A highly-skilled freelance writer is a terrific asset to your business. The writer’s skills can give your organization a professional polish, and your marketing materials will have “conversion” written all over them.
But now comes the hard part. How do you actually find the ideal writer for the job? There are many factors to consider. Thankfully for you, we’ve listed all you need to know to hire a freelance writer below. Follow this guide, and you’ll soon have a writer or a stable of writers ready to give your business the boost it needs to get ahead.
The Why (Why do you need a freelance writer?)
Before you begin hunting for a freelance writer, figure out why you’re doing so. What are your content marketing goals? Are you missing specific expertise, or do you not have the bandwidth to create enough content in-house? Will your freelancer be your sole content creator or an extension of your internal team? Evaluating your own business before seeking out a freelancer will help you know exactly who you’re looking for.
The What (Identify what you want the freelance writer to do.)
What do you expect your writer to write? While you can expect a professional worth his/her mettle to suggest projects that you might be interested in, you will also benefit from having a list of topics of your own. Planning out your content ahead of time will help you determine how it fits into your overall content strategy. Let the professional give you his or her honest and professional opinion, and take things from there.
The Who (How to determine who is the best fit.)
When you begin searching for a freelancer, you should have some attributes in mind. These are characteristics that all highly sought-after freelance writers possess.
Attributes to Look For
From the initial email the two of you exchange to the message accompanying the very first completed piece; communication should be clear and forthcoming. If your writer shows poor grammar or spelling choices in emails to you, how do you think your finished pieces will come out? Likewise, if the writer is secretive or not very communicative at all, that’s another red flag that tells you should probably look elsewhere.
Ask the writer for a list of current and previous clients. While you’re at it, ask for a few testimonials. But don’t just take the writer’s word. Contact the companies the writer has written for and see how they gauge the ease of working with said. If you get back that the writer is a diva and difficult to work with, you might want to pass and keep searching.
Check the writer’s social profiles, such as LinkedIn. Are they involved with any writer groups or other professional organizations? Do they have a large following? That can let you know that the writer is dedicated and has been doing this for a long time, and it is probably well worth the fees he/she charges.
The Ability to Write:
Check the writer’s portfolio, which should showcase his/her very best work. In some cases, you can ask for a sample piece to be written, such as a blog post. Don’t ask for projects on spec. Offer to pay the writer for the work in question. It’s bad karma to ask anyone to work for free.
You should decide ahead of time what type of research you require with your completed projects. Do you want backlinks to authority sources in your blog posts, or do you require actual interviews with experts in your field? Do you want the writer to cite published works with a well-crafted bibliography? Let the writer know what you expect before you hire so that there are no surprises later on.
From the original test piece to every subsequent assignment, the writer should be turning materials in on time. Your emails and other communications should also be answered in a prompt manner. A writer worth his/her worth is always punctual and professional and responds without fail no matter what’s going on in his or her life.
With the above checklist in mind, you now have a pretty good idea of the type of writer you’d like to hire. Before you start contacting writers, there are a few more points you might want to consider.
How Will Payments Be Handled?
Some writers prefer to be paid via PayPal; some like bank transfers and some want a check sent in the mail. What types of payments do you prefer? Do you have an accountant that only sends out wire transfers? These are considerations that should be hashed out before you get into communication with a writer. If you don’t have a payment preference, ask the writer how he/she likes to be paid and take things from there.
How Much Does the Writer Charge?
This is often the first question clients ask writers before they start working with them, and for good reason. If the writer’s fees aren’t within your budget, it does little good to continue the hiring discussion. Don’t automatically discount a writer that charges higher fees than you expect. As with anything, you often get what you pay for. A writer who commands premium fees most likely produces premium work.
Another consideration is that the writer’s fees may increase over time. Have this discussion ahead of time, so you know what to expect in the future.
How Will You Communicate?
Some writers prefer to communicate with clients via email. Some clients prefer to have their writers log into collaboration platforms like Basecamp or their content community platform. Make sure the status quo is worked out before you begin working with your writer so that there is no confusion (or missed messages) from the first point of contact onward.
There are two more points to consider before you begin your hunt. These have to deal with the time factor.
The Ability to Stick to Deadlines
Before you hire a writer, ask about turnaround times. These will likely vary depending on the projects you order. A blog post may take 24-72 hours, depending on the amount of research involved. An eBook, on the other hand, could take up to six weeks or more. Get these details hashed out before you order so that you’re not left frustrated waiting on your writer to produce.
Ongoing or One-Off Work
Are you looking for a single whitepaper to be written, and that’s it? Or do you want a writer for ongoing work, such as blog posting, sales copy, and any other materials that need to be written? Let your writer know this before you start working together to make planning easier. You may find that your writer is too booked up for ongoing work. Likewise, you may find that the writer isn’t interested in one-off pieces and only expects a long-term relationship. Make your intentions known at the beginning of the client-writer relationship to maintain expectations and avoid confusion later on.
You are finally ready to hire the perfect writer (or writers) for the job. But where do you look? Here are the most common places to find high-level writers who are ready to begin working with you right away.
Where to Look for Freelance Writers
- Social Media: Do a search on Facebook, Twitter, and, most of all, LinkedIn. Look through the links they leave, check the frequency of their posts, and take a glance at their connections. Find out who is sought after and who seems to be treading water. The former is probably a writer worth hiring.
- Your Network: Send a message to colleagues or that professional you met at that trade show a few months ago. Ask if they know any writers worth hiring. You may be surprised at just how many recommendations come your way. Ask everyone you meet about freelance referrals, and you just may receive them.
- Your Favorite Blogs and Articles: Did you stumble upon a blog post that you absolutely love? Did you just read a magazine article you couldn’t put down? Contact the writer of the pieces you appreciate and ask if they’re You never know, you may start a working relationship that gives your business a massive boost.
- Content Community: nDash.com provides you with a community of freelance writers with complete profiles so you can view who they are, the work they’ve done, and the fields they are an expert in. Also, because writers can pitch you ideas, the best writers will be much easier to find.
Final Thoughts on Hiring a Freelance Writer
You now have plenty of information to help you find and hire the perfect freelance writer for your needs. That writer is out there and is waiting to hear from you. Get your expectations in order, have a questionnaire ready and start contacting writers right now. You’re about to see just how valuable a professional freelance writer can be for audience engagement and business growth. In fact, you may soon wonder how you ever got by without one.