Tag Archives: Content Writers

How to identify good and bad writers the Hemingway way

The Hemingway way of identifying good and bad writers

The Hemingway way of identifying good and bad writers

I have a Google form on my website for writers who want to become content writers and copywriters.

Most of the writers who submit queries want to get paid assignments from me.

Once I receive a query from them, I politely ask for a few samples, which they eagerly send.

Within the first paragraph I can make out whether I want to work with that content writer or not.


I will come to this later.

So, while browsing the web for writing ideas, I came across this small but interesting blog post on how to identify a good writer the Hemingway way.

There is no detailed methodology.

The blog post simply refers to a Paris review interview that must had been published years ago.

In the interview, somewhere Hemingway says, “The better the writers the less they will speak about what they have written themselves.”

This is an interesting observation, and this can be applied to almost every field.

Let your work speak for itself.

As a professional content writer, one often must toot his or her own horn.

The trick is not to go overboard and, in the process, put off your prospective clients.

Fortunately, I have worked with hundreds of clients by now and I have a hefty portfolio.

Whenever I receive a query I don’t need to eloquently explain what wonders I can work with my content writing and copywriting services.

I simply send them a list of relevant links and they can see by themselves what type of content I have written for related websites.

For example, if someone needs a content writer for an accounting website, I send him or her the links to all the accounting websites I have written content for.

Coming back to how I decide within the first paragraph whether I would like to work with the new content writer or not.

What I’m looking for is confidence.

I look for short, crisp sentences.

They need to be authoritative and carry conviction.

I don’t like when words are unnecessary used to impress the readers.

Simple, confident language.

There must be a sense of sincerity.

Of course, there must be no typos, spelling and grammar mistakes.

When I am evaluating a content writer, I’m not looking for a Shakespeare or a Tolstoy.

I’m looking for a no-nonsense content writer or copywriter who can properly explain the business of my clients.

Something that I have observed in most budding content writers

Become a writer before becoming a content writer

Become a writer before becoming a content writer

This is again one of those times when I try to expand my business by trying to partner with multiple content writers.

Mostly I write content on my own but now I feel if I want to grow my business beyond what it is now, I will need to start collaborating with other content writers so that I can focus more on expanding my reach and getting more work. Most of my time is spent doing work rather than getting work.

Right now, my main problem is that most of my clients hire my services thinking that I will write for them. They read what I have written on my website. They read my blog. They read my articles and blog posts on other websites. They like what I have written. Hence, I am the reason they contact Credible Content. Which is natural.

But then, as I have written above, I need to grow my business. Over the years I have observed that I am good at getting work. Right now, just 5-10% of my time is spent on marketing my services, communicating with prospective clients and getting work. Sometimes weeks go by without any sort of marketing and promotion. Even with such little effort, I get regular work (which is not enough, of course).

I’m also good at writing and I enjoy writing a lot (the point I’m trying to make through this blog post, which is the central point), but in terms of business, if I keep on writing I am less able to focus on getting more work.

Anyway, these days I’m trying to find some good content writers with whom I can partner. As a result, I am interacting with a few content writers and there is one thing that I have observed: most of the “content writers” just want to make some quick money and then get on with their lives.

Writing is not their passion.

They will write because they are getting money and that’s it.

I don’t mean to preach, but content writing doesn’t work this way, and in fact, any type of writing doesn’t work this way.

Just because you can write sentences and paragraphs without committing spelling and grammar mistakes doesn’t make you a writer.

When you’re trying to promote a business through your writing, you need to make an emotional connection and, call it something bordering to metaphysical, your real message, your real communication exists between the lines, and not in the words, sentences and paragraphs that you write.

When budding content writers send samples to me, within a couple of paragraphs I can make out whether the person is a passionate writer or not.

The disinterest is too obvious. And the writing invokes the same disinterest in readers.

It’s your passion for writing that makes you a good and effective content writer

“Do something that you would love to do even without getting paid, be good in that, and you will be never out of work.”

This is not a lofty ideal. I have actually seen it materializing right in front of my eyes, right in my own life, in multiple ways. Of course, you need to promote yourself, you need to market your skill so that people who can benefit from your skill can contact you.

I’m not a published writer in the conventional sense. I mean, I don’t have books in my name.

But, before I became a professional content writer, I had already written a lot. I have written without getting paid, without even expecting to be paid.

I just wrote for exposure. I liked it when people read what I had written and then praised it. It was very thrilling. I always wanted to show off my writing skills. I was proud of the way I wrote. Although I’m not a Pulitzer-prize-level writer, I’m confident about my ability to communicate.

During my school and college days, my friends used to tease me that I never read books and novels for enjoyment, I read them to polish my language (whether it was English or Hindi) and then later, show off. I did enjoy, though. Still do.

I’m not saying that it is bad to expect to be paid for your writing, I’m just telling you about how I evolved as a content writer – your story may be totally different.

So, I was published a few times in the city newspaper. I had my articles published in local magazines

When the Internet came up and when the concept of publishing helpful content began to materialize, I started publishing tutorials on various websites to promote my web design business.

I have used practically every blogging platform that was started in the 2000’s and this meant lots of writing. I wrote on various forums. I participated in email discussion threads.

The point I’m trying to make is, I wrote a lot.

So, by the time I started receiving professional content writing assignments, writing came to me naturally. Yes, I may have done badly in some cases and I may have done well, but the fundamental skill required to get good content writing assignments was there. The ground had been prepared.

The problem with the content writers that I come across is that without having honed their skills, they want good content writing assignments.

Believe me, this doesn’t work.

Of course, there are many clients who are not looking for quality writing or, they are not aware what quality writing is (lack of knowledge, lack of desire, or both).

You may get work from those clients, but this work is not going to sustain you as a content writer. There are hundreds of thousands of mediocre writers and if you are a mediocre writer, you are constantly competing with them.

You will have to work very hard, put in long hours, and you won’t earn much, eventually giving up.

Enjoy writing to become a successful content writer

Again, this is not a pep talk, this is reality.

Writing is not a skill, as many mistakenly think. Writing is an art, preferably, a performing art.

You are performing through your words and people are watching you perform when they are reading your words.

When it comes to being a good performing artist, you have to lose yourself in your performance. If you’re cautious of what you are doing, you become stiff and instead of performing, you are simply displaying yourself.

Compare it with walking. Do you have to constantly think when you walk? Are you thinking of every step?

No, if you think of every step, very soon you will get tired and you may even fall.

To be able to walk long distances, you need to be able to walk without thinking of walking, without thinking of every step. The same happens with writing. You shouldn’t have to think.

You shouldn’t have to think about writing – you only need to think about the subject, the thing that you want to say, the message you want to communicate.

How can you lose yourself in your work, you may ask, when you’re writing for a business?

By not counting every penny, or every paisa. By not constantly doing clock watching. By not being conscious of much effort you need to put or not.

When you manipulate your writing according to the money you are getting, you are not doing justice to your art.

I’m not saying people should exploit you and you should spend hours on work you are not being paid much for, but once you start writing, focus on your writing.

This is exactly what I do.

Although, I quote my writing work per word, per page or per hour, once I’m writing, I don’t hold myself if I have more to say. When I’m writing, at that time, my writing is important, not how much I am being paid. If you have a problem with the payment, don’t take up the assignment, but once you have taken it up, give your 100%.

It is great that you want to become a content writer, but don’t approach me if you are between jobs and you are looking for something to do in the meantime, if you are a student trying to make side income or if you are a housewife looking for “opportunity on Internet”.

Being a student, being between jobs and being a housewife isn’t something bad, what is bad is, you want to be a content writer just because you are in these situations otherwise, you would be doing something else.

You have to be a writer first. Writing must be one of the priorities of your life. Only then you can become a good content writer.

A message to content writers I’m contacting these days


Dear content writers:

In case I contacted you recently, and you responded, and I didn’t respond, there is a reason. My father passed away on August 31, 2017. We still can’t believe he is not there.

One has to make a living though, so here I am.

For many years I have been writing content on my own. Once or twice a year I do work with other writers but mostly I work by myself.

This traps me in an inescapable loop: I am marketing my services, getting work, completing work, and then marketing my services again, and so on.

My weakness is, I cannot do both. Either I can try getting work, or I can do work. Most of the time I’m doing one thing at the cost of the other. When I am marketing, I’m ignoring the work that I already have. When I’m busy doing my work, I ignore marketing.

Over the years I have realized I enjoy getting work. When I’m constantly blogging to increase my search engine traffic, when I publish my newsletter, when I’m tweaking my website, when I am interacting with prospective clients, I don’t feel tired. It means I enjoy doing this.

So, a few weeks ago, I thought, why shouldn’t I do something that I enjoy? I like writing, but I like journalistic writing. I’m comfortable writing professional content for my clients, but it tires me out. This means although, by habit, I’m able to complete my projects, my soul is somewhere else. Why not get work, enough work, and then hand it over to capable content writers, and then go on getting more work?

It isn’t that I haven’t tried working with other writers. It hasn’t worked so far. But then, I haven’t tried hard, this much I accept. I have had some bad experiences and then I have given up. I haven’t worked hard at building a solid team, which I’m going to do now.

Hence, using various means available to me, I have been contacting different content writers. If you are one of the content writers who have submitted their samples or requested further details, kindly be patient, I will be responding very soon.

What I’m looking for in content writers

I know you’re going to have this expression when you read this, but I like to work with people who can stick their necks out, otherwise I’d take that they are not committed and they cannot be relied upon.

disgruntled content writer

After all, I will also be sticking my neck out by giving you work. What if you turn your back on me? What if you don’t turn in the assignments on time? What if you suddenly increase your rates in the middle of the project knowing quite well that I’m totally relying on you?

You see, when my clients give me work, they can see my presence all over the Internet. Search for Amrit Hallan and you will find plenty of writing by me. I have a blog that I regularly update. I have my own content writing and content marketing website. I have a LinkedIn presence. I have a Twitter presence. I write on Medium. I’m on Instagram. Clients have written testimonials for me. They can find me everywhere.

What I mean to say is, I have been consistently there. Whether my clients are happy with me or not is another matter, they at least know I’m going to stick around and I’m going to respond. It means, my stakes are high. My clients know this. When they give me work they know that it’s my livelihood and I have put in effort.

I know it’s unreasonable to expect content writers working with me to create a similar presence, but they can show that they are really into content writing by writing for my blog. I don’t want people want to content writing just because they have got nothing else to do. I want passionate content writers.

Yes, now refer to the eyes-rolling GIF above.

I’m going to work with content writers who regularly write for my content writing and content marketing blog. I’m not saying they need to write every day, but at least once a week to show that they really want to collaborate.

I don’t want to arm twist you into doing this. If you don’t, someone else will. I’m cool with that. And I’m in no hurry.

Why I want my content writers to write for my blog?

  1. They will develop a writing style.
  2. It will show that they have abundant talent and they are not so desperate that they can write only when paid.
  3. We will be working as a team to get more work.
  4. I know my content writers are dedicated, driven and ready to put in at least an hour every week extra in order to get assignments.
  5. Most importantly, they will have a stake.

committed content writer

I have experienced that content writers who don’t have a stake act quite irresponsibly. They disappear suddenly and they change their terms and conditions haphazardly. If they continuously write for my blog they will know that they have put in effort and it is due to that effort that they are getting work and if they don’t do the work, all the effort will go waste.

So, this is how I’m going to select content writers for my upcoming projects.

Update: Faith (LinkedIn profile) asked some pertinent questions:

  1. Will I be given a byline?
  2. What are the guidelines for writing on your blog?
  3. When can I start?

These are very good questions and I should have addressed them before someone having to ask these questions. I’m thankful that she asked. Here are the replies:

Will the contributing content writers be given by lines?

Yes. With every post will appear the author bio. I’m also planning to put up a “Our Content Writers And Contributors” section where profiles of all the content writers will appear. They may also have their dedicated author pages.

You see, once they start contributing I would also like to provide them the right opportunity to get work from my website, directly.

What are the guidelines for contributing content writers?

Well, the only guideline is, be true to yourself. No plagiarism please. I’m not looking for a Salman Rushdie, although that would not be a negative.

Stick to a word length of not less than 400 words. As I said, express yourself.

This will also give me a chance to see how creatively you can create headlines that draw attention.
Of course the topics will have to do something with

  • Content writing
  • Content marketing
  • Online copywriting
  • SEO

When can you start submitting posts?

Whenever you feel like.

SEO guidelines for content writers

SEO content writer guidelines

SEO content writer guidelines

You can find thousands of content writers on the Internet vying for your business and some of them are actually brilliant.

But your business website, or even your blog, doesn’t just need a content writer, it needs a content writer that can take care of your SEO needs.

What am I talking about?

The performance of your content writer can be gauged from the following two indicators:

  • How much search engine traffic your content attracts.
  • How much of that traffic actually converts.

Successful content writers know how to draw a balance between both the requirements.

What does an SEO content writer do?

What does an SEO content writer do

What does an SEO content writer do

An SEO content writer writes search engine friendly content but more than that, he writes content that helps your visitors.

What does Google want to do? Does it want to crawl, index and rank your content or does it want to provide the best possible information to its search engine users?

It’s a mix of both.

It wants to provide the best possible information for the search being done.

The information cannot be found unless Google crawls, indexes and ranks your content (or content from other websites and Internet sources).

An SEO content writer knows what Google wants, from the inside out.

He knows that the content quality and the content relevance triumphs everything else.

Then, when quality and relevance are taken care of, the SEO content writer focuses on the keyword optimization aspect of your content.

Does he need to be a better writer? Obviously. He should be a great writer. He should be a great copywriter. He should be able to write convincingly and engagingly.

Your SEO content writer must also know how to format and organize your content in such a manner that Google can easily make sense of it.

Can any writer achieve that? Not without experience.

There are millions of webpages and blog posts on the Internet.

And when there are millions of webpages and blog posts to compete with, only the subtle things, things that cannot be directly observed by the eye, can make a big difference.

Hence, an SEO content writer

  1. Develops a complete understanding of your topic/subject before beginning to write.
  2. Completely understands what your audience is looking for.
  3. Writes your content impeccably.
  4. Knows where to use your keywords and where not to use them.
  5. Knows how to organize your content under various sections so that it’s easier for search engines to make sense of it.
  6. Write simple yet professional sentences that are easier to interpret both for search engine algorithms as well as human readers.

Does an SEO content writer just write content to improve search engine rankings?

It depends on in what capacity your SEO content writer is working with you. An experienced SEO content writer like me can provide both consulting as well as writing.

What does consulting mean? It means advising you with the topics that you must cover to improve your search engine rankings.

The sort of topics that you choose to cover is as important as writing the content itself. To create content that genuinely improves your search engine rankings you must know what information people are looking for and then write content accordingly.

You should also be able to write and publish unique information. Preferably, information that is not existing anywhere else. The more unique your information is, the better are going to be your search engine rankings.

The conversion rate of your content is as important as your search engine rankings. In fact, if you enjoy higher search engine rankings but your conversion rate is low, your rankings are of no use.

Hence, an SEO content writer must also be a good copywriter because only then he is going to be able to convince your visitors into turning your paying customers and clients.

Does an SEO content writer really improve your search engine rankings?

Well, this is the intention of working with an SEO content writer – your search engine rankings must experience a significant improvement once optimized content begins to appear on your website/blog on an ongoing basis.

“On an ongoing basis” is the key here. Publishing SEO content on your website or blog is not a one-time affair. Just like you continuously need to host your website, you continuously need to publish content.

The reason is, all your competitors are continuously publishing SEO content. They all want to outdo each other. Every competitor who is ranked below you, wants to rank above you, and he or she is not going to rest unless that objective is achieved.

Hence, you need to outdo his or her effort and for that, you need to publish SEO content on an ongoing basis.

Hence, provided

  1. Your content writer is well-versed with writing SEO content.
  2. You publish content regularly at set intervals.
  3. You focus on publishing high-quality content that delivers value.

Your SEO content writer is definitely going to improve your search engine rankings.

Your SEO content writer must strike a balance between higher search engine rankings and conversion rate

Balance between SEO and conversion rate

Balance between SEO and conversion rate

Your website needs targeted traffic from all over the web in general, and search engines in particular.

After that, it isn’t just search engine traffic that does the job, you also need business, you need paying customers and clients.

When I say content writers, I mean people who totally understand the need of a business to convert traffic into customers and clients.

Add SEO abilities and you have the killer combination. So here are a few SEO guidelines for content writers that may help you as a content writer, and as also as a business owner looking for an SEO-proficient content writer.

  1. Write for the target audience
  2. Use the language your target audience uses on day-to-day basis as well as on search engines
  3. Avoid using more than two keywords for a webpage, an article or a blog post
  4. Stick to the main topic and try to remain as vertical as possible
  5. Be original; search engines like Google dislike duplicate content
  6. Use the primary keyword in the title
  7. Write for your audience first, make sure your content is convincing and would convert well, and only then think about SEO
  8. Use your primary as well as longtail keyword in the description
  9. Write in a conversational style
  10. Use appropriate images whenever possible because this can get you extra traffic from image searches as well as social networking websites like Pinterest
  11. Solve a problem, or provide a solution
  12. Use primary keywords and longtail keywords within headline tags (for instance, <h1>, <h2>, etc.)

While preparing content for these SEO guidelines for content writers I discovered that lots of points that I have mentioned above already exist, or rather, appear in regurgitated form on other websites. Since the language is almost similar it shows that most of these writers don’t actually understand what it takes to create SEO-friendly content that also converts well, and they have simply taken the content off other websites and blogs. Some have even copied the bulleted lists straightaway. Well, this is the first sign that shows that where you stand.

Why SEO guidelines for content writers

Every good, experienced content writer by default is also a good SEO content writer.

Amidst daily professional and personal grinds we forget these points so it is always better to keep revising them on a regular basis so that they get embedded into our subconscious. For instance, creating a title that contains the primary keyword should be done as a usability benefit even if you are not specifically writing for SEO. Similarly, highlighting important point with the help of the main keywords helps your readers quickly understand the gist of your webpage or the blog post.