Welcome to our Guest Blogger, Taqiyyah Shakirah Dawud.
8 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Freelance Writer
If you need content written for your business, searching out a professional can be a daunting task. How do you find a good writer without wasting more time and money than the end product is worth?
You can cut down on risk if you ask a few questions as you research professional writers. Some of these are easily answered by information on the writer’s website or other professional profile, and others you’ll need to discuss directly by e-mail or phone. Prioritize your needs in order to make decisions based on the answers you get.
What are your specialties? Some copywriters primarily craft articles for magazines and other news outlets or blogs. Others primarily create marketing content like that found on websites and brochures, landing pages, and online catalogs. Some write primarily for web outlets while others write primarily for print outlets. You’ll find many industry specialty combinations as well. If you don’t find it posted anywhere online, be sure to ask in order to be sure the writer is capable of fulfilling your needs.
What other industries do you write for? You may run into a writer whose style you like who has no samples in your field. Find out what other industries he or she writes for to find out whether they’re familiar with yours. This can be another way to discover the writer’s other interests, as well, since writers tend to like being paid to write about issues they enjoy.
Do you have any writing samples? You’d be surprised at the slim portfolios of some writers. Some don’t have permission to share much of the content they create due to non-disclosure agreements, or a lack of print-or web-quality samples from former clients. If a writer does not have a sample readily available, he or she should be happy to produce one for you within the requirements you set. Some writers may request a small fee for the sample.
Do you have any references I can talk to? If you see no client list or recommendation, and are still waiting for a writing sample, asking for client references is an alternate way to get a feel for a writer’s work. Ask former clients about the type of work done, and whether the quality met the client’s expectations. Don’t be shy to directly ask whether a former client would use the writer again for similar needs.
Who will be doing the writing? This is a question few people looking for a writer expect to have to ask, but it’s a valid one. Some writers receive so much work, they outsource or subcontract projects to other writers. Find out whether the writer you’ve contacted is the one who will be crafting your content. If it’s someone else, investigate the background and quality of that writer’s work.
Can you meet my deadline? Often a writer will ask for your deadline if you don’t ask first. Writers need deadlines to be able to schedule other projects around yours. If you’re not sure of a deadline, or there is no deadline (such as in the case of hiring a blogger), make that clear from the outset so you can work together to come up with a schedule or timeline of the process for the contract.
How do you charge and how much? This may be your primary concern, but if rates are not posted on the website, you’ll probably find it difficult to get a price range out of a writer before you’ve hashed out what it is you need, and how that need will be fulfilled. Try nailing down project specifics before coming to the money question in order to be sure of the best estimate.
Are you available for a long-term business relationship? If you like a writer, asking him or her to stay with you for regular assignments in the future can get you benefits like shorter turnaround times, bulk discounts, and a professional who will do the best he or she can to keep you satisfied (within the limits of the contract of course!). It reduces the amount of time the writer needs to spend finding future assignments, so many writers will be happy to accept your offer if they’re able.
Taqiyyah Shakirah Dawud is the sole copywriter and editor behind Deliberate Ink. She’s been blissfully crafting marketing communications for businesses and editing works for academics and authors since 2002. Upon the launch of her blog in 2010, she discovered she also enjoys writing useful posts on marketing techniques, the writing and editing process, and social media. You can find her on Twitter @shakirah_dawud.