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What to Look for in a Freelance Writer

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Companies hire freelance writers for aHire Freelance Writers number of reasons. It could be for a temporary assignment, such as writing website copy, or a longer project, such as periodically contributing to a blog. In either case, it can be difficult to find good writers for your company.

You probably don’t want to invest a lot of time and money into your search for a freelancer, but you also want to hire a good fit. The criteria for a good freelance writer may vary from business to business, but in general there are certain qualities that distinguish good freelance writers online. Here are some of the most important things to consider when hiring freelance writers for your business.

Previous Online Writing Experience

Unless they are recent college grads looking to break into the writing world, your candidates will most likely have experience writing for other businesses and websites. Most freelance writers can provide you with samples of their previous work, though some may be written under a pen name or won’t have an author name attached to them.

For example, if a business hired a writer to create its website copy, the author’s name probably won’t be listed on the page. For these kinds of samples, you should ask the author to prove that the work is actually his or hers. Authors may need to provide you with the project manager’s name and contact information.

Quality of Samples

The overall quality of an author’s writing samples is one of the most important considerations when hiring freelancers. A writer could have all the experience in the world but may still provide poor copy. There’s no guarantee that previous clients’ standards were as stringent as yours. When evaluating samples, check for typos, as well as syntax, style, and flow.

Quality of Sites They Provide as Examples

If you read a lot of articles online, you know that some sites just have higher standards than others. An article on the Huffington Post carries a lot more weight than one posted on a blog with typos in its copy. If the writers have a track record of high-quality content for reputable sites, you can probably trust them to do the same for you.

Work Schedule

Often, it won’t matter when your freelance writers do their work. However, for some types of projects, you might need an assignment back promptly. If this is this case, you may prefer a full-time freelancer over someone who also has a 9 to 5 job. If projects will routinely be due in the evening, you might also need someone who can balance work with family and other obligations.

Professional Background

Ideally, a freelancer’s background should be conducive to online writing in some way. Maybe he or she obtained an English degree or has a journalism background. Previous blog or article writing experience is definitely important, but most writers should also have some training in online writing, like for SEO purposes, or other qualifications in the area.

Time to Respond to Emails

Your freelancer will most likely be completing projects on a fast turnaround. It’s important for you to be able to get in touch with him or her quickly so he or she can accept, edit, and complete assignments in a timely manner. A writer may not be your best choice if he or she takes a few days to get back to you after initial contact or doesn’t make his first deadline on time.

Personal Interests and Knowledge

People tend to write better when interested in the subject matter. For certain types of businesses, you may only want writers who are interested in or knowledgeable about certain topics. For example, if you’re hiring someone to write about medical software, you may want him or her to have a background or strong interest in healthcare.

Research Skills

All writers have to do research now and then. Are your applicants adept in the basic online research they’ll need to write great articles? They probably are, but it may be a red flag if their samples are lacking in links and references.

Trial Period Performance

Many businesses have a testing period for new freelancer writers before deciding to assign them work on a regular basis. This is your chance to request original samples from the applicant — provided you pay them for the work — and test out their workflow against yours. If the work they provide is error-ridden or goes off-topic you may be able to rule them out fairly soon.

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Author Description

James White

James is a freelance writer, photographer and founder of Infobros and Homey Improvements. Connect with James on Twitter @JGtheSavage.

2 Comments

  1. James,

    I have been writing copy, letters, email and more for many years yet after reading your post I stilled walked away with new ideas and insights.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Steve

    • Glad to hear, Steve! Thanks for the kind words!

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