Everything You Need To Know To Hire The Perfect Freelance Writer

Despite the unstoppable rise of visual and audio media, the written word still holds a central place in the world of marketing.

Whether you’re looking to grow your audience with high-quality article content, convert more leads into customers with persuasive landing page copy, or train your employees with clear and comprehensive coaching material, hiring a good writer is a must.

But this is no simple task. It’s hard to come by experienced writers who can drive business results at a fair price, especially if you’re not sure where or how to look for them. 

The good news is that’s exactly what we hope to teach you in this post. 

We’ll explain everything you should know when hiring a new writer, including what attributes to look for in a candidate, the pros and cons of in-house versus freelance writers, and what options are available to help speed up your search. By the time we’re done, you’ll know what’s needed to track down the perfect writer for your business.

But before we get to all that, why should you consider hiring a professional writer at all?

Why Hire a Professional Writer?

Hiring a professional writer to create your content assets can dramatically boost the quality and efficiency of your content marketing efforts.

Here are just a few benefits of hiring writers to take care of your content writing:

Good Writing Is a High-Value Skill

Any business that’s serious about building successful content marketing campaigns recognizes the overwhelming importance of producing high-quality articles. The better your content, the more readers will return to your website, the better you’ll perform in search engines, and the bigger your audience will grow.

But it’s no mean feat to produce genuinely engaging content that holds your audience’s attention and faithfully conveys your brand’s identity. Indeed, it can sometimes take years for professional content writers to learn how to do this well.

The point is that high-quality content writing is crucial for your content marketing success, but you’ll need a certain set of skills to do it properly. After all, being a business or website owner doesn’t automatically make you a great content writer!

This is where professional writers come in. Just as you’d hire a pro web developer to build your website or a videographer to produce your videos, you should also hire a professional writer to write your content.

Save Time and Energy

Hiring a writer is an easy way to make faster progress in your content marketing efforts without having to sit down and dust off the old typewriter yourself.

Whether your team lacks the time, skills, or inclination to take on writing assignments, or if they could just use some extra help to scale up their content production, enlisting the help of an experienced writer is probably the best solution for you.

A Fresh Pair of Eyes

While hiring a writer makes producing and publishing more content easier, it can also improve the quality of your overall content production process.

The thing is, a great writer won’t just mindlessly execute whatever brief you provide them. They’ll also offer a fresh perspective and new ideas about how to do things better based on their years of experience.

Better SEO Performance

Most freelance writers who create content for online audiences will have a fairly good understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) best practices.

In other words, they’ll understand the basic principles of writing and formatting their posts so that search engines can easily decipher the content and surface it in search results.

Having on-page optimization baked into the writing process means your content can perform well in search engines right out of the box.

Things to Consider Before Hiring a Writer

There are a few questions to address before you begin your search to hire a writer.

The greater clarity you have on these matters, the less time you’ll waste corresponding with writer candidates who turn out to be a poor match for your needs.  

Marketing Strategy

Content marketing success depends, first and foremost, on having a solid content marketing strategy.

Even if you’ve hired the best writer around, it won’t count for much unless your strategy is also on point.

Of course, the ultimate goal of any SEO content strategy is to increase organic traffic via improved rankings. But to give your strategy a real focus, you should also specify some secondary content marketing objectives, such as increasing brand awareness, generating more leads, or increasing conversions. 

These secondary goals will determine which type of content you’ll need to produce and, therefore, what skills and experience to look for when you hire a writer. 

Once you’ve set your content goals, you can develop a strategy to achieve the desired results. This will involve building a clear picture of what makes your target market tick, generating topic ideas that resonate with them, and conducting keyword research to give your content the best chance of being discovered.

With these elements of your strategy in place, you’ll finally be in a position to create an editorial calendar and hire a writer who can help bring your content plan to life.

Scope of Work

Before advertising your new writer position, you should also define the work requirements for the content projects in your pipeline.

The more clearly you can explain the project’s scope to a would-be writer, the easier it will be to find the right candidate.

Make sure your scope of work clarifies the following:

  • Whether the work is ongoing or a one-time project
  • If the latter, how many articles you have planned
  • The frequency and length of assignments
  • The degree of research necessary
  • Your delivery expectations (for example, format, turnaround times, number of revision rounds)
  • Necessary or desired experience (for example, X or more years creating content in your industry)
  • Requirements outside of actual writing (for example, SEO knowledge, experience using a CMS and Google Analytics, ability to work remotely)

Types of Content

Another fundamental question to answer before you hire a writer is: what kind of written content do you want to create?

Of course, your answer will depend on the plan you’ve laid out in your marketing strategy.

But bear in mind that the specific skill set necessary to create a high-quality piece of content often varies depending on the format in question. While a more experienced writer may happily take on different project types with equal enthusiasm, other writers have built their careers by mastering a specific type of content writing. For example, at WordAgents, we don’t offer creative writing, technical writing, white papers, nor research papers.

Naturally, you’ll want to hire a writer with experience working on the type of writing projects you have in mind. 

So here’s a quick reminder of some of the different types of written content out there:

  • Articles and blog posts: A popular format with multiple uses, such as teaching readers about a given topic, updating audiences on new products or services, and showcasing interviews with industry leaders. Most content writers regard article writing as a staple of their working lives.
  • Listicles: These are a hybrid between articles and lists, presenting readers with a collection of numbered items based on a common theme. 
  • Ebooks: These are digitally-formatted books that offer readers a more in-depth examination of a given subject. Ebook writing is generally more demanding than conventional content writing. 
  • Landing pages: Landing pages are web pages designed to persuade readers to perform a specific action, such as subscribing to a newsletter, signing up for a free trial, or buying a product. 
  • Product descriptions: These outline the core features and benefits of individual products. Product descriptions are mostly used on eCommerce websites.
  • Product reviews: Product reviews evaluate the pros and cons of different products to help readers make better-informed buying decisions.
  • Roundup reviews: A roundup review is a collection of product reviews based on a common theme.
  • Press releases: A press release is a piece of content promoting a new product, campaign, or company update. An organization will send a press release to news and media outlets in the hope they’ll write a story about it. 
  • White papers: White papers provide an in-depth, research-heavy analysis of a particular topic. 

Types of Writers For Hire

Just as there are many types of written content used by marketers, there are also different types of writers who specialize in creating different material.

  • Content writers: These writers produce a significant chunk of online content, spending their time writing articles, listicles, and ebooks. The ultimate aim of a content writer is to write content that engages readers and drives more visitors to your site.
  • Copywriters: These writers specialize in producing persuasive marketing material designed to convert visitors into leads and leads into customers. They are often responsible for writing landing pages, sales pages, and email sequences.
  • Technical writers: These writers are often subject matter experts tasked with explaining complex or technical topics to a lay audience.
  • Social media writers: These writers exclusively focus on writing content for social media audiences. They tend to have advanced knowledge of what kind of written material works best across different social media platforms.

Project Budget

When deciding how much budget to allocate to your new writer, you should remember that professional writing is no different from any other service: you get what you pay for.

This isn’t to say you should always opt for the most expensive option. A better approach is to set aside a budget that works for you and shop around to find the most capable writer you can afford.

Also, if you’re planning to create various content pieces with different skill and knowledge requirements, it’s worth thinking about using different writers for different jobs. For example, although you may need to hire a high-priced technical writer for your upcoming white paper, you can recruit a less expensive junior writer to update the product descriptions on your eCommerce store.

In-House Writer vs. Freelance Writer

Another consideration is whether you should opt for an in-house or freelance writer. As you’d expect, both options have their pros and cons. 

In-house writers provide the benefit of being on-hand at all times and quickly develop a deep understanding of your business since they have no other clients. But because they’re fully-fledged employees, in-house writers may end up consuming more of your budget.

Meanwhile, a freelance writer offers you more flexibility. They only work when you need them to, and they don’t come with as many employer obligations. That said, they may take longer to adjust to your company’s vision and processes, and their availability to work may be more variable.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time Writer

Whether you choose to go for an in-house or freelance writer, you’ll also need to decide whether you need part-time or full-time writing assistance.

Once again, the right option will depend on your available budget and the quantity of content you intend to produce. Full-time writers may be the smart choice if you plan to produce a high volume of content on a regular basis, while part-time or project-based writers may be more suitable for a less crowded content development schedule.

Onboarding and Training

As we mentioned earlier, one of the drawbacks of hiring outside help from freelancers is that you’ll need to spend some time educating them about your company’s products, processes, and projects. 

To solve this problem, you’ll need to set up an onboarding process that successfully moves writers from candidate to new hire to someone who fully grasps the goals and needs of your business.

Make sure that all new writers are fully up to speed on your marketing objectives, the unique selling points (USPs) of your products and services, and who your target market is.

Managing Your Freelance Writing Team

Even the best freelance writers need to be managed. They need a point of contact who can promptly answer any questions and provide project briefs and feedback on their initial drafts.

Depending on the number of writers you hire, you may well need a team member whose main responsibility is managing the writers’ workflow and ensuring that your company’s standards are maintained. 

If you don’t already have someone on staff who can manage your new writers, a more convenient option may be to use a service that lets you hire writers and receive writer management as part of one package (more on that below).

Where to Find Freelance Writers to Hire

There’s no shortage of ways to find freelance writers, whether you ask one of your professional peers for a referral, post an ad on LinkedIn, or seek the help of a recruitment agency.

Of course, you’ll want to use a search method that isn’t too time-consuming or expensive and reliably yields worthy writer candidates.

With that in mind, the following recruiting strategies should help you find suitable English writers for most projects.

Content Writing Services

A content writing service provides managed content creation at a fixed price per word. These companies tend to offer tiered packages, with the overall cost per word decreasing the more you spend.

WordAgents

WordAgents is a great option if you’re looking for a mid-priced service that offers original content optimized to rank well in search engines. With over 350 writers on the team, we specialize in producing SEO writing at scale, generating more than four million words per month for our clients.

If you team up with us, you’ll receive high-quality, original content within seven days of submitting a brief, including in-depth research, keyword optimization, and proofreading. You’ll also receive up to two rounds of free revisions wherever necessary (satisfaction guaranteed!).

Specialized Agencies

Alternatively, you could opt for a boutique content production agency. These high-end services tend to focus on one type of content or industry, with prices adjusted to their higher level of specialization.

Codeless

Codeless is one such agency offering customized packages of content strategy, production, optimization, and outreach management. The company primarily caters to SaaS, service, and affiliate brands, producing premium long-form content that ranks well on Google.

Marketplaces and Job Boards

Online marketplaces and job boards are other great options for connecting directly with writers looking for new content gigs. 

But since this strategy requires a fair deal of hands-on management, job boards are most useful when you’re only looking to hire a writer or two. 

Reddit – r/hireawriter

Unlike many popular online marketplaces such as UpWork, Reddit’s r/HireaWriter lets you post job ads for free.

Bear in mind that although the candidates you find here may be less expensive, you may need to manually sift through dozens (if not hundreds!) of responses to your ad before you can hire a writer that suits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hiring Writers

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers related to hiring writers: 

Why is it important to publish high-quality content regularly?

The internet is a crowded place. Countless businesses constantly publish content in a bid to cut through the noise and attract potential customers to their websites and online stores.

To succeed in such an environment, you need to consistently create best-in-class content that adds value to your readers’ lives. Only then will you stand a decent chance of building a positive reputation within your target market, improving your search engine rankings, and growing your customer base.

How much does it cost to hire freelance writers?

The cost of any individual freelance writer depends on how much demand exists for their services and the specific requirements of the project in question.

Naturally, an in-demand writer with years of experience, a spotless reputation, and a proven track record of delivering results for clients can charge higher rates than someone just starting out in their writing career.

Another factor affecting the cost of a freelancer is their level of specialization. Subject matter experts and technical writers tend to be more expensive than generalists.

According to Peak Freelance, the going rate for a 1,500-word blog post is somewhere between $250 and $399. This works out at around $0.17 to $0.27 per word. 

A company like WordAgents, meanwhile, charges between $0.06 and $0.07 per word on average.

What are some common characteristics of qualified writers?

As a rule, you’ll know you’ve come across a solid writer when they:

  • Have a native-like mastery of the English language
  • Have at least one year of industry experience
  • Have a relevant portfolio full of quality writing and aesthetically pleasing samples
  • Are happy to take on a trial project to ensure a good client/writer fit
  • Set realistic expectations and don’t overpromise
  • Ask plenty of questions so that they can do the best job possible
  • Follow the directions you provide 
  • Hit deadlines consistently
  • Are comfortable with copy editing and are happy to make revisions when needed
  • Possess basic SEO knowledge

What’s the difference between a content writer and a copywriter?

People often use the terms content writer and copywriter interchangeably, but there are some important differences between the two.

Content writing is all about creating informational content that educates, inspires, or entertains readers. Meanwhile, copywriting is more focused on producing the kind of persuasive and conversion-optimized text you’re likely to find on a landing page, sales page, or call-to-action (CTA).

As a rough and ready definition, content writing aims to inform readers, while copywriting aims to encourage readers to take some form of action.  

You can learn more about these differences by checking out our guide to copywriting vs. content writing.

What information should you include in a freelance writing job post?

When creating your freelance writing job post, you should be detailed and upfront about what you’re looking for. This will automatically filter out unsuitable candidates, leaving you with a shorter, more qualified list of potential suitors.

Think of your job post as a public-facing version of your scope of work. It should contain relevant information such as:

  • A brief yet appealing description of your business 
  • An overview of the role and its responsibilities
  • The type of content you’re looking for 
  • Necessary skills and experience
  • A start date
  • The frequency of assignments and the length of the project
  • Your budget range (optional)
  • A request for writing samples
  • A request for a cover letter or resume (optional)
  • An explanation of the next steps for shortlisted candidates (interview, trial project, etc.)

Do freelance writers need content briefs?

Yes! Providing writers with detailed content briefs is essential to running an effective content marketing program.

The more direction you can give writers before they start writing, the more likely you’ll be satisfied with the final product. This is even true of freelancers with years of experience writing content professionally.

Make sure your briefs include the following information:

  • Goals of the content (for example, are you trying to boost your rankings for a specific keyword in the search results, create a thought-leadership piece, or nudge potential customers into making a purchase?)
  • The desired content type (article, listicle, product review, etc.) 
  • Details about your target audience
  • Target word count
  • Target keyword(s)
  • External resources for research
  • Formatting guidelines
  • Instructions for writing style (ideally, you’ll have a general-purpose style guide that you can direct writers to for all projects)
  • A content outline

Are writing samples the best way to evaluate a writer?

Reading a candidate’s writing samples is useful for judging whether they might be a good fit for your business. At the very least, if their samples are bad, you’ll know they aren’t the right writer for you.

That said, the best way to determine fit is to arrange a trial assignment with your most promising candidates. Not only will this reveal whether they can create work that matches your vision, but it will also give you a good sense of what your working relationship with them will look like.

Is it necessary to hire expert writers?

It depends! 

Writers who are subject-matter experts or work exclusively on one type of content may well be worth the premium if you plan to create content for a highly specialized target market or within a tightly regulated industry. 

That said, most experienced ‘regular’ content writers will readily adapt to the needs of different assignments, provided the topics in question aren’t too technical.

Hire a Writer To Scale Your Content Creation Efforts

There’s no substitute for hiring great writers when it comes to creating high-quality content that drives business growth.

But finding an ideal writer involves a fair deal of planning and deliberation. To improve your odds of finding the right fit, you should define the type of content that will move your marketing strategy forward, the kind of writer and hiring arrangement that best suits your needs, and the processes that will help ensure your freelance writers quickly adapt to your company culture and project requirements.     

Once you’ve identified the essential criteria a new writer must satisfy, you can find writers by recruiting the help of content writing services, specialized agencies, or by exploring online job boards and marketplaces.

It’s now time for you to put these tips into practice and track down your next content writing partner.

Happy hunting!

Vincent D'Eletto

Vincent D'Eletto

Hey, I'm Vin. Founder and CEO of WordAgents.com. I create content that ranks really well on search engines for our clients. I'm also deeply involved with the SEO community; maintaining a portfolio of successful, profitable affiliate websites. You can find me playing guitar, drinking scotch, and hanging out with my German Shorthaired Pointer when I'm not working!