Hiring a freelance writer is a great way to add a little extra oomph into your content. Whether you need someone who can provide regular blogs and articles, content for your website or a really great marketing piece, freelancers can provide top quality, engaging content for your business. And hiring freelancers is also usually less expensive than hiring new employees.
But if you’ve never hired a freelancer before, where do you start? Fortunately, there is no shortage of people out there trying to make their living by the written word. Check any online classified site and you’re sure to find at least a few. Additionally, you may want to ask friends and colleagues if they know anyone that they can refer.
Once you know where to cast your net, there are certain steps that will help you find and keep the best freelancers.
- Know what you want
In the world of freelance writing every project – and every client is different. A writer can only do their very best for you if they know what it is that you want.
- Scope – whether you are looking for a long-term relationship with a writer or you only require a single article, it is important to set the scope. Make sure that your writer knows what you want in terms of word count, keywords, and deadlines.
- Tone – to you want fun, conversational pieces, or do you want longer, more meaty articles that will require your writer to do extensive research?
- Budget – how much are you prepared to spend – and over what period of time?
- Deadlines – when do you need to have a piece completed by? If your writer is completing multiple articles, you may want to consider creating an editorial calendar.
3. Ask for writing samples
During my years as a freelance writer, I have come to recognize with fairly good accuracy who will and who will not become a client based on their very first email to me. When someone sends me an email and asks how much I charge (and nothing else), they are probably not going to be a client.
If cost is your primary (only?) concern, it is better to a site like Upwork and hire there. Mind you in doing so, you risk hiring someone with poor writing skills or getting a piece of work that is completely plagiarized, but hey – it’s cheap right?
On the other hand, when someone asks for writing samples, it shows they are putting a little more thought into the process. Even better if they ask for writing samples in a particular niche or that were written for a particular business sector!
This isn’t to say that pricing isn’t important. It is. And obviously, you have to stay within a budget that you are comfortable with. Just don’t sacrifice quality in the process.
3. Ask the right questions
In the same vein that it is important to ask for writing samples, it is also important to ask the right questions.
- Do you write for SEO?
- Do you write for User Experience (UX)?
- What are your rates?
- What is your turnaround time?
- Can you input your writing into WordPress (or MailChimp or whatever platform you want to use)?
- Do you provide images?
- Do you provide social media support?
Ask any question you need to in order for you to feel comfortable working with the writer.
4. Understand what a freelance writer is not
It can be easy to pile all kinds of other duties on your freelance writer but most writers will not be able to design your website, or come up with a PPC campaign. If you need someone to take on these non-writing duties, you can certainly ask your writer if they have experience and if they are interested. Just understand that there is a good chance that they don’t and they’re not.
Also, understand that your writer is an independent contractor and not an employee. They have other clients besides you. In fact, they may even be writing as a side hustle and have a full-time job. This means of course, that they can’t be at your beck and call all the time.
You may wish to have daily or weekly phone calls with them, but chances are they will not. Most communication with your freelance writer can be done via email. And when only voice to voice will do, email or text and ask when a good time for a call would be
5. Be professional
When you hire a freelance writer you expect them to behave professionally. Remember though, that this is a two-way street. Your writer needs you to be professional as well.
This means communicating clearly and not withholding important information they may need to do their job properly.
It also means paying their invoices in full and on time. It’s sad that this last point even needs to be mentioned, but it does. Thankfully, the vast majority of the clients that I have worked for have been great – but a handful have not.
If you wouldn’t refuse to pay your lawyer, your hair stylist or your babysitter, then you need to treat your writer with the same respect.
Hiring a freelance writer can help you take your content to the next level. Just be sure to spend a little time doing your homework and interact professionally with your writer and it can be the start of a great relationship.