At this stage in the game, you know blogging is a crucial element to the success of your inbound marketing. But that doesn't mean you're doing it consistently like you know you should.
Why don't marketers and business owners find time to blog even when they know how important it is to meeting their marketing goals? Because blogging takes time you don't have; you don't fancy yourself a great writer; you can't think of good topics on a regular basis; or any of the other myriad reasons people don't blog when they know they should.
That's why more and more marketers are turning to hiring an employee dedicated solely to blogging in order to keep their blog fed with top-notch content on a consistent basis. The problem is, the job title "Blogger" is relatively new, and as such, it's hard to know what exactly you should be looking for when hiring someone to blog for you. Luckily, we've hired more than one blogger in our day. So we thought it would be helpful to share the qualities to look for when hiring a blogger for your company -- whether freelance, part time, contract, or full time.
Let's get the most obvious one out of the way. A blogger should obviously be a great writer, but blogging is very different than writing a book, a grant, or even marketing copy. Your blogger must excel at explaining complex concepts through short form content, and be clear and concise so your audience finds the content helpful. While applicants who excel in other forms of content creation may also be fantastic bloggers, those qualifications don't necessarily mean they can also blog.
Subject Matter and Industry Expertise
In order to provide relevant content for your audience, your blogger must be an expert on the subject matter about which he or she is writing; therefore, it's crucial to hire a blogger who is knowledgeable about your industry. Does your blogging candidate stay up to date on what your competitors are working on, what thought leaders are publishing, and what developments are happening in the news that they should be commenting on? During the interview process, ask them about what blogs, publications, and authors they read regularly. Then follow up with more detailed questions about which types of content they find most helpful from each source and why. This will give you insight into whether they are truly an active member in your industry's community and passionate about the subjects that matter to your company.
A blogger should make active efforts to understand your company's mission and integrate themselves with members of every department -- sales, customer service, development, everyone. Working with other departments not only acts as helpful content fodder, but it also provides insight that's crucial to bloggers' ability to understand their audience and write content that addresses the issues they deal with on a daily basis. Couple that with really "getting" your company's mission, and you'll have content that consistently aligns with your thought leadership position, even on the most controversial issues. While this quality can only truly be sharpened once the candidate is hired, you can get a sense of whether your blogger understands its importance by the company knowledge he or she brings to the interview. Have they done their homework about your business? Do they bring up the importance of company knowledge as a blogging best practice?
Now that's a resume buzz word if I've ever heard one! But if you hire a blogger who pays close attention to detail, he or she will be able to take your blog from good to remarkable. So ask them -- do they notice if text isn't wrapping around an image correctly? Do they preview posts before publishing them to make sure there are no layout problems? Do they check links to ensure they aren't broken or directing to the wrong page? This kind of due diligence should be second nature to them, and a great blogger will already have a process they use to ensure posts are buttoned up before they're published.
Online, at least. Blogging and social media are two peas in a pod; as your social reach grows, so does your blog readership, and vice versa. Your blogger should take an active interest in growing blog readership through social media. Even if you have a social media manager dedicated to your growth on social networks, your blogger must understand the importance of social media and actively work to promote blog content on their own networks.
Likely, one of the reasons you're blogging is because of its SEO value. And whether you have a dedicated SEO manager or not, your blogger will be dealing with SEO concepts every day. The best bloggers not only understand SEO concepts and the part blogging plays in organic search success, but can also execute SEO initiatives in their blog content. That means they effectively internal link, write great anchor text, craft effective meta data, know which keywords to target in each blog post, and can create keyword-rich content without keyword stuffing.
A great blogger is good at self-editing and editing others. Being a great editor means much more than just proofreading, too. They should be able to identify the difference between a good and bad topic, give critical and useful feedback to other blog contributors, and help make people better writers so the quality of the content on your blog is upheld.
Understands Effective Blog Layout
There's more than one way to lay out a blog post and structure your business blog, but there are some best practices every professional blogger should know. Ask your blogging candidate to draw out what a good blog post looks like. Did they draw social sharing and follow buttons? What about a subscribe module? Does their post include an image and a call-to-action? How many lines of text do they allow at once? Have they used headers, bullets, and other formatting tools to visually break up text and make information digestible? If these concepts are second nature, you have a good blogger on your hands.
No matter how much subject matter expertise your blogger has, he or she will have to write on subjects about which they need more education. It's only natural; with new developments and natural inclinations toward certain topics over others, continual learning is just a part of life. But a good blogger won't be intimidated by the prospect of learning new ideas and will know how to go about finding more information to help inform their content. Make sure the blogger you hire incorporates research and personal education in their day-to-day routine, and make a practice of hiring lifelong learners.
Does your potential blogger know how to report on how many leads your blog drives? The inbound links you're getting because of blog content? How much traffic your blog gets? Your business blogger should understand how to measure the effectiveness of a blog and consistently analyze the metrics that will let you improve your blog's performance and meet your monthly marketing goals.
Totally Gets Blogging
Finally, ask yourself one question: do they *get* blogging? Sure, sure, blogging is really important and marketers should be doing it. But do they really believe that, or are they just touting what inbound marketers are saying? An exceptional blogging hire truly believes in the critical importance of blogging to reach your marketing goals and can explain that to any dissenters -- whether internal or external. Candidates who are drunk off the blogging Kool-Aid will be the best gatekeepers for your blog, and they'll be the ones who work tirelessly to make your blog even more amazing than it already is.
Have you hired a business blogger for your marketing team, or do you plan on hiring one this year? What qualities do you look for in a blogger?
Image credit: Foxtongue