The importance of quality content and dependable writers should never be questioned, especially with your work as an agency with clients of your own to please. Of course, having an in-house writing team is expensive, restrictive, and ultimately not scalable. Fortunately, there's a freelance writer out there able to fulfill any need -- the key is to find the right one.
If you're new to hiring freelance writers or just trying to do it better for future projects, this guide will take you through the step-by-step so you can make the right choice, all while keeping costs low and making sure the end product exceeds your clients' expectations.
Things To Do Before You Hire a Writer
There's no need to even try hiring a writer before you have the details figured out. Namely, that means knowing the type of content you need and how often you'll need it. That information will ultimately help you choose the best person (or people) for your project.
Determine The Services You Need
Some agencies are prepared to do it all, from keyword research to actually creating the briefs for every piece they want to publish. Others want a more hands-off approach, where they simply describe the client and the writing service takes it from there.
- Do you have the resources to research target keywords?
- Do you want to plan the topics yourself?
- Will you be providing an outline for every project?
If you answer no or maybe to any of these questions, you might consider an assisted or managed service where some or all of this legwork is done for you.
Layout Your Content Calendar
Before you hire, another thing you have to do is plan a content schedule. This tells a writer when and how often you plan to publish and it should also define the various types of content you need. For instance, your content schedule might show a weekly blog post due on Wednesday, daily social media posts, and a monthly newsletter sent every second Tuesday.
If you've decided to take the do-it-yourself approach and come up with keywords and topics on your own, you should also take things a step further and turn your content schedule into a content calendar. That requires you to sit down and begin planning out your topics and matching them to the various publication dates you have already set. You can do this as far in advance as you wish, but having at least one month already laid out is a good idea.
Create Your Project Briefs
Unless you're hiring a managed service like Scripted that will create the briefs for you, you're also going to need to sit down and come up with an outline (or, at the very least, a simple description) for every topic you have in the works.
Some things the brief should include would be a potential title, a description of your target audience, a description of the voice you want the writer to use, and your target keywords. You may also want to specify other things, like competitors you want to emulate, sites they should avoid linking to, and so on. A clear and concise brief is important for enabling a writer to nail the delivery, so you shouldn't skip over this part of the process by any means.
Freelancers vs. Writing Services
Once you have figured out the type and amount of content you need, you should have a good idea as to who the ideal hire would be. Now, it's time to explore your options, which come down to hiring a freelance writer directly or working with a content production service.
Without a doubt, one of the biggest indicators that you need a service over individual freelancers is the volume of content you require. If you have a regular and ongoing need for content, the consistency a writing service can provide is well worth it. Plus, if you need a higher volume of content than just one or two writers can fulfill, a well-rounded writing service is pretty much a must-have.
After all, when working with a service platform, you're able to tap into a large pool of pre-vetted, talented writers while keeping all of your projects and payments within one management system. These platforms also tend to have sleek dashboards with additional features that help both you and your writers ensure the highest quality of content is being produced.
The Hiring Process
Whether you decide that you want to hire a freelance writer directly or work with a content production service, the hiring process is much the same. There's just more due diligence and legwork that must be done if you're hiring freelancers in order to find legitimate, honest, and talented ones (that's work a service will do for you).
Look for an Experienced Writer
Easily the most critical factor in making your hiring decision will be the specialty and industry knowledge your ideal writer should hold. Finding someone who has prior experience in your niche, with your industry, and with writing in the style you want to portray is all very important to a long-term relationship that consistently results in successful projects.
Give a Detailed Brief
If you aren't working with a service like Scripted that will help you define topics and create briefs, you'll need to go ahead and check your content calendar, topics, and the briefs for each project before you send them to your writer. Be prepared to answer clarifying questions from your writer.
Ask The Right Questions
Alongside answering questions, asking the right questions is important in hiring, too. This is another time-consuming and tedious task that a platform's Account Manager will handle for you, but if you're working directly with a freelancer, don't cut corners and try to save time by skipping the important questions about their experience, planned approach, or research methods.
Revise When Necessary
When you first start working with a writer, you'll want to check their work very carefully. Platforms like Scripted will have automated checks in place, like plagiarism detectors, to help minimize your legwork, but you'll still always want to read through a new writer's content to see how they have approached things. Check their work against the brief and make sure to share your feedback to help them improve.
Improve Your Content Game
Hiring the perfect writer is no easy task, but it's made simpler when you use a content writing service to help assemble your writing team. Here at Scripted, only 2% of our applicants are actually accepted -- a marker of the high standards we hold our writers to. If you're interested in learning more about the benefits we offer, click here.