Quality web content is a must-have for small business owners and bloggers, and it doesn’t have to be out of reach if you’re not particularly gifted with the written word yourself. There’s a wealth of freelance writer options on the Internet today; there’s even a good chance you have a few in your extended social network. Before you start making arrangements with a freelancer for your content, though, there are a few things you should know.
- You Have to Know What You Want – A freelancing professional can provide you with the content you want, but only if you’re able to provide right project guidelines. Even the most talented writer will struggle if there are no clear expectations set before work begins. You’ll need to make sure any freelancer you hire has a clear image of what you’re looking for in web content, how you want content delivered and the timetable you have in mind.
- All Freelancers Have Their Area of Specialty – If you’re in the market for heavily researched academic content, you may not be satisfied if you contract with a writer who specializes in conversational, informal content with a lighthearted tone. When you’re looking over a prospective hire’s sample content, make sure you’re looking for a stylistic match as well as quality. At the same time, don’t immediately discount any writer based solely on a lack of samples relating directly to your business or desired topic. A seasoned professional will be able to research and author content on a variety of subjects and in more than one voice, but a niche author may not be ideally suited to your project.
- Ghostwriting Versus Bylines – Typically, a professional freelancer will charge a bit more for ghostwritten content, which helps to establish you as an authority in a particular area. You may be able to negotiate a lower price if you’re willing to provide valuable exposure to your freelancer in the form of a byline, though. If you’re looking for guest post content, for instance, you may not need to pay ghostwriting fees. Think about what you need and the size of your budget before deciding one way or another.
- Freelance Writers Aren’t Advertising Executives – A professional freelancer will provide you with great content, whether it’s a single blog post or a full set of copy for your entire website. What they won’t do, typically, is design your website, your logo or spearhead your marketing campaign. There are exceptions for every rule, but for the most part, if you’re hiring a freelance writer, you won’t be getting graphic design, or a brand strategist.
- Look for SEO Experience – Unless the content you’re planning to purchase will not be used as web copy, you need to make sure the writer you hire has at least a basic understanding of search engine optimization, or SEO. Proper keyword placement and applying SEO best practices can make all the difference in terms of traffic to your site.
- Cut Rates Aren’t Always a Bargain – While there’s nothing wrong with getting your money’s worth when you hire a freelance writer, you should understand that bargain basement rates don’t always translate to a great value. Experienced writers with established businesses can command a higher price per word, and won’t usually accept content mill rates. You don’t have to break the bank to get acceptable content, but you won’t get great work for free, either.
- Look Beyond Local – If you’re accustomed to hiring independent contractors you can meet face-to-face and interview in person, even for short-term projects, it can be a bit unsettling to cast your net wider for freelance writers. The best fit for your project may not live in your city, or even in your country. Don’t limit your options by restricting the hiring pool to local writers; you may find exactly what you’re looking for on the other side of the globe.
- Get Familiar With Online Staffing Platforms – There are many ways to find freelance writers, but one of the most common and most reliable for those new to hiring writers is the online staffing platform (like guru.com). These sites allow writers to build ratings and reviews, then to bid on projects posted by hiring companies. You’re able to review samples and feedback from previous clients before setting up an interview, and to get a range of bids on each project. These sites can be safer than free job listing boards, as their policies are designed to protect all involved parties.
- Communication is Key – Just like any other working relationship, the success of your relationship with a freelance writer is contingent upon your ability to communicate. At the outset of a project, the freelancer you’ve hired should know how you prefer to communicate, how often you’d like progress reports or check-ins, and what your overall vision is for the project at hand. Remember, even the best writer can’t meet your expectations if they aren’t made clear.
- Contracts and Agreements – Are you planning to share sensitive internal information with your freelancer in order to help them better understand your business? Get a signed NDA (non-disclosure agreement) before those files leave your hands. Working out the details of a long-term project? A written work agreement may be in order. Don’t be afraid to ask for signed contracts to protect yourself and your business. A professional freelancer knows this is par for the course, and will happily oblige.
Hiring a freelance writer doesn’t have to be a stressful situation. Armed with a bit of basic knowledge about how the freelancing industry works, you can make an informed hiring decision and get the content you need at a reasonable price.