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Hiring a Team of Freelance Writers: Essential Beginners’ Guidelines

Quality content is a need shared by all industries and all businesses, small and big. But for a business that started recently, hiring a full-time writer is oftentimes not a viable option, as the need for content is not constant and the financial commitment unjustified.

The whole process of finding and working with freelance writers can seem confusing at first. In this entry, we’ll see what steps you should take to hire the right writers for your business.

Illustration by deagrez  via Bigstock

Understand What You Need

It’s essential to define your needs before you start looking for the perfect writer. Knowing what you need helps you determine the right profile for the job. With clear criteria for selection, it will be easier to shortlist the best candidates.

First, you have to figure out what type of content you need. Is it blog articles? Website content? A white paper? A landing page?

Most of the time, it’s up to you to determine a content strategy that includes content formats. Individual writers most often work on clearly defined assignments and are not expected to help clients choose the type of content to write. Few writers double as content strategists, and when they do they will charge more for their content marketing expertise. If you are not sure what content strategy you should go with, content marketing agencies can help you.

Other critical factors to take in consideration when defining your needs are:

  • Do you need only one writer or several?
  • Do you need the writer to be in your area so that you can have on-site meetings?
  • Do you need a writer who knows her way around SEO?
  • Should the writer have proven experience in your industry, or will she rely on her research skills?

Decide on Your Budget

Start by determining how much you can afford to spend on content writing, in relation to other business costs and your finances.

As for market rates, there is no universal average rate for any kind of writing. A piece of content can cost anywhere from 10$ to $10,000, depending on multiple factors like:

  • The client’s budget
  • The writer’s expertise
  • The complexity of the subject matter
  • The experience required
  • The expected ROI

While there are skilled writers who work at very affordable rates, distinguishing them from inexperienced writers is not always easy. As you process applications, you will have to ask for samples and sometimes conduct tests.

Where to Find Freelance Writers

There is a huge number of freelance writers on the internet, and you can reach out to them via a good number of websites.

You can post ads on job sites like Monster, Indeed, Media Bistro or even Craiglist. There are also job sites focused on writing jobs such as Blogging Pro, Scripted, or Online Writing Jobs.

Likewise, there are freelancer marketplaces like UpWork, Freelancer and Fiverr. The level of skill and affordability varies by individual, so you have to search for a bit to find the right match.

By posting on multiple sites (except for Fiverr where you browse the gigs offered by freelancers), you increase your chances of finding skilled writers but you will also have to go through countless applications, which is tedious and time-consuming.

Another way to find freelance writers is through referrals. If you know people who run businesses, you can ask them about the writers they hired in the past. You may end up finding an expert writer with much less time and effort.

Define the Scope and Timeframe

After having selected your writers, try to be as thorough as possible when explaining what you need. You don’t have to engage in a lengthy discussion every time, but make sure all essential points (main ideas to develop, tone, keywords to use, etc.) are clearly communicated. Try gauging how quick the writers are to understand the required work.

If there is material that can help them, you can share it –provided they agree to keep it confidential.

Also, provide examples of writing that you think is great to give writers a clearer idea of what you expect. Make sure that you and your writers are on the same page before they start working. Everyone would rather not go through several rounds of revisions.

When deciding on the deadline, try to find a balance between your schedule and the time needed to produce quality writing. Some writers deliver faster than others, so setting the right deadline is more of a case-by-case task.

Lastly, appoint one person to remain in contact with writers, as to facilitate communication and avoid conflicting instructions.

Paying Freelance Writers

Many writers accept payment through PayPal or similar services. Others prefer a check mailed to their addresses. Suggest the method that suits you best and see if the writer agrees.

Freelance writers can charge per hour, word count, pages or project. For long-term collaborations, clients may pay a monthly retainer. You should also know that some writers require a partial payment before starting work. Whatever conditions you prefer, you should discuss them and reach a mutual agreement before starting a project.

Do You Need a Contract?

While it’s not absolutely necessary, a contract can protect you if you have to share sensitive information with writers. A contract will also provide evidence, when needed, about the ownership of the content and the payment and delivery terms. While the risk of a dispute is often low, you can never be too cautious. If you want peace of mind regarding these potential issues, take the time to prepare a thorough contract.

Start Small, See How Work Goes

The first project to entrust your new writers should be one in which the stakes are not too high and the scope and budget are rather small. Projects of critical importance should be left to writers with whom you have been working for some time and who delivered satisfying results. Give your writers feedback so they can improve in the next projects.

Evaluate how effective communication is, whether deadlines are met and the quality of the work delivered. You will then be able to decide whether to give writers –and to whom amongst them– more important projects.

Compelling content is an investment that can yield huge returns for your business, so be sure to hire qualified writers and nurture a healthy relationship with them.

Looking for the right team of freelance writers and marketers for your website content ? Give Iris Content a try.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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