When you need help telling your brand’s story, it makes sense to hire a freelance writer. But what to look for—and when to start looking—can be the difference between finding a freelance writer and finding a professional freelance writer.
Let’s start with when to search out a freelance writer. For starters, don’t wait for a crisis to hit to start looking for the right talent. It often takes a while to find a professional writer who will be a good fit for your company.
Plus, when you’re in crisis mode, you feel pressured to find someone quickly. That’s like looking for the best plumber when you’ve got water gushing out under your kitchen sink—you’ll hire anyone who’s willing to come over RIGHT NOW to fix the leak, regardless of their qualifications, expertise or price. Using the plumbing analogy, you don’t want some stranger mopping up your communication mess. You want someone you’ve already researched, whom you know you can trust.
So, when do you look for a freelance writer?
Before you need one.
Using a freelancer makes sense when:
- you can’t afford a full-time staff person
- your current staff is overburdened with projects
- you lack the expertise
- you’re under a tight deadline
- you need a fresh perspective
- your light workload doesn’t justify a full-time position but you occasionally need help
Whether you need someone to write ongoing content or you just have sporadic projects, seek out a freelance writer when you’ve got time to explore the options. This might take several days, weeks, or months, depending on your needs. But, just like when you hire employees, you want to ensure you’ve got a qualified candidate who will mesh with your company.
What do you look for in a freelance writer?
As you’re exploring the freelance talent out there, keep these points in mind:
You want to get the best freelance writer for your company, so seek out a professional who brings the specific skills you’re looking for. Do you need a wordsmith who can transform complex information into practical takeaways? Are you looking for a detail-oriented, deadline-driven writer? Do you want someone fresh out of college or would you prefer a more seasoned writer? Do you want a generalist who’s adaptable to a variety of projects or a niche writer who focuses on one or two specialties? Are you looking for a writer with a fun-loving writing style or do you need a staid, corporate approach? Do you need a freelancer who’s local or can the work be done remotely? One writer can’t be all things to all people, so be clear about the experience you want in your ideal freelance writer.
Tied into every professional writer’s background and experience, you’ll find a track record of writing samples, clients, and testimonials. Check out the writer’s website and poke around to see what she’s already done, whom she’s worked with, and what they had to say about her. No website? This might be a sign that you’re dealing with a new or inexperienced freelance writer who doesn’t have much to show for herself yet. At the very least, a good writer will have a detailed LinkedIn profile or an online portfolio on a site such as Contently.
If you’re price-sensitive, you might want to seek out a newbie with rock-bottom rates, as long as she’s got decent writing chops. (Of course, the voice of doubt will be whispering, “You get what you pay for” into your ear.) But, if you want top-notch writing, hire a seasoned professional with years of experience. This writer will become your company’s storyteller, so don’t skimp on quality just to save a few pennies.
All things being equal, you want to work with someone you click with. If your company culture borders on frat party and you bring in a buttoned-up, corporate-wannabe copywriter, it might not be a great fit. As Joe Pulizzi points out in a Content Marketing Institute blog post, “Given the choice between a good writer with a personality that closely matches your organization (but short on industry expertise), and an industry veteran that knows how to write but with whom you can’t stand to be in the same room with — go with the personality.” Remember, you can always teach someone about your industry.
Do you need help telling your brand’s story? Let’s connect so we can see whether we’re a good fit.