Hiring Freelance Writers: A Quick and Easy Guide

In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of hiring a freelance writer, where you can find freelance writers, and which steps to incorporate into your hiring process.

If you want to get found on Google, you need content on your website. But who should create that content? If you want to make sure you and your team can keep focusing on core tasks, hiring freelance writers is often the best option.

The Benefits of Hiring a Freelance Writer

  1. You can hire experienced writers with industry expertise without having to deal with the overhead and obligations that come with hiring an in-house writer.
  2. You can build a pool of talented freelance writers so you can rapidly ramp up or build down content production when needed.
  3. You get top service, as professional writers know they need to perform at their best to keep your business.
  4. You can hire different talented freelance writers for different types of content writing versus requiring an in-house writer to be comfortable writing all kinds of things.
  5. You won’t need to micromanage them. Freelance writers are independent workers who’ve developed their own systems and processes to make sure the work gets done in the best and fastest way possible. They don’t require hand holding.

Where to Find Freelance Writers

There are a ton of places where you can share your freelance writing job. Below is a quick selection of your best options.

7 Steps for Hiring Freelance Writers

1. Have a hiring process in place

To make the process of hiring content writers as smooth as possible, you need to determine beforehand what will happen each step of the way:

  • How many stages will your hiring process have, and what will those look like?
  • Do applicants require access to documents and tools to perform a test task?
  • Who will review the applications?
  • Who will interview the writers?
  • What is the timeline for the entire process, and for each separate stage?
  • How will the new writer be onboarded and trained?

2. Draft a detailed job ad

Your job ad should both sell your company and the job to the ideal candidate, and make clear what is expected of them. It should include:

  • A quick summary of what the job is about.
  • Information about your company and its clients as well as your company culture.
  • Specific information about the role and the tasks it entails.
  • Requirements (skills, knowledge, experience, availability, …).
  • Information about pay rates and whether the job is remote or not.
  • Clear instructions for how to apply and what they should include (cover letter, writing samples, a video introduction, …)
  • Optional: add an Easter Egg to see how detail-oriented the applicants are.

As you can see, some of the sections of your job listing will be the same or similar for various jobs. If you don’t have one already, turn your first writer job listing into a template you can use to hire blog writers again in the future.

3. Decide where you’ll advertise the job

Based on the type of writer you’re looking for, and to limit the influx of applications you may get, you can decide to first publish your job ad on only one or two platforms, or to first ask your network whether they know of a good candidate. 

If the perfect candidate is part of that first batch of applicants, great! If not, you can still expand your search.

4. Make a first selection

Regardless of how many rounds your process for hiring writers, you don’t want to spend your time digging deep into all of the applications you’ve received. Instead, focus on a few dealbreakers.

  • Did the writer follow the application instructions and include everything they needed to include?
  • Did the writer catch the Easter Egg?
  • Does the writer seem to possess the required skills?

My personal favorite, however, is simply reading their cover letter. So many writers re-use the same cover letter for a variety of jobs. If they can’t be bothered tailoring their cover letter to your job ad, how motivated will they be while working for you?

Aside from that, their cover letter quickly tells you something about their writing skills as well as their proficiency in the language you’re hiring for.

5. Assign a paid test task

If you get dozens of good applications, you may need to have other selection processes in place but I’ve found that most applicants don’t make it through that first cut. Ideally, you’ll be able to distinguish a Top 5-10 among the remaining candidates whom you can then assign a test task. This task should resemble the content creation work they’ll do for you as much as possible, and should be paid.

It’s often recommended that you give everyone the same task so that you can compare results and while this is indeed ideal, it’s more cost-effective to have candidates write similar but different articles so you can publish all the good ones later. Do make sure to communicate you’re planning on doing this.

6. Interview the top applicants

Next, you’ll want to interview the writers who turned in the best test articles, following your instructions, and within the given deadline. You’ve tested their skills, now it’s time to see whether they’re a good fit for your company.

  • How do they communicate?
  • Do their values seem to align with the company’s values?
  • What do their future career plans look like?
  • Is this a person you think you’d get along with?

While that last question is highly personal, it’s not unimportant. Working with someone you like and who communicates the same way you do is much more pleasant than working with someone who gives you the creeps (to exaggerate a little), and it can make a big difference should any problems arise further down the line.

7. Hire the best fit

You’ve filtered out the best candidates, tested their writing, and seen a bit of their personality. By now, you should have all the information you need to hire the right writer for the job.

Get The High-Quality Content You Need to Rank

The more blog posts you have on your company blog, the more posts are able to rank and draw in new leads. Follow the steps outlined in this post to hire freelance writers and make sure you have a solid content strategy to get them started.

Don’t have a content strategy yet? Or maybe you’re disappointed with the performance of your content? We can help you determine what you should be publishing to get the best possible results. Get in touch to learn more.

Author: Sofie Couwenbergh

Sofie is an SEO-savvy content strategist, consultant, and writer. She helps brands generate more leads and keep customers engaged through clear, no-fluff website copy and in-depth articles like the one you’ve just read.