The 4 Commandments of Hiring Freelance Writers

Posted 2 years ago in Small Business Tips
by Meg Sproul

53 million Americans are now freelancers of some sort. In fact, according to a study commissioned by the Freelancers Union, freelancers make up more than one third of the US workforce.

So what does that mean for you? If you’re looking to hire freelance writers for your business’ blog, sifting through millions of freelancers to find the right writers for your site isn’t exactly the type of work you can cram in before you’ve had a cup of coffee. Or three.

And as anyone who has actually done the grueling work of screening writers can attest, digging through bad portfolios is often a lot like panning for gold. Some days you just go home tired—tired of getting dirt kicked in your face.

But do you actually need to hire outside writers? Before you put on your headlamp and start mining for freelancer gold, ask yourself a couple questions.

How much writing do you really need?

First, consider your business’ needs. If your company is a family-owned car dealership, you might not need to publish new content as often as say, a software startup might.

Because fast-moving industries change frequently, blogs in those niche areas may need to publish daily, while slower moving industries may be perfectly fine publishing once or twice a week––in which case, you can likely do most of the writing yourself, especially if you enjoy it can endure it.

If you are in one of these fast-moving industries, you may want to consider hiring outside writers to keep up with the volume of content your site will need to stay relevant.

Can I really afford good writing?

If your niche demands a higher volume of content, the next step is to honestly evaluate your budget and determine whether 1) you will be able to pay your writers what they are worth and 2) you have the capacity to adequately manage your freelancer writers without your content efforts costing you more time than what they’re saving.

If, after evaluating your niche and your business’ needs, you still feel like hiring freelance writers is the way to go, follow these four commandments to ensure that you’ll have a steady stream of high-value content for your blog.

Be consistent

Writers are not all created equal. You need to subject all writers to the same editorial standards in order to maintain a consistent quality and “voice”. Clearly explain your blog’s purpose and target audience, as well as any voice, tone, and topic approval guidelines you may have.

Being clear about your expectations up front will save you a lot of headache later on. With this in mind, if a writer that you’ve sourced isn’t willing to follow the standards you’ve set, move on to someone who will.

Provide feedback

Especially in the beginning when your writers aren’t as familiar with your preferred writing style, giving actionable feedback is key. “Actionable” being the keyword here––delivering vague correction will demoralize your writer. They aren’t mind readers. Assume that they will get off course and be ready with specific things that you want them to change. If you can’t get what you want from a writer in one or two revisions, it’s time to move on.

Stay flexible

Even if you think all of your edits were on-point, be for pushback. If you did your due diligence, you likely can learn a lot from your writer about writing. Your writer may have clarifications that can help you better understand why they worded something a certain way.

Pay your writers

This one may seem obvious, but this means you pay your writer even if you weren’t 100% satisfied with the outcome. If you don’t like what they did after a couple revisions, don’t hire them again. If you ever spent time on a freelancer site, you know that individual freelancers charge wildly different rates, sometimes ranging from $5 to a few hundred dollars per post. While more talented and experienced writers often charge more, keep in mind the ROI of each post on your blog. If you plan to pay $20 per post, the lifetime value of that post must exceed $20 to be worth the cost of producing it.

Closing thoughts

Creating original content can be a great way to bring in traffic to your website, grow your network, and increase your business’ clout in your industry. Looking for good freelance writers takes time and effort, but if you follow these four rules, you’ll be on track to creating a content marketing machine that will lead to more qualified leads, increasingly satisfied customers, and a rich audience of engaged readers.

Want more small business tips for staying ahead of your competition? Check out 5 ways small businesses can stay ahead of the tech curve.

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