With the rise of content marketing, many marketing directors have discovered a need to hire outside writing help to tackle the volumes of blogs, white papers, websites, scripts and more they now require. Whether you’re looking for a pinch-hitter or a daily starter, hiring the right freelance writer isn’t always easy.

Here are a few things to consider as you make your decision.

1. Ask around. You probably rely on referrals to help you find any number of service providers — doctors, landscapers, pest control companies and more. Well, word of mouth is one of the best ways to find professional services too. Ask colleagues if they have any writers they’d recommend. Fellow marketing managers will likely have a few recommendations, or you may want to ask freelance designers you work with too. If you’re part of marketing/communications networking organizations, ask some of your fellow members for their suggestions.

2. Post the opportunity on LinkedIn. You may have joined LinkedIn because you thought it would be great for job hunting. But the professional social media site is good for so much more. Take advantage of your network. After all, the vast majority of your contacts are likely people you know and trust, so put the question out to them and see if they have any writer recs for you.

3. Visit writers’ websites. Once you have some names to consider, visit their websites. Be wary of writers who don’t have a professional site, as this might indicate a lack of commitment to their business. It’s certainly possible for writers to have gotten so busy that they just haven’t had time to build a website. But there are also some who may be freelancing as a way to fill time just until they find full-time work again. If you’re looking to build a long-term relationship with a writer, this might affect your decision.

4. Read up. One of the most important steps in the hiring process is to read a writer’s work. Check the website for samples. Does she have a command of the language? Do you like his style? If the writer’s portfolio page doesn’t give you what you need, request additional samples, and feel free to be specific about what you’re looking for. Keep in mind that writers often are executing a client’s style, so you may get a better sense of his or her natural tone by the copy on the website or in a blog.

5. Pick up the phone. Yes, a writer’s work often speaks for itself. But if this is someone you plan to interact with regularly, you should get a sense of the writer’s personality too. Give your finalists a call. Even invite them for an in-person meeting or a conference call with your team. You might be hiring for a freelance position, but you can still follow some of your usual hiring practices, including interviewing. Find out the writer’s process. What can you expect from working with this person? What are his usual turnaround times? What does she expect from you as the client? It’s possible for a writer to be incredibly talented — but not be the best fit for your organization. And that’s OK. Having a conversation can help you make that determination.

And Now, Who Wants Presents?
photo 2This month, Active Voice Communications is celebrating five years in business. And we’re the ones giving away the gifts. Your writing-obsessed friends and colleagues will love this coffee mug, and we’re giving away 25 of them. Here’s all you have to do. Email Stephanie@TheActiveVoice.com and give me the name/title/mailing address (U.S. addresses only) of the person you want to send a mug to. (And yes, it’s OK if that someone is YOU!) The first 25 people to email get one.