How to Find the Best Freelance Writer for The Job
Finding good freelance writers is tough. Almost as tough as finding a good freelance writing job. Trust me, I’d know. The problem is over-saturation. There are a million writing jobs out there, and a million writers to do them. However, they’re not all worthy of our time, attention, and efforts.
Like vetting freelance gigs themselves, there are a few key things to consider in order to find the best freelance writer for your project. When it comes time to choose the right candidate, make sure you’ve considered the following.
1. Do they sweat the small stuff?
Honestly, the best way to find your ideal candidate is to be thorough.
This first rule should be something that permeates through all of your candidate research. It’s easy to miss out on the little things, so ensure that all the pieces they present to you maintain the standard of quality and professionalism that you desire.
In short, make sure that all their periods are in the right spot, their participles aren’t left dangling, and their semicolons are used properly. You know, the basics.
Look for a freelance writer that has a sharp understanding of the fundamentals, knows to double-check for typos (they happen) and doesn’t get flustered by a squinting modifier, or an in-depth assignment.
2. What does their portfolio say?
Double-check a potential freelance writer’s portfolio work against their resume — do they actually have the chops to back up their cover letter?
If you’re looking for someone to write articles and create graphics, do they have original content for you to look at in their portfolio? Do they even have a portfolio or some other repository of past work for you to look at?
Answering “yes” should put those candidates higher on your list. A writer’s online portfolio is a place for them to back up what they claim on their resumes and cover letters. You want a freelance writer who has experience, authority, and a portfolio that speaks for itself. Don’t you?
3. How does their LinkedIn profile look?
The one thing that a LinkedIn profile has over an online portfolio is the recommendation system.
LinkedIn’s recommendation feature works like a more voluntary references section of a person’s resume, albeit more detailed. Essentially, it’s a built-in testimonial page that can tell you a lot about a freelance writer for hire.
Do they have a lot of recommendations? What kind of people or organizations have they worked for in the past? What are people saying about them?
If they have an ample amount of recommendations, then yes, they are probably good at their jobs. However, the recommendations feature offers something else, just as valuable — it tells you that not only did your candidate do a good job, but they left such a positive impression that past colleagues or employers actually took time out of their day to write a recommendation in the first place.
Assuming I haven’t lost you, while LinkedIn isn’t the space to place all your bets (as in, just because your potential freelance writing candidate doesn’t have a profile on LinkedIn doesn’t mean they won’t do great work), it simply offers a unique and valuable insight into your candidate’s work history.
4. Can they do voices?
If you’re looking to find a freelance writer to work on your brand, the person you hire needs to be able to adapt their writing style to suit your brand’s voice. Their portfolio should give you a clear sense as to whether or not they can separate their personal voices from their work.
While a candidate may be able to write a funny albeit irreverent personal story about how they learned a hard lesson in the stock market, if they can’t do multiple voices, they might not gel that well with your personal finance blog that offers G-rated advice in hopes of reaching the biggest audience possible.
Have your candidate write a sample piece (make sure you compensate them for it!) with clear guidelines on tone and style. A good freelance writer will be able to adapt to the precise voice you’re looking for that meshes with your brand.
5. Are they recent?
Gaps in resumes happen to the best of us.
However, your candidate should be experienced in some capacity relevant to the position you’re looking to fill.
What you should look for in a resume is a passion for the type of work they’re applying to do.
You don’t need to be able to connect all the dots, but if your candidate has little-to-no experience writing aside from passing Grade 12 English, you’re probably going to want to pass.
However, if your candidate has fairly recent writing experience, and their resume shows a depth of experience, knowledge, and passion, well then, you may have found your writer.
6. Are they available?
This is something you should ask the candidate personally, up front. If you’re looking for someone to work part-time with the possibility of going full-time, you need to make sure that they will be available for the growth.
Also, it’s important to make sure that they respond to you in a timely manner. The greatest candidate in the world can disqualify themselves by forgetting that they’re working for you because they foolishly bit off more than they can chew. Make sure that they can open and maintain lines of communication.
It’s important to consider these few key things when you are trying to find the best freelance writer for the job. But there’s one thing I haven’t mentioned yet — that is, your gut. Let your intuition have a say, too.
Now that you’re prepared and know what to look for, have you considered where to find them? If you’re looking for a great writer with editing, proofreading, copywriting experience and more, you might consider posting your own ad on The Writer’s Job Board — the trusted space where experienced writers go to find work.