7 places you can still find an amazing B2B writer
Hey, does anyone here know a good writer?
As a marketer, finding a good writer can be one of the hardest things that we do.
Writing is a dying art, some say, and the confluence of media over-saturation and declining reading levels means that we as a society most certainly aren’t doing a whole heck of a lot to train-up the next generation of Austens or Faulkners.
Instead, our environment is inadvertently conditioning tomorrow’s professionals to be 140-character wizards. We prioritize brevity above all else and it’s given rise to a generation of people who excel at compacting a day’s worth of experiences into a single 6-second video (RIP Vine).
This all comes at an especially bad time because as writers are writing less, classical long-form B2B content (1,500-2,500 words in length) is becoming even more valuable than ever before.
Longer pieces outperform shorter content simply for the fact that they have more room to say what they need to say. More space means more keywords, and Google prioritizes effective coverage over flash-in-the-pan updates and news.
Yet, all hope is not lost - there are writers out there. Though they only make up less than one-tenth of a percent of the US labor force, what follow are some places where you can still find them.
To find your writer, you'll have to get creative. here’s where you should look:
1. Word of Mouth
This should be your first go-to as it’s typically the least amount of work and the best bang for your buck. (This also happens to be the best place for writers to find you too) Schedule several social media posts over the course of the next several weeks asking for people to tag freelance writers with the right credentials and use your entire company to get the message out. Compile a shortlist of folks that you think are the most likely to know one and email them each individually.
2. Freelancing Sites
This includes services like UpWork, Freelancer, and Fiverr. Marketers and freelancers alike generally have a dim view of these, and that’s fair: there’s a lot of junk to sift through. These sites have classically catered to companies outsourcing cheap labor internationally and you can find someone who will actually write your article for $1-2. What marketers learn very quickly however is that you absolutely get what you pay for and the output is more expensive to fix than it is to keep. That being said, we can attest that there are hidden gems sprinkled in there. If you dial-up your filters and search criteria up to the max, deal with only native English speakers, and show some patience, you can find some truly great writers looking for side work.
Here's an incomplete list of sites:
3. Writers Associations
Believe it or not, there are writers out there dying to be found, and they coalesce around writers associations who promise the potential for job postings and referrals. These can be both paid and unpaid, and they're fertile grounds for collaboration and mentorship, though from our exploration many of even the most promising sounding ones seem to fall into inactivity after a time. Perhaps this is because there are so many to choose from - a simple Google search reveals more than 9 million results, and the more niche you go, the more results you'll find, from location-based ones (New York is popular) to those specific to expertise and industry.
As an employer offering employment, you're a hot commodity, so don't expect the administrators or community to do much towards qualifying those leads before they pass them your way.
Here are a few that we looked at. Check them out, but hold on to your self-lacing Nikes there Marty - their web design will feel like traveling back in time:
- Association of Writers and Writers' Programs
- National Association of Independent Writers and Editors
- New York Financial Writers Association
- American Medical Writers Association
- Education Writers Association
Tangentially related to the freelancing sites, there's good ole' Craigslist. Pretty though it ain't, it's simple and effective and judging by the number of active posts seeking writers, there must be a decent flow of writers responding. At the time of writing, we haven't tried this route.
This is not your typical hiring venue but if you’re a startup or even mid-sized company, you’ll find a deep well of highly motivated talent looking for their next move here. We created a company profile and posted a job for a freelance writer and received 240+ applications at the time of posting. Culling through them is relatively easy, and we learned to skip anyone who didn’t provide a personalized message or links to their work.
If you really want to be choosey, create a form on your website for freelancers to fill out, and post it in the AngelList job description. It's all too easy for them to mark "interested" in the app, but the extra work of filling out a form on your site will both prove that they read the whole description and filter out those who are less serious.
6. Blog contributors
Do you follow any blogs that inspire you? Use LinkedIn to check if some of the authors on there are contributors who don’t actually work for that company. Oftentimes contributors are executives or marketers at other businesses but occasionally they'll also be freelancers looking to promote their writing and whom would welcome more work.
7. Find a Writing Agency
Many writers flock to small writing agencies (like Find a Way) because they’re looking for consistent work. Despite the general market’s dire need for writers, it’s a lot of effort for them to consistently string together enough gigs to be profitable. Being part of an agency relieves that stress, gives them mentorship, and provides them with access to industry-specific research and training. This also gives you the option to select among several pre-qualified writers to find the one that best matches your needs.
Is this list exhaustive? We should think not. If you have other ideas that we missed, we’d love to hear them! (We’ll return to update this frequently).
Selecting your own Steinbeck
Through these channels (and hopefully many more) you’re going to get a variety of responses which you’ll have to cull down to just a few candidates.
Now, we are never advocates of anyone working for free, especially writers, but in some instances it makes sense to request that they write a test article. In our experience, your first introductory call is rarely a good predictor of how the writing will turn out, especially if they need to do some research first. Make sure that the article is a real topic and something that you'd actually publish if completed to satisfaction.
Ask for a test article if:
- They can’t show highly relevant previous work
- They don’t have relevant experience in your industry
- You’re not confident that they can match your company’s voice
Here are some parameters that you should provide them for the article:
- Topic, e.g. “why are writers so hard to find?"
- Audience, e.g. “Chief Marketing Officers"
- Tone, e.g. “friendly and helpful"
- Length, e.g. "800-1,000 words"
- Title, e.g. “up to you"
- Key Points, e.g. “mention media over-saturation”
- Keywords, e.g. “freelance writer"
- Expected turnaround time, e.g. “48 hours"
From here, take your picks, and be choosey. Sometimes it takes time for a writer to get up to speed on your topic but if you're not thrilled, keep searching. When in doubt, prioritize good writing over industry expertise because after all, while you can teach them everything on Earth about your job, you really can't teach them about theirs.