Tell me if this situation sounds familiar.
You want some new content for your website, so you create a job ad and post it online. Before long, dozens of responses pour into your inbox.
Then you’ve got to spend several hours sifting through the emails, trying to decide which freelance writer is right for you. And that makes you feel about as excited as a sedated sloth.
I mean, you know a lot of good writers applied… but you aren’t sure which one is the right writer for your project. And you know that a bad hiring decision could be costly.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s an easier way to figure out which freelancer is the best fit for your business: Build a freelancer persona.
Why you should build a freelancer persona
You’re already familiar with marketing personas, right? They’re semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer and may look like this:
Creating a marketing persona like the one above enables you to tailor your marketing decisions to fit the customer’s wants and needs, which helps you sell more.
A freelancer persona enables you to make good decisions, too — about whom you hire. That’s because having a representation of your ideal freelancer to reference makes it easier for you to:
- Find the right voice for your brand
- Pick a writer who understands your subject matter
- Hire someone who can deliver what you need on time and on budget
Plus, referencing a freelancer persona helps you stop wasting time considering tons of applicants. You immediately know which writers aren’t a good fit when you have your ideal freelancer’s profile right in front of you.
How to build a freelancer persona
1. Define your brand voice and the niche your freelance writer should specialize in.
For example, you might have a blog about nutrition and want your posts to be conversational and funny. Or you might have a blog about marketing and want your posts to be data-driven and straightforward.
Here are some other adjectives you could use to describe your brand voice:
Make sure you include language from your mission statement and vision in the persona, too. Keeping that information handy when you’re hiring a freelance writer will help you pick one who meshes well with your company and its culture.
2. Identify your needs.
You want a freelance writer who can deliver the right content on time and on budget. Ask yourself these questions before you hire:
How often do I need content created? If your freelancer is going to write website copy or marketing collateral, you probably already know how often you’ll need them to be available. On the other hand, if you want them to write blog posts, you may be unsure of how often you should publish each month. Consider the following Hubspot data:
As you can see, website traffic tends to increase as the number of blog posts increases, so publish as often as you can without sacrificing quality (because low-quality posts will hurt your brand).
Once you know how frequently you want to publish, you’ll be able to find a freelancer who has the availability necessary to write for you.
How much am I willing to pay a freelance writer? Let’s face it. If you expect your freelancer to be a subject matter expert who can quickly write in-depth content that ranks high in search engines and inspires people to share on social media, you’re going to have to pay them accordingly.
So create a realistic budget, and find a writer whose rates work for you.
But be warned: if you’ve got a tight budget and can only afford a low-quality writer, you’re better off waiting until you can afford good content (or paying more for less frequent content). Like I mentioned earlier, bad content will hurt your brand, so a high-quality writer is well worth the money.
And if you’re clueless about how much you should pay a freelance writer, check out this blog post.
3. Create your persona document.
Finally, you’re going to create a profile of your ideal freelance writer based on the information you gathered in the first two steps of this process. You can do this in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, or you can get a little fancier — I happen to like Canva. You may also want to include special skills, subject matter expertise and any other qualifications you want your writer to have.
Let’s take a look at an example.
Imagine you run an all-natural cosmetics company, and you’re looking for a freelance writer who can publish 1,500-word blog posts for you twice a week in WordPress. Your budget is $250 per post, each post much be SEO-friendly, and your target audience is millennial women. You want all of your content written in a friendly, conversational, girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone.
Here’s what your persona might look like:
Having this persona handy while looking at potential freelance writers helps you stay on track and pick someone who meets your standards.
On the other hand, if you don’t use a freelancer persona, your business relationship with your writer could turn out like a bad blind date — you’ll realize they’re a horrible fit for you, end up crying in the bathroom, and immediately start thinking about how to bail.
Don’t let that happen.
Now that you’ve got all the information you need to create a freelancer persona, you should be able to make better hiring decisions.