We’ve written about content before, (actually more than once), and will certainly discuss it here again in the future. If you want your company to succeed online in the 21st century, then you’re going to need to produce lots of good content. And someone is going to have to write that good content. Needless to say, that someone should be a writer well-suited to the job. Just what qualities should that writer have? We’re glad you asked.
Ideally, your company’s chosen writer will satisfy the major requirements we spell out below.
- Your writer should love to write
Or at least like writing a whole lot. Ideally, we should all enjoy what we do every day. Although a person can still do outstanding work when that person isn’t particularly enamored of the vocation, (fueled by dedication and professionalism), isn’t it better for everyone if your writer actually loves to write? Writers who love to write relish the opportunity to connect with an audience using their words. Writers who love to write get a jolt of excitement from devising clever turns of phrase. And, most of all, writers who love to write are always striving to make their writing better.
- Your writer should excel at the craft of writing
Writing, like any other skilled occupation, calls for a craftsperson who knows how to do it well. Perhaps this goes without saying, more or less, but we still feel that we can’t stress it enough. Good content plays such a major part in the online prosperity of your business. It can determine whether or not your business lives or dies—figuratively, anyway. Would you board an aircraft with a pilot who doesn’t even know how to take off? Don’t park your company’s future in coach on a grounded plane.
- Your writer should believe that writing is important
We hope you can forgive our hyperbole when we say that writing is a calling. Whether or not you fully subscribe to that notion, your writer should take writing seriously and respect the power of the written word to inform, persuade, and inspire readers. When we use the word “seriously” though, we don’t mean “joyless.” Your writer can be as free and funny as your subject matter and audience will permit. The craftsmanship of a humor piece should be just as fine as that of a white paper or a homily.
- Your writer should have some life experience
This is not to say that young people are incapable of producing good, compelling content. Nor is it the case that any person off the street is a skilled writer just by virtue of having walked the earth for a certain number of years. It’s not that simple, of course. But experience helps. More time on earth means more time perfecting the arts of crafting an argument, describing an initiative, or understanding how other people think and see the world. If you want to converse with people through your writing, you should have some idea about how they think. From there, you can find them where they are and inspire them to follow your lead. Meeting people in the neighborhood helps a lot, though we gladly award bonus points to those who have cross-cultural experience earned by living abroad.
- Your writer should have a passion for research
Effective writing doesn’t just spring fully formed from the head of its creator. Good writing is informed by research. Chances are, your writer already uses Google extensively in other (non-writing-related) aspects of life, so harnessing that ability and applying it to blogging or content creation won’t be an enormous leap. Incorporating sources into any piece of writing is a necessary skill. And infusing your content with backlinks, as we’ve discussed before, is a great way to lend authority to your site.
- Your writer should still be able to communicate (when not writing)
No less a writer than Ernest Hemingway spoke about writing as a solitary pursuit, and who are we to argue with a Nobel laureate? But when it comes to blogging, for instance, the most successful posts are often the most engaging ones. And the posts that are the most engaging are usually the ones that are the most conversational in nature. You want your readers to feel as though you’re speaking directly to each of them. There’s a lot of value in being personable. We’re not saying that you should exclude the shy or the introverted from your writing rosters. (Where would we be without the bookish, after all?) But we are advocating for that subgroup of writers who also know how to paint pictures with their words in real time.
- Your writer should be willing to listen
But isn’t this true of any employee? Yes. Still, we maintain that this is especially true of anyone you have composing copy for your organization. Your company’s content should be a reflection of its personality. Your writer should be able to accurately represent that on the page. That doesn’t just mean following project directions (though that certainly helps). It also means picking up on the “company voice” and reproducing that in the form of promotional or informative content. Consistency is key here as well since, ideally, your company’s content will make your readers feel like they’re a part of a conversation. And why not be that old, trusted friend that people keep wanting to come back to?
- Your writer should be willing and able to take constructive criticism
We all get better at what we do through a reexamination of our own work, whatever it may be. Yet oftentimes it’s a beta reader who is able to provide the best guidance after objectively viewing our writing through fresh eyes. Every writer needs an editor. Every writer needs to revise. All writers benefit from the insights of others. Find yourself a writer who invites feedback and will use critical observations to continually improve, and you’ve got a long-term ally and advocate.
A great writer will bring the same qualities to the table that your company should expect from any other model employee: passion, expertise, dedication, experience, diligence, and personability. Your organization needs a distinctive and trustworthy online voice. If you can find a writer with these qualities who can also reliably speak your company’s language, add that person to your team and then watch your business thrive.