How To Hire Good Copywriters & Content Writers, Probably
A definitely-not-satirical guide to hiring writers
Is your business ready to take the plunge and hire a writer? Congratulations! This is an enormous positive step in the right direction, as it means you are well positioned to leverage the bountiful gobs of cash on offer if you tickle the udders of the great Google algorithm just right for that sweet, sweet ad revenue and SEO linkage.
Similarly, your catalogue of products is definitely going to need descriptions, and you’re much too busy and important to write those for yourself — plus people have this problematic habit of criticising your use of spelling and grammar, as if those elements of communication were ever important for anything.
Understandably, you’ve been putting it off for a while, but it’s time to hire a writer
May I first offer my utmost commiserations at this unfortunate eventuality in doing business. Sooner or later, we all have to swallow this nasty bitter pill and shepherd in some wafty self-important creative or another, and deal with their strange and infuriating insistence on things nobody in their profession ought to be entitled to, such as “feeling like a valued team member” or “getting paid”.
Nonetheless, with the correct approach, much of the pain, accountability and need to in any way communicate with these bewilderingly necessary wretches can be overcome.
Follow these guidelines to the letter, and you too can reap all the rewards of your new writers’ talent, and navigate the tiresome process of having to hire one for your business, without getting your very important hands too sullied in their sacrilege.
Firstly, set as little budget aside for this as possible
Writers have this laughable notion of regarding what they do as important, when most of us brainy business types know that actually they’re little more than the dogsbodies typing up nonsense and milking Google’s SEO teats, which you are far too busy and important to have time for despite the fact it’s literally the cornerstone of your entire business model.
Again, it has nothing to do with the fact that you can’t spell or punctuate well at all, because we have established these outdated notions as unimportant — what’s vital is that Google likes what you put online.
Unfortunately, a number of troublesome strides have been made among writers’ circles in the last few years, presumably in the little time they have not flouncing around the internet looking for things to complain about and sipping expensive vegan fair-trade cappuccino.
The tragic upshot of this is that we can no longer ask writers to write for free for exposure, as they seem to have cottoned on that this doesn’t actually mean anything and have banded loosely together to insist that what they do, however dismally unimportant it may be, is quantifiable as an actual job of some kind.
This is, of course, entirely frustrating nonsense, but can be circumvented by ensuring that your business only offers very low salaries or rates per article for the writers you look to hire. There is a common misconception that paying more for high quality work makes writers dedicate themselves more to ensuring your brand conveys value to its audience, but this is a poor strategy to undertake when you can get someone who can vaguely spell for far less.
Better still, the error-riddled work they will invariably submit makes an excellent means by which to consistently berate and belittle the writer you choose to hire.
What this means is that you have the opportunity to consistently put them down and pick holes in their work, which reminds everyone around here how important you are and also ensures writers who work for you don’t get any ideas above their station, such as realising they are the pivotal crux at which every aspect of your company’s brilliance is communicated and that you literally couldn’t sell a single thing without their talent.
Badmouth every writer you find, especially if they work for you already
Wherever possible, interview other writers — especially when you have no intention of hiring them — and spend much of this interview time telling them how woefully incompetent the writers you already employ are. Insist on keeping these untalented writers on anyway rather than bringing in anyone with any competence, because again, we are trying to ensure nobody thinks themselves too important just for being able to convey things with language far beyond the capacity of anyone else on your team.
Many writers will submit portfolios of work while interviewing with you. Ignore these.
It’s absolutely vital that you in no way read or look through any portfolio of work any writer submits to you at the time of interview, not least because you’re far too busy delegating and planning your next golf break.
Writers have this strange belief that they can demonstrate they are able to write by having done so before, much in the same way you can presumably say you are a master of Pan-Asian cuisine because you microwaved some noodles once.
As we all know, your company is far more special, brilliant and unique than any other company out there, especially those in your industry, so demonstrating any interest in an experienced writer’s portfolio is best avoided — especially if it goes back several years. All this proves is that they have spent the better part of a decade not having a real job, right?
Instead, crown off your interview by insisting on your writer putting together an unpaid trial article.
Writers seem to believe that if they have written about things in your chosen area of expertise before, that they can transfer those skills and that adaptability to your own business. And frankly, that’s nonsense.
Again, you’re far more unique than any other business out there. You have a ping-pong table, for crying out loud. You give people their birthday off. You have a cycle to work scheme someone used once. You tell everyone how much your team is like a big family who works hard and plays hard, completely unironically because this is famously never toxic.
Nobody else in the world does this, and certainly not anyone in Silicon Valley a decade ago when it was actually an inventive approach.
Once you’ve interviewed your writers, task them each with submitting about a thousand words in a trial article so you can find the best candidate. After all, the vast majority of writers are definitely charlatans, and having a portfolio of published work spanning a decade or more in no way proves anything. Every writer has to prove they can write to you as though it’s their first job since leaving school.
It’s also important you insist on not paying for what, with any luck, they won’t notice is actually work, because we have to convince these people what they do is nonsense somehow now we’re not allowed to just make them work for free any more.
Once this is done, you should have a nice number of Word documents in your email inbox. Spend as little time as possible with these — definitely don’t read any — and preferably entirely ghost the vast majority of your applicants, because they need to learn you have more important things to do than giving a toss about the hours they just gave you for no recompense.
Feel free to choose a candidate from the submitted pieces completely at random, because every writer is functionally the same and they are all shysters to a man.
Once you’ve hired your writer, make sure they are damn grateful
Good news! You’ve hired your writer, preferably for a pittance, and you’re sitting them at a desk and giving them things to type up that would otherwise look far too upsettingly like actual work for you to want to bother with.
The best culture to cultivate here is one of implication — you want to imply that your writer could be replaced at any moments’ notice, and ideally should seek to integrate them into your larger workforce as minimally as possible.
Luckily, every single writer in the world is an introvert and a weirdo so they largely take care of this themselves, but a wise entrepreneur knows to go further. For example, ensure that every article these people write for your B2B audience is handed to a salesperson who is far too important to waste any time actually reading it, who can rake up fat commissions on advertising on the merits of a piece of work he or she had absolutely no hand in creating.
Make sure your writer has no financial stake in this success, muddling by on just above minimum wage while your sales team lives large off the back of a few phone calls and whatever it is your hapless scribe spent far too much of your valuable time actually writing.
If your writer grows discontent, just sack them
Sometimes writers get ideas above their station, such as asking they be treated as valuable members of their team, insisting they get paid enough to afford both rent and groceries at the same time, or — most dangerously of all — inferring what they do all day on your dime is actually important.
This is because writers are fundamentally flouncy creative types who are best wrestled into submission than enabled to creatively flourish in any capacity. Hopefully, you have shut down any notions of creativity, mastery of prose or your writer introducing anything approximating wit or whimsy into their work. When did Google ever pay you for that?
Similarly, writers are best beat into submission by asking them to write things that are functionally identical, but by insisting they do not convey them as such. Make them write about the same subject matter over and over again for months at a time, and insist that you have their replacement lined up all too readily if they object.
You can go a step further and actually interview some other writers if you really want to put the fear of God into them, not only because making them dance like puppets on a string is hilarious, but it also makes sure you look very busy and important so people will leave you alone for five minutes.
Resent paying minimum wage? Just hire a freelancer
An ingenious idea of the spirit of being a self-made individual who works as and when they please has been pollinated into the media landscape of today. As such, there has been a lot of growth in freelance writers in the last few years, and it’s important you capitalise on the fact that they have no rights and don’t know any better than to be massively exploited for your profit.
Again, we’re trying to ensure the people who actually create your value don’t feel valuable here, and we business minds don’t know how long the good times are going to last in this regard.
The beauty of freelancing is that someone will always do what you want for cheaper than someone else, so you have carte blanche to offer rates far below minimum wage for work you will insist is nevertheless to be “completed fast and to a very high standard”, to make these chumps feel like they’re doing something important and that you’re doing them a favour even giving them the time of day.
You can entirely sidestep the outdated and troublesome ideas of minimum wage, doing an employees’ taxes and in any way showing any responsibility towards them through this approach. Better still, you can just bin these people, or preferably ghost them, as soon as you no longer need their services, or if they demonstrate any modicum of self esteem or autonomy.
If your freelancer suggests you’re being unprofessional by doing this, shut that down with the time-honoured and businesslike “I know you are but what am I” rhetoric.
Some freelance writers might feel they’ve been dealt a raw hand getting cut off from their income suddenly when their services are no longer needed, falsely believing that you had any responsibility in letting them know this eventuality was coming in advance.
This is because they insist on confusing themselves with people of importance or relevance to your business, which admittedly they were until just now when they were writing the articles that made you thousands of dollars for fifty bucks a pop — but let’s not split hairs here.
Convey a confident sense of outrage that these people are daring to disagree with anything you do on any level ever, and threaten to never work with them again, hoping they won’t notice the fact you already weren’t doing that anyway.
Remember, you have nothing to lose by upsetting a freelance writer, because there are a thousand more waiting for you to take advantage of under whatever rock he or she crawled out of. They’re very easy to get on board, because you just have to imply that lots of work is coming in the near future that needs their attention, stroking their egos enough to want to stick around.
Whether or not you actually have any such work for them to do in the pipeline is largely irrelevant and should not be communicated to them in any way.
And of course, we all know that freelancers have no friends and certainly wouldn’t dare using their talents to convey your crappy business practices to a potential audience of thousands. I mean, who’s going to believe them anyway? They sit at home all day in their underpants writing listicles for ten bucks apiece, for God’s sake.
Freelancers are great because they have all the perks of someone who works for you, but you don’t owe them any responsibility
I mean sheesh, it’s enough hassle just getting out of paying your own taxes and those of your business — what a relief you don’t have to bother with the taxes of any freelancers you hire!
The best approach is to basically fool a freelancer into thinking they are your employee in every function, but not in name or in employee benefits. This way, you can fire them faster if you woke up in a bad mood and there’s literally nothing they can do. It’s brilliant.
Again, writers, and freelance writers especially, are smug and self important little people who seem to confuse spelling and creativity with the potential for success. Why reward that false thinking when you can use their talents to make your business shine, and then cast them aside for daring to dream they have any entitlement to the success their skill gets you?
They’re just flouncy creative types. You’re far too important to care.