If it’s your first time hiring a writer or even if you’ve done it before but find it a bit awkward, you’ll love this post.
These 10 tips for hiring a writer were written by Cynthia White who is a freelance writer based on Vancouver Island. I love this topic because I spend time talking to writers and Cynthia had the idea to speak to people thinking about hiring a writer. Love it.
I’m a freelance writer, just like my friend, Robyn. I asked her if I could write an article on hiring a writer for her blog because she blogs only about writing-related topics, and I blog about anything that strikes my fancy.
When a new client wants to hire me, there are several things that I run into repeatedly, things that the client doesn’t necessarily understand. I thought it would be useful to tell a little bit about what it means to hire a writer and give some insight into the writing process.
So, here are 10 things you should know about hiring a writer:
10 tips for hiring a writer
- Most writers don’t work on a per hour basis. We usually price writing work by the word or by the project. We may have an idea what our hourly rate is, but we usually don’t say
Why do we price our work by the word? I don’t know, but that’s the standard. We never want to be told to “write faster” because we’re being paid a certain amount per hour. So, we just tell you what the job is worth to us, and whether it takes us one hour or 21 hours, that’s our problem.
If you have an established long-term relationship with a writer, very often writers just work for a monthly retainer. The writer agrees to give you a certain amount of work at previously agreed-upon intervals for a fixed monthly price.
You want to know what the going rate is for a writer? Here are two articles about that.
- Professional writers aren’t cheap. You can definitely find someone on Upwork or elsewhere who will write for $0.01/word. But you won’t find an experienced professional writer to work for that rate. Even $0.10/word is cheap by our standards, but sometimes we’ll do that work if it’s pleasant, and we’re able to do it fast.
With writing, you get what you pay for. The odds are against you getting a great job done for less than $0.10/word. For less than $0.10/word, you’ll be hiring someone who either doesn’t have English as a mother tongue, or who doesn’t have a degree in English or journalism, or who doesn’t have any experience.
We’re going to do a better job of writing your articles or your blog, than you will. You may know your company better than we do, but we know how to write effectively. If we’re writing your blog, we know how the articles should look, how many links to include, how to optimize the work for search engine optimization, and how to make the work look polished.
One advantage for you of hiring a professional and experienced writer is that some writers have a large and established social media following. Your writer may be happy to promote his or her articles about your business through their own personal social media platforms—especially if the writer’s name is on the article.
- It’s OK to ask for revisions. Writers can’t read minds. We may have a good idea what you want, but we can’t give you exactly what you want without some feedback. It’s OK to ask for revisions, and we expect that. The more feedback we get, the closer we will get to giving you the ideal product, just like with machine learning.
Of course, there’s an old saying in freelance writing that if the client isn’t happy with the third draft, then there’s either something wrong with the client or something wrong with the writer. Three drafts should be plenty. If you’re asking for six, seven, or eight drafts, then the client doesn’t know what he or she wants. I let go of clients like that. I’ve been doing this for years, and I can afford to be choosy about who I want to work with.
- It’s OK to ask for photos to accompany articles. Most writers will charge extra for this, especially if they are original photos that we have taken ourselves with our own cameras. It’s extra work for us, and many clients prefer to furnish the artwork themselves, but it’s OK to ask. And if we’re being paid a reasonable rate, we won’t mind looking up a few royalty-free photos for you.
- Press releases cost more than regular writing. Press releases are not priced on a per word basis, but as a flat rate. (And the flat rate does not include the price of distribution, which is separate.) Why? Because writing them is a special skill that some of us have spent years acquiring. Press releases have a special format, a special language, and even writing the titles and subtitles is not for amateurs.
A press release is not the job where you should pinch pennies. Why? Because when someone skilled writes a press release, it will get more “pick-up” or traffic, which is what you want. If you hire an inexperienced writer to write a press release, there may be a delay in the release going out because the company used to distribute the press release may have to rewrite it. Not good. Experienced freelance writers not only know how to write a great press release, but we know all about the pros and cons of including images or videos, and when is the best time to get them out. Most of us also have a relationship with a company that does the distribution. Personally, I use Ereleases if it’s for a press release originating in the US.
- It’s a good idea to pay us promptly. I wish I had a nickel for every client that I’ve ever had who was ultra-available when he or she needed me to finish a job and ultra-unavailable when it came time to pay. Cash flow is everything, and it’s not fair to make us chase you around for payment. The time spent reminding you to pay us is time that we could be working on other projects for clients who pay promptly. If you’re a new client, don’t be surprised if we ask to be paid up front or after each little job, just to make sure that we don’t do an enormous amount of work and never get paid for it. Yes, it happens.
I’m, in fact, running into a problem with a new client right now. The client wants a certain number of blog articles each month. But the client only wants to pay for the published articles. That means I submit X number of articles each month, but they can sit on them as long as they want, and I won’t get paid until they’re published. That’s not right, and that’s not how it works. The writer should be paid upon submission. If the client takes a month to ask for revisions, that’s fine, but the writer should be paid. Otherwise, the writer is always being paid for a subset of what they’ve written for the client. I don’t think I’ll be writing long for these folks unless they change that policy.
- Need another freelancer? Ask us. Most of us have a well-established network of freelancers. We know other writers, editors, design people, and software people. If you need to hire someone else, ask us.
- We’re going to charge more for ghostwriting. Writers like to have their names on things. This gives the writer credibility, and if there’s a blurb about the writer and a link, this can help drive traffic to the writer’s website. If we’re writing for a client, and we’re not going to get to put our name on anything, for example on your business blog, then we’ll charge you more because we lose those added benefits.
- If you need something fast, be prepared to pay extra. Most freelance writers have several clients and schedule of work to be done. Sometimes a schedule may be in place for several weeks or months in advance. So, we can do your work, but we can’t necessarily do it tonight. If you need it instantly, be prepared to pay extra to move to the front of the line.
- We have other skills. Ask us. Often clients who hire writers don’t realize that many of us can do more than one type of job. The person who writes for your blog may also be an expert on social media. Your blog writer might also be an expert editor who could proofread your website or edit the text of other freelance writers. Some writers are happy to do ebooks, press releases, or copywriting (like sales copy). Some writers do some design work like for business cards or logos. Some writers have extensive business and marketing experience. So, if you have a writer that you like, and you have other jobs that need doing, ask your writer first.
The idea for this article came to me recently because I started with a new client who seemed very reluctant to ask for revisions. The client was afraid I’d be insulted because he wanted a few more statistics in his blog articles. I wasn’t insulted. I told him, “writers expect to be asked for revisions. It’s OK.”
I hope this is helpful for someone hiring a writer for the first time.