4 things to consider when hiring a freelance writer


Every organisation wants to attract attention. Perhaps you want to shout about your latest venture and product launches. Maybe you seek to engage a wide audience in your research project. Whatever it is that you want to say, you need to develop killer content and a comprehensive communications strategy.

But great writing takes time. Despite what most people think, good writing is a specialist skill. You could pass the task on to a colleague, but the chances are that unless they work in marketing, it’s not their core skill either. Perhaps it is time to find a professional for the job.

But a quick Google search shows that there are thousands of copy writers, copy editors, journalists, freelance communicators and media professionals waiting to mould your communications strategy. With so much choice, how can you possibly decide?

Know what you want

First, you need to assess your particular needs. Pretend for a moment that you are hiring for a permanent position: before you interview prospective candidates, you must develop a job description which will inform your selection criteria. This initial step is the same when it comes to hiring a freelance writer.

You need to think about:

  • Timescale – do you need content for a one-off event or marketing messages that will stand the test of time?
  • Audience – consider their interests, how much they already know about you and their level of engagement with your organisation. Are they willing to interact on social media or do they prefer phone calls or the printed word?
  • Multimedia – do you want to repurpose any content created in print for your website, blog or social media profiles? Consider how the content will work as a package across various platforms.
  • Message – what exactly is it that you want people to know?
  • Call to action – what do you want people to do once they’ve got your message?

Now that you have a basic brief, you are ready to select the correct writer to meet your needs.

Find the right writer

Successful collaborations come from careful research. When choosing a writer, you should take time to consider:

1. Price

Experience and expertise come with a price. However, there are dramatic variations in the hourly rates of different freelancers. Some media gurus charge upwards of £100 / hour, while recent graduates will happily take on the same work for pennies and a reference.

2.  Samples

Unfortunately, you do not always get what you pay for. So before you hire, take time to look through each candidate’s recent work samples. Consider whether the tone and style of their texts could match your needs. Are you looking for accessible or technical texts? Do you want conversational blog posts or serious articles? Every writer will have a speciality. And remember to look beyond the words for call outs, pull quotes and the use of multi-media such as infographics, images and videos to supplement online texts. Is your candidate able to provide a full service and think beyond their immediate brief?

3. Style of working

Different writers work in different ways. Some offer close contact with regular meetings; they may even be available to work within your offices for the duration of the project. Others prefer to work from home to minimise travel costs, but stay in touch via regular emails and telephone calls.

4. Reliability

We all get ill from time to time but individual writers have no colleagues to turn to – a simple stomach bug could halt production. Of course, if you have no pressing deadlines this may not be a problem, but if you need to produce great content quickly a freelancer may not be your best option. Try searching for small communications companies with a good team spirit or, for larger projects, consider approaching a writing agency.

Filed under: Tips | By Deborah on March 18, 2015 at 2:41 am

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