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December 20, 2007

What to Look for When Hiring a Blogger

Whether you’ve decided to select a blogger within your company, or are outsourcing to a freelancer, the issue remains that you still have to actually pick a blogger. You’ve got to choose somebody who’s going to be personable and honest, with a unique perspective on your company and, of course, the ability to string a sentence together.

But don’t fret. Like any other job opening, it’s just the matter of finding the right person. Here are some things to look for when you’re hiring a blog writer.

Personable

Imagine walking in to a store and the first salesperson you see greets you formally. They answer questions if you ask, but seem kind of aloof and cold. They don’t go out of their way to help you find things, nor do they seem interested in making sure you get exactly what you’re looking for. Is this the kind of person you’d be interested in buying from again?

Now, imagine you walk into a store and the salesperson greets you enthusiastically with a “Hey! How ya doing? What can I help you with today?” They’re brimming with ideas and suggestions, but listen thoughtfully when you tell them what you need, and know exactly where to find it in the store, along with other things that fit with what you’re looking for. When you leave, they wave and ask you to come again. How would you feel about shopping at that store again?

A good blogger will be somebody who can write with personality. They’ll come across as friendly and approachable without being pushy. They’ll be able to engage the readers who come to your blog not only with the intention of giving them information, but with the intention of giving it to them in such a way that they want to return again and again.

A grasp of the English language

Obviously, the first point in a blogger’s job description is the ability to write. If you’ve spent any time at all on the Internet, you’ve probably come across writing like this: “hay guyz wuts up? u suxxor.” That’s not the image you want projected for your company, so that’s not the kind of person you want writing for your blog.

The writer you choose doesn’t have to be the next Tolstoy, but that writer should be able to put together a few interesting, informative paragraphs that don’t look like a 13-year-old fluent in leet speak wrote them. If you have a decent writer whose grammar and punctuation aren’t the best, give them a copy of Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style” or even the AP Stylebook.

There are tons of resources out there for picking up the technical side of writing, like the difference between “affect” and “effect” or “whose” and “who’s.” Copyblogger (http://www.copyblogger.com) is a blog that regularly discusses some common mistakes writers make. These can help any writer build their knowledge on the finer points of grammar, spelling and punctuation.

Knowledgeable, or willing to become so

If you wanted information on how to pick a wedding dress, you wouldn’t go into a computer store, would you? By the same token, if you’re in the wedding industry, you don’t want to get a blogger whose life revolves around Apple computers. A business blog is supposed to provide information about your industry and insight into your company, and somebody who has no interest in either won’t be able to do that.

The writer you hire should already be knowledgeable about your company and industry, or at least is very willing to become so. You want a writer who can provide good information and commentary to your customers about the topics they are interested in, without looking like they just ran a search for “wedding dresses” and slapped a post together in five minutes.

Meshes with your company’s image

If you’re hiring somebody to design your website, you’re going to look for somebody whose style works well with your company’s brand and image. If you’re hiring a salesperson, you’re going to look for somebody whose sales philosophy matches your own. Likewise, if you’re hiring a blog writer, look for somebody whose writing style fits with the image you want for your company.

If your company is kind of laid back, then you’d want a writer whose style is more informal and conversational as opposed to somebody who’s very structured. Make sure to ask for writing clips and read them before you make a decision.

For more information about blogging for businesses, check out this article: http://www.xeal.com/blog/index.php/marketing/2007/10/16/blogging_101_eight_mistakes_that_are_kil Consider your blogger like another salesperson. Like salespeople, a good writer will keep readers and customers around, whereas a bad writer will anger them and drive them away. Find the right writer for your blog, and you’ll find that you have an excellent addition not only to your website, but to your company.

Author:  President and founder of Xeal Inc., Tony D. Baker is Oklahoma’s leading Internet marketing expert with more than 10 years of Internet marketing experience. You can catch Tony on the Xeal Radio Show on Sunday nights on 1170 KFAQ Tulsa. Sign up for a free 25-point website evaluation and pick up crucial tips at Xeal’s free Thursday webinar at http://www.xeal.com/webinar.

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