The Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring Freelance Writers

Good writing isn’t easy writing. You can spend hours working on a simple 500-word post, even more if you’re finding images and doing social media for it. Writer’s block can become a familiar enemy, and you may find yourself spending 20 minutes searching for the best — no, perfect — synonym. But when 88 percent of B2B marketers are using content marketing (Content Marketing Institute) and more than three-quarters of CMOs consider custom content the future of marketing (DemandMetric), you can’t go without it.

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Back to the first point: Writing can be hard. That’s why finding and hiring great freelancers is so important. You need to find the person who can deliver — the one who captures your brand’s voice, speaks to your audience and consistently meets your deadlines. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts for finding that perfect writer, as well as a few tips for using the ClearVoice Marketplace to do just that.

Do know who you want 

“Freelance writer” is a broad term that applies to any independent contractor who writes for one or more companies. There are different types of freelance writers, including:

  • Copywriters write promotional and advertising copy for print or online media. Copywriters write with the intention of selling something.
  • Ghostwriters write blog posts and articles, but they don’t get a byline for the content. Usually the byline goes to whomever is paying for the piece of content.
  • Influencers are people who are well-connected and influential in a particular industry or niche. Usually the most expensive type of writer on this list to hire, they’re considered authorities in the space and come with decent-sized social followings.

Know the type of freelance writer you need before you start your search. It’s a good idea to build a freelancer persona to help you find the right voice for your brand.

And plan out your content needs. What type of deadlines will your writer need to fulfill? How much can you spend? Are you looking for in-depth, data-driven pieces or more lighthearted stories? What type of content needs do you have over time? Leave room for creativity, but have your expectations ready so potential writers know what you’re looking for.

Don’t settle

Your content is a reflection of your business. When it’s published, you’re putting your name and the name of your company behind it. Focus on quality over quantity. Look for red flags when vetting writers. Read their past work and talk to their other clients.

Hiring a bad match — someone with poor writing skills, who knows nothing about your industry or who can’t meet deadlines — spells doom for your content strategy. Don’t simply hire someone off Craigslist, either (although you certainly may find a gem or two there). Use a service that vets freelancer writers, such as the ClearVoice Marketplace. When you create an assignment in the platform, the technology matches you with recommended creators who fit the parameters you have set. You simply review their portfolios, choose your favorite and get started.


Do shop around and ask questions

This becomes especially important if you aren’t using a service that vets its freelancers. When interviewing potential writers, make sure to ask about their revision/rejection policy. Revision requests are a part of content life, and writers should be willing to make one to two rounds of revisions as part of the fee. Also ask the following questions:

  • I like the post you wrote for so-and-so titled, “Whatever.” Can you tell me more about the assignment and the research you did to complete it?
  • What do you know about our target audience?
  • What is your approach to content development?
  • What’s your biggest challenge in freelance work?

In turn, a good writer asks questions about you, your company and your industry.

Don’t leave your freelancer high and dry

Follow the Golden Rule with your writers. Want to get your content on time? Pay them promptly. ClearVoice streamlines this process by transferring funds to your writer’s PayPal account the moment articles are approved.

Also, be timely in your communication with them, especially if you’re requesting revisions. Give them enough time to turn the revision around — two days is fair.

Provide your content creators with the resources and information they need to write. All too often, brands either withhold information or give vague direction. With writers, no information is too much. If there are certain features you want highlighted or certain statistics you want featured in a piece of content, tell your writers. Be explicit.

Do establish communication guidelines

Most relationships with freelance writers are long-distance relationships. You’ll likely be communicating via email or using ClearVoice’s Messages feature. Know the best way to reach your freelancer and whether there’s a time difference, and be responsive if he or she reaches out to you.

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Don’t be afraid to give feedback

To help people and employees grow, feedback is imperative. In fact, Cambridge University considers it one of the most important communication skills, due to its effects on motivation and performance development.

Especially in one-off freelance jobs (when you and the writer only work together on one piece of content), it’s common for the freelancer to never hear back from the company after the work is submitted. Feedback is valuable, because it teaches a writer more about your industry and your brand. This way, if you ever work with him or her again, you’ve already built a foundation and template for the type of content you want.

If you have multiple people on your content team, coordinate your feedback sessions. Nothing frustrates a freelancer more than having to revise the same piece multiple times because the client was unorganized.

If you hire a freelance writer without putting in some effort ahead of time, the whole process can turn into one giant dead end. To ensure that it’s as smooth and seamless as possible, start your search with clear expectations and instructions. Many writers will go out of their way to create great content that makes you happy, but that requires reciprocation on your part. If you communicate clearly, pay promptly and treat them respectfully, you’ll be able to build relationships with freelance writers who are invested in your business.

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About the author

Minna Wang

Minna Wang is an analyst at Kickstart Seed Fund, associate editor at Beehive Startups and a freelance writer with great passion for marketing and the startup scene. Follow her on Twitter.