You’re in a bind. The CEO wants you to launch a blog, revise your website, and get an Instagram following… and it needs to be done yesterday.

As you get into the project, you realize this is MUCH bigger than you thought.

It’ll take you hours to write a blog post, let alone the 2 required per week. Plus, writing isn’t your forte. It stresses you out, and your time is better spent on other marketing activities, like strategy, analytics, and research.

It’s time to call in a freelance writer.

But before you do, make sure you don’t make one of these common mistakes. 

Mistake #1: Hiring from a content mill

Here’s the scoop: writers that work for these services get paid very little. Typical payment is per word and it’s a matter of mere cents. So, how can a writer make this worth their while? By quickly producing a lot of content. Yup, this isn’t anyone’s dream job, but it might be a consistent way to fuel their real passion - like writing their debut novel. 

Consider this - if you hire cheap content from a mill, you’ll miss out on:

  • Creative, customized copy

  • Adequate research

  • Content written by an SEO expert

  • A proper editing process

  • Brand consistency

And worst of all, you’ll miss out on great writing. The best freelance writers have spent years developing their craft, so they don’t usually write for content mills.

Mistake #2: Not reviewing the writer’s portfolio

You can identify an experienced freelance writer by looking at their portfolio. Usually a good writer has clips available online. If not, I give you permission to run now. In today’s day and age, it is incredibly easy to put together an online portfolio. 

When you check out the site, look for:

  • A range of clients and projects

  • Creativity and problem-solving skills

  • Voice and tone

  • A bio that demonstrates experience

Not only will experienced freelancers deliver superb copy, but they’ll also have streamlined their professional process. 

Tip: As long as there’s an impressive portfolio, it’s okay if you don’t see the exact project you’re looking for. A seasoned writer probably has experience doing the work you need. It’s just not featured online.

Mistake #3: Not “getting to know” the writer

Most freelancers operate their business solo. It’s okay to ask why they were drawn to this type of career. Is it that they love the ability to interact with new people and a variety of projects, or could they be attempting to avoid social interaction at all costs? 

Suggest a video interview to get to know your prospective writer. The face-to-face interaction will give you a good gauge on if this person is a skilled communicator - and someone you can work with well. 

Some questions to ask: 

  • What similar projects have you worked on?

  • What project are you most proud of and why?

  • When did you have an unsatisfied customer and how did you handle it?

  • What’s your work schedule like? 

  • What’s the best way for us to communicate?

Mistake #4: Forgetting the contract

You’ve picked your writer. Fantastic! 

Repeat after me: do not forego the contract.

Whether you need a blog post or an entire re-boot of web content, there’s a lot to be on the same page about...

  • What’s the scope of the project? 

  • How many edits will be made?

  • What are the deadlines?

  • Who will own the material? 

The minutiae of a contract can be overwhelming, but don’t leave these defining details up to chance. An experienced copywriter will have a go-to contract ready to be tailored to your needs. 

Cut to the chase and start your partnership by customizing the contract together.

Mistake #5: Giving vague guidelines

Tempted to shoot a quick email with instructions and move on with your day? 

Avoid a disappointing product or a grueling editing process by taking the time to provide clear objectives and intentions to your freelancer.  

It’s not just the what, it’s the why. I always ask my clients: What are you hoping to achieve through this project? 

Some answers I’ve seen: 

  • To capture more leads online 

  • To boost SEO

  • To help our sales team close deals

  • To increase brand awareness

  • To improve our product’s NPS

Tip: If you have a hard time describing the type of content you need, give your writer examples from other companies that you admire.

Mistake #6: Not budgeting correctly

If you have your foot in online marketing, you’re probably familiar with the phrase, “content is king.” Your content is going to bring in that almighty dollar. So, don’t try to skimp when outsourcing your copy. You’re going to get what you pay for. 

Look for someone who:

  • Is upfront and clear with pricing.

  • Explains how long projects take.

  • Can get creative if you have a smaller budget (i.e. offer a lesser version of your request)

Mistake #7: Moving forward without a communication plan

A successful freelance writer has multiple projects going on at once. If you haven’t solidified your project’s timeline, you may become the pot on the back burner. 

Before you kick off work, plan regular “check ins” via phone or email, and ask for a due date. Remember the importance of finding a strong communicator? This is where that really makes the difference. 

Avoid these 7 common mistakes, and you’ll have a great experience working with nearly any writer. And, once you find a good fit, you can develop a long-term, lasting freelance relationship. <Insert happy sigh here> 

Good luck and happy hiring!