What to Look for and Avoid When Hiring a Content Writer

Content is really the driving force behind most forms of marketing tactics including SEO, social media, and email marketing. It also is what leads to high converting web pages and helps define your brand. Content that answers the questions your audience is asking in their minds (or out loud). Content that informs and educates, so the audience feels that their time reading it was well spent. Content that tells a story, exudes candor and authenticity, and is ultimately captivating. However, the thought of constantly creating high quality content can be daunting to many business owners and even marketing departments who are pressed for time, or even experiencing writer’s block. And hiring a full time staff-writer often isn’t practical. Luckily, there are some great freelance writers that can help fill or supplement your ongoing need for great content. But how do you find a great content writer who can match the tone of your brand and deliver thought-leadership level quality pieces?

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I was recently interviewed by marketing software comparison company Software Advice on the topic of “How to Hire the Right Freelance Writers for Content Marketing.” This piece goes into great detail about what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to hiring a content writer and is worth reading in full. However, I’ll summarize a few key takeaways:

What to Look For

Find writers who have some familiarity with the subject matter, or who have experience writing at a high level on a variety of subjects. My tip was that if you’re on a tight budget or pressed for time, it helps to find someone who has at least some familiarity with the industry or concept. If you need content on topics that appeals to teenage girls, even a highly capable writer might find it difficult to accurately fit the tone and write authoritatively on the subject if they only have experience writing government policy pieces. Ideally, the content writer should be adaptable and able to cover a variety of topics in a persuasive and compelling way, so that you don’t have to look for different writers when you have new topics to cover. A great content writer should also understand the fundamental marketing and business concepts behind content marketing. They should have a strong grasp of how content is distributed and consumed online, how to craft engaging titles and copy and how to align the content with your specific business goals.

Red Flags

There are some telltale signs that you don’t have the right fit as well. A red flag is when there are spelling or grammatical mistakes in direct correspondence, or if they can’t put together a coherent thought. Additionally, like when hiring any freelancer, they should be highly responsive. If you have an ongoing need for content, you don’t want to be constantly chasing after your content writer as your brand suffers. And lastly, I discussed how it’s important to ensure they are not plagiarizing any of the content using simple tools like Google or Copyscape. While it’s perfectly acceptable and recommended to conduct research and reference facts and sources, it’s not acceptable to copy entire thoughts or sections verbatim from another article without attribution. If discovered, this not only damages your brand and credibility, but Google doesn’t give you any love for doing it, either. 

Getting Started

Whether you’ve selected a content writer or are still deciding between a few candidates, provide a couple options that can serve as test articles to do a final evaluation of their performance before committing to a longer term engagement. It’s important to communicate with your content writer because you know your business and the tone of your brand better than anyone. So don’t just hand them a topic and ask them to start writing. Clearly articulate the style and purpose so that the writer can understand the context and your expectations.

With content playing such an important role in your overall marketing strategy, finding a capable freelance content writer to support your efforts will allow you to increase engagement with your customers and potential customers, help define and elevate the authority of your brand, and ultimately should help you grow your business.

 

 

How to Set Up Google Analytics Goal Tracking

I’ve often written about the critical importance of goal tracking as it pertains to measuring and optimizing your website conversion rate. A goal is whatever action you are trying to get the website visitor to take on a page, I.E. submit a form, click a link, complete a purchase, or even stay on a page for a certain amount of time. By setting goals for your site and measuring them in Google Analytics, you can establish a baseline to iterate against, as well as measure the effectiveness of each source of traffic in achieving those goals. So you can gain insight into how your organic search traffic performs compared to your paid search, or how each email or social media post contributes to your goals. You can get very granular in how you segment this data and better understand where to focus your efforts.

So how do you actually set up Google Analytics goal tracking for your site?

To start:

  1. Go to Google Analytics
  2. Click on the “Admin” button in the top right
  3. Click on “Goals”
  4. From one of the Goal sets, click “+ Goal”

Then you have to decide what type of goal you want to measure. Google provides a few sample ideas of goals, but essentially they are just named variations of the 4 types:

 

Type

Description

Example

Destination

A specific location loads

Thank you for registering! web page or app screen (I.E. thanks.html)

Duration

Sessions that lasts a specific amount of time or longer

10 minutes of longer spent on a support site

Pages/Screens per session

A user views a specific number of pages or screens

5 pages or screens have been loaded

Event

An action defined as an Event is triggered

Social recommendation, video play, ad click, link click

 

Destination Goal

Google Analytics Destination Goal

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A destination goal is useful for tracking an objective that requires a specific page to load and one of the most commonly used types of goal tracking since it is often used for major activities like tracking leads generated or orders placed. .

Ex. If you would like to track the number of ‘contact us’ form fill-outs, you could use a URL destination goal to track the number of times the ‘thank you for contacting us’ page is loaded. Or if you’re tracking the number of orders placed, you can track the “order complete” page.

Funnel
Goal funnels allow you to see exactly how many people move through each step of the goal conversion process. For example, if your checkout process is split up into 3 pages (cart, shipping/payment details, and confirmation) you can add each of these URLs as steps in the  process. You will then be able to measure where visitors fall off once they start the process, if they do not complete it.

 

Duration Goal

A duration goal is used to track the amount of time that a user spends on your website.

Google Analytics Duration Goal

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Ex. If you would like to know when a user is engaged with your site and spends 3 minutes or more on your website, you could use a visit duration goal to track instances where this happens. If you have a customer support related site, perhaps you want to measure if visitors are easily finding what they need within 3 minutes of landing at your page. You can use duration goals to track this metric as well.

Pages per Visit Goal

The pages per visit goal is ideal for when you want to track a certain number of pageviews in a single visit.

Google Analytics Pages Goal

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Ex. If you would like to know when a user visits 5 pages or less in a single visit.

Similar to visit duration goals, instead of tracking how much time people spend on your site, this goal tracks the number of pages each visitor sees before they leave.

Event Goal

An event goal uses an event (clicking a link, playing a video, etc.) as the basis for a conversion

Google Analytics Event Goal

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Ex. An event goal is ideal for tracking conversions around objectives that require the user to take a specific action on the page.

Event goals are a little bit more complicated because you have to set up the events and you have to add a bit of JavaScript code to the element that you want to track. This tells Google Analytics when an event has occurred. For more details on how to do this, please refer to The Google Analytics Event Tracking Guide.

Goal Values

Wouldn’t you like to know how much money you make from organic search? Or the ROI of your individual marketing campaigns? Google Analytics Goals does a great job at telling you where customers came from but they don’t immediately calculate the value of that traffic.

Goal values allows you to define the worth for each of our goals and then cross references that data within your traffic reports so you can determine your sources of revenue. If you have an average value per lead or a single product website, it’s easy to plug in that amount as a goal conversion value. The exception is if you have a multi-product ecommerce retail site, there are dynamic ecommerce conversion and revenue tracking options that are much more suitable. I’ll explain those in a separate post. Remember to keep your goal values current based on your internal metrics.

By now it should be abundantly clear that goal tracking is essential to understanding how your website and marketing is performing. What goals are you tracking on your site? Tell me in the comments!