By Kim Palacios

Small business owners, in particular, may be hesitant to hire a professional blogger.  Though few have a sense for how much this might cost, it is often viewed as an unnecessary expense category, and a function that can be performed by a chosen employee inside the business.

In a few cases, it can be.  If there is an excellent writer on staff who can learn about blogging and absorb the work, there’s no reason to look outside.  Most often, however, few internal candidates who have not been hired expressly as writers stack up to dedicated professionals.  Here’s why:

A high quality blog signals a high quality business.  Potential customers will judge you based on the quality of your blog.  Unless you have a major brand with an established reputation or a number of online-searchable reviews, customers have few resources, apart from your web site, to decide whether they want to do business with you.  It is hugely important that your company puts its best foot forward in presenting a robust blog.

Higher-quality writing = better credibility.  Fundamentally, blogs serve a dual purpose: first, to supply your audience with value-added information and, second, to establish your company as a credible authority.  Yet, it is difficult for inexperienced writers to craft messages that hold the right tone, measure the right length, and provide the right level of detail.  Writing is a craft, and while most people have some capabilities, these may not be enough to earn them the job.  Consider painting your car: doing so yourself might yield a result that looks detectably amateurish, while hiring a professional would ensure finesse and polish.

SEO Savvy.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not rocket science, but it does have rules that can be tedious for an amateur to learn.  Yet, a good professional blogger understands how to write headlines and articles that will garner attention from dedicated audiences and search-based mechanisms.  The best bloggers also have an understanding of WordPress, Blogger, and other common blog platforms.  They know how to tag, categorize, and effectively integrate multimedia in ways that maximize results for your blog.

Affordability.  The slow but certain demise of the print publishing world has flooded the market with capable, yet underemployed, writers.  Add in a burgeoning global services economy, via sites like Elance and Freelancers.com, and foreign writers are driving the prices of talented American writers down.  What this means for the common business owner is access to a phenomenal pool of writing talent at unbelievably low prices.  Good pros are efficient, write effectively, and are on the hunt for steady gigs that pay slightly better than what can be found in this down market.  It often costs only a few dollars more per hour or per article to upgrade from a mediocre writer to somebody who is excellent.