Writing is a fantastic idea. Everybody should try to write for their own personal reasons. But professional writing is a totally different ball game – one that takes years of wholehearted dedication and unrelenting practice to master. If you operate an online business, you must have heard the term content marketing, which is a method of marketing a business or company through value-added content. But content marketing works only when you’re able to create an awful lot of quality content, day in and day out. Since you have multiple other important aspects of your business to deal with including operations, management, partnerships, sales and customer service among others – and also need to find some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor – you’ll sooner or later identify the need to hire one or more professional freelance writers for expert content creation.
The sooner you realize it, the better!
What deciding to work with freelance writers does at the least is that it quickly takes the extra load off your shoulders while increasing your own business productivity.
[If you need a freelance writer, feel free to head over to Skype for a quick chat]
Here’s why you should hire a professional freelance writer –
> They know their stuff passionately well.
> They are faster than you can possibly be.
> They don’t cost you an arm and a leg.
> They can identify missed content opportunities.
> They can work with you off and on.
The last reason is the most compelling of all. Since a freelance writer isn’t one of your full-time employees, you won’t be stuck with them forever.
You can hire a freelance writer to have a batch of 10 blog posts written, get them paid for it and tell them to wait for the next assignment. They won’t ask you for a monthly salary when they do nothing for you.
But all of it boils down to this fundamental question – ‘Do you know how to hire a professional freelance writer that’s best for your specific needs?’
Unless you seek the help of a specialized staffing agency, finding the perfect freelancer for your business is not going to be as easy you may think. Since there are so many fly-by-nighters (everyone claiming to be nothing less than the best) and you’d never want someone to fiddle with your own or your company’s reputation at any cost, you should always tread the grounds with great care.
Don’t forget that content writing is one job segment where supply outstrips demand to a greater degree.
Don’t panic, anyway!
As someone who’s been a freelance writer himself for over a decade and a half now while also carrying a well-rounded experience of managing a team of content writers, I hope you’d like me to share with you some practical tips on how to hire an experienced freelance writer.
So, here are 10 tips to make hiring a breeze for you and find a professional freelance writer that’s a best fit for your needs –
#1. Create a Job Description
First, have a clear picture of what you expect of the freelance writer you’re planning to hire. Equipped with a well-defined job description or a position overview (not one of the generic ones obviously), it will be easier for you to avoid many types of discrepancies that might crop up later.
Here’s what a typical job description should include –
- Company introduction
- Job roles or responsibilities
- Educational qualification
- Technical qualification/skills
- Any other specialties
- Sample topics
- Mode/frequency of payment
- Application requirements
- Contact details
Additionally, I would also advise you to include a brief overview of your specific content creation process so that applicants get a good sense of what exactly it will be like working with your company.
#2. Decide the Budget
Let me put it straight – ‘You get what you pay for’. Usually, freelance writers are paid by the word, by the article or by the hour. Depending on your individual circumstances, you can choose to go with any of these formats provided it suits the writer as well. But, it’s advisable to avoid the ‘by the hour’ option since you won’t be setting up a video surveillance system to track the minute-by-minute activities of the freelance writer you decide to work with.
Apart from the payment formats, you should also bear in the mind the various levels of freelance writers. Broadly speaking, there are three categories – expensive, reasonable and cheap.
Let me shed some more light on each of these categories –
Expensive: The best of the lot, they’re well-skilled industry professionals. You’ll hire them to take your brand’s image to the next level. If you choose to work with this category of writers, you can be sure that you’ll have the writing assignments delivered in time. And, therefore, the best ROI is guaranteed!
Reasonable: Unless you’re the CEO of a big brand or a popular movie star, this is the best choice for your writing needs. Proficient in English, they deliver sound quality while also strictly meeting the given deadlines. In some cases, you may need to acclimatize this category of writers a little to suit your individual needs. Many of these writers can be as good as the writers that fall into the ‘expensive’ category. It’s only that they’re charging reasonably.
Cheap: Not quite adept in English, they’re a lure for many for their cheapest writing rates. Since the quality of content created by these writers may not be acceptable, there are maximum chances that you’ll need someone else (a more proficient writer) to get the content edited for quality. Moreover, you can’t be sure of a timely delivery of projects either. So, you’ll hire them at your own risk.
Therefore, you should keep all these factors in mind while deciding upon a budget for your freelance writing projects.
#3. Start the Hunt
Once you clearly know what you want and how much you plan to spend, it’s time to start looking. There are both free and paid options to find a freelance writer of your choice. However, it’s advisable to use only reputed sources for the hunt so that you can get the best value for your money.
Use one of these –
Additionally, you can conduct your search through LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups as well as recommendations from some of your colleagues or friends who operate in the same industry as you.
#4. Evaluate the Resume (and the Cover Letter)
In a freelance writer’s resume, you’ll find essential details including the objective statement, educational qualifications, professional experience, skills, specializations, achievements etc. Each of these pieces of information will give you a good idea about whether you would like to communicate with an applicant further (and identify whether or not an applicant is a fakester). The cover letter, on the other hand, will give you added insights into their language/writing skills.
But what’s more important, in this regard, is that you should be able to successfully evaluate a content writer’s resume.
Right from beginning till end, you’ll need to take a microscopic look at each element of the resume. For example, a generic objective statement such as ‘utilize my experiences and skills to grow both professionally and personally’ should ring the bell. A professional freelance writer will take the time to tailor-make their objective statement to your specific requirements.
#5. Ask for Published Articles or Blog Posts
Chances are that you’ll find the portfolio – links to published articles or blog posts – in the applicant’s resume itself. If it’s not included, you shouldn’t hesitate to get in touch with them again for the same. Looking at the online write-ups of an applicant (carrying their full name as the author) is one of the best tips to follow when it comes to making a profitable hiring decision.
While screening articles, keep an eye out for each of these -
- Title or headline
- Introduction (or the Hook)
- Paragraphs, expression and flow of ideas
- Format or presentation
- Author byline
It gives you a sound idea about the professional experience of a freelance writer, their style and their tone of writing. All in all, it will make you aware of the track record of the writer.
#6. Get a Test Assignment Done
In most cases, the portfolio of a freelance writer does the talking. To eliminate any kind of uncertainty that you may still have regarding the skills of a freelance writer in regard to a particular niche or topic, you’re always free to devise a trial assignment. In fact, many companies these days want applicants to do a test article or a test blog post or a test press release, for example, to clearly understand the range of skills the latter can bring to the table. It provides you with a big advantage of hand-picking those who suit your requirements best.
Whether the trial write-up is on a par with what you’re looking for or not, always promise to pay for the effort. And keep your word too!
#7. Schedule an Interview via Skype
Thanks to the advanced video-conferencing technologies, conducting an interview from simply anywhere on the planet – home, office, smartphone and tablet – is no big deal. So, schedule an online interview via Skype so that you can talk to the applicant face-to-face and ask a couple of key questions that relate to the freelancing job position you’ve on offer.
Ask some of these questions –
Q. What industries or niches do you mostly write about?
Q. What’s your specialized niche?
Q. What’s your method of conducting research?
Q. Which blogs, publications or online magazines do you read?
Q. Which style guide do you adhere to?
Q. What’s your process of editing a first draft?
Q. Do you know how to optimize content for search?
Q. How do you define social media?
Q. What’s your typical revision cycle?
Q. How much time will you devote to my project?
Q. What’s your normal turnaround time?
Q. What have you included in the price?
Q. Apart from writing, what other services do you offer?
Connecting via Skype will also make you ware of the difference in the timezone between you and the freelance writer you want to work with. In any case, don’t forget to recheck your Skype settings well in advance so as not to waste time.
[Quick Tip: Watch out for the Skype account name of the applicant you’re interviewing. Even though some variations of the first and the last name are fine, something like ‘busybee’ or ‘thehappyguy’ isn’t professional at all and should be a reason to raise an eyebrow.]
#8. Set Up Communication Channels (and Collaboration Tools)
When you’re working with a freelance writer, regular communication takes centrestage. Whether you want to guide the writer with some essential tips through the course of an assignment or they have a question for you, steady communication is the only solution to make things hassle-free.
The communication channels and other tools that you may use for collaborating with freelance writers should be set up quickly. Give the writer a clear call on how often you’ll need to communicate with each other.
If the writer refuses to commit to the communication frequency or collaboration that’s essential for getting the job done well, you should quickly reconsider your decision of working with that particular writer.
#9. Be Ready to Pay Well and on Time
The freelance writers you hire have a mouth to eat (or feed multiple mouths if they’ve to raise a family) and bills to pay. Professional writers genuinely care about your business and its success. They labor consistently to make your company look good on the web and bring you more customers. Therefore, have faith in their hard work and pay their invoices on time.
For writers that showcase outstanding performance, be a little more generous and keep them delighted with incentives from time to time for continued motivational influence.
#10. Keep Nurturing
I’ve noticed that nurturing a freelance writer (provided they’re a true professional) can produce a much better outcome. The writer that you hire may need a little more time to understand what you really want. After all, it’s your brand and your story. By devoting a few extra hours, every couple of days or every week, you could guarantee a better output from the writer you’ve hired. Never hold back any essential piece of information that would help the writer create better, value-added content. Understand that it’s always a collaborative process and so stay within easy reach of the writer.
On the other hand, keep a close watch on the metrics. If you see that the writer is constantly underperforming, don’t take too long to call it a day. Speak your mind frankly without being resentful. Rinse and repeat all the steps mentioned above, move on, find a better writer. The world isn’t small.
Reports (and success stories) about content marketing are making the rounds on the web quite frequently. Whether you operate in travel industry, fashion industry, healthcare industry, hospitality industry, retail industry, education industry or simply in any other profitable niche, you’ll certainly need high quality content to market your products and services. That’s why the demand for professional freelance writers is on the rise, day after day. As a matter of fact, even many successful writers themselves are hiring other freelance writers for help. If you’re sure it’s time to seek professional writing help to launch your content marketing campaigns for more profits, you shouldn’t waste any more time.
How did you like these tips? Please feel free to leave a comment or share an opinion in the space provided below.