It’s a known fact that a business relies heavily on content. After all, it is the written word that helps build brand awareness, increase the number of eyes on a website and improve rankings in search engines. Content is an asset that lives on your site through blogs, case studies, info graphs and white papers. So, it’s easy to see the growing need to hire writers who can churn out crisp blogs or spice up landing pages.
Setting up a content marketing team is one option. However, this can be impractical when the demand for content isn’t steady, and the setup cost is too high. That’s where freelance content writing comes into play. On-demand writers can fulfill your unique content requirements including everything from writing articles and speeches to newsletters. But how do you pick good freelancers from the vast amount of choices and collaborate with them efficiently from far away? Here we help you through this dilemma, so you can hire and retain professional freelance writers like a pro.
1. Identify why you Need a Writer and Know What Kind is Best for Your Content
First things first, make a list of reasons for hiring a writer. This could include any of the following:
- Demand for content is more than the existing marketing content team or leader can handle or deliver
- You wish to update your website
- You have a lot of content ideas that you want someone to work on
Once you know why you need a writer, figure out what kind of writer you need? Do you want just a writer or someone who doubles as an editor? A writer will create fresh content and convert your ideas into coherent stories. An editor will ensure your content is crisp, devoid of grammatical issues and adheres to your company guidelines. Do you want a writer to work on technical documents or white papers? If so, you’ll need a technical writer. If you’re looking at creating ad copies, you’ll need a copywriter.
2. Ask for Referrals
Once you’ve answered the above, you can begin your search. Start by asking your friends to refer a freelance content writer to you. It could be an agency they’ve worked with or a writer whose work they hold in high regard. In most cases, people recommend those whose skills they are confident about. Suggestions from such a close network have a semblance of trust in them, and the options are at least verified. Besides, you never know when you’ll be served a brilliant writer on a platter.
3. Hire an Agency
The second best option is to seek help from an agency. This works best if you’re on a big budget. Firms like Seliger & Associates, Creative Circle and Outsource are some good examples of a freelance content writing agency. Agencies staff several good writers with a variety of skill sets, they help you scale content, stick to a deadline, have low overheads and often house people with complimentary skills too. Make sure you read their reviews online, so you know what you’re getting into. It makes sense to hire one with a good reputation in the market. On the flip side, agencies come with issues like “high employee turnaround” meaning there may be overheads to train a new person so he/she can fit into the workflow.
4. Keep a Lookout for Good Writers on Blogs and Magazines
This is also a good way to find freelance content writers. The next time you read a blog or pick up a magazine keep your eyes open for words like “contributing writer,” “guest writer” or “freelance writer.” If you like what you read in the piece, jot their details down and ask the person if they’re looking for a new freelance content project. In case the person’s email isn’t given in the piece, look them up by name on Google. You’re sure to see the name pop up on a website or a LinkedIn page. On the side, research the person’s other work, so you get a clear picture of his ability.
5. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google can Help too
Twitter and LinkedIn are great sources when searching for freelance content writers also. Just type in your specific requirement and initiate a search. Track down the one’s who impress you and contact them through their details. Of course! How can we leave out the god of searches “Google”? Type in your need, for example:” Freelance writer fashion and luxury” to get an accurate result from the search. Just writing “hire freelance content writer” is too general. You need to be specific to get the best results. Another thing you should do is run a Google search on the writer to map his online presence, voice and overall ability.
6. Review the Performance of Shortlisted Candidates before Hiring them
When you’ve picked out a few writers, ask them to send links or copies of their most recent work- both published and unpublished. Once you’re convinced of their ability, give them a paid writing assignment as a test with minimal instructions and guidance. See how well they attempt the topic. For a fair review, you can assign the same topic to all the shortlisted writers. However, for cost efficiency give separate topics to each one of them. Keep them on a trial basis for 30 to 60 days to know clearly what value they bring to your company and website. Once you’re convinced of their potential, look forward to partnering with them.
7. Hiring Process of a Freelancer
Some writers may need a formal contract, while others need just a confirmation email that details the job description and remuneration. Remember, working with freelancers means getting work done remotely. For this reason, you need to draw out a clear communication method with them. Once hired, you should involve freelancers in editorial meetings and processes. Set up expectations from the start and regularly monitor deadlines and completion targets. Be open to feedback and discussion on roadblocks.
8. Familiarize them with Your Company, Customers and Content Workflow
A writer needs to have a clear understanding of your business, its brand voice, who its customers are, the pain points of your industry and the solution your company is providing. He/she should be primarily clear about the content marketing goals and processes. You want to give practical advice, churn thought leadership content or give opinions on trending topics. You should also explain the entire content creation workflow and let them know where they stand in it. This should help to answer questions like: Does their work get edited?; Who publishes the stories that they submit?; Who does work allocation for them?; Who do they inform in case they need time off?
9. Train the Freelancer on Tech Tools you Use
If your company runs and works on a particular tech platform, make sure you train your freelance content writer on it too. It could be as basic as Excel or as intelligent and sophisticated as Ezdia’s CrewMachine platform. Training the freelance writers will cut the content turnaround time considerably and yield quality. Don’t ever assume the writer will learn on his own. Spare time to train them properly.
10. Transparent Payment Process
Set the payment terms clearly right from the start. Freelance content writers can bill you on per-hour, per-word or per-article basis. You can pay local freelance writers through check or cash. You’ll have to use PayPal, Credit Card or wire transfer to pay an international writer. Inform the writers about the tax that will be deducted from the payment, so they don’t cry foul later. It is mandatory in India to deduct 10-percent in taxes before payout. It increases to 20-percent if the PAN is not provided. Draw up a payment process and get it acknowledged by the freelance writer or agency. Factor in the hike in payment to these writers as they become more experienced and established over time. Reward them with extra perks if you find their work exceptional. A clear and prompt payment method will go a long way in strengthening your bond with a freelance writer.
11. Set up Fair Deadlines
A little courtesy goes a long way in attracting quality freelance talent. Consider a freelance content writer’s time, the information they require, the amount of work they have and the paycheck they expect to earn. Understanding all of this will help you be fair in setting up deadlines for them. Cut them some slack as creating content needs a world of focus and research. Help them if they are stumbling somewhere in the project. Provide them source material for the content. Don’t pressure them unnecessarily. Also, never make them run for their money. Be prompt in paying them.
12. Be Responsive to Emails or Texts
To work efficiently with freelance content writers, you need to maintain a reliable communication channel. Answer all emails and revert calls and texts from your freelance content writing person or team. This doesn’t mean that you need to start taking daily updates. Just don’t go missing for days on end. Since these are remote workers, it makes sense to involve them in befitting work situations. Say when you’re launching a new product or developing a new social media strategy. Such involvement will not just convert them into your brand’s cheerleader, but build a good rapport with you too.
13. Play to Their Strengths
If fashion and luxury-driven posts are not their cup of tea, don’t push your writer to write them. Instead, assign them projects that interest them or which they have a thorough knowledge of. Playing to the strength of your writer will give you quality content in less time. Don’t force a topic that they aren’t comfortable with. Make sure the freelance writer knows that he has the power to select what suits him best. This is a win-win situation on both sides.
14. Have a Good Feedback Mechanism in Place
A freelance content writer should be aware of a check-in system, which outlines who they report to and work with. Make sure there aren’t too many people that the freelancer reports too. The feedback should be given to the writer through a dedicated person and not through a whole bunch of people separately. Providing feedback and instructions in this complicated way is the surest way of losing a freelancer. The trick is to give clear directions and instructions minus micromanaging them. Tell the freelancers what needs to be done and let them go on to create the product sans interference.