If you’re like the 71% of marketers who said content marketing has become more important to their organizations in the past year, you’re probably in for a busy 2023. You may even already be feeling the pressure with requests coming in from various departments who are raring to get campaigns out in Q1. And you certainly don’t want to turn anyone away. But you’re also not properly staffed, and your team is already swimming in assignments. It’s time to bring in a freelance writer.
Here’s how to make sure the freelance writer you hire meets your needs.
1. Determine your scope.
First, ask yourself what you need. Are you looking to bring in help for a single assignment or two? A certain number of hours per week or month? Or are you interested in forming an ongoing relationship with someone who can really get to know you and your organization?
You’ll also want to figure out the capabilities you require. Are you looking only for writing services? If so, an individual might do the trick. But if you want assistance with writing, proofreading and perhaps even strategy and design, then you may want to go with a small content firm (such as, ahem, Active Voice Communications). Or, perhaps you need the assistance of a larger agency that offers a full range of services, including design, video production, SEO, media buying and more.
2. Ask for referrals.
Just as you would reach out to trusted friends and colleagues for referrals to other professionals, word of mouth is one of the best ways to find a content writer. That’s because quality writers can adapt to a variety of writing styles. Finding the right writer for your needs is often more about personality and work style than credentials and copywriting samples. So start your search by asking around and sifting through your LinkedIn contacts.
3. Consider background and expertise.
If you haven’t drummed up any referrals, look on LinkedIn for freelance writers in your industry or solicit applications through a job board post. In such cases, it’s important to be specific in your needs. Do you need someone who is as comfortable writing emails and blog posts as they are articles and white papers? Do you need someone with industry experience? Being well-versed in, say, technology or healthcare can be helpful, particularly when it comes to writing B2B content.
4. Compare styles.
Again, quality writers will be able to replicate your tone and style. But if your organization or industry demands a distinct voice, you may want to look for someone who naturally writes that way or who already has experience conforming to similar styles — whether more conversational, formal, technical, etc.
5. Read their blog.
Wherever you find a potential writing partner, be sure to ask for writing samples or take a peek through their online portfolio. One word of caution: Published pieces have generally gone through at least one, and often several, rounds of editing, so don’t assume that’s the level of quality you’ll receive directly from the writer. A better bet would be to ask the writer to provide unedited manuscripts of their work or to read their personal or professional blog, which might provide the best insight into their natural style and personality.
Our take on writing tests
One final note: Some organizations ask freelance candidates to complete writing tests or test projects as part of the hiring process. This is a highly contested practice in the world of freelance writing, and many experienced writers will decline applying for a job if a test is required.
So if you want to attract the best talent, we recommend forgoing this step. Writing samples should be sufficient for determining whether someone is a good fit for your organization. One exception is if you’re looking to hire an intern or very junior-level writer. In that case, the most ethical way to conduct an assessment would be to pay the writer for their time.