What To Look For When Hiring Bloggers
There’s a vicious rumor going around the SEO blogosphere that I have some kind of blogging knowledge and insight on what makes a good blogger. I’ve tried to dispel this myth with my sucky blogging, but it doesn’t seem to be working. The emails from people looking to bring a blogger on board asking for a list of requirements still come in. I suppose with my 10+ years of blogging experience (hey, LiveJournal at 14 counts, right?), I guess I do have some pearls of wisdom worth sharing.
- Someone who’s click-happy
- Basic social skills
- Knowledge of the English language
- Sense of humor
- FAQ: What key traits should I seek when hiring a blogger for my team?
Here are the top traits a blogger should have. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
- Someone Who’s Click Happy: The difference between someone who blogs and a blogger is how many clicks they make looking for news. Bloggers worth their paychecks aren’t afraid to make those extra two or three clicks to check out a link buried at the bottom of the page. They know that sometimes the real gems of the story are the ones hiding in the background and the angles people aren’t covering. Good bloggers are curious by nature. They demand to know more because even if they’re not one by trade, they’re secretly fostering fantasies of being Christiane Amanpour (or, if their goals are less lofty, Barbara Walters). They’re the ones always asking “why” and rolling their eyes at press releases. The truth is, there are way too many people out there trying to make a career off faking it. They read a headline on TechMeme and then guess at what the heart of the story must be. That’s not someone you want on your team. You want someone who knows how to find information and can turn it around in a useful way.
- Basic Social Skills: I know, and I’m sorry. While I’ve surely never been one to advocate maintaining proper social skills and talking to people, the blogosphere is a social place. You can’t be an effective blogger if you’re all alone sitting in a cave. (Well, I guess you can, assuming you can still bring up Twitter and Facebook from there.) Blogging is about embracing the larger community. It’s about responding and adding to the conversations going on around you. It’s about being active on sites like X.com, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn and using them to form connections with readers and other bloggers. And it’s not just those first-level connections you’re after. You want to focus on who those people know as well. As much as we like to pretend it’s not, blogging is a popularity contest. (So is life. Stop complaining.) To be cool, you have to be already perceived as cool. And just like in high school, being cool means having friends. The cooler people think you are, the more friends you’ll get. The more friends you have, the more readers you’ll have. The more readers, the more friends. It’s a sweet cycle.
- Knowledge of the English Language: Fine. There have been plenty of polls and “studies” to show that proper grammar and basic writing skills are irrelevant to blogging, but they’re all lying. A big part of blogging rests on your ability to engage readers and tell a story. You can’t tell a story if you can’t write. And I can’t tell you how many good stories have been written and ruined by those who were never hit with the grammar stick in school. Punctuation is not to be feared, and Word does come with a spell check. You don’t want your inability to use punctuation and conjugate verbs to distract people from the story you’re trying to tell. Obviously, there are exceptions. Jeremy Shoemaker and other SEO professionals have blogs, so it’s pretty clear that high school-level spelling and grammar is not a total absolute. Still, I think it helps, and I credit most of my blogging “success” to the fact that I’m literate. I’m sure SEO blogging is just what my Dad had in mind when he shelled out $120k for my Journalism degree.
- Passion: The biggest reason most blogs suck is a lack of passion. We’re very lucky to be in the search space where bloggers are genuinely passionate about the topics they’re covering and about helping readers. That’s not the case widespread. Passion comes from having a strong opinion one way or another about something and demanding to see things done right. Bruce Clay, Inc. is passionate about search engine optimization. I was passionate about Ask.com, and I’m still passionate about search and empowering users. When you write with passion you attract people who are passionate about the same things and bring them into your community. If your wannabe blogger doesn’t have a favorite band, a company they’re diehard for, a brand they’d like to see burned to the ground, a website they tell all their friends about and a To Kill list that’s ready and waiting, they’re probably not for you. Or this planet. The only people in this world that matter are people with passion. The rest of you are just taking up space. Don’t enter my blogosphere.
- Sense of Humor: Your blogger in training doesn’t have to be eyeing a career in standup any time soon, but they should have some sense of humor or wit. Despite the number of lame news blogs popping up all over the space, most people still expect the Web to entertain them. Corporate blog or not, don’t take yourself too seriously. I’m not advocating acting like a goofball and offending all of your clients and readers, but know that it’s okay to have a little fun. Posting a Friday Recap each week where you link to oddball things isn’t going to flush your credibility down the toilet (or, if it has, please don’t tell Bruce!). Your ability to pick your words and display who you are is going to set the tone and voice of your blog.
- Transparent: Blogging is not for everyone, and it’s definitely not for those who are afraid to show people who they are under the surface. You need to find someone who’s willing to lay it all out there and invite people into their lives – their real life, not the one they pretend to have on the Internet. Total transparency is what builds trust and that emotional connection. There are plenty of bloggers, the only way you’re going to set yourself apart is to be genuine and true to yourself. If you’re the type setting up different “personal” and “professional” social networking accounts, maybe blogging isn’t for you. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but personally, I don’t think you can be a successful blogger if you’re afraid to show who you really are. Susan will probably disagree with me on that. [I’d have gone for ‘Genuine’ over ‘Transparent’, personally. Sincerity is everything. I don’t need to know everything about a person, only true things. –Susan] That’s because you only keep surface relationships. Others require more.
- Female: Okay, I’m just kidding about this one, but if you work in a male-dominated space, it does seem to help.
That’s my take. What traits do you think are important for competitive blogging?
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Hiring a blogger for your team is a strategic move that can significantly impact your online presence and audience engagement. To make this decision effectively, you must consider a specific set of traits and skills that a blogger should possess to be an asset to your team. Let’s explore the critical qualities you should seek in bringing a blogger on board.
- Exceptional Writing Skills: Every great blogger’s heart is their ability to craft compelling, error-free content. Candidates who can write clearly and succinctly will be more captivating, providing informative, captivating work that resonates well with your target audience.
- Subject Matter Expertise: Depending on your niche, hiring a blogger with knowledge and a genuine passion for the subject is beneficial. This makes the content creation process more enjoyable for them and ensures accuracy and authority in their writing.
- SEO Proficiency: Search engine optimization is vital for content visibility. Bloggers should learn SEO techniques such as keyword research, meta descriptions, and on-page optimization to increase their content’s ranking on search engine results pages.
- Adaptability: As the digital landscape is ever-evolving, your blogger must adapt and learn about new tools, technologies, and trends to stay ahead of the game.
- Creativity: Creative thinking is essential for producing unique and shareable content. Seek bloggers who can brainstorm fresh ideas and present information in innovative ways.
As leaders in digital marketing, we have discovered that these traits are integral to being an effective blogger. If your content marketing objectives include writing skills, subject knowledge, SEO proficiency, and adaptability – you need a blogger with these characteristics for maximum success.
Steps to Hiring a Blogger for Your Team
- Identify Your Needs: Determine the niche, style, and frequency of content required.
- Craft a Detailed Job Description: Specify the essential traits, skills, and experience you seek in a blogger.
- Use the Right Platforms: Post your job opening on job boards, freelance websites, and social media platforms to attract a wide pool of talent.
- Review Portfolios: Carefully assess candidates’ past work to gauge their writing quality and style.
- Conduct Interviews: Have in-depth conversations with shortlisted candidates to assess their knowledge and passion for the subject matter.
- Test Their SEO Knowledge: Pose questions related to SEO and assess their familiarity with SEO tools.
- Evaluate Adaptability: Inquire about their willingness to adapt to industry changes.
- Assess Creativity: Ask about their creative process and how they generate ideas for content.
- Check References: Contact previous employers or clients to get insights into their performance and reliability.
- Set Expectations: Clearly communicate your expectations, content calendar, and key performance indicators.
- Trial Period: Begin with a trial period to assess their fit within your team.
- Monitor Performance: Continuously evaluate their performance and make necessary adjustments.
- Provide Feedback: Regularly provide constructive feedback to enhance their work.
- Invest in Training: Offer training and resources to help them grow professionally.
- Encourage Communication: Maintain an open line of communication to address concerns and ideas.
- Measure Results: Continually measure the effectiveness of their content in achieving your marketing goals.
- Adapt and Improve: Use data and feedback to refine your blogger’s strategy and approach.
- Recognize Achievements: Acknowledge and reward exceptional performance.
- Build a Collaborative Environment: Foster a team culture where creativity and ideas flourish.
- Monitor Industry Trends: Stay updated on industry trends to keep your blogger’s work relevant.
Hiring a blogger for your team is a strategic decision that requires careful consideration of the key traits mentioned above. By following the steps provided, you can ensure you find a blogger who aligns with your goals and contributes positively to your digital presence. With the right blogger on your team, you can drive engagement and success in your online endeavors.
This article was updated on December 4, 2023.