Recently, I outlined five steps to hiring a freelance writer. But there’s a difference between merely hiring a freelance writer and hiring the freelance writer of your dreams. This week, I’m going to share seven tips for hiring a freelance writer you’ve dreamed of.
Be Clear About Your Wants and Needs
Freelance writers are pretty good. If all you have is a topic idea, we can often take that and run with it. But that doesn’t mean you should come to us with nothing more than a topic idea. The more information you can provide us with, the better we can do in providing you with a piece of quality content.
What should you tell us? Start here:
- Scope of the work: do you want a single blog post, multiple blog posts, copy for a webpage or entire site? How many words do you want? Do you want keywords used, and if so, which ones and how often? What about images – will you provide those or do you want us to? What is your deadline, and if it’s ongoing work, how often do you expect deliverables? Lay out all the expectations that you know you have so that we know what you need.
- Budget: Freelance writers charge a variety of prices. Some charge by the hour while others charge by the word and still others charge per project. Be clear about your budget and how firm it is. While a freelance writer may be willing to negotiate their prices (some do, not all), if we don’t know what kind of budget you have and if you’re willing to go a little over it, we can’t decide whether to be flexible.
- Deadlines: Be clear about your deadline, but also be reasonable. You can’t contact a writer on Sunday and expect a quality piece by Monday morning (not without a huge premium attached, anyway). Give your writer plenty of lead time so they can truly deliver their best work.
- Research: How much research is involved? Are you looking for light, short blog posts or in-depth academic articles? One requires little to no research while the other will require several hours, if not weeks, of it. We need to know this up front, not only so we know how much to charge you, but also so we can tell you how long it might take and make sure we have room in our schedule for it.
Ghostwritten or Byline?
A ghostwritten piece of content allows you to claim authorship, which increases your credibility as an expert. This comes at a premium, though, because the writer usually can’t use it in their portfolio to gain future clients.
A byline for the writer gives them another piece for their portfolio, and often nets you a lower price on a quality piece of content. While a writer will always provide their best work, content with their name on it is sure to be as close to perfect as possible. No one wants to put their name on something that is low quality.
Check Out Their Work
If you really want to find a writer you’ll love, look at content that really resonates with you. The articles and blog posts that you most enjoy reading, or that you most connect with, are written by the kind of writer you want. Look for the writer’s name on the content you enjoy and look them up.
Of course, in some cases this won’t work. A journalist for a national newspaper, for example, may not be interested in anything beyond what they already do. But bloggers and other writers are usually very open to anything that puts their name out there, even if they hadn’t previously considered freelance writing.
Be Clear On What a Freelance Writer CAN’T Do
We can write copy that persuades, informs, entertains, and even convinces people to buy. But we’re not (usually) a Jack-of-all-trades. Writers write. Full stop.
Some writers may offer additional services, such as SEO optimization, images, uploading the content, or others. In those cases, it’s usually because the writer did things like that in their former career, or they’ve taken the time to learn in order to make their services more enticing.
But in general, we’re not qualified to help you create a logo, design your website, or create an entire marketing campaign. We can offer our opinions on these things, if you ask, but we’re far from experts.
Ask the Right Questions
A few questions to ask before you get too deep:
- What kind of experience do you have? (Keep in mind that less experience does not equal lower quality, but you do want to find out.)
- Do you provide images?
- What kind of revision and rejection policy do you have?
- Can you do SEO?
- What are your rates?
- What is your turnaround time?
- Can I see some writing samples? (Or, do you have a portfolio?)
- What do you need from me in order to write for me?
Remember It’s a Two-Way Street
You want your writer to provide you with excellent content by your deadline – a totally reasonable request. However, you need to remember that it’s a two-way street. In order for your writer to provide that outstanding content on time, you need to provide all the information they need.
Also, make sure you pay on time. While most writers love writing, and are invested in seeing your business thrive, you can’t expect them to continue to provide you with great content on time if you aren’t paying on time. Work out the details of payment before any writing happens so there’s no confusion and then live up to the details.
Set Up a Plan for Communication
In general, the relationship between writer and client tends to be online. There may be an initial phone call to discuss the project, and possibly a few phone calls here and there to clarify details. But by and large, most writers prefer to communicate via email or messaging apps that allow them to respond when they’re not busy with other things. We also tend to prefer not to have daily communications, even if that’s what you’d prefer.
This isn’t to say there’s no room for compromise and negotiation here. But it is important to establish a plan from the start. There’s less opportunity for misunderstandings and miscommunications if you can agree before you begin working together how you’ll communicate and how often.
When you find the right writer, you’ll be able to build a solid relationship that can lead to incredible content for your business for years to come. That’s why it’s important to do your homework, take your time, and make sure that you give all that you can to help your writer succeed.