11 Practical Tips for Hiring Freelance Writers

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Blogs and content-based websites absolutely must have high-quality content to stand out. As a growing percentage of websites and blogs turn to AI for content generation, the truth is, AI can’t (yet) match the quality of a skilled human writer. Content created by a talented writer will outperform lower-quality content in the long run.

Many blogs and websites rely on freelance writers because of their flexibility and affordability compared to in-house writers.

Hiring the right freelance writer, however, can be a daunting task. It’s not merely about finding someone who can string words together; it’s about finding a professional who can capture the essence of your message and convey it effectively to your audience.

This article provides valuable tips to guide you through the process of hiring a freelance writer.

Practical Tips for Hiring Freelance Writers

Tips for Hiring Freelance Writers

I’ve developed my approach to hiring and managing freelance writers over the years, and I’ve been fortunate to work with some extremely talented individuals without breaking the budget.

1. Ask for Recommendations

The most reliable way to find a freelance writer is by word of mouth. Reach out to your contacts in the industry and ask them if they know of any good freelancers that they’d recommend.

You can also post on LinkedIn or other social platforms that you’re looking for writers, and see if your followers and connections have any suggestions.

This is often the best way to hire quality freelancers because find qualified candidates quickly without much effort.

If you don’t have a professional network yet, you can also look for quality writers by checking publications in your niche or industry. The people writing for other sites in your industry may be interested in writing for you too. When you find someone who would be a good fit, reach out to see if they’re interested in new projects.

2. Choose Your Platform

While asking for recommendations is an ideal option, it may not always produce results. Or maybe you need to hire several writers. In that case, you’ll need to create a job listing or find writers looking for work.

There are many different freelancing sites and job boards you can use, so you’ll need to choose the platform you prefer. I usually turn to Upwork because I’ve had really good results and I’ve found many talented and affordable freelancers there.

Other options include Freelancer, Fiverr, and a variety of job boards like ProBlogger. It’s possible to use more than one platform, but it simplifies things if you can find one that you like the best.

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3. Determine Your Requirements

Before you start your search, it’s essential to be clear about the requirements for the freelance writing job, and what you’re looking for. This includes things like qualifications or certifications, relevant experience, industry knowledge, technical skills, etc.

If you’re using a platform like Upwork or a job board where you create a job listing, include all of the relevant details. The more information you provide upfront, the better. This helps to reduce the number of applications you get from candidates who aren’t qualified. It also helps your listing to appeal to the right candidates.

If you use a platform like Fiverr where you’re searching for and identifying the candidates, you can use your list of qualifications to determine who would be a good fit.

4. Clarify Expectations

Once you find a few content writers that you think could be a good fit, it’s important to make sure that everyone is on the same page about what the freelance writing job entails. This includes details like the workload, deadlines and turnaround time, the writing process, communication, payment terms, how feedback and revisions will be handled, etc. 

Without clarifying these details, there’s no way for candidates to know exactly what you’re looking for. Some freelancers will see that the job isn’t a good fit for them, and it’s better for this to happen early in the process.

Most freelance writers are flexible and will be happy to work with clients who have reasonable expectations. However, it’s always good to ensure everyone is on the same page.

5. Take a Proactive Approach

I recommend looking for freelancers who may be a good fit for your project and reaching out to them. For example, when I post a writer job on Upwork, I usually take some time to search for freelancers that I think would be a good fit, and I invite them to submit a proposal.

The proactive approach helps to ensure you get responses from qualified professionals. Popular platforms like Upwork will usually produce plenty of proposals, but it helps if you find a few people who might be a good fit.

The freelancers may not even see the job listing if you don’t invite them.

Freelancer working from a cafe

6. Be Aware That Price Doesn’t Always Indicate Quality

The rates of freelancer writers vary drastically from one to the next. Sometimes, price is an indication of quality, but that’s not always the case. Some of the best writers I’ve hired have been surprisingly affordable.

For me, high-quality English is a must because I don’t want to spend a lot of time editing simple grammatical issues. So, I usually hire native English speakers or someone who can write as well as a native speaker.

Rates of freelancers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia tend to be higher than those of freelancers from India, Pakistan, and other countries, but that’s not always the case.

Don’t assume that you’ll get good writing if you simply hire someone with a higher rate. Take the time to check writing samples and you may find some hidden gems that are cheaper and better than others.

7. Carefully Evaluate Work Samples

Aside from personal recommendations, the best way to evaluate candidates is by checking their writing samples. Without writing samples, it’s impossible to know what you’re getting. Any freelance writer that you consider should be able and willing to provide samples.

The writing samples can include projects that were done for other clients, projects that were done as an employee, or personal projects (like posts on their own blog).

It’s important to be aware that some writing samples, like those done for other clients, may have been edited. There’s usually no way to know how much editing was done, so it’s ideal if you can get writing samples that were not all written for the same client.

I’ve hired some writers based on their samples only to find that the work they provided me was not up to the same level of quality. Either their samples were heavily edited, or the samples weren’t really their own writing. This is why point #9 is so important.

8. Hire Specialists

Some freelance writers will cover just about any topic a client wants. Others specialize in a particular field. If you want the highest quality content, hire specialists.

For example, when I was looking for writers to create content for a graphic design blog, I searched Upwork for people who offered both graphic design and writing services. I also mentioned in the description that I was only looking for experienced writers with graphic design experience.

High-quality content written by experts is more valuable now than ever. With all of the AI-generated content that’s being published, Google wants to prioritize content written by authors with firsthand experience and expertise.

Writers who don’t have expertise can’t create content that will stand out from the thousands of other similar articles.

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9. Start with a Trial

When I hire freelance writers for my sites, I’m looking for an ongoing relationship. However, I start with a trial. In the job description, I mention that I’m looking for someone who can do ongoing freelance work but hiring for one article to start with. If it goes well and it’s a good fit for both of us, we can continue working together on more projects.

This way, everyone is on the same page. The writer knows it’s not a long-term commitment yet, and it gives me the chance to evaluate their work on a real-world project.

I always pay their normal rate for this trial article. I don’t ask for a free sample or a discount.

After the first article, I can usually get a good feel for their quality of work, their ability to meet deadlines, and their communication skills.

This relieves some of the pressure of choosing the right freelancer from many different candidates. You can try a few without a long-term commitment.

10. Provide New Writers With a Style Guide

If you already have an established brand voice, it’s important to provide new writers with a style guide. This will ensure that all content has a consistent writing style and formatting.

The style guide should include details about the brand’s tone of voice, structure for articles, formatting instructions, use of keywords, and any other guidelines you want your writers to follow.

This is especially important if you’re working with several different freelancers. Without consistent style and formatting, your content will look inconsistent and could potentially damage your brand.

11. When You Find a Good Writer, Treat Them Well

My experience is that freelance writers come and go. None of them are permanent. If you find a good one, you’ll want to work with them as long as possible. And the best way to do that is to ensure that they enjoy working with you.

You can treat them well by communicating clearly, getting back to them quickly, avoiding unrealistic expectations, paying a fair rate, paying on time and without requiring them to follow up, and generally being pleasant to work with.

Most freelancers work with clients that aren’t that aren’t pleasant. If you give them a better experience with your writing work, they’ll be more likely to stick around rather than look for another writing gig.

Final Thoughts on Hiring Freelance Writers

Hiring freelance writers can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With the right approach, you can find the perfect writer for your project and get great results.

By following the tips covered in this article, you’ll be able to create a successful hiring process.

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding someone who can produce high-quality content in a timely manner for a reasonable price. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to making that happen.