5 Surefire Tips for Hiring Freelance Writers

If you’re a regular Mequoda Daily reader, you already know that attaining (and holding) a high Google ranking isn’t easy. Of course, the Mequoda system gives you an edge in this regard, but you still need to feed it with quality content. And lots of it.

Hiring freelance writers is a great way to generate new, low-cost content

Fortunately, publishers are blessed with content. For example, you can go back to older issues of your paid publications and quickly refresh articles into interesting blog posts. Or perhaps you could take material from your free reports and rework it into a new post—maybe even a series.

But with Google pushing us all to generate more and more unique content, you’ll also have to write compelling, original articles for your blog.

Hiring freelance writers is a great way to do that at a much lower cost than bringing in a new in-house editor. But there are still a number of things to keep in mind when hiring freelance writers.

Here are five tips that will help make your experience hiring freelancers both pleasant and profitable:

1. Hiring freelance writers who have written for search engines is a plus: Of course, it’s a huge benefit if you can find a freelancer who has SEO copywriting experience. But this skill is something any capable writer should be able to master if they are willing, so don’t necessarily count out a candidate who writes strong, compelling copy but has limited knowledge of SEO.

2. Always ask for samples when hiring freelance writers: This may seem obvious, but there are many things you can tell about a writer by closely reading his or her writing samples. First off, try to get multiple samples—say between three and five—including links to the sites on which the work was published.

When you read the samples, try to spot the differences between them. Does the writer’s tone or sentence structure shift markedly? This can give you an idea of his or her flexibility, and how much editing the pieces may have needed.

Also, if the freelancer has SEO writing experience, try to spot the hallmarks of good SEO copywriting. Can you clearly identify the key phrases being targeted? Are they worked into the copy elegantly or in an awkward, stilted fashion? Do they appear in heads, subheads, linked text, etc.?

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3. Write a clear, thorough assignment letter: Always keep in mind that a freelance writer—even a skilled one—is not as familiar with your business as you are.

So, once you’ve selected a freelancer to work with, write them an assignment email that spells out what you’re looking for in detail. That way, they can always refer back to your instructions and correct any issues before they arise. This will save both you and the freelancer time and frustration, because you’ll require fewer rewrites.

4. Keep the communication lines open: Remember, good freelancers bring a valuable outside perspective to your business that can bring huge benefits. After hiring freelance writers, always encourage them to keep in touch by phone or email, and give them the latitude to suggest new projects and approaches.

5. Offer bylines, author pages and other promotional opportunities: Remember that freelancers have to hustle—every month—to keep a steady paycheck coming in.

If you’ve found a good freelancer whom you’d like to keep contributing to your site, offer to help them promote themselves by letting them post under their own byline, linking back to their website and even giving them an author page—including a bio—on your site.

These may seem like little things to you, but they’re a big deal to a freelancer, because they show a commitment on your part and let them get their work in front of a whole new audience.

What has your experience with freelancers been like? Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below. (Feedback from both freelancers and publishers/editors is welcome.)

Chad Fraser is a Canadian freelance writer and editor. He has also worked as an in-house editor at a number of different publishers, and has hired lots of freelancers over the course of his career. You can learn more about his copywriting and editing services at chadfrasercopywriter.com.

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