My dad, a self-taught carpenter, Eagle Scout and all-around, old-fashioned good guy, once told me, “Always use the right tool.” He was referring to woodworking, of course. Don’t grab an ice pick when you need an awl. Don’t use a standard-head screwdriver on a Phillips-head screw. It makes a mess, slows you down and wastes valuable materials. Hardwood isn’t cheap. Take a minute and find the right tool before you touch it.
Well, the same is true in the world of marketing. Freelance writers bring a fistful of invaluable tools to your marketing tool chest, but you need to know just what those are, and, even more importantly, what they aren’t. When deciding if your writer’s tools are the right ones for the problem at hand, pinpoint exactly what she can do, and what she can’t.
Your freelance writer is not…
- A web designer – While your writer can—and should—provide high-quality content, SEO word-placement advice, and even topic ideas for your blog, she is not a web designer. If your website is still in the construction stage, hire a professional developer. If money is tight, you can even design your site yourself using a template. Once your site has a good, solid structure, your writer can flesh it out with intriguing, shareable, can’t-wait-for-the-next-installment content.
- A (fill-in-the-blank) expert – While the idea of having a world-renown chef give cooking tips on your site or an Indianapolis 500 driver describe your auto parts sounds mind blowing, it’s not likely these people will be in the content writing business. Most freelance writers pride themselves on their versatility, however. Given time to research, they can write accurate content on almost any subject.
- A photographer – A web page without photos is like mashed potatoes without gravy: dry. Freelance writers, however, aren’t photographers. If your marketing budget can stretch that far, commission original photos for your site. If not, there are many places to obtain low or no-cost stock images for your pages, including iStock and Wikimedia Commons.
Your freelance writer is…
- A word smith – We’ve all heard the phrase, “Content is King.” It means that without intriguing, readable content, web visitors have no reason to come to your site, let alone stay. Here’s where your writer really shines. She can craft the readable, changing, up-to-date content that web surfers crave.
- A grammar Nazi – For most of us, English class comes in right up there with Phys Ed showers as least-favorite high school memory. Not so for your writer. She loves those silly i-before-e rules and can tell you just what FANBOYS are and why they matter. Let her do it. Don’t let the professional sheen of your site be tarnished by sloppy writing.
- A researcher – Above all else, your writer is an accomplished researcher. She has a keen sense of which subjects she knows well and which require further investigation. From there, she will seek out factual, verifiable information to support her findings. The end product? Quality content.
Kate C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.