You’re buried. You’re short on time and long on demands for content. It’s time to hire a freelance writer or two to help you out of this jam.
If you’ve never hired a writer before, this might seem daunting. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure you know what you’re looking for before you start the process of finding a writer. Consider these five questions.
1. What kind of a writer do I need?
Look, there are a lot of writers out there. But we don’t all do the same thing. Some writers are storytellers — often former journalists who work in content marketing. Others are marketing copywriters who work in content and produce more traditional marketing materials like websites and brochures too. There are technical writers and advertising copywriters. Others write radio and TV scripts. Some write social media posts.
So make sure you know what you need. A technical writer might not have the desire to do interviews or write feature articles. A storyteller might not be the best fit for advertising. Maybe you need many types of writers for all of your needs, and you should look for an agency, instead of a single freelancer.
You’ll be much more successful (and faster) at finding who you need if you have a good idea of the skill set(s) you’re seeking.
2. Do I need someone who can do more than just write?
A lot of writers are accustomed to receiving assignments (or pitching ideas and then writing) from editors or marketing directors. But if you need someone who can help you define the idea or the angle or help promote the piece after it’s complete, be sure you know the writer you’re hiring is able (and willing) to take on those tasks.
3. What is my budget?
If you know your budget, you can save yourself some time. Don’t waste time with writers who are too expensive. Likewise, remember that writers who are too cheap might be inexpensive for a reason — you’ll spend a lot of time on the back end, or it’ll take a long time to get your copy.
People are often unwilling to share their budgets with potential vendors, but if you have a ballpark figure, your communications likely will be more productive.
4. How much am I willing to train or take on myself?
Any writer you hire will have to learn your organization’s style and nuances. But how important is it for a writer to know your industry? Or a specific technology? Or experience in certain formats or styles? A lot of writers — especially those with a reporting background — can get up to speed quickly on various topics. Some may have a longer ramp-up than you have patience for. Others might not have the interest in learning a new style guide … But you might be willing to edit for style if you find the right writer. There’s no right answer, as no one is perfect. But these questions are important to ask yourself early on.
5. How much does personality matter?
Look, we all like working with people we like. And personalities are a funny thing. Sometimes it doesn’t matter — you just want someone who can turn around content fast. Other times, you need someone who will fit in with your team or reflect well on your organization with clients. Do you need someone who is willing to sit in on meetings or periodically come into the office? Moreover, if there’s potential for a long-term arrangement, you might want someone who you personally really connect with. If it’s a one-off assignment, you might be more concerned with finding someone who is fast and relatively inexpensive. And all of it is OK. Just know what you need, so you can make the best choice for you.