RECRUITMENT / MAR. 13, 2015
version 3, draft 3

A Checklist for Hiring Freelance Writers

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Hiring a good freelancer is a tough task because of the sheer number of people you have to sift through. You can never really know what you’re going to get until you start working with them, but you can make sure you avoid the cowboys within the industry. To help you in your search, we have compiled a checklist of essentials you should refer back to.

See also: 7 Rookie Freelancer Mistakes

The Portfolio

You’re not looking for someone who is popular. What you want is someone who meets your needs and expectations. The portfolio is the first place to look. A portfolio of work online will give you a look at what they can do and what you can expect from them.

This is no substitute for a paid piece of probationary work, but it will give you a rough idea as to how good they are before you start to invest.

Request a Testimonial

Anyone who hires a worker in the real world will request a reference from a previous employer. The same principle applies to freelance writing. Ask for a testimonial from one of their clients. You shouldn’t accept a brief quote they supply you. Anyone can write up one of these in a matter of minutes. Request contact information so you can speak to their clients yourself.

Look at the Price

Obviously, you want to get the best deal. What this doesn’t mean is getting the lowest price available. This is no use to you. Someone who charges a pittance for their work is probably charging that much for a reason.

First of all, the chances are they’re charging this much because they’re new to the game. They don’t place a high enough value on their work. Alternatively, they aren’t good enough to attract the big ticket clients.

Getting a good deal means finding a rough market average and assessing a price list based on that, assuming the writer has the skills.

Take a Sample

Always request some sort of sample from a writer. There are two ways you can go about this.

One option is to ask for a short piece totalling about 200 words. It’s big enough to show you what the writer can do but short enough to not waste too much of the writer’s time. Another option is to ask for a full-length article you will pay for. This rate may be the writer’s going rate or a slightly reduced rate.

The reason why we don’t ask freelance writers for full articles free of charge is due to poor practices in the industry. Clients have scammed writers before by asking for lots of free samples from lots of different writers. Once they get these samples back, they’ve completed their project and they refuse to hire anyone.

That’s why you have to deal with free samples in the right way.

Personality Clash

Talk to the prospective writer over Skype, over the phone, or through email. Ask yourself: Can I work with this person?

Personalities clash all the time. This issue is nothing to do with work quality or whether a writer can meet a deadline. If you can’t work together, any project will turn into a slug through a pool of maple syrup. Ultimately, both sides should feel happy about working with each other.

See also: Why Hiring Beautiful People May Backfire

Trial and error is the name of the game. Forming a long-term relationship with a writer takes time. Be willing to play the field and see what’s available. Work with them and invest money in finding the right person. You’ll feel relieved later on when you have a freelance writer who understands and meets your requirements. And you can only do this by looking for the right things during the recruitment process.

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