If you’re a business owner or a marketer thinking about working with a blogger you need to be sure you ask the right questions before hiring them so you can ensure you’ve got the right person for your blog. But what should you ask a blogger before you start working with them so you can be confident they’ve got what it takes?
There is a difference between a blogger and a content marketer, however, for this blog I’m going to pull the two things together and assume you’re looking for someone who can write, thinks strategically when creating content and who is virtually an SEO consultant in their own rights.
If you’re thinking about bringing a blogger on board either as a hire or as a consultant, it’s likely that you’ve done some blogging yourself, and either you or the business doesn’t have the capacity or would prefer to let someone with a specialist blogging focus to carry the good work on for you. Generally, it’s a great idea and it can be a fantastic way to really catapult your business’ online presence.
Your new blogger should be able to deal with all your business’ blogging needs, from maintaining the blog itself, to updating, creating and adding content to your blog, and then promoting it via social media channels and more (OK I know that’s getting into the realms of content marketer – but bear with me).
Probably the first place you’ll want to start is understanding whether your potential blogger can actually write. It always surprises me, when people approach GrowTraffic and they start talking to us about blogging or about our SEO consultancy services, how few people actually ask to see some of the blogs we’ve written for clients. That’s one of the first I’d be asking of an SEO consultant, a content marketer or a blogger.
Do you have your own blog?
I’ve been creating content on the internet for the best part of two decades and there is a paper trail littered online for me to point to. Not only that I’ve maintained my own blog for the best part of a decade. I believe that people who profess to be bloggers should at least have their own blog. I don’t mind if they’ve just started writing one – just the fact that they have demonstrates that they believe and appreciate the medium.
What blogs have you written content for?
With this, I want to get an understanding that they can write for a number of different types of audiences. I’d check out their blogging and check to see if they modulate their tone of voice for the different blogs they’ve written for.
What’s your process for proofreading your content?
I’m not the greatest writer in the world and I have to work hard to make sure that my content isn’t full of spelling and grammatical mistakes. I’m also lazy, which means I have to force myself to take pride in my work, so I do actually do the checking. I’m also not the best proofreader in the world, it all tends to look right to me. When I worked in marketing teams I used to get other people to check every piece of content I put out there (see lazy) but these days I tend to rely on various pieces of software to check my work for me. The point being, they’ve got to realise that they are fallible and they should have a process in place to check their work.
Have you ever done any copywriting for websites other than blogging?
If you are dealing with a content marketer or an SEO consultant then you’ll be speaking with someone who has created all kinds of content on lots of different websites. For me, it’s really important that the people who write blogs for me can demonstrate that they understand about copywriting in a sense that’s broader than simply adding a blog to a website.
What content management systems have you used for blogging?
If they’ve been blogging for multiple companies for any length of time they will likely have encountered different content management systems. Try to work out what they think about the different platforms can they tell you about their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to creating or uploading content to them.
At GrowTraffic we largely work with WordPress. We’re specialists in optimising these websites, the great thing about it is it’s open source and can be worked on by virtually anyone – it’s also the most widely used CMS in the world, so if your prospective blogger doesn’t know about it I would be questioning why not.
How does plagiarism relate to blogging?
We all get inspiration from other pieces of content from time to time. This blog was inspired by a blog called Interview Questions to Ask a Blogger Potential Hire, which was more focused on how to hire a blog writer for a business whereas this blog covers how to either hire a blogger in-house or bring on a blogging consultant. Your potential blogger should understand that when they create content they need to be referencing where that content came from so they aren’t plagiarising or breaching copyright laws.
I’d also be looking to know if they understand how hyperlinks work and if they could create a hyperlink in code form. They should at least be able to tell you it’s an a href tag.
How do you source images for blogs?
So many blogging newbies just grab images from the internet not understanding that they are breaking copyright laws. I’ve had a few clients over the years who have had to page several hundreds of pounds because one of their more junior employees has just found an image and added it to their website.
At GrowTraffic we always try to create a unique image for use on blogs. Crucially we try to create images that fit within the corporate branding of the business. Take a look at the images on our blog page and you should get a feel for how we do this for ourselves.
How do you use SEO in blogging?
OK, I’ve been the head of search in a digital marketing agency, I’ve been a freelance SEO consultant, run an SEO consultancy and set up my own SEO agency, so this is the one I really like bloggers to be able to answer.
For me, it goes without saying that they should be talking about page title, h tags, alt text, meta description etc.
I’m looking for an understanding of the changes in SEO. That they aren’t just talking about adding keywords to a blog post but that they understand about semantic search, that they understand about the knowledge graph and that they understand about the benefit of creating evergreen content to compound organic traffic.
What qualifications do you have in writing for blogs?
This might seem like a trick question and in a way it is. Most people won’t have any formal qualifications in blog writing, however, many people will have qualifications in English. GrowTraffic’s managing director Rachel has a degree in English and we place a lot of emphasis on creating the best quality content we can.
How would you use a call to action?
I think this often sorts the pro bloggers out from the amateurs or the newbies. A good blogger should be able to tell you how they’d incorporate a call to action in a blog. And they should be telling you that calls to action aren’t always appropriate.
What’s the difference between a feature and a benefit?
A content marketer and a copywriter should be able to give you a decent explanation or example of what the difference is between features and benefits. If your blogger can’t you know you’re going to have to educate them, but I wouldn’t be too worried about it for most blog content. However, if you want your blogger to also work on your money pages, then you’re going to want to give them a lesson.
What blogs would you write for my business?
If someone asked me this question prior to engaging me I’d be telling them that I needed to carry out an audit on their business, competitors and their website etc. I’d respect someone who said that to me, although I’d still be pressing them to answer the question. The most important thing at this point is they are able to explain to me the process they’d go through to finding topics for their blogs. At GrowTraffic we plan out what blogs we’ll write – both for ourselves and for clients – months in advance, and we try our best not to deviate too much from the plan and the strategy that sits behind it.
I’d also want to make sure they’ve done some homework about my business. If they don’t know anything about your business there’s a chance they won’t be that committed. They should be able to identify what they think the target market is and potentially some differing target audiences. They’ll learn as they go along.
How would you deal with a negative comment on a blog?
Dealing with a negative comment is something that your new blogger is going to have to do at some point and you’ll want to make sure they deal with it appropriately. This is the perfect opportunity to give them a steer about how you deal with customer complaints as well and set the tone.
How would you improve my blog?
This is a great question because it let’s you get a feel for how well they can think on their feet and come up with meaningful propositions that could benefit your business. They might talk about exit overlays, UX, banners in the content etc.
Could you provide me with blogging references?
They’ve already told you about the blogs that they’ve worked on and you should have noted those down. Make sure that the references they give you relate to work they’ve done on genuine websites and that you’re getting references from the businesses that they’ve already told you about. Alternatively, they might be able to point you to testimonials that they’ve got on their social media, their websites or that they’ve brought with them.