Guide to Hiring a Freelance Writer
Need some content, but worried about hiring a writer? Your concerns are legitimate. You have a business to run and/or a job to do. And you could be accountable for the results, even if you aren’t the one who produces the content. So you definitely don’t want just any outsider messing things up.
However, you need a service that your team can’t, for whatever reason, provide. What to do?
First, take a breath and rest assured that there are many competent, trustworthy, and reliable writers out there. You can find them via referrals, by posting an online job opportunity, or if you have time, by perusing LinkedIn profiles or Facebook groups and contacting individuals directly.
Once you find potential candidates and ultimately the writer you want to hire, consider these points.
Determine whether the writer is a good fit for the job. You’ll want to know their prior experience and background. How long have they worked as a freelancer? What’s their client list like? Are they already an expert on the subject you’re covering, or do they demonstrate the interest and ability to learn enough to write about it convincingly?
Most serious writers put up a portfolio of their work on their website. Take a few minutes to peruse this section. You’ll be able to see what type of writing they’ve done and get a feel for their style, tone, and overall ability to communicate.
Boom! Found your writer! Now describe what you need—clearly.
If you want your writer to do a great job, they’ll need some information from you. Now is the time—before a single word gets typed—to provide some very important information, including:
Company background info – before beginning a writing project, it helps to get in the business’s head. Basic information about company history, goals, and products/services gives writers a good deal of insight, which will help them write the type of informative or convincing content you need.
Target audience – who will be reading the blog/case study/website? What do they do for a living? What gender(s) or ages are they? Writing for a 20-something audience is a lot different then writing for retirees. Provide as much information about your audience as possible so the writer can write content that resonates with your target group.
Complete project scope - Now isn’t the time to be vague or to mince words. Sure, you’re busy, but it’s a mistake to assume the subject matter is something “everyone knows.” A good writer will work their magic, but they still need to know what it is that you want first! Some information to share, depending on the project, may include:
ideas (if you have them)
keywords if it’s an SEO piece
number of website pages (including sub pages)
an outline if possible links to resources
tone preference - formal, casual, uber-casual (some companies even swear at their prospects. You don’t have to do this, but it has been done effectively!)
a contact person for questions, feedback, etc.
The devil is in the details.
Communication really is key when working with a writer. The more details you can provide before a project begins, the smoother the process will be. Make sure you and your writer are on the same page about things like:
Revisions – How many? Who will review the drafts? Who will provide feedback? What’s the turnaround time to make/submit changes?
How when the writer will be paid. Speaking of which….
Sign a contract; pay your writer (well).
Both parties need to sign a contract outlining work details/expectations. It can be your contract or one provided by the writer.
Expect to pay a deposit fee and remainder on delivery of project, especially if this is the first time you’ve worked together. And remember that you get what you pay for. If you only want to spend $50 for a blog post, chances are you won’t get a top-notch article.
Nurture your relationship.
If the writer was easy to work with, the project was delivered on time, and the content hit the mark, congratulations—you’ve found yourself a partner for future projects! (And one who now knows a bit about your business.)
Keep their information handy so when you need additional writing services, you’ll be able to send a quick email or text to check their availability.
Know that writers value good clients, too, and if their experience was positive, too, they’ll look forward to making go-to contractor list.
Feel free to share their information with other business partners, and take a minute to endorse their skills on LinkedIn or writer a brief review. The benefits of a long-term, professional relationship with a competent, reliable writer will serve your business well in the future.