Look online and you’ll be overwhelmed by how many freelance writers are available for hire. Some are hungry to work with you, while others have a waiting list. The trick? Finding the perfect one for your voice, brand, and needs.
Don’t risk ending up with a piece of content that you will never actually use. Follow these steps to find and nurture the right person for the job.
Write the Job Description
Not all writers are created equal. Some specialize in a specific niche. Others specialize in a unique writing style. While you start your search, narrow the pool by honing in on the job description.
- Does the writer need to have specific experience/knowledge?
- Do you want the writer to add personality to the work? Or take a journalistic approach?
- What’s your timeline? How quickly do you need the work done?
- Does the writer need to be in a specific geographic area?
Crafting this job description does two things. It helps you get a better grasp on what you are looking for from your writer and it helps your writer see up front if he’s the right fit for the job. You save valuable time by knowing what you need right out of the gate.
Find the Writers
Armed with your refined job description, it’s time to scour the Internet or your area for the perfect writer. There are several ways you can do this:
- Visit freelancer websites, such as WriterAccess, UpWork, or oDesk.
- Look on Twitter or LinkedIn for writers in your niche and/or area.
- Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or networking group.
- Do a simple Google search (especially helpful if you need a writer who can help you get found online).
Clearly Your Expectations
Congratulations! You’ve found a writer to hire. You’re both probably chomping at the bit, ready to get the first project started but first, you need to make sure this is a good fit.
Before any work begins, it’s imperative that you’re both on the same page.
Defining expectations up front limits the risk of receiving a piece of content that’ll get discarded as a failed experiment. It might be tempting but don’t start work without outlining your expectations.
Tell your writer:
- Your overall business goals;
- The goals of having a writer in your back pocket;
- The audience you’re marketing to;
- The type of deliverables you expect;
- Examples of work you admire;
- Your budget;
- Your timeline.
The better your writer understands the big picture, the better results you’ll achieve.
Your writer will have a better gauge of who he’s writing for. Your writer will understand the importance of meeting (or beating) the deadline you provide. And, your writer will know why you’ve contracted him for the job.
Understand Your Writer’s Expectations
It’s just as important to understand your writer’s expectations and abilities.
Freelance writers juggle a variety of projects and clients. To perform his best work, your writer likely has a process he must go through to gather information. Honor it.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that most writers aren’t sitting on their hands waiting for work. They’re actively helping an established set of clients. Although you might love to have a 2,000 word article turned around in 24 hours, the likelihood of that happening (and it being high quality) are slim. Give your writer the time he needs to do the job well.
Before starting work, ask your writer to outline:
- His timeline;
- How he likes to receive feedback;
- His price and payment terms;
- Who owns the final content delivered.
Set the Tone With the First Job
Feeling confident in the person you chose? Great! Test the waters and solidify it’s a good fit with a task.
When sending the first job to your writer, give as many details as possible. Don’t expect your writer to read your mind and know what you want.
Here are some of the essential components to provide in any new task you give to your writer.
- Audience. Who is your writer writing for?
- Tone. Be as descriptive as possible. Remember, “add personality to the writing” means different things to different people.
- Word Count. You might not know what 400, 600, or 1,000 words looks like, but give your best estimate of how long or short you want your piece.
- Topic. Keep this brief.
- Takeaways. What is your goal with this piece of writing? What do you want your reader to walk away knowing?
- Key Points. Any other key details you want your writer to include (or not include)? Tell them up front.
- Format of Deliverable. Do you want a Word document? Google doc? Choose something where tracking feedback and revisions is easy.
- Deadline. Don’t forget to give yourself a buffer for revisions and updates.
Remember, the more detail you give up front, the faster and better your writer will perform.
Organize Your Input
This is an exciting moment. The first task has been returned and you have high hopes for what your writer will deliver. You open the article and immediately notice a few things aren’t quite in line with what you were looking for.
Take a deep breath. The writing happens in the editing phase. It’s normal for you to request a round or two of revisions.
When sending your feedback, keep your comments detail-oriented yet concise. Share what you love and what you hate about the piece so your writer can learn and grow for future jobs.
Signed, Sealed, and Delivered!
Doing your due diligence when hiring a freelancer will pay off in the long run.