Here’s a little secret about hiring a freelancer writer: There are no hard and fast rules. Because the demand for writing has exploded in recent years, everyone is struggling to figure out how to find and keep great freelance writers. But as someone who has been a professional freelance writer for the past five years, I’m here to tell you that finding someone who’s as good as I am — or maybe even (gasp!) better — is totally doable. You just have to know where to find them — and what to ask for when you do.
Reach out to writers whose work you like.
My number one tip for finding a great freelance writer is to pay attention to who’s writing the articles you’re really digging. A lot of bloggers also do copywriting, so whether you’re looking for someone to help with content marketing or someone to punch up the copy on your site, it’s totally worth asking. Track down an email address. If they haven’t published it for fear of spam, then Twitter is your best friend. Tweet them about your interest and you’ll be sliding into their DMs in no time.
Ask friends or colleagues for recommendations.
As with any other professional field, your networks are your best resource. Ask your friends or colleagues if there’s anyone they can recommend. And even if their writers aren’t available, I can tell you this firsthand: Good writers have good networks. It’s how we get jobs. They’ll definitely have friends or colleagues who are looking for work.
Post job openings or pitch submission guidelines on your site.
Just as employers are looking for writers, freelance writers are pretty much always looking for work. One way we find work is by checking job openings and pitch submission guidelines on sites that we’re interested in. So if you’re actively looking for a writer, post those guidelines! Put them front and center! Some sites hide their requests in hard-to-find back blogs or submissions pages on their site, which is fine — if you want the majority of people to miss them. Put it front and center on your page, at least for a few days, and see what it pulls in.
Ask for samples of their work.
Once you’ve found someone who you think might be a good fit, there are a couple of steps you should take before you hire them on. The very first one? Ask them for samples of their work. What they send you will give you a good idea of the quality of work they produce. However, if they haven’t written about your exact topic before, don’t make that a reason not to hire them. Their writing style is much more important than the topic — a good writer can learn the necessary information to write about most topics but style is harder to change.
Do a trial run.
If you dig their work, figure out a good trial run so that you can see exactly how and what they produce. It’s also a good time for them to figure out if they want to work with you, which is just as important. Run them through your process the same way you would with an employee in order to give you both the best idea of how things are going to go.