How to shop for a freelance writer: 11 May 2011

So there you are, banging your head against your desk, trying desperately to remember a word from your 8th grade vocabulary test while you try pitifully to write a marketing piece for your boss; or worse yet, for your own business.  That little voice in the back of your head says “I hated taking English in school and now I wish I knew how to write this, so I at least look as smart as a fifth grader.”

Well friends and neighbors, that’s where a freelance writer comes in handy.  Someone like me, for example, that walks around with a magic marker in their pocket, correcting punctuation on billboards and graffiti.  You need someone who knows that word you’re trying so desperately to shake loose from your simian brain.

So now, maybe you’re quietly thinking: “Okay Frank.  You’re right.  I need a freelance writer, but what should I look for?”

My good friend!  You’re in luck.  Here are five things you should look for when seeking a freelance writer in today’s economics, and why you should look for them.

1)  Does the freelance writer have a digital presence?

In today’s business landscape, a digital presence is mandatory.  If your freelance writer can’t optimize his or her own digital footprint, the odds are that they aren’t going to be able to help you much with search engine optimization. This is commonly referred to as SEO.  Check Twitter, Facebook, and even do a Google search for their name.  You may be pleasantly surprised at what you find.  Then again, you may not.

2) Does the freelance writer provide samples of their work?

This is very important.  Anyone can call themselves a writer, but each writer has a flavor, or voice.  Some are very wordy, while others manage to get their point across in a short amount of time.  Since some charge by the word while others may charge by the project or even by the hour; writing samples can give you a rough glimpse at what your could end up paying for the job.

3) Will the writer treat your project as their own?

You should choose the writer that will treat your project as their own.  You should get the feeling that they will not stop until you are satisfied.  Moreover they should not require payment unless you use their work.

4)  Is the writer prompt when returning your email or phone call?

If you contact someone to write for you, and they are too busy to get back to you, then odds are they are either too busy to give your project all the time it deserves, or they are unreliable.  Both possibilities are bad for your business.  Being unreliable doesn’t need explanation.  Being too busy to return your inquiry, well that means that they may not give you their best product.

5)  Does the writer use a contract?

Contracts protect both you and the writer.  If they don’t use a contract, then you are putting yourself and your good credit rating at risk.  You are looking for a professional, so expect professional treatment.

There’s the top five pieces of advice I can give you when looking for a freelance writer.  Something that you should keep in mind though when shopping around is that you get what you pay for.  If you expect to pay someone $5.00 for your 500 word marketing campaign, then fully expect to get what you pay for.  Some freelance sites don’t care what kind of writers they keep in their stable.  You may get a writer bidding on your project at pennies on the dollar.  While this may seem financially beneficial at first, you will eventually figure out that cheaper isn’t always better.

Good hunting;


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3 Responses to How to shop for a freelance writer: 11 May 2011

  1. Good Morning Frank,
    It is nice to find someone with a blog that is up-to-date! I have people direct me to their blogs everyday, only to find they haven’t been updated for three months or more. Good work, good info. Thank you

  2. frankoatley says:

    Thanks D.
    I hate it when that happens. I owe you one.
    Do you have a blog I can check out?


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