How to Hire Top-Tier Freelance Writers for your Content Business
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Of course, you should know what you’re looking for before jumping into the water. Are you hoping for someone to write just an article or two a week, or do you need someone who can juggle multiple formats: press releases, blog posts, ad copy and clever Instagram captions? Would you prefer to pay per word, or per hour? (Some content-savvy business owners prefer to pay per word so they know they’re only paying for time going into a finished product, while some writers prefer to be paid per hour to account for research and editing time.) Is this a long-term gig, or do you only need help for a matter of weeks? Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time will not only allow you to approach the search with confidence but also convey to freelance writers that you have respect for their time and know-how.
Once you know what you’re actually hiring for, you’re ready to start looking for a writer. We’ve compiled a few well-known, and lesser known, resources for you to source the perfect freelance writer for your content business.
Believe it or not, Twitter is a central hub for freelancers to connect with one another, swap tips about gig life and seek out new opportunities. Just about every writer wants to build a platform there — it isn’t uncommon for writers to post their bylines in their bios and retweet their own work — so it isn’t a bad place to peruse if you’re searching for talent. You can start by sifting through hashtags like #freelancewriter and #copywriter, or if you know of a couple writers you admire, you can look through their followed accounts for similar connections. Hot tip: Writers almost always follow other writers. You can also tweet out a summary of the gig for which you’re hoping to hire. Some freelance writers subscribe to newsletters that compile opportunities like these posted to social media, which is yet another way they’ll find your job posting. Just make sure to provide a way for people to contact you.
Freelancing platforms allow you to browse seemingly unlimited talent, and plenty of them can help you save time by posting a gig for writers to bid on too. Platforms like Upwork, WriterAccess or Fiverr are all great resources for content businesses looking to source top-talent content writers. Make sure to pay attention to freelancers’ ratings, though; plenty of aspiring writers join these platforms thinking they can make some quick and easy money without the experience and skills necessary to truly help you and your brand. If a freelancer’s rate seems too good to be true, it probably is.
It’s entrepreneurship’s natural tendency to fill a widespread need. Over the years, marketing and creative agencies have started focusing on your precise problem: lack of content. If you’d rather another company handle the logistics of finding the right writer for the project, tracking the writer’s time and making sure the end product is up to par, going with an agency that specializes in content production might be the right move for you. ClearVoice is an example of an agency that boasts content creation and strategy for businesses and personal brands, while Workless is an option that combines copywriting prowess with conversion support. Depending on what exactly they offer, agencies like these may charge more than the average freelancer, so make sure to weigh the pros and cons of enjoying the extra luxuries they offer before committing.
If you’ve built up a decent network of other content-focused business owners, chances are you know someone with a connection to a fantastic copywriter. Asking your network for freelancer recommendations is a great place to start, especially if you’re looking for something a little niche for your specific brand of content. It also gives you a sneak peek into a writer’s going rate and working style: Do they prefer to chat about assignments over the phone or via email? Do they mesh well with your overall mission or respond well to last-minute asks? Getting an introduction to a freelancer from a trusted acquaintance can help you build your new working relationship with trust versus going in blind.
Freelancing can be a tough gig, and many writers are always open to new assignments. If you read an article you like on a platform like Medium or a news site largely supported by independent contributors, don’t be afraid to tactfully reach out to the author and inquire about their bandwidth. Try to provide details about your project upfront to avoid wasting their time (and yours): How much time can they expect to spend writing and editing each week? What pay range are you exploring? Let them know you’re offering a content platform through which they can publish their work and build their portfolio (something writers are almost always looking for). You never know if you’ll catch a freelancer at the right moment and get to bask in the glow of their talent — and a lighter to-do list — long term.
As a final note, when you finally connect with a writer you think may be a good match, begin to envision them as a part of your business. Ask to see samples of their work if you haven’t seen some already, and ensure their writing style matches the type of tone you want to represent your content business. If it doesn’t, chances are that you can also ask if they’re good at matching brand voices and request examples. Find out what their typical turnaround time is for the type of assignment you’ll dish out most frequently too. As with any type of relationship, communication of expectations is key, and it’s easiest to lay this all out on the table at the beginning.
Related: How to Screen Freelance Writers