Like a Spare Pair of Hands: How to Hire a Freelance Writer

Guest post by Thursday Bram of Hyper Modern Consulting

Good content can be the key to getting readers to visit your site day after day: if they know that you’re going to have a great blog post up or you’ve created an excellent resource for them, your traffic stats are going to reflect that fact.

But you can easily wind up facing a dilemma. You can write all that great content for your site, or you can spend that time on your customers, promoting your site and everything that goes along with meeting your goals. Content creation can be one of the most time-consuming tasks on your plate — just writing three blog posts a week can eat up hours that you may not have.

That’s where a little help can come in handy.

Personally, I write for about a dozen sites at any given time — none of which belong to me. My clients want top-notch content but they just can’t write fast enough to both get new content up on their sites on a regular basis and still do all the other work on their plates.

I’m not the only writer out there, either. There are thousands of freelance writers who are happy to write blog posts, eBooks, copy and any other content a good website needs.

The Help You Want

Having high-quality content on your website can make the difference in convincing visitors to return to your site, but it’s not the only part of a cohesive strategy to build traffic.

Promoting that content is an absolute must. Say you’ve got a blog. You don’t just want the greatest posts since sliced bread on your blog — you want people to know about them. That means submitting your posts to social news sites, pushing them on your networks and generally doing your best to get them in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

Some writers will help you with promoting your site, although not all will. Working with a social media-savvy writer is a must if you’re focused on building traffic.

Some writers have built extensive followings on sites like Twitter because they write primarily about one specific topic: imagine finding a writer who blogs on a couple of different sites about widgets and has a thousand followers on Twitter, most of whom want to hear what she’ll say next about widget. You’re a widget-maker yourself, so you’ve been setting up a site of your own. You hire this writer to write a couple of blog posts for your site. Not only do you get the advantage of her expertise, but if she tweets when her post goes live, you’ve got access to a thousand folks on Twitter you know are already interested in widgets.

It’s not a bad deal for the writer, either. My work has helped to establish my expertise in a couple of areas and I go out of my way to work on projects that will help build up my expertise even more.

Hiring A Writer For Your Site

If you’re thinking about handing at least some of your content creation off to a writer, there are a few things to think about before you even start looking:

  • What’s your budget? And how much content do you need? When you hire a freelance writer, good and inexpensive aren’t mutually exclusive, but the best writers out there do charge rates that reflect our expertise. If you’ve got something like a long-term blogging strategy in mind, you’re going to have to think at least a couple of months in advance as far as your budget goes.
  • What’s the topic? Not only do a lot of writers specialize in specific topics, but you may see different pricing for different topics. If you can iron out as much of what you want written ahead of time, you can keep those costs under control — if you give too broad of instructions, you can wind up paying a writer for the time she spends deciphering how best to help you.
  • What’s the style? You may have built up a certain style that you want a writer to stick to. That means looking at writers’ portfolios to make sure your final choice is the best fit with your business.

Once you’ve got a good idea of what you want, there are numerous websites where you can list writing jobs. You can also contact writers directly — many of us have websites that will let you look at our past work and get an idea of what kind of projects we’re particularly good at. If you find a writer whose work you particularly like, send her an email and see if she can help you.

If help with promoting your site is going to be a priority for you, you’ll want to go one step beyond looking at portfolios. Take a look at the writer’s social media presence and pay careful attention to how often she promotes her work outside of her own blog or projects. Some writers will promote content written for a client as a matter of course. Others will consider it an additional service. There’s no right or wrong approach, so you’ll want to mention up front what you need.

Pricing can also vary pretty dramatically. There are some bloggers for hire looking for $10 a post and there are others who are looking for $150. Experience, topics, even geographic location all play into the different prices for online content.

Have you hired a freelance writer before? Do you have any tips to share? If not, do you have any questions about the process? Let’s discuss in the comments.

photo by FotoRita [Allstar maniac]

Thursdsay Bram is a full-time writer whose work appears on CNET, WebWorkerDaily, OpenForum and many other websites. Find out more about Thursday at her personal blog or about the work she does at Hyper Modern Consulting.

8 thoughts on “Like a Spare Pair of Hands: How to Hire a Freelance Writer”

  1. Great article Thursday,

    Something I’ve noticed with outsourcing content is that quality really does increase when you invest into the relationship with the writer – as they learn to anticipate amendments. The first few articles can be a bit rocky of course, but as long as there’s a good brief and an understanding of the target audience then this can work really well.

    Pro Tip :) One of my writers has made visible efforts to learn British spelling and words (tap vs. faucet, pavement vs. sidewalk, color vs. colour) – I appreciate this so much that he gets first refusal on most of my jobs now.

    1. I’d certainly agree that creating a lasting relationship is well worth the time you invest in it. I’ve had clients where it took a couple of weeks for everyone to get on the same page, but once we had things figured out, we just turn things out with no problems. I’ve been writing for that site for over two years now.

  2. I’m not a company looking to hire a freelancer, nor am I a freelancer (not yet, who knows) but there was something you said that struck me the, which I never thought about. Ever now and then I encourage guest blogging on my personal blog but I never linked it up to the guest blogger’s presence on twitter. I’ll definitely be taking that into consideration when next I’m taking on a guest blogger and see how that pans out.

    Thanks for that Thursday.. :)

  3. Hmmm, interesting, I’ve never thought about this before – right now I’m the creative guy who produces all the stuff. As soon as I get really big and start a blog with multiple authors, I definitely think about it.
    But then it’s not going to be some unknown freelancer, but a kick-ass passion bringer that’s at least semi-popular !

    1. You may be surprised by how passionate freelancers are — many of us focus on specific niches to write about because we truly are interested in them. Furthermore, the best freelancers have bylines all over the place — not unknown by any means. Think of Gina Trapani, from Lifehacker. She is, by definition, a freelancer, but her name has become synonymous with productivity blogging.

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