If we know illustrations need illustrators, designs need designers, and code needs programmers, why don’t we acknowledge that words (if we want them done well) need writers? Today we’ll go through why hiring a writer can be so vital.
Job descriptions are important
In a city full of coders, tech aficionados and designers, I know a fair few people working in design, programming and general IT. But these jobs are not always what they seem. Indeed, to their surprise, these people often end up being given their company’s writing jobs too, even if it’s not within their skill-set or job description.
This happens in many ways. For example, a coder (being the one in the office with the best IT skills) will be given the task of writing ads, site text, photo captions, and even Facebook event descriptions for the company.
But enticing a customer in just a few words, while effectively displaying all the necessary information in a way that stands out against the screeds of words and images on someone’s screen, is a hard task.
The result is something thrown together by an otherwise talented person who could have spent their time doing what they were hired to do.
Do literacy and confidence equal being good with words?
Of course it’s not always the IT guys who are thrown the all important writing tasks. Maybe your company doesn’t even have an IT guy. In which case, whoever’s most confident in sales will probably try their hand at copy-writing.
And this does make sense to an extent. The person most passionate about a project will be quick to have a lot to say about it. But there are a few catches to this.
For one, they’re likely to be pleased with the first draught, then neglect to proofread (or proofread poorly) for improvements, bad syntax or spelling errors. And their work might not even be checked! Which is especially true for those in managerial roles.
Cost-cutting is a necessary evil in business. Many are likely to shrug and say why hire a writer? Everyone here can write. But this attitude ends up being a hindrance, particularly to businesses that organise events and run social media accounts. It ignores the power of writing as a persuasive and emotive communication tool.
It’s not about making everything florid and using complex words and metaphors. Nothing like that. It’s about understanding the subtle art of tone.
Indeed, plenty of people know all the points to hit when selling an idea (or themselves), but have little idea of how to join these together cohesively in a striking way. As someone who’s edited business proposals, articles, CVs and dissertations, I’ve seen this time and time again.
This isn’t their fault of course. They just don’t have the experience of a seasoned copy-writer or Humanities graduate. And Humanities students can in fact be perfect candidates as their daily life revolves around concisely presenting ideas, careful proofreading and analysis.
An expert eye
If you have a specialist skill, you’ll know that what makes a finished product work might not be obvious to the untrained eye.
I’ll give you an example.
During university (which involved a dizzying amount of essays and journals), friends from less writing-heavy courses would sometimes be given an essay task and send me their work to proofread. Being a glutton for punishment, I was happy to do this.
I’d correct the odd typo, suggest some better punctuation, and tweak sentence structure where things needed tightening. And the response was always something along the lines of that’s great, thanks! I like what you’ve done. I mean, I don’t know what you’ve done but I like it!
Reading between the lines and tweaking here and there in the right places is not the work of a genius. I mean, probably not. It was the result of some strict training. And this training proved even more important than the reading and writing I’d always done for fun.
My English tutors in particular wouldn’t just red-pen-underline incorrect arguments, but also clumsy syntax, sub-par word choice and any use of language they thought was weird. Even if a word I’d used had a more interesting or apt alternative, they might suggest it in the margins.
So it was in my best interests to make things sound pretty as well as say the right things. And through the years, my knack for it sharpened.
My point here is that seeing the ineffable little things that make a sentence “work” is, to a large extent, something practiced. It’s not something that anyone who can read and write can be expected to do to a professional level.
So how does this translate in a business setting?
What hiring a writer can do for you
If you communicate important information through text or presentations, need a tagline for your business, own a website, handle sensitive topics, or exercise marketing in any way, you could enlist the help of a writer.
With blogging on the rise, you might even have someone actively blogging for your company to generate interest. And that same person can be the one writing all important blocks of text to help sell your high-ticket items. In short, a writer can create a cleaner image, and potentially more cash.
After all, to understand how to write is to understand how people read. Writers know how people tick.
Hiring a writer can be the difference between a sufficient message, and one that elicits a response. Between an Instagram post with a hackneyed tagline, and something that excites customers. Sometimes, it can be the difference between valuable engagement and no engagement at all.
You might need your writer several times a day, several times a week, or just twice a month. Try to work this out, then tell them. Many writers work two or three part time jobs. The important thing is to be transparent about how much they’ll actually be working.
How to advertise a writing position
For many businesses, writing often works hand in hand with marketing. In this case you have three choices when hiring a writer. You can:
- Hire a writer that your marketing team are prepared to work with.
- OR a marketer with writing skills.
- OR a writer with marketing skills.
Option 1 can work in theory, but (unless writing is a huge part of your business) isn’t very optimized.
As a writer with some digital marketing skills (who has worked with people in marketing roles who try their hand at writing), I’d say option 3 is your safest bet. Am I a bit biased? I guess that’s unavoidable. But let me explain…
I’m not saying that Marketing involves no element of raw talent. Like writers, marketers have to have an instinct for human nature. But elements of Marketing are inherent in writing.
After all, writing is persuasion. It’s making the reader believe you and ensuring that they react the way you want them to react.
So it’s easier for a writer to learn basic Marketing and transfer their existing skills than it is for a Marketer inexperienced in writing to suddenly write copy. There are obviously exceptions to this, but it’s good to keep in mind.
Hire a writer who cares
Look for a well-written (and well-formatted) CV, a genuine interest in language, and an understanding of human nature in your candidates. These things are all good indicators of a good writer.
Furthermore, remember that writing jobs are hard to come by. And many writing-based courses aren’t shaped as the vocational courses they ought to be. It’s a difficult time for them out there, so remember that professional experience isn’t everything.
A promising candidate will have a history of personal projects, maybe a relevant qualification, and always have something on the go. They’ll be able to see places in your businesses where their talents can be used, too – maybe places you hadn’t thought of!
Look for these attributes in a person when hiring a writer, and they’ll bring that passion right into the role with them.