In my previous blog, I discussed the importance of looking beyond a price tag to find the writing — and writer — that can help you get things done. Without further ado, here are eight things to look for in the next writer you hire.
The right writer is more than a writer
Sad as it is, anyone can go online and buy a degree in pretty much any field these days (if they even bother making that effort). I knew people in the traditional college setting who majored in creative writing because they thought it was “easy.” It may not be enough that the writer you have in mind allegedly has training and a background in writing. Although that should be the bare minimum you look for, there are some other key qualities to pay attention to.
So, what else is a good writer?
1) A seasoned vet. Look for someone who’s been doing this for a while; that usually means they not only have the experience under their belts but also actually enjoy and are passionate about it. Finding someone who’s written for a variety of companies and circumstances is ideal because they’ll better know how to tailor according to different audiences and needs.
Next, read that person’s work samples. Do you like what you see? Is it holding your attention or boring you to death? What the writer has produced before is a good indicator of what’s to come for you if you hire him or her, so make sure you actually enjoy the writing, first and foremost.
2) A wordsmith. Although it may be hard for you to tell if a writer is technically skilled if you aren’t a writer yourself, if you’re reading the person’s work samples and finding errors, that’s not a good sign. A wordsmith will care about all the details, creative and technical.
3) A content machine. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is definitely applicable to writers. What good is it if your writer is brilliant but misses every other deadline? You need someone productive, and a good writer will be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines consistently — with quality product to show for it.
4) An idea generator. All good writing starts with good ideas, so good writers are also good brainstormers. If you have to feed a writer ideas in a subject they’re familiar with or you’ve already trained them in, you’re dealing with the wrong writer.
5) A people person at heart. I’m not saying your writer has to be a social butterfly. Heck, your writer could be a reclusive shut-in, for all I care. However, a good writer will be able to get inside the heads of others no matter how social or antisocial he or she is and knows that this kind of empathy is essential to good marketing and good writing.
6) A discretionista. Just as important as knowing what people need and want to hear is knowing what they don’t or shouldn’t. A good writer has sound judgment and is diplomatic and reserved when the situation calls for it — and can judge for himself or herself when the situation calls for it.
7) A survivalist. A good writer uses reference tools but will still be able to work even when the Internet is down and the library is closed. Resourceful and imaginative, he or she can look around a room and find all the inspiration needed to get a basic draft going.
8) A professional. Like any other expert — for example, a doctor or lawyer — a good writer should know more than you about writing. He or she should be reliable, respectful, and honest. Most importantly, a good writer never plagiarizes (i.e., copies and claims another’s work as his or her own)!
Just like any other service you might seek, obtaining quality writing demands your due diligence and a focus on what really matters to you. Looking beyond a writer’s price tag at these attributes should help you get what you’re really looking for out of the content produced on your behalf.