As a freelance copywriter, I’ve had quite a few experiences with companies looking to hire people just like me. When I say people like me, I mean people with lots of experience writing for the web who can (and will) provide high-quality content. There are tons of tips out there in cyberspace for hiring freelancers, but most of them tend to focus on things from the perspective of the company doing the hiring, and what will benefit them most. Here, I’m going to focus on things from my own perspective — that of a freelancer. Aiming to please your freelance writers actually benefits everyone in the long run, because the happier freelancers are, the more likely it is that they’ll do the kind of high-quality work employers expect.
Here are 6 proven strategies for finding, and keeping, freelance copywriters who will consistently deliver at or above your expectations.
Tip #1: Don’t pay them pennies.
I’ve seen so many ads out there from companies looking to hire freelance bloggers and content writers, and many times, the pay is just sad. Compensation is defined as “the opportunity to build your portfolio,” or “exposure on a high-ranking blog.” If it does pay, it’s around 1 cent per word for “high-quality,” 500-word articles or blogs.
Let’s do some simple math here and say that a really good writer can write a 500-word, high-quality blog in an hour. If you’re paying a penny per word, that’s $5.00 for an hour of work! That’s way below the federal minimum wage, which is crazy if you’re looking for good quality. If you want good writers who will dish out the kind of quality you expect, then be willing to pay them what they’re worth. As a reference point, my clients pay me anywhere from $0.10 to $0.30 per word, plus bonuses for pitching ideas.
I can already hear your next question…
But what if I don’t have a lot of money to invest? I’m just a small start-up with very little capital.
If you don’t have dollars to dish out, then be prepared to devote more of your own time to doing the work you can’t pay other people to do. Either that, or lower your quality standards for writers. Sorry to be blunt, but most full-time freelancers have worked really hard to get where they are, and they can’t afford to take less than what they’re worth.
Tip #2: Respond promptly to applications and inquiries.
Unresponsiveness is probably my biggest pet peeve. If you post a job ad, be prepared to get overwhelmed with applications, and respond to all inquiries as quickly as possible. It shows a lack of professionalism when you don’t.
Tip #3: Be clear about your expectations.
When you give an assignment, make it clear to the writer exactly what you need from them. Not doing so will result in more edits and rewrites, which may end up costing you more money in the end. It benefits everyone when you’re crystal clear about what you expect.
Tip #4: Give assignments with definitive deadlines.
A lot of writers work well under pressure and having a deadline keeps them motivated and efficient. If you don’t give me a deadline and another client does, then I’m going to prioritize their work ahead of yours, which means you’re stuck waiting longer for the copy you’ve requested. When you give an assignment, make sure you include a deadline with your instructions and expectations.
Tip #5: Confirm copyrights and offer bylines and other promotional opportunities where able.
Freelance work is pretty unstable, so any opportunity we have to build our portfolios and gain new work is very helpful. That said, It’s okay if you can’t let the writer claim rights to his or her work when it’s finished, but if that’s the case, be upfront about it before they begin working. If you can give the writer a byline or some other promotional benefit, you may be able to negotiate a lower fee for doing so, but make sure you confirm everything in writing from the very beginning.
Tip #6: Provide testimonials.
If you like a writer’s work, then give positive feedback that they can post on their website. Future clients will reference this feedback when deciding whether or not to hire someone, and since freelance work is often hard to come by, every testimonial helps. A few kind words is all it takes!
We freelance writers are highly misunderstood and often undervalued, so if you’re reading this as a freelancer and you can relate, please share. After all, the closer we unite, the better chance we have of improving our day-to-day job situations. If you’re reading this as a company who is looking to hire, I’d love to hear your feedback as well. What qualities do you look for in freelance writers, and how do you go about hiring to ensure your expectations are met or exceeded?