Hiring Freelance Writers: Everything You Need to Know About Finding and Hiring the Best Freelance Talent
Like anything else, finding and hiring freelancers may seem like some sort of mysterious and overwhelming process if you don’t know what you’re doing.
But with the right resources and some guidance on the process, you’ll be on your way to finding the right freelance writers for your business in no time.
In this guide, I’ll cover the benefits of hiring freelance writers and how they can help you scale your content in a way that you just can’t with a limited content marketing team.
I’ll also provide my insight into what you should look for in a freelancer and where you can find good ones online.
Ready? Let’s go!
Benefits of Hiring Freelance Writers for Content Marketing
Whether or not you agree with the content marketing industry’s favorite overused phrase, “content is king,” it’s clear that a strong content strategy that includes consistent content creation can really make all the difference for your brand.
Unfortunately, it takes considerable time and effort to develop the strategic, well-written content needed to captivate your audience. Fail to dedicate the necessary attention and resources, and you’ll see minimal returns on your content investment.
Thankfully, there’s no need to muddle through the confusing world of content marketing on your own. With a team of skilled freelance writers in your corner, you can feel confident that your digital presence rests in capable hands. This approach frees you from the need to hire full-time staff while still ensuring that you enjoy access to exceptional content.
The benefits of working with freelance content writers go far beyond saving time and money — although, of course, these advantages are worthwhile in their own right. Once you’ve observed the following, you’ll wonder why you didn’t seek freelance talent long ago.
Freelance writers love the freedom and flexibility their profession provides. Increasingly, many view it as a viable replacement for traditional 9-to-5 work. Their project-oriented approach allows them to focus exclusively on producing content they love, rather than simply trying to get through another day in a full-time job. As the freelance talent pool expands to include a vast population of passionate writers, so does your access to the best in the business.
Many writers boast advanced degrees in English, Journalism, or Communications. Others have accrued considerable experience through years of writing, either on a full-time or freelance basis. Their ability to craft compelling content goes way beyond what a small business owner could accomplish if left to update their website on their own. Not only do freelancers possess a deep-seated understanding of the written word, but their SEO know-how also allows them to develop pieces that sound natural while achieving impressive search engine rankings.
Not only are you benefitting from a freelancer’s writing experience, but you’re also getting professionals who are experienced in working with many different types of content. No matter how great an in-house hire is, they are just one person. There’s a good chance that they might have gaps in their knowledge and experience. For example, one writer may be great at website content and blog posts, but not experienced in writing case studies, landing pages, or press releases. When you hire freelancers that specialize in different types of content assets, you can benefit from having the best writers creating each type of content.
Access to Niche Experience
Depending on your content needs, you may require broader expertise than a full-time content writer — or even a team of in-house writers — can supply. With freelance content writing services, however, you enjoy access to thousands of skilled professionals boasting experience in a wide variety of fields. No matter your niche, you can find a freelancer with the insight needed to elevate your content and build your status as an authority in your field.
The unique breadth offered through freelancing can prove especially beneficial for brands based in rural areas or other regions in which access to niche writers may be limited. No longer do you need to worry whether skilled writers reside within driving distance. You’re free to recruit writers who are subject matter experts from across the globe. As long as they fit your requirements, they can produce content for your site.
No matter how ambitious you feel at the outset, you’ll inevitably fall behind if you attempt to produce a steady flow of content all on your own. When you’re consumed by other, more urgent business needs, it’s natural to let your blog posts or social media updates slip. There are only so many ideas you can come up with on your own — and only so much time you can dedicate to fleshing out the few ideas you already possess.
In the content marketing world, consistency is crucial. It’s almost impossible to establish a strong audience if you regularly go months without updating your website, blog, or social media pages. Consistency also plays an important role in your search engine ranking. A haphazard content schedule will make it more difficult to achieve the top spots on Google, regardless of the quality of your content or keyword strategy.
With freelance writers on your content team, you can assign projects as needed to keep up with your busy calendar. Whether your publication schedule relies on a single writer or a rotating team, you’ll enjoy constant access to high-quality content to fill your editorial calendar.
Fast Turnaround Times
While your blog can benefit from evergreen content, it’s also important to capitalize on time-sensitive opportunities. However, if you’re already consumed by other matters you’re unlikely to churn out new content fast enough to account for trending topics. This is when freelance writers prove especially helpful.
Once you’ve vetted and established relationships with great writers, you can turn to them on short notice to produce great content that meets your high standards. Not only can these freelancers provide the content you need in record time, but the content will be of high enough quality to keep editing needs to a minimum, thereby expediting the publication process.
Few content propositions limit your risk to the extent of freelance writing services. Quality content is by no means cost-free, but the return on investment is considerable given the minimal risk incurred.
In the rare event that you are unimpressed with a particular writer’s work, you need not worry about long-term commitments. The same goes when dealing with an evolving marketing budget or schedule. Freelance writing offers a scalable solution that allows you to increase or reduce your publishing commitment as you see fit.
As you consider your options for improving your digital presence, think carefully about the many ways in which freelancers could play into your long-term content marketing goals. Equipped with a team of professional writers, you’ll gain access to the exceptional content you need to move your brand forward.
Costs of Hiring Freelance Writers for Content Marketing
As someone who has been writing freelance for nearly ten years, it’s always incredibly frustrating when a client doesn’t understand the costs of hiring a freelancer for blogging, copywriting, or creating general content marketing assets.
However, it comes as no surprise that most business owners and agencies have a difficult time deciding what to pay freelancers, given that freelance rates vary widely across the talent pool.
The reason why there is such a broad range of freelance writer rates is that there is a full range of skillsets and experience levels within the talent pool. While many people can write stories or get across your ideas in a blog post or web content – not everyone has years of experience in content marketing strategy and implementation. Even fewer individuals will have experience in your specific industry or area of expertise.
Additionally, you are not only paying for the writing, research, and whatever else goes into your piece, you are also paying for the years of education and practice that the writer has put into developing their skills. Learning things like digital marketing best practices, how to write with SEO in mind, and where to find the best resources for specific subject matter takes time. And since freelancers are trading their hours for money, marketing agencies and business owners should compensate freelancers for this time.
Let’s take a look at what goes into freelance writing rates and what the general costs of hiring a freelancer for writing services can be.
What factors impact the cost of hiring freelance content writers?
Many factors impact the cost of hiring a freelance writer.
Understanding these factors will help you better understand how much of your marketing budget you should be put toward content creation.
Writer Skill Level
I’ve already touched on this a bit. But skill level is one of the most important factors that professional writers consider when setting freelance writing rates. Most freelancers have had to take the initiative to get the education they need. They’ve paid for courses, taken time to get feedback on their work, and read countless articles on trends and best practices in the industry. These are all things that help make a freelancer a better writer. And they are all things that impact the rate a freelancer charges.
It is the difference between making simple powdered scrambled eggs and making a decadent eggs benedict. While both are technically foods, they aren’t the same. The dish that requires more quality ingredients, more knowledge of cooking concepts, and specialized skills comes with a higher price tag – and you can taste the difference.
Type and Length of Piece
The cost of high-quality content will also depend on the type and length of content. Many writers charge per word, which means that the higher the word count, the more you will end up paying for it.
These rates aren’t arbitrary. Every single word a writer writes is an effort that they put into that piece of content. It incorporates knowledge, writing skills, research, and anything else that makes the content compelling and useful. You may see just 500 words on a page, but the writer sees the time they put into not only writing the piece, but researching, editing, and optimizing it as well.
Time to Complete
Some writers prefer to charge by the hour. This is typical of freelance writers who create content that requires a lot of research or expert interviews. Freelancers that specialize in social media may also charge by the hour given that they often do more than just write social posts. They also spend time curating content, engaging with followers, and scheduling posts.
Again, the hourly rate of a freelance copywriter will depend on their experience and time in the industry. As with most things, you get what you pay for.
That’s not to say that you can’t find someone early in their career with a lower hourly rate that can do great work for your company. Ultimately, you need to decide what level of expertise is worth the hourly rate to you.
How much do freelance writers typically charge for content marketing services?
Knowing what goes into determining a writer’s rate can give you an idea of what to expect when hiring a writer. There are several ways that writers choose to set their prices: by the word, by the hour, by the page, or by the project, also known as a flat rate.
Here at Writer Access, clients typically pay writers by the word. However, writers and clients both have the option of choosing other rate methods like hourly or flat rate.
WriterAcces rates its writers from 2 to 6 stars. The rates for 2-star writers up to 5-star writers can earn anywhere from $0.02 to $0.08 per word for content that is reflective of the differing experience levels. Clients that are looking for more straightforward content with a faster turnaround time may opt for choosing a writer at a lower star level.
Those with the most experience and skill at WriterAccess are 6-star writers. These writers command more, ranging from $.10 up to $1 per word. They have a higher skill level and more experience than other writers, and they can write more complex pieces. These 6-star writers have also proven to WriterAccess that they can be consistent with their work quality and turnaround time. If you are looking at hourly rates, these 6 star level per word rates translate to $25 per hour on the low end of the scale and $100 or more on the higher end.
When you are looking at freelance writer rates, think about the level of effort required as well as skill and any specific elements. Then have a conversation with your writer to discuss your content marketing goals and the rate they charge for completing your project.
If you’re curious about how WriterAccess sets content writing rates, access the free download, Writer Access Professional Writing Skill and Price Guide, which provides guidance on writer rates according to skill and experience levels, types of content, specific content elements, and other considerations. It clarifies the distinctions between a 2-star writer and a 6-star writer on the platform – and the reasoning behind the rates of each.
How can the benefits of hiring freelance writers outweigh the monetary costs?
High-quality content is an investment. Search engines like Google have algorithms that have specific criteria that content must meet to rank higher. Some things can get your content blacklisted, preventing your site from ranking. That’s why it’s important to hire freelance writers that understand content marketing and SEO.
Articles and blog posts that rank highest on the Google search engine results page contain an average of 2,416 words. They are also well-written, engaging, useful, and contain helpful internal and external links. The skills and knowledge necessary to achieve that is in itself a worthy investment.
If you take one thing away from this blog post, it should be that cheap content can prove to be very, very expensive in the long-run.
So why not just pay once by hiring a professional writer that can produce high-quality content that’s optimized for both your readers and the search engines?
If you want great content that works for you, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
Before you pass on a writer with higher rates, carefully consider what you are asking that writer to do. Are you looking for a writer with a more advanced skillset? Are you looking for someone who specializes in a specific type of content like landing pages or email marketing? Are you looking for a subject matter expert or skilled content marketer?
If so, you are probably going to find yourself paying higher rates for skilled professionals that have years of experience and an impressive portfolio.
And you know what? When you have that polished, professional finished product that does just want you want it to do, you’ll see it was well worth the investment.
Because that is what great writers are, an investment.
How to Hire Freelance Writers to Scale Your Content Marketing
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that doing your own content marketing is not feasible. Running and growing your business demands enough of your time, trying to squeeze in marketing on top of it just won’t work. Something is going to suffer.
Hiring freelance writers is a great way to scale your content marketing, even if you already have an in-house content writer or two.
Freelance writers can help you create new content and refresh old content on an ongoing and consistent basis. Creating this consistency in your content marketing publishing is important for both engaging your leads and customers while also pleasing the search engines.
Why is scaling content marketing valuable to your business?
Before I talk about how hiring writers can help you scale your content marketing, let’s talk about why it’s important to increase the amount of content your business puts out into the world.
Scaling your content helps improve your chances of being seen by the right people at the right time. Search engines like Google want to see fresh content on a consistent basis.
Content is not meant to be static. It is meant to grow and move, always reaching out to prospective customers and moving them through the sales funnel. After all, the end goal is conversion, right? You want to convert those prospects to customers and customers to loyal brand advocates. You want to build your brand, boost visibility in the marketplace, and establish relationships with your ideal customers. And all of that requires you to increase your content production by routinely creating new quality content that is valuable to your target audience.
You can switch up your existing content as well by adding new keywords and repurposing it for other platforms. You can add new research and technological breakthroughs to the content you have already written and update content with new statistics. Updating old content not only keeps your SEO and content fresh; it keeps it up to date for your readers as well. This strengthens your authoritative voice, which increases trust.
You might balk at the prospect of creating and implementing a full-scale content strategy, especially if you do not have the resources in house to create content at the scale you need to create it.
That’s where freelance copywriters and content marketers come in. These professionals can help close the gap between how much content you’re able to produce with your full-time marketing team and how much content you need to produce to stay visible on the search engines.
How does hiring freelance writers help your business scale content marketing?
The most obvious benefit of hiring freelance writers for scaling content marketing is, of course, that you have more professionals at your disposal to create great content. These professionals understand how content works, know how to create copy that is SEO rich, and they have the knowledge and skills to develop content that will generate traffic, engage your readers, and convert prospects to loyal customers.
In other words, freelance content writers help make your content do exactly what it is supposed to do.
What may not be as obvious is this – if you are not tasked with creating content, you can go on to do other important things like manage and grow your business. You can focus on areas where you may have more expertise or feel you can have more of an impact while entrusting your freelance content team to create the content that will help you achieve your business goals.
If you’ve been in business for any amount of time you’ve probably figured out that content marketing is much more than stringing together a few words and posting it to your blog. There are landing pages, blog posts, social media posts, articles, and web content to write.
And within that content, you have SEO formatting, backlinks, and CTAs to manage. Everything, literally everything in your content, must work together to form a seamless flow of information that functions as a magnet to draw in prospects, communicate vital information to customers, and prove that your brand is one your customers can trust.
That’s a lot of jobs for a single piece of content.
The truth of that matter is that it’s too much for one person to do.
In fact, a lot of the time, it’s too much for even a team of people to do.
In short, freelance writers help you create a higher volume of high-quality content pieces.
The Best Websites to Find and Hire Freelance Writers
There are a number of ways to find freelance writers who can help with your website copy, content marketing, blog posts, and even your social media posts. Before you start looking for experienced writers online, consider what type of freelance work you need and what you’re looking for in an ideal fit for your team. Below, I’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions we get from our community on how to find and hire the best freelance writers for content marketing.
How Do You Find the Right Freelance Writer for You?
You don’t have to start off with just one writer. As you find your voice and learn your preferences, you can narrow down the right writers for you. Content writers will often be able to adjust to your style to create content that fits well within your brand voice. While you may want to listen to the advice of a writer on trending content marketing approaches or technical aspects of writing, you will still have a major say in the direction of the finished product.
Some clients come in with their own content marketing strategies and hire writers to cover specific topics. Some will even write their own outlines or rough drafts of copy to give their writers more of a direction in how they want to approach the content. You can even have a conference call with a writer to talk about various aspects of the project and scope if you don’t like to write out instructions. While you can find talented freelance writers for content writing that understand your industry and audience, no one is going to have more insight about your company, industry, and customers than you and your team.
In addition to copywriting, you can also turn to writers to help you with topic ideation, keyword research, and content strategy. While small business owners often have the best insight into what types of content are important to their audience, freelance writers may be able to help you fill in the content gaps by finding new opportunities to reach the target audience.
Ultimately, the right freelance writer is going to be completely dependent on what you want as a client.
What Qualifications are Important in a Freelance Writer?
With so many freelance writers looking for work, it may feel a bit overwhelming to start your search for the right writer. What qualities will make a writer great for crafting your content?
There are several things you should be looking at:
Experience in Writing
Experience is an important consideration when looking for a freelance copywriter. You want to look at both how long they have been writing and how much experience they have working with the types of content you want to create. Most writers who are new to copywriting may charge lower hourly rates than more experienced writers. However, if you are investing in your business, you probably want to find an experienced writer who will be able to understand your needs faster than someone new to the industry.
So if you’re serious about your content marketing, it’s probably not the right move to hire your coworker’s granddaughter or pick the cheapest freelance writer you can find. Instead, look for a professional who has a track record of creating high-quality, high-performance content for other clients in your industry. Look for favorable testimonials and recommendations as well as a healthy portfolio of work.
Examples of Writing
Speaking of portfolios, another thing you should look for when hiring a freelancer is examples of their writing. These examples will help you determine the quality of the content they create as well as get a feel for their tone and style.
What you look for in a portfolio will depend on what you are looking for in a freelancer. For instance, a marketing agency may look for a writer portfolio that demonstrates a wide range of industries and content types. But an e-commerce brand might look for a writer with a portfolio filled with compelling product descriptions from well-known brands. Consider what is most important to you in the final written product and look for evidence of this in the writer’s portfolio.
Good communication is essential to a successful working relationship between a business and a freelance writer. Writers need to be able to communicate any questions or clarifications about a topic or project while also letting the client know about any delays or issues that come up along the way.
When looking for the right freelancer, notice how they communicate with you. Are they short and vague in their email communications? Do they have a difficult time getting back to you in a timely manner? Find a writer who is able to communicate in a way that matches your own communication style. And be clear on your expectations when you do hire a writer so that they are better able to meet them.
Where can you Find Freelance Writers that will Write for Your Industry or Niche?
It can be helpful to find a writer that understands your industry. While many writers will be able to cover a broad range of topics, some have certain key qualifications that will make them an even better fit. Hiring a writer that has education or experience in your field could mean better insights and stronger language that fits your brand and audience.
Sometimes that education or industry experience can give an edge to your process. But, many writers will also be able to research and adjust to cover your brand, so the additional qualifications may not be necessary for some less complex industries.
If you feel your brand has a difficult niche, look for a writer that has worked in that part of the field. You will find medical writers, graphic designers, plumbers, therapists, tech specialists, and many other professionals-turned-writers through writing services like WriterAccess. Some of our writers have been writing in an industry for years, while others may have actual experience doing the hands-on work of your industry. Each writer provides some detail about their background and writing expertise in their public profile, and they also provide writing samples so that you can see their work firsthand.
LinkedIn is also a great place to find and connect with freelance writers that have a specific educational or professional background. Since you are able to see their resume and understand their skillset, you can easily do some initial vetting of these writers just by looking at their profiles.
Where are the Best Places Online to Find Freelance Writers?
Hiring a freelance writer means you don’t have to pay an in-house staff member a full-time salary. You also won’t be overtaxing your employees with the burden of writing and the writing you get will be more professional and better suited to content marketing. So, where can you find these writers in order to find the right writer for you?
There are many professionals on LinkedIn that have already identified themselves as freelancers and writers. On LinkedIn, you can view professional histories and see a kind of digital resume to help you find the right person for the job. LinkedIn actually offers a service to help businesses connect with freelancers, providing you with free proposals and helping you hire the right professional. You may get a wide range of quotes from various levels of professionals.
Online Freelance Job Boards
Look for job boards that are geared toward freelancers looking for projects like yours. Some of the top creative freelancer job boards include:
- ProBlogger: You will pay for each job listing in order to keep the board strictly limited to businesses willing to pay reasonable rates to their writers.
- BloggingPro: Slightly smaller than ProBlogger and many companies post in both places, so there is a lot of overlap.
- FlexJobs: This board has a section just for writer’s job postings, but the board covers flexible jobs of every kind.
- Freelance Writers Den: You can hire freelancers on the writer’s den, where the writers pay to be part of the community. Writers will send pitches and writing examples to apply for your jobs. The site will help you with contract templates for hiring your favorite freelance writers.
While most job boards simply connect you with writers and you do the hiring and management off the board, there are also freelancing platforms that make it easy for you find, hire, work with, and pay freelancers all on the platform. As a word of caution, some freelancing platforms are better than others. Platforms like WriterAccess are more involved in the process – from vetting writers and helping clients find the best writers for their brand to making sure writers get paid and projects keep moving. While platforms like Upwork and Fiver are more hands-off. You are able to find writers and work with them directly, but you have to vet them yourself and there’s no one to help make sure everything goes smoothly.
General Hiring Platforms
There are plenty of places to hire writers if you are planning on offering more consistent writing gigs. Job search platforms like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Monster, can provide you with a platform to post your job. You will be surrounded by a number of full-time job offerings, which could make it harder to find the right freelance writer. You will want to really think through what you are offering before posting so that you will stand out to the right professionals who could be scouring those boards. It will be your job to vet and select the right applicants.
There are organizations, like the Editorial Freelancers Association, designed to support freelance writers and content creation. These boards often have places where companies can post their jobs to find writers. Your writer pools won’t likely be a big as with some of the freelance job sites, but you will still have access to a number of professional writers who are dedicated to their craft.
Creative Staffing Agencies
If you are looking for hands-on help in hiring freelancers, then you may benefit from working with a creative staffing agency. Creative staffing agencies are experienced in finding and vetting creative professionals. They provide you with a list of qualified candidates based on your hiring needs. Hiring a creative staffing agency is often more expensive than finding writers yourself. However, many of these agencies not only find writers that are the perfect fit, but they also take on the work of paying and managing the freelancers.
Local freelance Facebook Groups
There are many Facebook groups that are dedicated to just about every topic you can imagine, including copywriting and blogging. Check out some of the freelancer groups that help connect clients with local writers. Through these boards, you will be able to find professionals, but you are completely on your own when it comes to making sure your jobs are done on time and to your standards.
Right Here at WriterAccess
Not to toot our own horn, but we have a pretty great setup here and some of the best writers out there. Hiring a content writer can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be:
- Choose between a number of ways you can hire a writer on this platform: search through online profiles of real writers and chat with them about your project, use our AI match up to find a writer that fits your brand’s writing style, or work with a customer success rep who can help you find the ideal writers.
- Get a feeling for each writer’s background by looking at their profile, which includes examples of their quality content, industry experience, education, and even a picture so you can see who you are hiring.
- Hire the right type of writer that’s within your budget by using our star-rating system, which identifies writers by experience level and skill set.
- Get hands-on help if you want it by working with our talent managers to find and foster the relationship between you and your writer. They can step in if there are any problems or confusion with assignments.
- Enjoy open communication by sending writing jobs to your writer, messaging them when needed through the platform messaging system, or even using the conference line to speak directly with your writer.
- Assign jobs to specific writers through solo orders, open up projects to your love list of writers you like working with, or make your projects available for anyone to pick up through crowd orders.
While finding and hiring the right freelance writers may seem like an overwhelming task, there are so many resources out there to help you find writers who want to work with businesses like yours.
Vetting freelancers does take time. However, it will pay off in the end when you end up finding a great group of freelance writers who can help you create high-quality content that performs well on the search engine and is loved by your customer base.
So get on out there and find a few good freelancers to take your content marketing game to the next level.
Sarah Jane Burt is Sr. Content Strategist at WriterAccess. For the past decade, she’s helped brands big and small, from tech giant IBM to the local plumber, tell their stories and create strategies for customer-driven content. When she’s not working on developing and implementing our content strategy, she’s writing blog posts that help demystify content marketing and strategy for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and enterprise content teams.