Content powers the online universe. Like the spice melange in Frank Herbert’s Dune, the content must flow!
Freelance writers help us keep content flowing, powering our business and maybe yours. They are an essential resource for business owners trying to keep up with SEO and content marketing.
(Yes, I’ve heard of AI. It’s a useful tool – not a replacement for skilled human writers.)
The world of freelance writing can be a risky place to visit. Admittedly, it’s not a dusty spice planet filled with lethal sandworms. But when you hire someone to write an article, and somehow it was more work than writing it yourself – it’s a fruitless and frustrating endeavor.
How do you make sure that doesn’t happen? By hiring carefully and effectively collaborating whenever you outsource a writing job.
Our editorial team works with many freelance writers every day to produce articles that drive business. Here’s how we approach hiring, onboarding, and working with them.
Where to Find Freelance Writers
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the millions of freelancers looking for writing gigs online. You might be tempted to just dive into working with the first couple of writers that look competent.
However, you’ll get much more satisfying results if you invest a little time and effort in your search. An organized and methodical approach will yield a pool of qualified freelance writers which you can draw from – now and in the future.
So, before I get into specific platforms, I’ll share a few tips on how to optimize your writer search:
- Cast a wide net: Look for writers on more than one platform.
- Create a writer application page on your website: Send writers to a central location to apply, regardless of where else you post the job. A simple form on your website will save you a lot of time filtering through candidates in multiple platforms and inboxes.
- Invite writers to apply: Don’t wait for the perfect writer to find your posting – reach out to writers you’d like to work with.
- Allow at least a week to get a good list of applicants: Professional writers are busy working. They may not be looking for their next gig on day one or two of your posting.
Ready to start your search? Here are a few places we’ve had success finding talented, dependable freelance writers:
Copyblogger Certified Content Marketers
We love working with writers who already understand our approach. We’re lucky enough to have a few Copyblogger Certified Content Marketers working on our projects.
Unfortunately, they’re too good – so they tend to get booked up. But it’s worth taking a look to see if there’s a writer who seems like an ideal fit.
Upwork is the freelance platform we turn to most often. It attracts a huge pool of talent, including many full-time professional writers working exclusively on the platform.
It’s easily searchable, so you can filter for specialty, experience, and feedback received from previous contracts.
Pro-tip: Make your post private. Then, reach out individually to appealing writers and invite them to apply. This saves you hours of time filtering proposals – you only need to choose between candidates you already liked.
If your business has an account on Reddit, consider posting your writing gig on these subs:
You may not be able to verify experience and qualifications on the platform itself, but you can find a pool of writers looking for work right now.
From there, you can invite them to apply.
Problogger’s job board has more than 12,000 writers actively looking for freelance work. I’ve placed it last on the list only because all the others I’ve mentioned are free for employers.
Problogger charges a fee to post your position. If you purchase a membership, you can search the database of candidates for location, topic, and more.
Share Your Writer Application Page (Beyond Freelance Platforms)
If you’re looking for a long-term partnership with a writer, it’s worth a bit of extra effort to get the word out beyond freelance platforms. You can do this in a few ways:
- Share with contacts and subscribers: Add a note in your regular newsletter or email your contacts with a link to your application page. You never know who is looking for a side gig or knows a skilled writer with expertise in your niche.
- Social media: Post the link on your social media channels, asking people in your network to share it with writers they know.
- Newsletters for writers: Serious writers often subscribe to professional newsletters, either paid or free, that curate good opportunities. We’ve found a few excellent writers by getting our posts included in one called TWJN (shoutout to Martin on our editorial team for sharing it). It only lists well-paying writing jobs, so make sure you have one.
Freelance Writer Job Posting Tips (to Attract Reliably Excellent Writers)
The field of freelance writing contains a vast range of skill levels and professionalism.
That applies to both sides – the writers and the people hiring them.
You’ll be looking for red flags that a writer might be unskilled or unreliable. You don’t want to waste time and money on articles you have to rewrite entirely – or freelancers who drop off the map after taking the job.
Writers are looking for red flags too.
Experienced writers choose to work with clients who respect their work and pay well. They also avoid writing gigs and clients that sound like nightmares.
Here are a few tips to make sure your posting attracts professionals:
Be Clear About the Work Involved
Include clear parameters, so writers can evaluate the opportunity. Experienced writers may skip your posting if it’s too vague – it’s a sign that you haven’t put much thought into your expectations. That translates into difficulty meeting your expectations.
Pay structure is typically a rate per word or a flat fee for a piece. Writers want to avoid taking on hidden hours of work – unexpected labor that can make a gig unprofitable.
Provide enough detail for writers to estimate the time needed to complete the work.
- How much research is involved?
- How many rounds of editing will you ask for?
- Do you need SEO research or only writing?
- Will the writer have to generate topic ideas?
- Do you need help creating guidelines for style and voice?
- Will you provide a detailed outline?
You can find freelance writers capable of doing all of the above. But it’s best to be crystal clear about the scope of the task and any skills required beyond writing.
Pay Competitive Rates
You’ll find an enormous disparity in rates on freelance sites. Gear your offer to the higher end of your budget.
Paying top dollar doesn’t guarantee you’ll get brilliant content – but paying very little guarantees you’ll get low-effort or unskilled work.
When you pay for professional-level content, you’ll spend less time editing articles.
Offer Ongoing Work (Not One-Offs)
Freelancing can be precarious. Writers are on the lookout for ongoing projects with reliable clients. And this type of arrangement is best for you, too.
Jumping between writers leads to inconsistent quality and writing style. Not to mention, you’ll be back to square one, looking for a freelance writer next time you need one.
It’s much more productive to collaborate with one or two writers long-term, who understand your business and audience. With effective feedback, they’ll start to anticipate what you’ll like and deliver it more consistently.
Evaluate More than Writing Samples and Ratings
Writing samples are the best way to evaluate a writer’s potential to deliver quality content. Good ratings and extensive experience on freelance platforms also signal reliability.
But these shouldn’t be the only factors you consider.
You may be looking outside of freelance platforms, where you won’t see reviews and ratings. You may not be able to verify authorship on writing samples. Ghostwritten content is sometimes the only published sample a writer has.
You also don’t want to overlook less experienced writers who may be a perfect fit. Sometimes a writer brand new to freelancing has no verifiable history – and that doesn’t mean they don’t have writing chops.
Without making it too difficult to apply (and risk losing out on great candidates), ask applicants to answer a few questions. It shouldn’t take them more than 10 minutes.
The primary goal is to get a feel for a writer’s potential and professionalism.
The secondary goal is to evaluate some off-the-cuff writing, outside of polished samples. We need writers who can string together a clear and coherent answer. Applications with obvious mistakes and garbled grammar can be filtered to the “no” pile.
Your needs, and therefore your application questions, will be different than ours. We’re a content agency with multiple projects on the go at any given time. But you can look at our writer application page for ideas.
Our questions get at experience, flexibility, and routines that indicate a writer can deliver the professional-level work we need:
The tips in this article should help you land at least a couple of stand-out candidates.
A brief exchange to confirm details like rate and availability is usually enough for us to move forward.
Hiring a Freelance Writer Is the Easy Part
“A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care…”Frank Herbert, Dune
The beginning of a content collaboration is a delicate time, one that deserves care. I could write a whole article about good beginnings.
And I could write another whole article about good collaboration.
Creating content that gets results takes more time than many business owners have, even with the help of freelance writers.
If you’ve hit a wall creating your own content, maybe we can help. Learn more about our SEO and Content Marketing Services today.