Six Steps to Hiring the RIGHT Freelance Writer

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Hiring a freelance writer can be a daunting task. There are literally hundreds of freelance writers from more countries than you might think. Salary ranges vary widely, and it’s reasonable to assume that talent levels will too. So, how do you find the right freelance writer for your specific job?

Here are six tried-and-true steps to help you narrow down the freelance writers for your work.

1. Evaluate the program you are looking for

Be honest about the program you are hiring for. Do you need a formal, well-trained writer (who will complete the previous sentence with “you hire someone”), or someone more colloquial? Does it really matter if your writer is a seasoned expert?

It’s easy to think that your writer’s skill level definitely matters. However, if your content is to be used for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) purposes, you might be wrong. If you’re looking for keyword-heavy content to get your site at the top of search engine results, quality may not be what you need. Instead, focus on the amount of material. In short, if search engine spiders encounter these articles more often than humans, quality may give way to quantity.

But if your project represents you or your company and can make or break your credibility, you can afford nothing less than top quality. Poorly written website content, articles, newsletters, white papers, media briefings, etc. will negatively impact you and your business.

2. Assess the “fit” of freelance writers

Once you’ve determined that you need a highly skilled writer or a prolific but imperfect writer, your next step is to identify the right person for your project. There are several considerations at this point: project length, theme, sound, style, format, and timeline. Consider each of these carefully before approaching a freelance writer.

Try to find writers who have worked on similar projects to the ones you hope to achieve. That’s not to say a sports nutrition writer can’t write an essay on eating habits for healthy skin — most writers enjoy researching and writing on a wide variety of topics. However, be sure to find freelance writers who have worked on projects of similar length, focus, and voice.

3. Interview Multiple Freelance Writers

The best way to feel comfortable hiring a freelance writer is to interview multiple candidates and see what’s out there – a benchmark that helps you see what’s available and what different writers charge for different skill levels . The skill level is, of course, up to you (no one will admit that they are uneducated – usually even themselves!). Your freelance writer interview will also help you assess how well you communicate with each candidate. Good communication between you and your writer is the key to a successful project.

4. Ask for writing samples

Any good freelance writer will have plenty of writing samples to show you his value and experience as a writer. However, keep in mind that you can’t see if an article has been edited. As a professional editor, I can tell you that some of the articles I’ve worked on will look completely different when I’m done! If the author credits him or her for the final article, that’s his or her prerogative – after all, it’s the author’s name that appears on the article. Keep in mind that editing – a lot of editing – happens.

5. Request the test paper

The best way to determine if a writer is really a good fit for your project is to ask for a sample of written material that is relevant to your project. Note that some writers charge for this – especially the more professional ones. A great way to do this is to hire a freelance writer to write a smaller article or project before moving on to a larger project. This way you can determine what kind of writer you hire and whether that writer can produce the content you need.

6. Stay in touch

Maintain regular contact with your freelance writers throughout the duration of the project. If the task is particularly long or difficult, you may want to set periodic milestones to assess the author’s progress and ensure that the project’s direction is not lost.

It can be tough to find a great freelance writer you can trust for your important projects, but if you do it right, you can build lasting relationships that take all your writing burden off the table.


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