Finding The Right Freelance Writer For Your Business
Making The Connection Is Easy With Some Work Up Front
I met the owner of a small tech company in Madison, Wisconsin the other day. We were both getting coffee and got into a conversation about our work. Right after I told him that I was a freelance writer, his eyes lit up. He told me about a business associate who was looking for a freelance writer but wasn't sure where or how to find one. I immediately pulled out a business card and handed it to him and made contact.
That is just one example of a conversation that I have more often than you would think. When people find out that I'm a writer the stories start to roll out how they or someone they know has been looking for a writer for their business, but they don’t know how or where to find them. With the rise of social media and the need for quality content on websites to help raise search engine optimization (SEO), good writers are at a premium. So why are businesses having so much trouble connecting with writers?
I use the example of my college days where me and my friends would go to a night club or house party and look around in wonderment at the absence of women. And even if we did know where all the women were on that particular evening, we were either too shy or lacking in proper pick-up lingo to be successful. So it is with business people looking for writers. Where do you look and once you have found a gaggle of writers (What do you call a group of writers?) how do you go about making contact an choosing the right one for your business needs?
There are ways to connect online but how do you warm up a cold contact? How do you know that you are making the right decision when hiring a freelance writer? Are you stuck having to take a chance by hiring someone you don’t know? I would say no. There are steps you can take to ensure the writer you choose is the right one for your project and your business.
Having a good freelance writer that you can call on to write your company’s social media, blog, web, marketing and public relations content is as valuable as having an accountant or attorney at your disposal. Social media is continuing to grow and businesses are in the position of having to produce high quality, interesting and influential web content that raises website SEO, and keeps them relevant and in front of customers and prospects. Chances are that you already know the value of a good writer or you would not be here, so let’s start to talk about how you find that writer.
Know What You Need
The first thing you need to do before you start your writer search is to know what you want from a writer and what they need from you. By knowing these wants and needs, you will better pinpoint the right writer to help you create the quality work that you need quickly and with minimal rewrites. Here are things to think about:
Type of Writing – Do you need to write a press release, product brochure content or posts for your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram accounts? These are all different writing styles that may call for different types of writers.
Project Details – Even if this is something as basic as writing a small blog article about a product or service, you should take time to spell out the elements such as a description of what you would like the article to cover, deadlines, what keywords you would like included and how many words you would like it to be. Have a list of sources that the writer should use to help add credibility to your article. This may sound like a lot of work but if the subject is related to your business chances are you are already familiar with these sources and they are easily available.
Budget – How much can you spend on this project? This will determine the skill level of the writer you can work with.
Begin Your Search
Start your writer search using LinkedIn because you may find that you are already connected with a freelance writer or that you are within one degree of separation if one of your connections knows a writer. Guru and Upwork are good sites to consider as well for this initial search. Start by choosing copywriters you have found who write on subjects related to your business. Create a list of 20 writers to start with.
So for example, let’s say I am a marathon race director and I need to hire someone to write a series of blog posts promoting my event that is coming up in a few months. The first thing I might do is look for writers who focus on fitness. I would start my search with LinkedIn, and once I have a good base of writers to choose from I can use my list of criteria including the type of writing, project details and my budget to decide which writers from my list are the best fit. Use this process to narrow down to your top 5 to 10 choices depending how much time you can devote to interviews, which is your next step.
First, contact prospects by email explaining briefly about your writing project and that you would like to schedule a short phone interview. Be sure you include a link to your website as well. During the phone interview tell them about the project and listen for their responses. Are they asking questions about your business? Did they visit your website? Are they asking questions about the work that you need done? The first sign of a good writer is curiosity. If you don’t detect that vibe of inquisitiveness you may consider moving to the next candidate.
Talk to the writer’s current clients and find out what their experience has been with the writer. Ask them:
How satisfied are you with the quality of their work? This is question that often gets a wide range of responses and can be quite valuable for getting real insight into how the writer works. If you’re feeling bold, ask for an example about how they handled a specific project.
How are they at meeting deadlines? Nearly everything we do in business revolves around deadlines. If your writer has trouble meeting them than they are likely not the writer for you.
Are they easy to work with? You want a talented writer who meets deadlines but if they have a bad attitude and are a pain to work with this can really cause issues.
Are they engaged? Good writers will stay connected in the project from beginning to end and will deliver.
How are their research skills? Content is only as good as its sources and good writers back up their writing with solid research. High quality, well researched writing is valuable and it interests people. It ranks higher in the search engines and that quality reflects positively on your business.
What about their SEO knowledge? Your writer should be knowledgeable in search engine optimization best practices. They should understand current keyword usage and be able to write articles that appeal to humans and search engines alike.
Are they creative? A writer with a creative mind can go a long way to setting your business apart from your competition.
Can they handle criticism? A healthy exchange of ideas is part of any good business and part of that exchange is often critiques. You want a writer who is not only able to take criticism but one who can take that criticism and turn it into a quality content that best reflects your business.
Another way to continue to narrow your search is to ask prospects to complete a small writing assignment. If it’s a real writing assignment that you need completed, tell them that you will pay them if you decide to publish it. This will give you true insight into their writing quality and ability to meet deadlines. Taking the time up front will allow you to make the right choice the first time leading to what will be a long and prosperous relationship with a professional writer.