Content lies at the core of good marketing, and great content is created by great writers. I’ve had the opportunity to experience both ends of writing; client and freelancer, and have picked up a few tips on hiring awesome freelance writers.
- Where to find freelance writers
- Questions to ask before you hire a freelance writer
- How to find a writer you’ll love working with
Where to find freelance writers
This freelancer portal was built by awesome former clients of mine, and has $0 in fees. It’s completely free for freelancers and clients to sign up and contact each other directly–in fact, you don’t even have to communicate through the platform. Hubstaff Talent can connect you directly to a freelancer’s inbox.
From the freelancer side: One of my favorite clients found me via Hubstaff Talent, and I recommend creating a profile if you’re a freelancer open to new projects.
Freelancer.com is a platform that allows you to specify your price range as you browse freelance writers. You can post a local job, a contest (wherein the winner gets paid), or a project. You can also browse freelancer profiles to see if there’s a good fit.
Upwork is a popular freelance projects platform that’s gotten so sophisticated it has its own built-in project management and time tracking tools. Their fees are on the high side, so in-demand freelancers may charge a rate 10-20% higher than normal. However, if you want to take advantage of their payment protection, in-house tools, and streamlined processes, this may justify the added expense.
ProBlogger is a job board that I consistently hear good reviews from. The site was built to help bloggers who want to create and grow their own blogs, so it’s frequented by writers who want to improve and write professionally.
Inbound.org is a community of marketers who are usually, unsurprisingly, also great writers. Many of them are open to freelance projects, or looking for new opportunities, so their job board is a great place to find new talent. You can also browse their member profiles and filter by those who are looking for work.
Are you a member of Inbound? Me too, please say hi!
The GrowthHackers community is a great place for growth marketers to come together and share interesting articles from around the web, ask questions, and discuss industry news. Their job board is another great place to post an opening, but note that they specialize in growth marketing, which may or may not involve plenty of content creation on their parts.
I’m on GrowthHackers, too. Please say hello!
AngelList profiles startups, and so their listings are filled with startup jobs. This means if you’re a big company, you may not be eligible to post jobs on this portal. Otherwise, it’s a great place for talent to find you.
Remote Job Boards
There are multiple remote work job boards where you can post a position for a need for a freelance writer. A few of them are listed below.
If you want to see a few more options (including those that specialize in other work such as development/design), check out NoDesk’s Remote Work section.
This is a directory for creative professionals that you can browse through. There isn’t much in the way of background or experience, but it lists skills and places you can find them (ie. Twitter profile).
LinkedIn is a professional social network where you focus on colleagues, connections, and career versus friends, family, and personal life. It’s an excellent place to find career-oriented writers who are open to freelance work. You can post a job on LinkedIn, or browse through professional profiles. As you add connections and expand your reach you should also gain access to a few awesome writers in your extended network.
There are a lot of trolls on Reddit, but there are also some pretty great job candidates out there. There are subreddits dedicated to writers, to freelancers, and to different industries. Here are a few to start;
The other day I got a notification that someone in a Slack channel I’m part of was looking for a social media copywriter. He had hit @channel and sent pings to all 3,000+ members of the open community.
Slack is an interesting one because you can join communities around the world on the platform, somewhat like having a giant Skype group. PR Newswire put together a list of Slack communities for writers and creators, which is a good place to start hunting for a freelance writer.
This is getting a little more creative with your freelancer hunt. Pick a few of your favorite industry newsletters and sponsor a job post within them.
To help with this, picture your ideal freelance writer. What will s/he be interested in? What industry will s/he specialize in? Look for the email newsletters that your perfect freelancer would sign up for, such as newsletters on marketing if you’re looking for a marketing writer, or SEO if you want someone who knows SEO.
Your favorite blogs
When is the last time you read a piece of content that taught you something awesome? Chances are, the writer behind it is pretty good at what s/he does. Whenever you come across an article that makes you pause and appreciate the writing, take a look at the author bio and see if s/he is open to freelance writing. This tactic may require patience, research, and luck, but at least you’ve already seen their work in action.
Curious about where to start? Ignite Visibility put together a nice list of places to guest blog for marketers.
My personal favorite: Referrals
Finally, we come to my personal favorite. Some of the best writers I’ve worked with have come referred by others. I just posted a LinkedIn status update looking for writers, and someone I had collaborated with before and connected with on LinkedIn sent an amazing writer my way.
As a freelancer, I’ve been referred by happy clients, and have referred great freelancers to clients I was too busy to accommodate in turn.
Questions to ask before you hire a freelance writer
Aside from the standard question of “what’s your rate,” here are a few questions I ask to gauge the fit of a freelance.
Are you willing to sign an NDA?
Not all my clients require their writers to sign NDAs, but if you plan to add them to your PM tool where they can see other internal documents and processes, this is a best practice.
What’s your article availability?
I ask this so I know how many articles I can assign a writer regularly. I prefer working with writers long-term, so it’s good to get into a routine.
What article length are you comfortable writing?
There’s value to succinct, 500-word articles that cut to the chase and don’t waste any time. There’s also value to 3,000-word in-depth guides. Know what lengths your writers are comfortable with so you can assign appropriately.
If I’m having someone do an “ultimate guide,” I’ll assign it to the writer who likes to dive deep. If I need an update on a new feature, I’ll send it to the writer who gets their point across and can educate in as few words as possible.
What topics are you most familiar with?
This is so I know what they enjoy writing about. As they type out a list, usually the topics near the top are the ones that came to mind first for them, which means those are the topics they’re most familiar with.
How do you prefer payment? PayPal, ACH, something else?
I’ve learned to clear this up before starting work with a new freelancer, because everyone invoices differently. Some writers want a down payment, some work with packages, and others invoice after every article. It’s also important to figure out how they accept payment to avoid any confusion later. For example, if they only accept bank deposits but you’re in a different country, problems will pop up.
What project management tools are you familiar with?
This seems inconsequential, but it’s much easier to onboard a freelancer who already understands the platform you work with. This isn’t a huge problem with writers who are quick learners, but some of the best freelancers out there are already so busy they may not have time to learn the ropes of a new PM tool in-depth.
Anything else I should know?
I like asking this question because it covers any concerns that a writer might have working with us. It’s their opportunity to set expectations and let me know if they plan to go on vacation anytime soon, if they are open to full-time work, etc.
How to find a writer you’ll love working with
Gauge their responsiveness during your communications
I’ve worked with freelancers who gave me radio silence as they missed deadline after deadline. It gets stressful, especially if you have a client or partner who’s waiting on that information.
Tip: Pad your deadlines. If we have a guest post going out to a partner, I give them an estimated delivery date that’s a week later than the due date I set for myself and our freelancers.
Do a test task first
This is the most important step I’ve incorporated as a manager and as a freelancer to vet my clients. It’s crucial to do a test task before signing on to a bigger commitment so that you can gauge a writers’ work, communication skills, results, responsiveness, ability to hit deadlines, and how they get along with the rest of your team.
How do you find and vet your freelance writers? Are you looking for writer recommendations? Do you ask any other questions before hiring? Let me know in the comments!