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How to hire a freelance writer who’s worth your money

You have a writing task. You don’t want an employee to do it. You also don’t have time to do it yourself. So a freelancer it is. But where do you start? How do you pick a writer you feel good about? One who will get the job done? These tips will help you hire a freelance writer that’ll be worth your money.

How to hire a freelance writer you’ll be happy with: 5 tips

How to hire a freelance writer

1. Find a writer in your network

The best way to find a freelancer is to use your network. Ask around if anyone knows a freelance writer they’d recommend.

2. Use a platform to hire a freelance writer

You may have heard about freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, Freelancer and Airtasker. I’ve found some of my best clients through Upwork, clients I’ve worked with for years, who love my work. But they also have a bit of a bad reputation and it can be challenging to find what you’re looking for.

Here’s how to find the good writers on content mills:

a. Sign up to your preferred platform.

Or all of them. Upwork and Airtasker are the best in my opinion. Freelancer seems… a little cheap to me, but you could definitely get lucky so give it a go.

b. Advertise your task

Write a task description that is enticing and that answers questions freelancers may want to know, such as

  • What is the scope of the project?
  • Are you looking for a long time relationship or is it a one-off?
  • What are you going to pay? This may seem trivial but many want freelancers to pop out thousand-word articles for five dollars. Show them you’re not like that. Or ask them to quote you, if you’re not sure what to pay. Avoid the temptation of accepting very low quotes. I’ll get back to that later.
  • Ask them to write a cover letter addressing any concerns you may have, and ask them for a link to their portfolio.
  • End your ad by asking applicants to quote a specific phrase in their application, so you know they’ve read the whole thing.

c. Re-post the ad

The sheer amount of tasks going up means yours might drown. Freelancers are only going to check the first 3-4 pages, corresponding to the past couple of hours depending on the job. This means you should preferably re-upload every day if you can.

4. Don’t be tempted to hire a freelance writer who’s too cheap

The biggest weakness with freelance marketplaces is that the prices have been pushed to the limit, and so has the quality. These sites aren’t called content mills for nothing. Don’t be tempted to choose the lowest paying freelancer. The freelancer may be good, but honestly, no one can afford to create good quality for 30 bucks a post. You get what you pay for. Focus instead on finding the freelancers who will do a great job for a fair price. Contrary to popular belief, quality freelance writers do exist on content mills. They’re looking for clients too. You just have to find each other.

3. Read the writer’s portfolio

Girl reading a writer's portfolio

Once you’ve got a few applicants, you should read their portfolio. Portfolio doesn’t only show you the writer actually, you know, write, but also what kind of writing they’ve been doing.

It’s an important step to identify whether or not this freelance writer is good for you. You want to find a writer whose style you like and that you can see would work for your business.

A good freelance writer can write for multiple audiences and platforms and they can adapt their voice. But if you can see actual examples on the writer’s portfolio of the style you’re looking for – then you’ll know for sure they can do the job.

Can I ask the freelancer to do a free test?

Not all freelancer writers will agree to do a free test. But many will. Especially if it’s a new industry, style or platform for them.

  • You can always ask for a free test. But see first if your writer has a writing sample that matches what you’re looking for.
  • Freelancers are more likely to do a test for ongoing work. It’s often not worth it if the task is a one-off.
  • They will appreciate if you pay them for a successful test – although you’re not really expected to.

4. Make sure your writer is curious and responsive

A couple of e-mails back and forth will quickly reveal your freelancer’s responsiveness and willingness to put in the research.

Hire a freelance writer who is easy to communicate with. They should answer quickly (within twenty-four hours if you’re in the same time zone). They should be forthcoming and happy to answer your questions. You should find it easy to talk to them. You should feel you’re on the same page and that they are trying their best to understand you and your business.

5. Keep communication channels open once you hire a freelance writer

Meeting at desk

If you don’t have time to stay in touch with the writer yourself, appoint someone in your team. Make sure both parts know who to talk to. The writer might need someone who’s available to answer questions or clear up concerns.

A freelancer isn’t an employee but they’re still going to be part of your business. Help them familiarise themselves with your company. Tell them what it’s about, what your content plan is, and how they can conduct further research for their writing. The better they understand you, the better the writing is going to be.

Hiring the right freelance writer forges a relationship that can benefit you beyond any single task

Working with the right freelance writer can benefit the both of you well into the future. Now you have someone you can always go to, who knows your business and will do a professional job. Investing in hiring the right freelance writer is well worth it in the long run.

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