A professional freelance writer can turn your content from drab to fab, drive readers to your door, and write engaging copy that will help make conversions. Finding the perfect writer for your business, blog or other endeavor can seem daunting, but it really comes down to a few basic steps and guidelines.
Whether you are looking for a ghostwriter for your blog, a copywriter for your website, or a business writer to create smart marketing content, the following guidelines can help you find the best freelance writer for your needs.
1. Know What You Want
Setting expectations up front gives your potential writer a clear picture of what you’re looking for so they can help determine the best approach to content, pitch topics, establish a delivery schedule and set a reasonable fee structure.
Some things to consider before you hire a freelance writer include:
- Scope - Even if you are just looking for someone to write a single article or blog post, your project contains a range of expectations, including deadlines, word count, keyword usage, images, etc.
- Research - Are you looking for short, lighthearted topical blog posts or in-depth academic articles that require boatloads of research?
- Budget - How much can you spend over how much time?
- Calendar - Set deadlines and give your writer plenty of lead time.
Create an editorial calendar with detailed job descriptions, but don’t get too bogged down by the small print; leave room for your writer to work some magic.
2. Look at Published Work
One of the best ways to hire a freelance writer is to take note of the articles and posts that get your attention and contact the authors -- more often than not, they’d love to have you as a client.
However, don’t automatically cross off writers who don’t have experience in your industry. A professional freelance writer will have the research and writing skills to do your business justice.
3. Ghostwriting vs. Bylines
A ghostwriter creates content that you publish under your own name. Ghostwriters help establish you as the authority that you are. However, writers do love a byline, and if ghostwriting fees are too high for your budget, consider offering a byline for a lower fee. That way, you still get great content and the writer adds another piece to his or her portfolio.
4. Ask the Right Questions
- Tell me about your experience.
- Can I see writing samples?
- What SEO do you do?
- Do you provide images?
- What is your revision/rejection policy?
- What are your rates and turnaround times?
- What do you need from me?
It’s really that simple.
5. Know What a Freelance Writer is Not
Thanks in part to shows like Mad Men, many people read the word “copywriter” and expect that a freelance writer will come up with an entire advertising slogan and marketing campaign.
A freelance writer is not an ad agency and usually isn’t a brand strategist. While a good writer can offer suggestions and create alluring copy, articles, guides, and social or blog content, most of them are not equipped to help you design a logo, creative an advertising strategy, or give feedback on images or website design.
6. Establish Communication Plans
You and your freelance writer will likely be building a long-distance relationship. While you may prefer daily phone calls or Skype sessions, your writer probably won’t.
Email is the preferred method of communication between writer and client, with occasional phone calls to touch base and stay on track, and sometimes even texts for a quick check in. However, your relationship with your writer is unique; do whatever works for you both, just make sure to set communication expectations up front.
7. Prepare to Reciprocate
You want your writer to deliver great content on time, so make sure you reciprocate by delivering the information they need and paying them on time. Too often, clients withhold information or provide only vague direction, then are surprised when the writer doesn’t deliver as expected.
Freelance writers are invested in you and your business, in part because your success is their success by proxy, but also because they need to eat and pay their bills.
Freelance writers will work hard and go out of their way to write great content for you, but you must also do your part. Trust them with your information, communicate clearly, and don’t leave their invoices unpaid.
Hiring a writer is the professional version of hiring a babysitter; you want a reliable person you can trust.
Do your homework, invest some time into setting expectations, treat your writer with respect, and they will be happy to show up at your door and take good care of your content.
Are you looking for a great freelance writer? Do you have questions not covered here? Please let us know in the comments!