Freelance writing sounds very romantic. People imagine a white-haired gentleman getting inspiration from a seaside view and a cheap bottle of whiskey, but writing is a business like any other. A neighborhood grocer fosters a reputation by drawing in a few customers. From there, the business stays alive by creating strong bonds. Writers sell their wares in much the same fashion. Small businesses who want posh and polish like the big boys need to do some window-shopping when looking for a freelance writer.
Word of Mouth is a Powerful Tool
If this is your first dip into the pool of freelance writing, ask business contacts who they use. A little research will go a long way when it comes to saving time and money. Today, business survival relies on internet presence, so chances are at least one contact uses a freelance writer for website content. Ask customers, vendors and business-minded buddies who they rely on for their writing ventures.
Don’t Fall for Smoke and Mirrors
Stringing together a compelling sentence is a writer’s craft. Let them show off a little by explaining why they are right for the project. A short, concise piece that lists past experience and distinctive skill sets is a free writing sample. What they send should be personalized and well-formed. It is fine to read their work online or view samples, but the proof is in the job pitch. Previous work could come from anywhere, and usually goes through an editor prior to publishing. You want to see something raw and fresh to get a sense of the writer’s true voice.
Speaking of Voice …
Vernacular tells you a lot about a potential hire. Businesses want a writer that speaks their language. Writers are a grandiose bunch who tend to think they can handle any subject. For some projects, that might be fine; however, the most competent freelancer will have experience in your industry – not research they find on the internet, but actual work experience. If you want a writer that knows about what you do, look for lingo in the job pitch and writing samples. An experienced freelancer knows how to sell himself with words.
Give it a Trial Run
Trial run doesn’t mean free, but don’t sign a writer on for a large, expensive project without reviewing at least one custom written piece. Ask them to write an article for pay. Writers are not going to give you free work unless they are new to the game, but most will understand the need to go slow in the beginning. If the first piece is exactly what you were looking for, the search is over.
Businesses should treat their writing needs as they would any service. You wouldn’t sign on a mechanic unless someone you know uses him. You wouldn’t hire a contractor without checking out his previous work. There is nothing confusing about looking for a freelance writer either. Treat it like any other business concern.
Darla F is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.