With blogging such an important part of inbound marketing, many burgeoning inbound agencies are turning to freelance writers to manage their workload. With dozens of copywriters around, it can be a challenge to choose the right writer for the job. Thankfully, you don’t need a copywriter: you need an inbound writer. You need somebody who lives and breathes the inbound ethos, and this checklist is designed to help you find the perfect inbound writer!
Buyer Persona Knowledge
Everything starts with a buyer persona. Inbound marketing is a value exchange, trading your prospect’s time and attention for valuable resources, help and information. Your inbound writer needs to understand this, and be willing to apply it to their content. Everything they write has to be designed with the target audience firmly in mind; addressing their problems, concerns and pain points. Without buyer persona information, they can’t do that – so it’s crucial that they ask for your persona documents!
Inbound Funnel Awareness
Does your inbound writer understand how blogging fits into the ‘big picture’ of lead generation, nurturing and conversion?
Blog content sits firmly in the Awareness stage of the Inbound Funnel. Each additional blog post creating an extra path to your business: from search engines and social media direct to your website. That said, blogging can attract leads from all parts of the sales funnel – from those firmly in the research stage, through to ready-to-buy, sales-qualified leads. Smart inbound writers will understand this, and create helpful, problem-solving content for all parts of the sales funnel.
Every inbound writer worth their salt should have a solid understanding of SEO copywriting. There’s no secret search engine formula, and you need to beware of any writer who asks for a specific keyword density. Similarly, beware of writers that make no mention of search engine optimisation or keywords.
Active Social Media Presence
Social media is a powerhouse for targeted referrals and lead generation. It provides the impetus for your inbound marketing strategies (as Jay Baer says, ‘content is fire, social media is gasoline’), and it’s crucial that your inbound writer understands its importance. An active presence across a couple of relevant social media networks (think LinkedIn, G+ and Twitter) is a great indicator that they understand how to create and promote SM-friendly content.
Editorial Calendar Usage
I (along with most marketers I know) would be hopelessly lost without the humble editorial calendar. It’s an invaluable tool for planning, organising and communicating a marketing message – and your inbound copywriter should be comfortable with creating, editing and working from editorial calendars.
An active and well-targeted blog is another sign of a quality inbound writer. Spend some time browsing the writer’s site, and get to grips with their blog. If you can’t concisely define their target audience, and can’t spot the hallmarks of inbound blogging (strong social media engagement, targeted CTAs and purposeful, helpful content), your writer’s claim to inbound marketing is tenuous at best.
If your potential inbound writer doesn’t have a blog, alarm bells should be ringing. It’s likely that they either A. don’t understand the mechanisms of inbound marketing, or B. lack the skills and consistency to apply inbound principles to their own marketing efforts.
HubSpot Platform Familiarity
Whilst it isn’t necessary to know the HubSpot platform inside out, a working knowledge of its Content Management System (CMS) is hugely desirable. Many agencies are happy to publish content themselves – but if you’re looking to maximize your writer’s autonomy, and streamline the content creation process, it’s a great idea to provide your inbound writer with a HubSpot login. They can navigate around the CMS, uploading and tweaking content where appropriate. When it’s finished and formatted (complete with Smart CTAs!), they can save it as a draft for your team to review.
Passion for Inbound Writing
Inbound marketing is great marketing agencies, businesses and consumers alike. It promotes the creation and sharing of value; attracting people to products and services because of their inherent benefit. There’s no cloak-and-dagger tactics, and from my own personal experience, it’s fantastic to write with a super-clean conscience.
Whilst freelance writers are dime a dozen, professional inbound writers are a rarer breed. I’m a professional marketing copywriter, and I work with some of the UK’s brightest and best digital marketing agencies – with HubSpot partners amongst those ranks. I’m Inbound Certified, care of HubSpot Academy, and specialise in creating buyer persona-targeted content. I understand the inbound ethos, and I use it to create purposeful, effective content – with the flexibility of a freelance writer. If you’d like help with your inbound workload, get in touch!