11 Things to Look for in Freelance Writers

Freelance writers can make or break your business.

Hire the right ones and your traffic, leads, and conversions could skyrocket, while you save time and money. Hiring the wrong ones, on the other hand, can mean poor sales, wasted resources and opportunities, and a muddy reputation that can’t be salvaged. Who can afford that?

Want to make sure you’re hiring the right person for your blogging and content marketing? Here are eleven things to look for when scouring the Internet for writers.

Freelance Writers: What to Look for When Hiring


Most of us can write, but not everyone is a writer. Good grammar only goes so far. Writers have the ability to tell stories; to paint pictures with words; to make things happen vividly in the reader’s mind. If your prospective writers can do that effectively, they may just be the right freelancers for your business.

2. Passion

Writers write. They do it all the time. Not just because it gets them paid, but because it’s something they actually love to do. Want to find out if your prospect is passionate about writing? Ask him or her to write an unpaid sample. This isn’t foolproof, but their reaction will tell you what you need to know.

3. Experience

Raw talent is great, but experience matters. Generally, the more you do something, the better you get at it. Same with writing. Depending on your business and needs, hiring freelance writers who are just breaking into the industry could cost you time and money. Check those resumes.

4. Expertise

Specifically, subject matter expertise. You want your writers to be experts in your niche. Google does. Your audience certainly does. Those generic articles you used to crank out in 2009 no longer fly. Today, establishing expertise and thought leadership is the key to a successful content marketing strategy.

5. Research skills

Research is important. It makes your web content more accurate, more credible, and more authoritative, which of course affects your bottom line. It makes sense then to hire a wordsmith who knows how to conduct research effectively and use that information to the benefit of your business.

6. SEO knowledge

If your freelance writers will be writing for the web, they should know how to do so. Ideally, you want someone who is familiar with current keyword usage and SEO best practices. They should be able to create content that appeals to humans and search engines. Test. Check samples.

7. Professionalism

Professional writers act like professionals. They are attentive. They are candid. They are accommodating (within reason). They don’t waste your time! This is the kind of person you want, especially if you will be working with him or her long term. After all, you run a professional business.

8. Reliability

Imagine commissioning a writer, assigning a task for a time-sensitive campaign, and then POOF, he pulls a Houdini on you. Doesn’t reply to emails. Can’t reach her on Skype. No warning. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing who will let you down, but a professional is much less likely to do this.

9. Reputation

Is the writer you have in mind highly sought after? Freelance writers with a reputation usually have one for a reason. Yes, you are probably going to have to pay a little more, but you will work less and your content will work harder. Look for an active social presence and guest posts on authority websites.

10. Versatility

Your business is growing (hopefully). Hiring a writer that will grow with it is a logical step. Can he or she write in more than just one voice or style? Will they be able to keep up with your content marketing schedule? Are they willing to work with other members of your team? Important questions.

11. Suitability

It helps when you (and your team members) actually like the freelancer you’re working with. Communication should be easy. Again, bear in mind that you might be working with this person long term. Usually, you will know right off the bat if this type of character is the right fit for your business.

Did I miss anything? What do you look for when hiring freelance writers for your business? Let me know in the comments.