With all the pressure to ramp up content marketing, technology firms are rapidly finding it necessary to hire a dedicated content writer – either in-house, freelance or via an external content writing service. Today there are zillions (at least) people calling themselves writers and more than a few technology marketers have found themselves burned by hiring the wrong person. This article will help you avoid that.

I’ve put together a list of questions to weed out the inappropriate candidates and zero in on the best writer(s) for you. To get the most benefit from this list, make sure the writer you are considering passes each question before you move on to the next one.


#1. Can the writer write?

I know what you’re thinking. “Well of course the writer must be able to write. Duh.” But, although many people claim to be “writers”, not so many are actually good at it. Don’t be too distracted to ask for samples. Also ask if the content writer has journalism, writing or copywriting training. Contrary to what some business owners believe, there is more to great writing than just throwing words onto a page. Some writers are born with a gift for it, but there is much to be learned (which is a subject for a different article). Good writers study their craft.

#2. What kind of writing is the writer good at?

There are many different types of writing, each with its own techniques and objectives. Writing fiction, for example, is very different from writing poetry; both of which are very different from writing technology marketing content that will help you sell more products. You’re looking for copywriting and / or journalism expertise.

#3. Is the content writer a native North American English speaker?

I realize I’m opening myself up for criticism on this one, but I’m making the assumption that North America is your major market. Although I’m not saying non-native North American writers can’t ever generate good content, your chances of getting great content are much better with a writer who was born and raised with the language. Sorry. It’s just true. I’ve been hired to “Americanize” copy too often to believe otherwise.

#4. Does the writer have experience writing about technology?

Many good writers will tell you they can write about anything, which is true to a certain extent. But a writer without technology writing experience will be at a great disadvantage, having much to learn about not only your product or service but also about the complex, multi-stage, multi-person technology buying process. That takes time – your time, or the time of someone who can educate this person. At the very minimum you’ll want to insist on business-to-business writing experience. But I encourage you to look for a good writer with technology experience. We’re out there.

#5. What does the writer or content writing service charge?

Now that you’ve found someone who understands your industry and can actually write, you’re ready to discuss cost. I put this question last on the list because without passing the previous questions, it doesn’t matter what they charge; and I don’t want you to get distracted by low cost content farms. Good technology writers do not charge a penny a word. They charge more because their content and the contribution it makes to your marketing and sales efforts is of far greater value.

Here’s why I wrote this article.

This article was inspired by a brilliant CEO acquaintance of mine who hired a writer to create a white paper. He hired her because one of his employees knew her. But her expertise was in writing about fashion. The effort failed. (Of course it did. I would be no better at writing about fashion than the fashion writer was at writing about technology.) It cost him time and money, and he still doesn’t have a white paper because now he believes he’s the only one who can write it – and he doesn’t have time. He’s too busy building and running a company. Meanwhile, the sales people are struggling because they don’t have the tools they need to interest and educate buyers.

If that’s a situation you’d like to avoid, I hope you’ll use this list.

In an upcoming article I’ll list questions your content writer should ask you. That’s another way to ensure you get effective content.