I do a little bit of everything, and I love how varied my work is. I may be flying out to visit a client and interview them for their book one day, and I might be consulting on how best to build an online audience for a YouTube channel the next. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of awesome experiences getting hired to write for international art magazines, immersive theater shows, and memoirs for inspiring individuals.
The benefits of hiring a freelance writer are clear: in our digital age, content is king. Building your brand, telling your story, increasing your following — all of that requires engaging communication. Writers can help you assemble the building blocks of your empire, from Instagram captions all the way up to bestselling books.
Freelance writers also come with a variety of skills and backgrounds. My USC education, experience writing in Hollywood, and my own creative projects help me craft engaging stories, no matter the form.
Hiring a freelance writer can also save a lot of time. Time is of the essence, especially as you’re running a small business or startup. Getting high-quality content and communicating your message through a blog, social media, or in the form of a book is key to growing your brand and kickstarting passive income.
If you want talented freelance writers to work with you, however, you’ll need to know a thing or two about the etiquette of hiring and working with us.
Every freelancer is different, but I’ll share a bit of best practices from my experience an the conversations I’ve had with other freelance writers.
How to Hire a Freelance Writer
There are a variety of freelance websites you can hire from, including the platform I do some of my freelance work on (Upwork.) You can also hop around the world wide web and find websites of writers, or check on LinkedIn.
Usually, you’ll want to start by posting a job description, what kind of experience level you’re looking for from a freelance writer, and what your budget looks like/what you’re willing to pay.
Not divulging this info upfront can lead to a longer process of finding the right freelancer. Writers like myself are pretty picky, and we usually only accept jobs we find interesting that also match up with our rates, so save yourself time and put all the info out there in the world so you can attract the right freelancer.
Check out your freelancer’s profile and website, and ask for additional samples of their work. Do you like how they present themself on the internet? Do you enjoy reading their writing? What are their past clients saying about the experience of working with them? Start your research by checking out who they are, and ask for additional materials from your freelancer as you see fit.
Hop on a call to check chemistry, fit, and passion from your potential freelancer. Don’t be afraid to interview a few candidates you’re considering! See who you click with: “chemistry” is also important. While some of the best writers may be a little shy or awkward, they should still demonstrate excitement for your project and be knowledgeable in the area you need them to write in.
Don’t be stingy: don’t ask for free work, free test tasks, or free proposals. The only thing I do for free for a potential client is a discovery phone call or video chat to get on the same page. If you’re going to ask freelancers to take time away from their work and complete work for you so you can see if they’ll be a good fit for your job, pay them for their time.
Negotiate, but pay fairly and be upfront about what you’re looking for. My rate is on the higher side ($90/hour) as it factors in my experience, education, and skills. I will sometimes work for a flat fee or reduce my rate slightly if I’m working for a nonprofit or an organization I care about. However, don’t insult your potential freelancers by asking them to work for nothing. We’re more affordable than employees, but we also have more expenses and taxes to pay.
Also, if you’re setting a flat fee for something, make sure that you clearly outline the work you need done for that fee. Your freelancer will quote you for their rates for that scope of work, usually with any additional work outside of those rates costing extra.
You get what you pay for when it comes to hiring a freelance writer, so if you want a job done right, know that you’ll need an appropriate budget.
How to Work with a Freelance Writer
When you begin working with a writer, it’s essential that you communicate your project’s needs and dates for deliverables. If you only need a writer to write a blog post every so often — that’s okay, too! Just keep us in the loop about your timelines and expectations, and let us know when you adjust.
Empower your freelancer to bring their ideas and creativity to your assignment. One of the best things that freelance writers can bring to your company or project? Their own ideas! As a freelancer, I’ve been lucky to work with so many talented people and companies around the world. I bring that perspective with me on every assignment, and I am happy to lend my passion and creativity to those who welcome it. We’re not robots, and thank god for that. We can help you elevate your business, and if you give us the space to bring new ideas to your company or project, I think you’ll be excited by the result.
Just like you’re juggling other work, we’re juggling other clients. We’re constantly negotiating on new contracts, pitching or sending out proposals, or working on current contracts. This is just something to be aware of as you work on larger projects with freelance writers.
If you want a freelance writer to work full-time for you — well, you’ll need to pay them a rate that reflects that. Every job we takes means we have reduced availability to accept other work, so we have to price our time accordingly.
For example, my flat fee for memoir ghostwriting is high. I’m happy to work on an hourly basis and more in the capacity of an editor or consultant for those with budget restraints, but if you want me to be committed to your memoir for the duration of the project, I’ll need a rate that reflects my reduced availability.
As freelancers, we love our flexibility and independence, but that flexibility also comes with additional costs employees don’t have, which is why we charge the way that we do.
Don’t micromanage your freelancer, and trust them to spend their time wisely. I’ve dropped clients and ended contracts because I felt I was being micromanaged by a client who was clearly being stingy despite me turning in deliverables that were exactly what they were looking for. If you’ve done your due diligence and hired the right freelancer, trust them. Be a good “manager” of your freelancer. If you’re worried about budget, consider a fixed fee, or hire a freelancer with a rate you can afford.
The nice thing about Upwork is that for hourly writers, we must keep a work diary that also automatically screenshots what we’re working on, so you can stay in the loop about how we’re spending our time. Feel free to check these, but please be mindful about how you manage us. Just as you wouldn’t want your boss to stand over your shoulder and question your process, freelance writers prize our autonomy and craftsmanship, and will take the time we need to deliver quality writing.
Enjoy getting more work done in less time. Writing is the lifeblood of everything. Blog posts, ebooks, video scripts, email newsletters, Instagram captions, funny Tweets — the entire internet is made up of opportunities to catch a potential customer’s attention with some clever copy and engaging storytelling.
If you’re looking for a freelance writer for your next project, feel free to reach out to me here on my blog or via Upwork! I’m happy to share what my current rates and availability for certain types of projects are, and hop on a free discovery call with you if I feel like I’m the right fit for what you’re looking for.
More posts from me about freelancing: