“Finding freelance writers is easy. Finding the one that’s perfect for your brand is a huge challenge.”
Over the last five years, I’ve given this advice (in one form or another) to thousands of new companies on nDash, who come to us to help with their freelance writer search. Although no two brands are the same, their motivation typically falls under one of three use cases:
#1. Not enough bandwidth in-house
#2. They want additional subject matter expertise
#3. Looking for a fresh voice and outside perspective
Despite the difference in the use cases above, the process for finding and vetting freelance writers is largely the same. In today’s blog, we’re going to dive into the details and offer up some proven tactics to make this important task go smoother. Here we go…
Figure Out the Type of Writer You’re Looking For
Before you can begin vetting a writer, you first need to figure out the type of writer that you’re looking for. We generally categorize them as follows:
#1. A marketing writer: this is someone that doesn’t necessarily have years of understanding the brand’s space, but they can listen to brain-dumps and conduct research to craft a well-written and insightful article
#2. Someone with subject matter expertise: this type of writer has years of experience either writing for or working in this industry; they understand it inside and out.
To figure out which one is going to support your marketing efforts best, start by first asking yourself a few key questions:
Who is currently in your content community?
List them and what their role is. Then ask yourself: Are they someone who does the writing? Do you lean on them for content ideas? Are they happy to dedicate 15 minutes of their time here and there to provide a brain dump on a specific topic?
What are the strengths of each of those contributors?
It’s time to vet your content community and figure out where your strengths are. Based on the list of contributors you provided above, write down if their strong suit is writing based on brain dumps, crafting research-driven pieces, or sharing industry knowledge.
What are you currently lacking in expertise or knowledge in-house?
Perhaps you need someone that can turn a blog your developer wrote and make it more market-facing. Or maybe you need someone that pays attention to industry trends and pitch a few blog ideas each month that would appeal to your target audience.
Finding Freelance Writers
Once you’ve narrowed down exactly the type of writer you’re looking for, it’s time to both find and evaluate potential freelance writers. On nDash, we made this easy for you. You’re able to search writers by industry and keyword.
However, even if you’re searching outside of nDash, the same principles run true when it comes to finding potential freelance writers.
When I have been asked to recruit a writer with a specific type of expertise that we don’t currently have in our nDash community, I typically turn to industry blogs and publications. From there, I look at who the author of the piece is and track down their contact information.
I will warn you, it does take quite a bit of time to go through and track them down, but it’s well worth it!
How to Vet a Freelance Writer
Once you have found the writers you’re interested in (potentially) working with, it’s time to take a closer look at their profiles and what they’ve done in the past. A few things you’ll want to take note of:
*Previous work experience: do/did they have a full-time job in your space previously? How many years have they written about this topic? Do they solely write about this topic, or are they spread across many industries? This will tell you how experienced the writer is.
*Writing samples: while you can’t always be positive that the post was unedited by a third party, writing samples do provide you with a sense of their writing style and also provides a proof-point based on publications and companies they’ve written for.
*Price: if you’re finding a writer either on nDash or on their personal website, it’s likely that prices will be listed. If not, and you like what you see so far, definitely ask them! It’s important to know up front whether or not they would be in your budget before moving forward.
Once you have built your short list of freelance writers, it’s now time to vet who is going to make the final cut for your content team. There are two ways to do this, both of which can be done either independently or in conjunction.
Request Content Ideas
A great way to figure out if a writer is a good fit for your space is to provide them with an overview of your current marketing strategy and have them pitch content ideas. This will provide you with some insights into whether or not they took the time to take a look at your brand strategy and also to let you know if they truly do understand your space.
On the nDash platform, we call this a group profile, but in short, this is information you’ll need to provide the writer with to do this well:
*Your website URL
*Types of content you love and hate
*The goal of the content
Administer Writing Tests
If you want to move forward with a writer with absolute certainty that they’re going to be the best fit for your company, then a writing test is a great place to start if you have some time to spare.
In this scenario, you would choose 3-5 writers you’d like to test out and provide them with a blog abstract. Please note that you’d provide each writer with the same abstract so that you can be provided with the most accurate depiction of who has the best writing style.
From there, you can compare all writing tests to see who you think understands your space best and provides a fresh perspective.
Final Thoughts on Finding and Evaluating Freelance Writers
Finding and recruiting content writers definitely takes a lot of time! But hopefully, these tips will help you speed up the process.
If you’d like help building and vetting your writing team, contact us today and ask us about our custom onboarding package. We’re here to help!