In business, we convey our thoughts, feelings and ideas through writing in so many ways it would be hard to count them all. We create advertising pieces, business plans, outlines, presentations, scripts, articles, blog posts, memos, brochures, and even website content, just to use the short list. Even with audio and video, writing is still the primary way we communicate either inside our companies or to potential customers and investors.
So it seems reasonable to say that we need someone or a team of someones to craft our verbage in the most professional, and cost-effective way possible. After all, text is pretty unforgiving. If you’re talking to someone and make a mistake, you can excuse yourself and correct yourself with a smile. When you write something, it’s final.
What we want to illustrate in this article is why it is a good idea to consider hiring some expert writers. We also want to show you what to look for when finding that person, and some things to watch out for. And, of course, we want to explain the benefits that will accrue to you and your company by hiring a qualified freelance author.
There are plenty of reasons why you may want to hire a writer. To keep this as brief as possible, let’s look at the best three. The first is that a quality freelance writer will be able to convey your information in a professional and dynamic way that will present it in the best possible light. Simple enough, right? If you are creating a piece or pieces of copy, especially if they will be in circulation in one form or another for a long time, it behooves you to ensure you are producing the best possible copy you can.
The second reason why a writer is a good idea is that you only have so many hours in the day. Even if you work for or own a large company, your staff also only has so many hours to work with. And by delegating the important task of producing copy to an outside professional, you and your staff are free to concentrate on those things which need your immediate attention.
Perhaps the most compelling reason for considering a freelance writer is cost. There isn’t always enough work to hire a full time, or even part time employee. And even if there is, you will have to deal with employment taxes, vacation pay, overtime, sick days and so forth. A freelance writer will negotiate a fee for his or her services up front and in most cases, the larger and longer the project, the better the rate you will receive. Dollar for dollar, a freelancer represents a much lower cost and much less headaches.
So now let’s discuss a few things to look for and look out for when considering a prospective freelance author. The number one thing you want to be able to see is their portfolio of work. You want to see what others have paid them to write, and even what they have written on their own, free of charge. This will give you a good idea of their skill level.
In keeping with this theme, the next thing you want to see is some diversity of work. While it isn’t that important if the potential writer has never written for your unique type of business or topic, it is a good sign when they have created copy that spans a variety of topics. It shows that your writer can adapt themselves to any situation, and is willing to research your particular information if necessary.
Another thing you should be able to get is references. That way you can find out if this person can meet his or her deadlines and how they dealt with their former or ongoing clients. This is true in any business, but with writing is is very important because writing is a fluid artform, if you will. It’s not always right the first time and how you and the writer handle revisions and corrections will determine what the relationship will be like in the future.
So now let’s talk a bit about some clear red flags. First, please avoid the $5 per article guy. The minimum article length for online publishing is 500 words, and the average is more like 1,000. It may take an hour or two, or even three, to write and proof a 1,000 word article when you factor in potential research. So anyone who would work for less than $2.50 an hour is someone who does not have much of an opinion of their worth.
A quality writer might charge you ten cents per word on copy they make. So this same article above might cost $100. This is a much more accurate rate, and will ensure a good piece of writing that is carefully crafted and checked for spelling and grammar. Of course, rates vary, and if you have a multi-piece project, you can almost always negotiate a better price that fits your budget.
You may also want to avoid discount writing services or offshore services. These are often fraught with trouble. In many cases, the writers work cheap, but their command of your language may be limited and their sentence and paragraph structure may seem clumsy and disjointed. But this is also good for any author. Take the time to read people’s work and see how it flows.
Another quick note here. You may want to ask for a short sample. A good writer should be willing to do this in light of a large long term project. Don’t be afraid to present a specific topic and a few notes and ask your prospective author to “pen” a few paragraphs on the subject. This will give you an idea of how they write on the fly, and if they can capture your voice, or your company’s voice. Don’t abuse this, don’t’ expect a 3,000 word novella, but it’s okay to ask for a 500 word sample.
Your writing is very important to you and to those who read it. So it is wise to ensure that anything you put into print, be it online content or on paper, is crafted well and says the right things in the right way. If you don’t have the resources to do this yourself, or feel you need some help, find yourself a good freelance writer. It may be the best decision you can make for the long-term success of your business.