How to Hire Freelance Writers To Scale Your Content Marketing

Content creation is perhaps the biggest challenge anyone with a digital presence has to deal with. First, finding great writers can be tough. That’s especially the case if you want to target a very specific niche.

Once you find those writers, another problem presents itself…the ongoing cost.

Content writing can be expensive. Some freelance writers in the US and UK charge upwards of $300 per 1000-word blog post. Start asking for custom graphs and other visuals, and the price quickly shoots beyond $500.

US freelance writer hourly pay by experience

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That’s a lot of money. While some businesses can afford that budget, others can’t. Yet regardless, you still want quality content. So how can you find a freelance writer that produces great content at a cost that works with your budget?

I’m not saying it’s easy, but this article will show you how to hire great freelance writers. Let’s jump into the guide.

1. Reach out to established writers

One of the easiest ways of building your content creation team is by reaching out to writers who are already well-established in the industry. Just look at the author’s bio of your competitor’s blog posts.

In most cases, the writers will have their names and contact information there. Some bios will even have a link to a website.

Here’s an example of an author box:

freelance writer bio example
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The beauty of this strategy is it gives you access to excellent writers. If they’re already writing for your competitors, then they already have subject matter expertise.

The only downside is you may find some of them are expensive. And availability might also be an issue. If you cannot find a writer from industry blogs, turn to social media. In fact, it’s good to use both competitor research and social media since it will give you access to a bigger pool of talent.

On LinkedIn, for instance, just type “content writer,” and you’ll get results. You can also narrow down your selections by location and other filters.

LinkedIn content writers search

Facebook and Twitter are great options as well.

Social media platforms can give you impressive candidates. However, you’ll have to reach out to them and vet them yourself, which is time-consuming.

2. Write detailed job ads

There are thousands of content writers out there. But only a handful of them will have the experience and the skill set to write engaging content. If you’re in a technical field like software development, the percentage of qualified candidates gets even smaller.

So, how do you get qualified candidates? The answer? Detailed job descriptions.

The perfect job description attracts more qualified talents. You’ll spend less effort and time on applicants who do not meet your requirements.

The best job descriptions have two main parts: your requirements and the applicant’s benefits or compensation. Under the requirement section, list down the prerequisites of the ideal candidate. Be as specific as possible.

The requirements section could be like this:

freelance writer requirements example

Meanwhile, the benefits section should show how the writers benefit from working with your company.  You should share compensation details and additional incentives like networking opportunities, full credit on bio, among others, in your job description.

Perks like prompt payment and paid probation period are enticing. Potential long-term cooperation will also have writers lining up for the job because freelancers seek stability.

3. Place the ad

Your detailed job description won’t mean a thing if it doesn’t end up in front of the right audience. Well, it may still bring promising candidates, but that’s barely good enough if you want to beat your competition.

So, take the time to research the job market and find where your ideal candidates are. Is it on Facebook or ProBlogger? Or perhaps on Fiverr and Upwork? Post your ad on the right platforms.

You may have to pay when advertising on some of these platforms. However, the investment is worth it since you’re almost guaranteed to find the perfect candidates. Moreover, you’ll spend less cash and time testing and onboarding these talents.

4. Create a survey to screen candidates

Since it’s almost too easy to just submit a resume, add a screening step by creating a survey that deters unqualified applicants and makes it easier for you to grade qualified candidates.

However, the survey can only be successful if it’s relevant to your needs. Therefore, build the survey questions based on what you want from the ideal writer. For instance, you can ask applicants to provide a link to their best article in a specific niche.

Individuals with zero experience will probably drop out at this point. That means fewer unqualified candidates to waste your resources on.

Secondly, you’ll be able to gauge what each candidate considers high-quality content based on the samples submitted.

It’s good to keep surveys brief. Focus on the data you need. That way, you’ll spend less time going through the answers. Also, you don’t want to discourage good candidates with long boring questionnaires.

5. Hire through referrals

If you’ve been in the industry for some time, you probably know a blog owner or two publishing content similar to what you want. There are also plenty of Facebook groups and LinkedIn networks of business owners in the same industry.

You can reduce your talent acquisition time significantly by reaching out to these networks. Just share the requirements you have in mind. They will point you in the right direction.

Using referrals is also a great strategy if you’re new to an industry and don’t know how to hire freelance writers. Your networks will help you get the talents you need without having to go through the vetting process.

6. Share your editorial guidelines & needs

Freelance content writers are accustomed to different writing styles. It’s upon you to guide them through what you expect from each piece of content.

But instead of doing this every time you hire a new writer, create clear editorial guidelines. That saves time and helps maintain consistent content quality throughout your website.

What should editorial guidelines contain? The content format, for starters. Provide details on target audience(s), typical word count, voice, tone and so on.

Share requirements that are unique to your content or audience. For instance, request the use of British English if that’s what you want.

Use a published article or a template as a reference in your editorial guidelines. That makes it easy for writers to understand and follow your instructions.

If you’re looking for a project-based freelance writer, you should also share your needs. Are you looking for someone to create content for your email marketing campaigns or someone to write high-converting copy for your website? Outlining your needs will help you attract the right kind of talent pool.

For example, you might want a writer who can create sales pages. In which case, it would make sense to share a template of the sales pages. You could do this easily with a website builder and share a copy of content that contains Lorem Ipsum.

Sharing actionable examples of what you are looking for will help the writer understand your needs. It also helps you consider the kind of questions to ask during the hiring process and formulate a suitable test piece.

7. Create a final test project

Never hire freelance writers based on their sample articles and survey answers alone. Each candidate must complete a short test. That’s the only way to truly judge a writer’s skills based on your specific requirements.

They don’t have to follow the entire guidelines at this point. However, the piece must test the most critical aspects of your ideal content.

The example below shows a freelance writing job ad posted on Go Hire. The test is short enough not to overwhelm the content marketing manager. However, the topic is relevant to the company’s niche, so anyone who passes the test is automatically a great candidate.

Candidates bring their A-game in the sample article because they know this is their opportunity to impress you. Therefore, your standards should be very high.

A candidate who can’t impress will probably give you a headache once you bring them on board. So, unless you want to spend more time coaching the writer, it’s good to move on to the next candidate.

The test is also your opportunity to gauge turnaround time. Attach a deadline to the test and monitor how quickly candidates will submit their work.

8. Onboard your new writer

You’ve finally gone through the process and acquired some amazing talent. Now it’s time to onboard them. But where do you start?

Well, this obviously depends on whether you’re hiring an employee or just bringing in a freelancer for a temporary engagement, but sharing your expectations is a good place to start. Talk them through the desired writing style, deadlines, among others.

Freelancers should know their input is valued. They should understand why you picked them and what they are there to do. Otherwise, they’ll start looking for other projects and jump ship.

Maintain an open line of communication and address their concerns. Share feedback as much as possible.

In Closing

There are many exceptional freelance writers who can help you scale your content marketing efforts. All you need to do is set up a functional hiring system. That’s what this guide will help you with.

Reach out to writers directly through industry blogs. You can also look them up on social media or get contacts from your business networks.

If you want to find new talent, write detailed job ads. Post them where your potential writers hang out. Finally, communicate your editorial guidelines and then take your prospects through a test piece.

Knowing how to hire freelance writers is key to your business success. Hire the right way, and you’ll have remarkable content writers who’ll give you the extra edge over your competition. Happy hiring!

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