Maybe you’re doing a website overhaul. Or you’re stepping up the publishing schedule of your blog. Or you’re launching an email newsletter. The possible scenarios are plentiful, but at the center of them all is one need:
You have to hire a freelance writer.
How hard could that be? They’re, like, on every street corner these days, right? According to the Freelancers Union, a whopping 57.3 million Americans take on freelance work at least semi-regularly. You should be able to find one who’s talented, qualified and sober enough to write for your brand… right?
Before I continue, permit me to say: I love freelance writers. I work with them every day, and I am one myself. Many freelance writers possess abilities that far surpass my own. But as with any occupation, there are those who are less than stellar in the craft. Working with someone who doesn’t have the skills or knowledge you need is a giant waste of time and money.
That’s where this post comes in. Let’s look at how to find and hire great freelance writers.
First step: Know the type of freelance writer you need
Fit the writer to the type of project you have. While there’s a lot of crossover among the good ones, most freelancers fall into these general categories:
Content writer. These are the jack-of-all-trades writers — the generalists who can write your blog posts, website copy, eBooks, case studies, etc. Sometimes referred to as “brand journalists,” good ones are familiar with SEO best practices and help your content get found in search. Sometimes they get a byline, and sometimes they function as ghostwriters.
Content strategist. Take everything that a content writer is and add the ability to build your content strategy, including perform keyword research, ideate topics, and plan your editorial calendar.
Conversion rate optimization/lead gen writer. These writers specialize in getting the reader to take action. Use them to write landing pages, PPC ads, sales letters — any conversion-driven campaign.
Subject matter expert. Just like it sounds, these writers have a deep, specialized knowledge in a particular area. Whereas a good content writer can easily handle most top-of-the-funnel, awareness-level content, an SME is intimately familiar with your industry and writes with authority.
Influencer. An influencer is a social media user or blogger who is influential in a particular niche and has significant engagement with their followers. You don’t hire them for their writing abilities; you hire them for their reach, credibility and salesmanship. They’re usually the most expensive type of writer to hire.
A few other niche writing categories:
- Grant writer: seeks funds for individuals, foundations, government agencies and corporations
- Technical writer: writes instruction-type content
- Social media writer: understands the nuances of individual social channels and uses that knowledge to create engaging social posts
- Advertising copywriter: writes promotional and advertising copy for print and online
Then, determine how much you’ll pay your freelance writer
How much should you pay a freelancer? Much of the advice on this matter will tell you there are no clear guidelines on freelance pay, or that it depends on geography, experience, etc. That’s sort of true, but it’s also sort of rubbish. In my experience, general guidelines for a 750-word blog post are:
- Good to excellent pay: $200-$450
- So-so to decent: $100-$200
- Lousy to ‘eh, why not’ pay: < $100
Like most things in life, there is a direct correlation between how much you pay and the quality of the work. In addition, these things cost more:
- Subject matter expertise
- The writer needs to conduct an interview
Remember, good content can live on your site, rank high in search, and generate traffic and generate leads for years to come, so it pays to invest in a decent writer.
Now, go find them
Once you know whom you need and how much you’re willing to pay them, you can begin looking for them. The top routes to take are:
Ask your colleagues and friends. Tell them a little bit about the project and how much you have to spend. This is my favorite way to find a good writer.
Freelancer job boards & marketplaces
Sigh. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this route, but it’s not my favorite. Yes, you can find a hidden gem or two on sites like:
But you have to wade through so much crap, and they tend to attract writers who will work for peanuts (see previous comment about getting what you pay for). Problogger and Copyblogger fall into this category too and have a better reputation, but once again, you must sift through massive amounts of information and cross your fingers with whom you land on.
Freelance writing services
Writing services such as ClearVoice, Scripted, NewsCred and Contently generally have higher quality, vetted writers — but caveat, they’re not for the little guy. These are enterprise-level services, and there’s a contract and a monthly fee on top of paying writers for individual projects.
When you read something you like and think I could use that writer, check out the writer bio at the bottom of the post; most bylined posts are followed by a few lines about the writer and a way to contact them. Even if a social profile isn’t given, run their name through Twitter or LinkedIn — top freelancers usually have robust social media profiles, and you can introduce yourself in a private chat and inquire about rates and availability.
You can also search for freelance writers on LinkedIn (Twitter, too, but LinkedIn is better built for this). Simply go to the search box in the top-left corner, search for People > freelance writers > and then apply search filters as you please.
Or… you could hire a digital marketing agency
Of course, you could eschew all the above and simply hire a crackerjack agency to handle content strategy and production for you. Where oh where will you find a highly qualified digital marketing agency to help with content? One that’s staffed by really good-looking experts? With the American Marketing Association’s Marketer of the Year at the helm?
I’m sure you’ll think of something.
Our Creative Content Services
Diversify your offerings to stay at the cutting edge of content marketing with our creative content design for infographics, videos, whitepapers, content visualization pages, and more.