How To Hire And Work With A Freelance Writer (Or Ghostwriter)
As the founder and sole operator of a five year old freelance writing business (tech company that needs thought leadership? Hit me up!), I’ve worked with a wide variety of clients over the years.
These have ranged from international marketing agencies through to solopreneurs and high growth startups. Those briefing and commissioning me have run the gamut in terms of their familiarity in working with freelance writers.
My favorite account managers / points of contact? Perhaps unsurprisingly, freelancers that have gone in-house and know life on both sides of the divide. They understand from first-hand experience what life as a freelancer is like and tend to be able to manage freelance resources in a way that aligns with our preferred workflows (stable volume of work, reasonable cadence, etc).
A common question I get when talking to prospects is “tell me about your process?” or “how would we go about engaging with you?”
Although I’ve addressed this in an FAQ on my website, let’s take a step back and first ask “how would you hire a freelance writer?” This post will provide a deeper dive into both these questions.
FAQs | DSR Ghostwriting | Thought Leadership And Content Marketing For Tech Clients
For more extensive questions and answers, please see the knowledge-base. What Is thought leadership How Is thought…
If you’re thinking about bringing a freelance writer (or freelance ghostwriter) onto your team, then here’s what you’ll need to do to find one — and make the most use out of them once they’re onboard.
Where Can I Find A Freelance Writer For Hire?
Naturally, the best place to find a freelance writer is to check out my website at dsrghostwriting.com
DSR Ghostwriting | Thought Leadership And Content Marketing For Tech Clients | DSR Ghostwriting |…
Writing Services By: Daniel Rosehill SPECIALTIES: DSR GHOSTWRITING CLIENTS HAVE INCLUDED Download a free white pape r…
Sadly, I realize that not everybody wishes to work with me.
So you may wish to tap other sources.
These could include:
If you’re familiar with the RFP model of finding service providers, then putting out a job request on Upwork.com might be to your liking.
Upwork has a massive worldwide network of freelance writers specializing in everything from copywriting through to long-form content formats, like white papers and e-books.
These days, though, Upwork isn’t the only marketplace in town.
Writers can also be found for projects and one-time gigs on:
- Many marketplaces — including Upwork — provide an escrow service. If you’re not inclined to trust random freelancers you hire from the internet, this might give you that needed boost of confidence.
- Access to a huge and diverse talent pool.
- You’re locked into hiring and communicating through the network, so you might not be able to forge a direct relationship with the freelance writer or ghostwriter.
You can also hire freelance writers by posting advertisements on job boards, including LinkedIn jobs.
Word of Mouth
Often tapping your IRL (in real life) network is the fastest and most reliable way of finding the talent you need for your project. Ask your personal or professional networks if they know of any freelance writers that might currently be looking to take on projects.
Another more indirect way to go about things is to attract writers to you. How? Simply by creating a website showcasing what you do. Many writers engage in some cold prospecting and if they’re focused on prospecting for clients in a vertical — and you happen to be in the middle of it — they may stumble upon your site.
To make room for this possibility, make sure there’s some way to contact you such as a contact form or a listed email address.
How Can I Start Working With A Freelance Writer?
Before engaging the services of a freelance writer it’s worth spending a little time getting to know them in order to assess fit. This is particularly true if you’re hiring a ghostwriter who’s going to be writing under your byline (that just means ‘under your name’ by the way; like the name that appears beneath the headline in your average blog post / news article).
When people hire freelance writers, there are two other things they commonly do:
- Request to see a writing portfolio: Most freelance writers will maintain portfolios of their previous client work. In the case of ghostwriters — like the author — things get a little tricky (because the whole idea of ghostwriting, of course, is that the real writing relationship isn’t obvious). But most ghostwriters will still be able to point you the direction of previous clients or samples. Portfolios contain samples of previous client work and are often organized thematically or by the type of writing project that was undertaken.
- Assign a writing test. Sometimes the only way that clients will feel confident in a writer’s ability to deliver the goods is by giving them a dummy (or real) brief and having them produce actual work. That’s because while a strong portfolio is well and good ultimately it’s a historical measure and may not be totally indicative of how well a writer can capture your brand voice. Because I am categorically opposed to unpaid writing tests I tend to also call these pilot projects because for me the two are interchangeable. I get that many prospective clients are cagey about the idea of having somebody they’ve just met take over a whole project. So I commonly suggest a relatively cheap pilot project as a way for a client to assess my compatibility with their business.
Scheduling The Freelance Writer Interview
I will also offer my clients a meeting to hear what they’re interested in having written. Clients can book 15 minutes of my time through Zoom and Calendly.
I do place some preconditions around this (clients need to be able to meet at least my starting rates). But other writers may not.
If you’re very interested in the idea of working with a particular writer, see if they offer free initial consultations or some other online meeting during which they can hear what you need and assess if they can deliver it.
Some questions that you may wish to ask the writer at this meeting:
- What’s their typical workflow?
- What is their average lead time for certain projects?
- What does their standard contract look like?
- Are revisions included?
- What are the approximate prices?
- What type of projects have they worked on before?
- Do they also offer keyword research or other ancillary services?
- Do they have standard terms and conditions that they could link to?
- What happens to the IP after they finish with the piece?
A key question on your mind might be “how much does freelance writing cost?”. There are three methods that writers commonly use for charging for their work:
- Per word pricing
- Per project pricing
- Per hour pricing
For both writers — and clients — all these methodologies have advantages and disadvantages. Check out my piece above for a lot more information about those. But to summarize:
- Some writers will charge you according to the number of words they writer
- Some writers will offer you a flat hourly fee and keep a timesheet
- Some will charge you a fixed fee for each deliverable
- In still other cases, writers might offer you a retainer which covers a fixed amount of deliverables / hours per month or other unit of time
How To Work With A Freelance Writer
But what about actually getting down to business?
My “workflow” can be summarized very simply as something like this:
- Clients send me a brief
- I sometimes request a meeting (depending upon project size)
- I produce the work
- The client reviews the work and sends revisions, if required
- I carry out the revisions
- We take care of billing matters
Send Writing Brief | DSR Ghostwriting | Thought Leadership And Content Marketing For Tech Clients
Please use this form to brief me on a piece of writing that you need me to work on. Deliverables and drafts will be…
A brief is a set of instructions which tell a writer exactly how you’d like the piece to turn out. For guidance about what to include in it, check out my article for Business2Community above.
But at a minimum you’ll probably want to include:
- The title of the piece
- Some information about your target audience
- A guideline about what tone the piece should take
- SEO keywords that might need to be included
For longer projects (white papers, for instance) a more complicated production timeline may need to be adhered to. This could involve subject matter expert (SME) interviews during which experts with domain knowledge will guide the writer in what information to include in the piece of writing they are producing.
As I mentioned above, it’s important to clarify what’s included (and what’s not) in the price that a writer quotes. Some writers offer unlimited revisions. Others offer one round. And some offer none.
Likewise for meetings: don’t assume that these will be included or that there’s no limit around how many Zoom calls a writer is prepared to sit through in the name of “gathering feedback.”
The Freelance Writer Hiring Cheat Sheet
The TL;DR of this article is:
- You can hire freelance writers from marketplaces, by posting jobs, or by tapping your network — among other methods.
- It’s common for prospective clients to interview freelance writers they are thinking about working with. You may also request to see a portfolio / writing samples or put the writer through a pilot / test.
- Writers may limit the number of revisions they include in their price (or not include any at all). Likewise for meetings.
- You use a brief to instruct writers on what they should write about. This can be a written document or it could be conveyed in an email.
- Writers can charge for their work by the word, by the hour, or by deliverables. They can also levy a retainer for their services.