, and generating leads for your ecommerce business. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are all marketers’ favorites to reach out to niche audiences and drive traffic for their sites.

Having said that, it is a crowded market, and winning big on social media isn’t easy. As an ecommerce brand, you need to use social media analytics to create digital marketing campaigns that not only generate engagement but also fill your sales funnel with quality leads.

Ecommerce brands should also leverage social selling as it is growing into a prominent trend. This shoppable post by Macy’s allows its Facebook followers to buy what they like instantly. 

Image via Facebook

If invested strategically, selling on social media can act as a profitable sales channel for your business. 

8. Leverage Ecommerce Tools

Your team need not struggle to ensure the success of your ecommerce business. A variety of advanced ecommerce tools are at your disposal to optimize your efforts. 

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Some of the must-use tools for you are: 

  • Website tools – to design, set up, and manage your ecommerce site
  • Ecommerce marketing tools – to help strategize and execute your campaigns with ease 
  • Competitor analysis tools – to understand the gaps in your planning and improve it
  • Analytics tools – to help you gauge the performance of your digital marketing campaigns
  • Business tools – to help you manage daily operations, finances, logistics, inventory, and customer service 

Choose the ones that can boost the success of your ecommerce business. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a list of 8 key factors you need to work on to ensure the success of your ecommerce business. Gaining this success is hard work but it is worth it. 

If you want to fuel your business growth, I strongly recommend building your ecommerce marketing strategy to enhance customer experience and build your brand identity. Go ahead and give them a try to beat the competition and establish a successful ecommerce business.


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