When you’re managing a publication, you’ll need to delegate some tasks to your editorial department, team members, or freelance/contract employees to free up your time for the big-picture tasks.
Hiring freelance writers to develop innovative editorial content is a great time- and cost-saving idea, particularly for publishers who have time constraints or limited budgets.
In fact, there are a lot of pros to hiring freelance writers over full-time personnel, including:
- Cost – You’re not paying for full-time benefits like sick time, vacation leave, and healthcare.
- Access – You can pinpoint niche markets by hiring writers with specific experiences, like IT or financial specialists.
- Risk Avoidance – With a freelance employee, you’ll never have to worry about worker’s compensation claims or unemployment benefits.
- Expertise – Freelance writers are often the cream of the writing crop since they rely on repeat business to make a living.
- Global Reach – You can hire freelancers from all around the world to report on industry news from a multinational perspective.
While freelance writers can make a great addition to your editorial team, you’ll want to hire carefully.
Here are a few tips to help you hire the best and brightest.
How to Hire the Right Freelance Writer for Your Publication
There are many freelancers out there, each eager to prove their worth in the ever-changing market of publishing.
But the bad news is there are also a lot of mediocre writers, so you’ll need ways to determine the talented from the not-so-talented.
Pick Your Pool
You could search online for “freelance writers” and see what comes up, but you’d probably be wasting a lot of time with writers that just don’t quite fit your needs.
One way to bypass this issue is to engage writers from a reputable content marketing firm. Reputable firms test, vet and interview their writers before they hire, so you’re guaranteed quality output.
With a content marketing firm, you can also choose writers with a certain level of expertise or a niche specialty or even change your editorial requirements at any time. You can also find writers through work-space clearinghouses like Fiverr, Upwork, and others or check social media for up-and-coming talent.
Test the Waters
Assuming you’re hiring a writer on your own, you’ll need to make sure he or she is comfortable—and competent—with your rules and editorial guidelines.
You should always require an editorial sample in your niche market from each writer you interview. Give them a prompt that’s typical for your industry, explain the voice or tone you’re looking for, and assign a deadline.
Their response will let you know if they understand what they’ll be tasked with and if they’re up to the task.
Even sole-proprietor freelancers, that is—writers not working through an agency or content creation company—should have a list of clients for whom they’ve worked. Ask them to provide not only published clips of their work—either print or online—but the names of clients you can contact for referral.
A freelance writer’s job is not just writing—it’s also the ability to build relationships within your established team. A client contact will be able to tell you whether or not your potential hire was an asset or a detractor to their team.
Take Your Time to Ensure a Good Fit
While you might feel pressure to hire a writer fast to meet upcoming editorial deadlines, it’s best to take your time. You’ll want to research your applicant’s background thoroughly to ensure they are well-versed in writing for your market.
Once you’ve hired a freelancer, give them a few weeks to get familiar with your editorial design and tone before evaluating whether or not to assign multiple articles.
Make sure you have a strong contract that clearly spells out what you expect. This can include:
- Number of articles per week/month
- Scope of work, including length and tone of articles
- Payment and payment timing
- Consequences in case of missed deadlines
- Revision policy
- Other duties, such as coordinating with other team members
Once you’ve hired, and are happy with, your freelancer, make every effort to nurture that relationship. A good freelance writer is in high demand and can be a definite long-term asset to your publication.
Relying on freelance assistance for editorial blogs, design, articles, and infographics can free up your time to attend to more important tasks and add flexibility to your publication schedule.