You've decided to make the leap, and use a freelance writer for your marketing copywriting.
Great, everyone's doing it. But how do you avoid getting burned badly? Your marketing is too important to spend money on a writer that doesn't deliver. There's a number of criteria that separate good writers from great candidates for your content marketing team. In fact, even if you're picking among pre-screened writers, you should dig a little deeper. Here are 7 seriously important factors to consider:
1. Evaluate Breadth of Experience
There's freelance writers out there with backgrounds in academic or creative writing. While these authors are sure to have a sound grasp of grammar and spelling, they may not know everything it takes to create online content. The best bloggers do more than just pound out 600 topical words. They consider user experience, formatting, SEO, and much more. At a minimum, ensure your writers have web experience.
2. Ensure Research Aptitude
If you manage to hire the perfect subject matter expert, you're lucky. However, as HubSpot's Corey Eridon highlights, even experts still need to perform some research to check facts. The best freelance writers have an intense natural curiosity and well-honed research skills.
Verifiable industry expertise is always a sign that someone could be the right fit. However, a portfolio of well-researched content isn't just a positive sign. It's a necessary one.
3. Consider Scheduling and Training
All writers need some direction. This can range from an extensive training to basic directions for each blog post, depending on your needs. For the simple reason of communication, you should consider scheduling. A writer in your own time zone isn't crucial, but it's certainly helpful for communication, or requesting a quick turn-around on content.
For more insights and hacks, check out 10 Super Tips for Managing Freelance Writers on the Writtent blog!
4. Be Aware of Red Flags
If a writer's portfolio is flawless, but their messages are riddled with errors, that is a huge red flag. If your writer takes days to respond to a simple question, that's another red flag. At the end of the day, freelance writers are professionals, and most of them behave accordingly.
5. Find Marketing Experience
Did I mention that your freelance writer needs more skills than just writing? This is crucial. The kinds of writers who will drive results have some background - from formal education to work experience - in business and marketing. They draw from this to help you meet your strategy and goals. Marketing writers aren't creatives who can spin words in an ivory tower!
6. What Can I Afford?
What is the going rate for freelance writers?
Well, that depends. The typical range for content authored by a native speaker is usually between 3-10 cents per word. You could pay more if you're hiring a very experienced freelance writer. As editor Meghan Ward reports, rates can cost up to $75 per hour, especially for highly specialized content services like long-form editing.
Regardless, you'll be glad to know that exceptional freelance writers are probably cheaper than you think. A word to the wise: if you're using an online marketplace to connect with writers, ensure they aren't taking a huge cut. If only 40 or 50% of your cost go into the writer's pocket, you'll have trouble with both content quality and retention.
7. Consider the Forum
Do you have the perfect candidate in mind? No? Well, it's worth your while to consider how you'll engage with a freelance writer. You could choose to hire one - or multiples - via a job board. This could offer the benefit of face-to-face meetings, but will likely cost you tens of hours in interviews, decisions, and training.
You can also choose to head online. Web marketplaces for copywriters offer you the benefit of flexibility. However, they're not all created equal. You want a content marketplace that pre-screens writers, has high standards for professional conduct, and a strong track record of customer satisfaction.
Are you considering hiring - or becoming - a freelance writer? Share your thoughts in the comments!