|Credit: Charles Shulz|
If you've never worked with a freelance writer before, here are some tips to help:
Ask for recommendationsIn this new world of social media, content creation is quickly becoming everyone's responsibility: accountants, mechanics, sales people, realtors, etc. If you choose to outsource your efforts, be sure you do your homework and be clear about deliverables. That will spare you and your freelancer a lot of headaches.
Just like when hiring a plumber or roofer, having someone you know vouch for a person's work puts your mind at ease. Ask your friends, family, former and current colleagues for a recommendation. Chances are someone you know has worked with a freelance writer at some point and may have a name or two to send your way.
Place an ad
If your network doesn't come back with any referrals, try looking at elance, Freelance Writing, the writing section of Craigslist, or Google "writers for hire".
Set a budget
Writing fees have plummeted during the recession, so there's a big gap separating high and low wages. I've seen ads offering $5 to $10 for blog posts (which, as a writer, I think is criminal). For comparison, several years ago when I worked at a publishing house we offered our freelance writers $125 per 500 words. In short, there's no hard and fast rule on what to pay. However, sometimes you can offer less if you can guarantee a constant stream of guaranteed work (if, of course, the first assignment goes well).
Ask for links to the writer's work
If the person is an active writer, he or she should have work published somewhere on the web (online samples with attribution are better than Word docs because they are less likely to be plagiarized ). Look at their writing style, range, and voice to determine if it's a match for you. Also, check out the person's LinkedIn profile to read what others have said about working with him/her.
Determine whether your writer gets a byline
Writers like to have samples of their work, so some may be more inclined to accept less money in exchange for a byline and/or a link back to their own sites. If, however, you're looking for a ghostwriter, you may have to offer more money since the person won't receive any added exposure by writing for you.
Agree on editing
Writing is not a math. It's subjective and, as such, can vary greatly. Be very clear up front as to what you want the piece to accomplish and the tone of the writing. Then, agree upon how many rounds of rewrites are included in the fee. Up to two round of edits is acceptable. If you require more than that, chances are you may not have been clear enough about your expectations.
Ensure everyone understands the terms of the work
Do you just want the writer to write? Will he/she be responsible for all the research? Will you be providing resources? Will the writer be tasked with finding images for the post? Inserting links? Designing the post? To make sure your project goes smoothly, make sure everyone understands the parameters of the project before you begin.
Choose a payment option
You can compensate a writer by the hour or by the project. Each has it's own set of pros and cons. As a writer and a client, I personally prefer a flat rate. That ensures that the project doesn't exceed your budget and that both parties understand the terms of the work and the compensation up front. Before getting started, clarify how and when the writer will be paid (e.g. upon final approval via PayPal).
Have you ever hired a freelance writer before? If so, what did I miss? Are you a writer? What else should potential clients consider before making a hire?