Choosing a blogger is not a decision to be taken lightly. Blogging is about personality, and a professional blogger must have skills in many arenas. Your blogger is the community face of your company. Being a good writer is not necessarily enough. Writing skills do not necessarily translate to social skills. Here are some tips for finding the right blogger for the job:
- Passion. What separates bloggers from the average writer is passion. They must be able to evoke feeling in the readers, to strike a chord that invites a discussion. If the writing is dry and factual, without personality, readers will scan and move on. The blogger must be able to invite the readers right inside her head and spark them to think about things.
- Controversy. A great blogger can tackle controversial subjects without going off the deep end into radicalism. Truly gifted bloggers can take a side and spark a lively discussion without rancor and manage to turn a controversial subject into a compelling, but polite, argument. They must be able to deal with detractors, because any blogger worth her salt will attract a few.
- Sincerity. Bloggers earn a certain level of trust by projecting sincerity and honest opinions. Consistency is key.
- Knowledge. Most writers can write authoritatively on any number of subjects, so it is not necessary to hire an expert in your field. But you do need someone creative and willing to learn, and able to keep up on the current news.
- Unique Voice. The web is full of repeaters; people who blog about whatever everyone else is blogging about. News is news, and it’s going to be all over the web. What distinguishes a great blogger is the ability to bring a fresh viewpoint to an overworked subject.
- Command of Language. You want someone with an intelligent and comprehensive grasp of English and grammar to represent your company to the public. Bloggers often break grammar and spelling rules to underscore personality, but they do so knowingly and with purpose. Readers know when mistakes are deliberate – and when they are not.
- Creativity. It’s not easy to write about the same subject day after day, week after week, and not come up empty. Your blogger must be creative enough to expand the parameters of the subject without losing the audience.
- Social Skills. Social media is the best vehicle for driving traffic to a blog, remember, it’s personality-driven. A great blogger connects and drives traffic.
- SEO. Every blogger needs at least rudimentary skills in SEO practices. She should be knowledgeable about keyword density and placement, and about generating backlinks.
- Style. Finally, the blogger’s style should fit what you envision for the blog. You may want humor, opinion, random observation or news style. Any style can work, but not every blogger can write in the style you want.
To determine whether a potential hire is what you’re looking for, ask for samples. Every professional blogger worth considering will have one or more blogs. Most will have a Web site featuring several different styles to showcase what kind of writing the blogger is capable of. Many will also have published articles and other content for you to judge. Hiring the right blogger is an emotional decision, so once you’ve determined that your candidate has the right qualifications, go with your gut. Hire someone whose writing engages you, informs you, and makes you want to respond. That’s the job in a nutshell.