5 Tips on How to Hire a Freelance Writer that’s Right for Your Business

Updated: May 10, 2018

Everybody can write. However, everybody has a different way of expressing a thought or idea in writing.

Some are able to communicate their ideas much more effectively with how they present their points in writing. Their mastery of grammar, punctuation, and the English language is much more superior.

However, the process of how to hire a freelance writer is not as easy as simply looking for a writer that writes well.

While I don’t fancy myself as a superior freelance writer (wink wink), I have nonetheless made a living as a writer for different clients. I’m not a native English speaker and need a tool like Grammarly Premium to help clean up my writing before submitting it to clients. However, I make up for my shortcomings by providing immense value to my clients. The intangibles that I believe I possess are qualities that you as a client might need in your writer.

Nonetheless, there are other writers out there that might be a much better fit for what you’re looking for in a writer. The needs from a writer depend from industry to industry. It’s a matter of checking all the boxes that you want from the writer.

Therefore, If you want to hire a freelance and need tips on how to find the best one for you, here are a couple of tips you can follow:

How to hire a freelance writer who is right for the job

BEFORE YOU BEGIN READING THE POST, UNLOCK THE GATED CONTENT BELOW TO LEARN THE QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK THEM DURING THE INTERVIEW TO MAKE SURE YOU HIRE THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB!

1. Determine your needs from your writer

A catch-all writer isn’t enough for most businesses.

Each niche and industry have technical terms that only insiders know. Therefore, you can’t expect every writer to write the kind of content that you want to be published on your blog.

When you hire a freelance writer, make sure that s/he knows what to know about in your niche. You don’t need to hand-hold or spoon-feed him/her with information that s/he should already know about your industry.

If this person is truly the writer for you, then s/he must produce with little to no guidance at all. Their ability to perform without giving clear direction and still produce stellar content is a sign that they truly know your niche inside and out.

However, such writers are rare and can’t be found easily. If you do, expect them to cost more than usual because they specialize in a topic. They have created a market that caters to a specific need and thus command a higher price than a jack-of-all-trades writer. This is a fair trade-off compared to hiring a cheap writer who claims to know your niche but writes content not up to your standards.

Industry professionals who are also fantastic writers do exist, but based on my experience, they are rare. So if you’re trying to scale your content program or build a brand newsroom, you should focus on looking for writers who can deliver their own type of expertise. Not cardiologists. – Brian Maehl, “Why Marketers Struggle to Hire the Best Freelance Writers

Below are other questions that you need to be asking yourself to help refine your search in your journey to hire freelance writer:

  • Can s/he write SEO-friendly content? A writer that observes the best on-page optimization practices will help rank your content for your target keywords and increase your site traffic.
  • What kind of other written content can s/he do? Aside from blog posts, you may want the writer to do copywriting, social media posts, technical writing, and others for your business.
  • Is s/he capable of managing bigger writing tasks? You need to look into the future prior to finding a freelance writer. You may be planning to expand your writing team to help produce more content for your site. Does the freelancer have the qualities and traits to lead your writing team if the opportunity arises?

Once you’ve determined who your ideal writer is, you now need to find one that suits your niche and fits your budget. The cost of paying for your freelance writer will be discussed at a later point in this post.

2. Know the sweet spots where to find a freelance writer

To find a freelance writer, you need to learn the places where you can find the best ones. There are lots of sources where freelancer writers are available for hire. However, not all of these places offer the best writers for your website or project. Therefore, determining the best places where to hire writers will help you cut down the time for searching them.

Determine the best places where to hire freelance writers to help make sure that you hire the best one for the job.Click To Tweet

That said, let’s get a couple of things out of the way: “traditional” content mills are a no-no.

Content mills like Textbroker and CopyPress have a reputation for churning web content at cheap prices. However, this is a classic case of “you get what you pay for.” Due to the low costs of the articles, you get run of the mill stuff that won’t pass your high standards.

At the same time, there are new content mills that provide high-quality content at reasonable rates, some of which will be discussed below. Still, you must keep your guard up against content mills and always opt for alternative ways of finding freelance writers. Below are some of them:

Google Search

Google is a place where you ask questions and get answers. It only makes sense to use it for finding and hiring a freelance writer for your business!

The great thing about Google Search is you can find writers that suit your niche. For example, if you want content written for your website about blockchain, all you need to do is type “blockchain freelance writer.” Below is a screenshot of the first five organic search results:

google search blockchain freelance writer

Granted, the other four results are from Upwork, but the top is a freelance writer who specializes in blockchain topics. Scrolling down the results page would show more writers for hire about this topic.

If you are working on another niche, you can simply replace “blockchain” from the search query to your preferred niche or industry. You can also play around with your search queries to reveal potential writers you can hire such as the ones below:

  • [niche] writer for hire
  • [niche] content writer
  • [niche] copywriter
  • [niche] blogger

These are just some variations that you can use to help you find writers from Google Search.

Social media

Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are excellent places to scan for writers whom you can hire for your online business.

Facebook

Personally, the best of the two to find freelance writers is Facebook. Search for Facebook Groups dedicated to writers with a vibrant and active community. Lurk the posts of members there.  If you like the content they’ve written and shared with the groups, you can reach out to the writer and discuss how you can work together.

You can also field job applications from writers in a Facebook group by posting the job offer.

facebook groups freelance writers

Here’s a rough example of a job posting on a Facebook group. The response to your post depends on how active and vibrant the group is. Therefore, make sure to post your job offers on groups with the highest engagement among members.

Below are quick tips on how to place your job posts on Facebook groups:

  • As permission from the moderator first – Some groups don’t just allow members publishing posts with a click of a button. If this is the case, you need to talk to the moderator or owner of the group first to post your job offer on their group. Doing so makes it easier for you to get the post live on the group board so you can attract potential writers faster.
  • Be as descriptive as possible – Inform writers of what to expect from the position you’re offering. Indicate the responsibilities, benefits the writer will receive, and your proposed budget. Doing so allows you to filter people who are truly interested in the job.
  • Provide a clear CTA on how writers can send their proposals – Tell writers how they can reach out to you. Ideally, ask them to shoot you an email with special instructions. Aside from requesting for sample works, require them to write a specific subject line for the email, i.e. “I’m your writer!” If they don’t follow the instructions, it means that they didn’t read your job posting carefully and you can throw their email in the trash.

Linkedin

As a social networking platform for professionals, LinkedIn offers a more streamlined approach to searching for candidates for your writing job.

Type the kind of writer you are looking for in the search bar to show potential writers for hire.

Linkedin filters

For more accurate results, you can filter the search according to the company name, location, industries, and others.

Once you have the best results, connect with them and offer them the job.

Since there is no mediator on social media for job offers, you need to develop a system that will let you appropriately screen the candidates for your job. We will discuss the exact process that you need to take later in this post.

New content mills

As mentioned, there are brand new sites that offer good pay to writers in exchange for good content. They take the concept of content mills but offer better value for the content. Granted, you will have pay more, but if you’re aiming for quality content, then you shouldn’t skimp on the costs.

Sites like Contently and Skyword are great places to start looking for writers to your projects. Create a client account on these sites and follow the directions on how to hire freelance writers from these platforms. Each has specific onboarding processes so it’s best to sign up for these sites to find out yourself.

I can’t personally vouch for either site above since I don’t have an account there. However, one of the best sites where you can get quality content and which I’m happily part of as a writer is ClearVoice.

clearvoice for hiring freelance writer

Once you’ve signed up as a client on the site, you need to send a brief of your project. The site will send handpick writers from the platform who can express their interest in the project. The client will be able to choose from the lot of writers who they think is perfect for the project. From there, the platform will connect the writer and client for the project. The writer will finish the article from the site’s text editor and the client will review the content afterward. If approved, the client will pay the proposed amount to the writer.

Based on the process above, Clearvoice offers a painless way to get high-quality content from more than capable writers. It’s a great platform that changes the way on how to look at content mills.

Job marketplaces

Upwork, Hubstaff, and others provide an easy way for people like you to connect with writers looking for work. Sites like these require users to bid for your jobs. There’s nothing wrong with job marketplaces except that you need to filter out a lot of bids to get to the good stuff. Expect a lot of crappy bids thrown your way after posting a job. However, if you’re eyeing a writer from these job marketplaces, you can personally invite him/her to submit a bid to your project.

Before posting a job, it’s best if you can search for potential people whom you can work with on your project. Choose “Freelancer” on the search bar and type the kind of writer you’re looking for.

upwork grant writers

Below are the first three results for the search query “grant writers.” You can look for specific writers by refining your keywords or by clicking on the Filter button beside the search icon.

If you want to organize the results according to your preferences, click on the Filter button to arrange the writers according to job success, hourly rate, freelance type, and more.

3. Ask for sample works

Normally, you can view sample works of prospective writers from their online profiles. You can also request for published samples as part of their pitch to your job posting.

It is important to indicate that you need sample works, not just one article from the writer. Also, if they will send you links to their articles, consider the websites that they have written for. Anybody can set up a blog now and publish their articles from there, so you have to be wary about the quality of the sites where their articles are.

Getting a post published on your blog and getting it published on someone else’s are different. For one, since the writer doesn’t own the blog where s/he wants the article to be published, it’s not up to them whether it will be posted.

It’s what makes content published on high-authority sites much more valuable than the ones published on yours. Because the content needs to pass strict editorial guidelines of the blog, the post is much more valuable that way.

As a result, writers with articles published on high-authority websites are people who you prioritize for the job.

You may have heard who Neil Patel is. It’s probably because you’ve read some of his articles published on different blogs online.

More importantly, most of the articles written under his name are some of the most shared articles in marketing.

neil patel buzzsumo

Screenshot from Buzzsumo. All articles are written by the same Neil Patel expect the one from pokernews.com

Even if you haven’t heard of this Neil Patel fella, the fact that his articles are published on Entrepreneur, Forbes, and others make him, well, kind of a big deal as a writer.

4. Develop your screening process

Once you have handpicked a shortlist of writers for the job, it’s time to take a closer look at each of the candidates and see if they are perfect for the job. Below are ways that you can do to help pick out the best writer from the lot:

Talk to each of them

The writing ability is one of the many factors that you need to consider when choosing a freelance writer. Sure, the writer can’t probably whip up a damn good article in his/her sleep, but if s/he’s a pain in the ass to work with, then you may have to twice of hiring this person.

Before are other things that you need to weigh on when screening writers:

Temperament

Does the writer rely on striking inspiration before s/he writes or is this persona a reliable hand when it comes to writing? Some writers need to get their creative juices flowing first before they hit the keyboard. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you may risk hiring an unreliable writer who is dependent on his/her mood that day for writing.

Availability

You can’t blame freelance writers if they have other clients on the side. However, you may encounter writers who will use their current workload as leverage to get a higher pay from you. At the same time, you’re not sure where their loyalty lies. They might be saying the right things now. But behind your back, they could be focusing on their on their other clients and give no time for your projects.

Communication

A writer who doesn't respond to your urgent messages and emails is a big red flag. Their lack of communication will compromise your projects.

You don’t want to work with a writer whom you can’t reach out to. A writer who doesn’t respond to your urgent messages and emails is a big red flag. Their lack of communication will compromise your projects. You need someone whom you can reach out at certain times without fail to make sure that the project is going smoothly.

Receptive to feedback

Writing is a deeply personal experience. Therefore, it is rare for writers to not feel the heat whenever an editor rejects their work with critiques on them. An exceptional writer takes constructive criticism in stride and learns from his/her mistakes. The writer may not have to agree with you or your editor at times, but if s/he displays grace under fire, then you may have a keeper.

These factors and more must be part of your interview process. Ask questions that reveal more about the writer as a person, which gives you more insights into the factors mentioned above. Schedule a Skype call so you can ask more questions along the way based on their answers.

IF YOU NEED HELP ON HOW TO INTERVIEW FREELANCE WRITERS FOR THE HIRE, UNLOCK THE GATED CONTENT BELOW TO LEARN THE QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK THEM!

Request them to write an article for you

There’s no question that all of whom you’ve chosen for the job are good writers. However, it is sensible to ask them to write a brand new article for you as part of the job requirement.

Once you have selected from a pool of writers, have them write an article for you about your topic of choice. Give them 24 hours to finish the article. Some writers won’t be bothered to write a sample piece for you, which is a good thing. This will allow you to immediately separate the lazy writers from the serious ones.

Will the work they'll be submitting to you on par with the sample works they gave you earlier? Can they work well under pressure or not? Can they thrive with or without instructions? The test article they will write for you answers these questions.Click To Tweet

Also, the sample works they have submitted are good indicators on how they write at their best. Obviously, the writers will only send you the best material they have written so far. Therefore, an actual writing exercise for you allows you to see how they work in a live setting.

Will the work they’ll be submitting to you on par with the sample works they gave you earlier? Can they work well under pressure or not? Can they thrive with or without instructions? The test article they will write for you answers these questions.

Lastly, while specifying the number of words or tone of voice, as well as providing their resources to use for the article, would be nice, it’s not necessary. This would allow them to showcase their proficiency in researching and writing the article on time. Little directions also give them room to write an article that’s in line with their personality.

Pay for the article(?)

Some would be annoyed at this suggestion, but there’s a good reason why you should pay them even if they’re just writing an article for you.

Some writers may write for free, but the good ones don’t come cheap. Therefore…

If you want to attract good writers, you need to offer a fee for their article.Click To Tweet

Some writers won’t bother writing the article if they’re not getting paid for it. On their defense, they might have written more than enough articles over the years to prove their worth to you. Consider this quote from a seasoned freelance writer:

nicole dieker[A]sking for a sample article—as opposed to asking for portfolio clips—is a strong indicator that this company expects to be working with entry-level writers. At this point in my career, for example, I would not work for a client who asked me for a 600-word sample. I have over 800 articles, written for a variety of publications, in my freelance portfolio. That should be enough sample material for any potential client. –Nicole Dieker, “Ask a Freelancer: Is It Ethical for a Company to Make Me Write a Sample on Spec?

If you can’t get rid of asking for sample works, at least make sure that accomplished writers get compensated for his/her efforts. For writers with a chip on their shoulders, you can probably afford to take the risk and to get them to write for free although I would personally advise against it. In fact, you don’t have to pay much for the sample articles. Just compensate them with just enough via PayPal or wire transfer for the effort they’ve put into their writing.

Discuss the payment terms

Once you approve the article of a writer, it’s time to discuss money. For some writers, how much you will compensate them will help them decide whether to accept the job or not.

You should have indicated the price you’re willing to pay on the job posting, so writers already have an idea on what offer to expect from you.

Schedule of payment

Will you pay the salary once or twice every month? Some people have no problem with either option, but there are those who might want to receive payment twice a month. Just make sure to be open to this option as writers may ask about it.

Transaction fee

If you’re going to pay via PayPal, mention if you can or cannot shoulder the transaction fee. If not, it could take a fraction off their income when withdrawing the money from PayPal. While it may not be a big deal to some, it could prove crucial for some.

Other benefits

If you’re not offering a lot of money, you can compensate by offering benefits. Paid leaves, regular government contributions, discounts to establishments, and other perks can go a long way to some. In fact, some people prefer working for a client that leaves room for fast professional growth. It sounds cliche, but if you can offer this opportunity with proof to back it up, then it would make for a very enticing offer for writers.

offer non monetary benefits

As a freelance writer, I believe that clients should pay at least 50% before starting a project with me. It is my belief that, if the client is serious about working with me, s/he needs to put up half of the total amount first. It helps to have a proven track record of published content online to command this request. I don’t offer a refund for the 50% if they are unhappy with the results. So far, everybody is satisfied with the work I’m putting out for them.

Paying half of the total payment upfront may sound like a big risk to some, but it is an occupational hazard. You need to trust the writer for him/her to be able to write great content for you. Putting up with half of the payment is a great way to show your trust.

5. Prime your writer for success with an onboarding process

Once you have finally reached an agreement with the writer and s/he signed on the dotted line of your contract, then you should onboard him/her to your business culture.

You can actually show a glimpse of your company’s personality during the interview and screening process. However, now that the writer is part of your vibrant time, it’s time to show him/her the whole picture.

If you don’t have an employee onboarding process for your business yet, then consider developing one now, as Lauren Moon suggests:

lauren moon trelloLike all first impressions, you only have one shot to get it right. The first week is the time to be as thorough as possible with management and HR logistics as well as intangibles throughout the onboarding process. Important information that falls through the cracks or isn’t conveyed properly means that employees’ knowledge bases are inconsistent. Inconsistencies at work, when multiplied, can turn into a disparate company culture. – Lauren Moon, “New Employee Onboarding: A Success Template For Every Hire

A simple tool like Trello will help you build a simple onboarding process to help get freelance writers up to speed.

trello onboarding

Here is a screen capture of Trello’s New Hire Onboarding board. Each task is organized accordingly so new hires know what to do after signing the contract with you. Click on the “Copy Board” button if you want to use the same template for your business.

The things you need to include in your onboarding process depends on the maturity of your business. At the very least, however, it should include the following:

  • What to do on your first day – Include modules, introductory videos, and tasks s/he needs to accomplish to help get the writer’s thumb on the pulse of your business.
  • FAQ – Create an internal knowledge base that covers basic questions that your writer and every new employee need to know.
  • Meet the team – Introduce your writer to all your staff and team members. If done through Trello, you can make the introductions fun by requiring the writers to answer questions posed by the members.

Of course, your onboarding process doesn’t have to go through Trello. The tool makes it easier for your remote team members to communicate and collaborate with projects. If you have other methods that let you effectively onboard your freelance writer, then, by all means, stick with that.

Conclusion

The process of how to hire a freelance writer is painstaking. It will require you to jump a couple of hoops and probably hire the wrong ones at first. However, by following the ways in this post, you will find a diamond in the rough that will take your content efforts to new heights.

It’s just a matter of being patient and taking your time to scout the right people to the writing job. Again, it won’t be easy, but this post and the perspective that comes with up should prepare you for the challenge ahead.

TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU HIRE THE BEST FREELANCE WRITER FROM THE LOT, UNLOCK THE GATED CONTENT BELOW TO LEARN THE QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK THEM DURING THE INTERVIEW!

 

How to Hire a Freelance Writer right for your business

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Christopher Jan Benitez

Content marketer during the day. Heavy sleeper at night. Dreams of non-existent brass rings. Writer by trade. Pro wrestling fan by choice (It's still real to me, damnit!). Family man all the time. Hire me to write your content!
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