Agencies are regularly faced with the difficult task of finding the correct, quality writer for each new writing job. This is a job unto itself, as there are many writers who are good at some types of writing and not so good at others. For example, feature article writing requires a certain set of writing skills while web copywriting requires an entirely different set of writing skills. Below are a few tips for how to best sift through the massive pile of resumes and submissions for each writing gig.
How long and often has the writer been published?
A writer who has been published regularly over a long period of time clearly has talent and can produce quality work now and in the future. While they may not be talented enough for the particular assignment, or have experience writing on the appropriate subject matter, a regularly published writer is usually a better bet than a writer who has little to no work that has been published. However, this shouldn’t stop you from reading an unpublished writer’s samples—that’s how new talent is discovered!
Who has the writer written for?
Before the internet, getting writing published was somewhat of a big deal. Now, with blogs and content writing websites being a dime a dozen, being published doesn’t mean nearly as much. So, depending on the assignment, look at who has published the writer’s work and if they have high standards—or not.
Read the writer’s samples.
The best way to determine if a writer has talent is to read a few of their samples to get a sense of their tone, style and voice. Talented writers will always shine through their samples and very talented writers will have great samples about a variety of different topics, proving they can write about almost anything. Read at least two samples from writers you are really considering. This will give you a real sense of whether they can maintain that consistent voice, rather than just one great “flash in the pan” piece where their writing clicked.
Has the writer written what you wanted before?
While this isn’t a necessity, it’s incredibly helpful to find a writer who has written pieces in the tone and style that you envision for your particular writing assignment. While you may have a writing job reviewing sporting goods and the writer has written extensively about sports for a number of local papers, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can write reviews. However, a movie reviewer or video game reviewer would probably be ideal for a sporting goods review job, because they are all review writing, rather than sports writing. That said, very talented writers can often write about any topic, so this shouldn’t trump a great writer’s samples who has no experience writing about a particular topic.
E.K. is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.