Content creation is a major task for any website that can leave you with little time to promote your website. So, many affiliate website owners want to know how to hire a freelance writer to ensure they produce a consistent output.
Unless you enjoy writing, you might struggle with the idea of having to produce regular content. And while I’d argue that writing is a skill you can develop. For some, the effort required is more than it’s worth. So you might look at other sources, including hiring freelance writers.
However, unless you’ve hired writers before, you’re bound to make a ton of mistakes, most of which can be avoided. Thankfully, I’ve hired plenty of writers in the last 10 years, so can share my experiences and mistakes.
Let’s explore how to hire a freelance writer for your website, blog or affiliate website.
Develop a house style
Before you can ask anyone to create content for your website, you need a compelling idea of what your brand is and what it isn’t. And while this sounds simple but most forget this vital step.
Developing a house content style is a massive topic, but you can easily pick up the basics and apply them to your website.
Imagine your ideal reader in as much detail as possible.
- What do they look like?
- What websites do they visit daily?
- Are they a certain age?
- What kind of slang/colloquialisms do they use?
- Who are they influenced by?
- Are they dreaming of a certain holiday destination?
All of this is basic brand positioning theory. Even with the most elementary understanding of marketing, you’ll know you need to ask yourself these questions and more.
As you develop a deeper understanding of your target reader, you can start to build a house style that talks in the same language as them, referencing things, places and ideas that resonate with them.
Your house content style is more than having short, succinct paragraphs or a website that looks ultra-modern or loads quickly. It has to connect with your reader and spur them into taking action.
For example, on this blog, I imagine myself as the ideal reader. A little narcissistic but it’s done for good reason.
I’m male, in my 30s, above-average intelligence, and obsessed with building websites from the ground up (including design, content strategy, SEO, and more) with the end goal to sell a website (or a few) for a million dollars or more in the next 5 years.
That doesn’t mean, the ladies aren’t welcome or aren’t my target audience. Just that I think most of my readers are very similar to me with goals to match! It’s far easier to write content if you know who you’re talking to.
Position yourself as the editor
After developing the basic bones of a house style, you can create a more formal house content style guide. Within this document, you can set out the types of language to use and what slang to avoid. You can reference sources that your target reader enjoys, allowing you to stay current.
Another benefit of developing a house content style guide is it makes hiring writers easier. They can use this guide as a starting point when they create content. It will inform them exactly how you want the article written, cutting down the amount of editing and rewrites they need to do.
By hiring freelance writers, you become the editor. Your role is less about writing and more about managing the writers, graphic designers, and other team members as well as creating the content strategy ensuring your website keeps growing.
Of course, you’ll need to need to write the odd piece now and again and ensure every word that makes it on the website is well written and factually correct. You can’t delegate that, nor the hiring/firing of team members.
What can you hire a freelance writer to do?
Before you think this is a trick question, it isn’t as all writers aren’t equal. Part of knowing how to hire a freelance writer is knowing what you can ask them to do.
The majority of writers you can hire from job boards, content agencies or using your contacts will be article writers. They’ll be happy to write long-form content that informs.
Most writers are not sales copywriters. So if you ask an article writer to produce ten product descriptions or headlines for adverts, you probably be disappointed with the results. So, you’ll want to match the task with the right person.
Putting this another way, you wouldn’t expect a 5-star hotel to bring you a meal in under 10 minutes, but you would if you ordered food using a drive-thru. Both serve food but are completely different.
Where to find freelance article writers
There are many fantastic places to find good quality article writers as well as a few you might not have thought of. My favourites are content agencies, Fiverr, and creative writing students.
There are plenty of agencies that produce content to spec for websites. They all work similarly. You email a brief to an account manager, who then selects the ideal writer and ensures you get a piece of content returned by an agreed date and handle any rewrites or edits.
Working with an agency such as Copify or Content Ninjas is more expensive than hiring a writer directly. That said, you have less hassle, allowing you to focus on growing your business or affiliate website.
If you haven’t used Fiverr or heard about it years ago, then you might not be aware that it’s now the place to hire freelancers for pretty much any task. Many sellers are making five or six figures per year.
I’ve hired a few writers from Fiverr, and the experience has always been good. That said, I have always pre-qualified my writers, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Creative writing students/graduates
Universities continue to pump out students with little experience and into a market with few job opportunities. But you can change this!
Having hired someone who recently graduated with a creative writing degree, I can say they require more nurturing and feedback than someone with five years of experience, but they can be very cheap.
As someone looking to develop their skills as an editor, it can be exciting to work with someone who just graduated as you can grow together. It’s worth looking on Twitter for creative writing students or getting in touch with your local colleges and universities.
What questions to ask when interviewing freelance writers
Of course, you should ask for samples, but that’s not all. Ask any potential writer if they are comfortable writing using a style guide, if they understand your industry, and the market you’re targeting.
Our biggest websites target’s the UK market. British English is different from American English, even if these are very subtle. So one of the questions I ask when hiring writers is do you understand the subtleties?
I got responses including “Yes“, “I write in English“, and “Can you explain what you mean?“.
I asked the people who answered yes to explain what they understood the differences to mean. I hired one of these people with good results.
The person who answered that they write in English was eliminated as they clearly didn’t seek to understand the question. From experience, these people will cause more issues than it’s worth.
Asking me to explain the question in more depth was a clever move. It was a better reply than saying I don’t know or ignoring the question altogether. I did hire this person, who went on to produce an excellent article.
To ensure you get value for money and don’t spend your life running around trying to manage people who can’t meet a deadline, you need to ask leading questions that are designed to weed out people.
Should you only order one piece at a time?
When thinking about how to hire a freelance writer, you might wonder how much content to order. It’s best to always start by ordering a single piece.
No matter how great their sample work is, you haven’t worked with them before and are don’t know if they can produce an article to your standards within the time frame.
It’s easier for you to waste $30 on a writer who doesn’t work out than agreeing to pay one for five articles who then vanishes! After a successful order, you can negotiate a better price for multiple articles, just with a better understanding of how they work.
Agreeing on a fair price with a writer
Content prices vary dramatically depending on who you hire. An agency will charge you at least $100 for a piece of content, whereas a newly graduated writer might be happy with $20. Fiverr again has writers across the price scale.
If you’re ordering a single piece of content, expect to pay more. Similarly, if you’re working with a top freelance journalist, you’ll end up paying top dollar. Again, for multiple pieces, try to negotiate a lower price per article.
How to ensure the first piece of content is successful!
Working with anyone new for the first time can be difficult, especially if you can’t fully interact with them or only have an email address. Depending on how involved you want to be as an editor, your initial brief could be the target keyword or an outline of the article.
If you’re working with a content agency or an experienced writer, you probably don’t want to give an article outline complete with subtitles, links and quotes. However, you might give them a short paragraph explain what you hope they will cover and the keyword you’re aiming to rank for.
If you’re working with someone who has just started offering a writing service, then you’ll need to push them in the right direction. So, they might find it helpful to have a list of key points or a few subtitles.
Regardless of who writes an article for you, you need to check every word and ensure it reads well. It’s your role as the editor to maintain standards and uphold your house content style.
Should you give feedback to your freelance writer?
Even if you’re unhappy, you should take the time to feedback to your freelancer. They can only grow by hearing honest feedback. As an editor, it’s your job to nurture talent.
How to decide if you should hire them again
Not every hire will work out. So protect yourself by ordering a single piece of content to begin with and consider if you enjoyed working with them and what they produced for you. It’s always a fine balancing act.
Should you order multiple pieces of content after the first article?
Completely up to you. As you hire more freelance writers, you’ll become better at understanding who’s the right fit for writing certain articles. As a topic expert, there will be pieces only you can write due to the nature of the article.
That said, you should be able to outsource the majority of content writing to freelance writers who can research and create an informative piece.
That’s how to hire a freelance writer for your website
When considering how to hire a freelance writer for your website, there’s a lot to think about. The best place to start is with a house style document that sets out how you want pieces written. With this complete, you’re in a better situation to hire writers.
If you have a small budget, hire the best writers you can, even if they can only produce some of your output with you writing the rest. Go slow, ask the right questions and refine your process as you learn.
Over time, you’ll be able to hire more writers and step back, taking on a more editorial role. And, That’s how to hire a freelance writer for your website!
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