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January 11, 2024

How To Hire a Freelance Content Writer, Rates, Job Sites, Marketplaces

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We won't hide it, finding a great writer, like most creative roles, is really quite hard! Here are the steps that you should take to make sure that you hire the right freelance writer for your business. 

Step 1: Decide What You Need

There's likely a number of reasons you're exploring the idea of hiring a content writer for, these are all valid reasons, but be clear about your goals and context and what you're looking for:

  1. You've been writing content internally and you're looking for help to delegate some of the workload to someone outside the company. A freelancer is generally the best fit here.
  2. You're building a team of writers, and you're looking to hire a freelance or contract writer in this context.
  3. You're hiring an in-house person to join your content team. You have other writers on the team and people helping with other parts of the content process, such as SEO.
  4. You're just starting with SEO and content marketing and you know you need a professional writer to help you get started.

Your goals will likely be similar to some or all of the ones below, but it's good to keep these in mind and mention what is a priority for you when you approach writers.

  1. Build a brand and a reputation among your customer base by establishing yourselves as experts in your field.
  2. Educate your customers and potential customers about your solutions and the problems they solve.
  3. Generate targeted traffic and opportunities for conversion or lead generation by creating content focused on customers in the lower part of the sales/awareness funnel i.e. solution aware customers looking for something just like what you offer.
  4. Rank your content in top positions on Google for keywords relevant to your product/service or broader topics you want to build authority for. SEO is most of the time, the primary reasons to create blog content.
  5. Provide opportunities for lead generation using paid channels e.g. Facebook or Linkedin ads. These could be online guides or downloadable ebooks, lead magnets and other type of materials that can help you generate warm leads with paid ads, by offering an incentive for prospects to give you their contact details.

Knowing what you want and creating a clear, prioritized list of goals will help you screen for the right skills but also paint an accurate picture of the type of writing work whoever you hire will be asked to perform. Be clear and upfront, so you avoid someone joining with the wrong assumptions.

Step 2: Define the rate you want to pay

The rate that you will end up paying depends mostly on the level of experience of the writer and how technical/complex the content is.

Writing about fashion, food, small business or marketing topics is relatively easy and thousands of writers could do the job, from all over the world. Competition drives the price down.

Writing on technical topics, such as IT, programming, medical topics, law or accounting will require expert knowledge, making this a niche for very few, highly skilled writers, driving prices up significantly.

Junior or cheap freelancers and content mills. You may find them on websites like Fiverr, Textbroker, Constant Content, Writers Access, and others. You can get decent writing for a fraction of the cost. Work is usually paid per word, and you can expect to pay a few cents per word. That's the very lowest the market will pay. Don't expect quality at this price, but they may have a place for product description content, simple projects or where volume is needed.

Our advice? If you care about quality, just avoid them. You'll spend more time editing and fixing content, which defeats the purpose if you're trying to delegate.

Expert freelance writers. These writers have put in the time to become great writers, and you are going to have to pay accordingly. You will end up paying from $250 dollars to $800 or more per article, because they have the skills or specific knowledge to draw readers in and keep them reading until the end, sharing valuable advice or creating technical content. These writers are often in demand, and you will find them on regular job boards and marketplaces, instead of content mills.

How To Hire a Freelance Content Writer, Rates, Job Sites, Marketplaces.jpg

Step 3: Job Sites and Marketplaces

There are many places where you can find freelance writers who are just looking for the right opportunity. Here are some of the most common sites that you may want to investigate, if you want to pay for better quality (and avoid content mills).

  • Problogger. Problogger Jobs is a popular job board for writing gigs. You can place an ad on their site to try to find the right one for you. If you want to start testing this site you can pay 70$ for a standard listing and 140$ for a featured listing.
  • Upwork: Upwork is probably the largest online freelance marketplace. It has a huge, diverse pool of writers so you most likely will find someone for any topic you need. In terms of prices,  the majority prefer to charge by the hour, though some will agree to work on a per word rate. As you can expect, the price range is quite wide, from $0.01 – $0.40 per word (or $5 – $100 per hour).
  • Scripted. This website is specialized in connecting you with freelance writers. You can post a writing job and interested freelancers will send you a proposal to work on your project. It’s possible to find experienced writers for as little as $50 for a 1000-word article. However, you will need to pay a monthly subscription fee to access the platform before you can post any job ads.
  • People Per Hour. Like Upwork, this marketplace allows you to buy individual, packaged services from a freelancer or post your own gig so many can apply. It has fewer users than Upwork but you can find good talent. You will find rates between $0.05 – $0.40/word or $15 – $70/hour for articles. 
  • Indeed. Indeed is one of the first places people go to find a job. Job ads can be posted for free or you can select the pay to ‘sponsor’ option that has your ad appear higher in search results for 5$ per day.
  • WriterAccess. WriterAccess connects writers to companies that are looking for writers to create content for them. You can start publishing jobs for 39$ per month.
  • FlexJobs. This website specializes in remote jobs. If you are looking for a freelancer who can work from home, you may want to start here.  The cost to access the job search tool is $14.95 a month. If you’re not sure if it’s worth the money, FlexJobs gives you the option to try the site for a week at a lower rate of $6.95. 
  • WorkingInContent. WorkingInContent is a job board that specializes in content marketing talent. This includes content strategists, designers, writers, and more. You can start posting your job ad for free or pay 97$ to reach a bigger audience.

Step 4: Screen applications with an online form

The best way to screen applicants without wasting time interviewing the wrong candidates is to have them fill in a form in which they answer all the key questions and provide samples of their work.

Even better if you can test them with a micro-assignment within the form itself. Seeing them write something just for you is often the best way to see how they think and write, how careful they are about grammar and punctuation.

I'm not suggesting you should have them write a blog post for you, rather, have them answer a specific question where they'll have to do a bit of research or come up with a sensible answer from their own experience.

A few examples of questions they'll have to write a few paragraphs to answer:

  • How do you think blog writing can help a small business promote their products or services? Imagine the business in question is a small fashion designer.
  • What would be a good content strategy for XYZ Inc. (your company, or one you know) if their goal is to generate leads for their service? Write 2-3 paragraphs on what you'd focus your content efforts on.

Alongside more typical questions, such as those you'd ask in an interview:

  • How long have you been freelancing for?
  • Where can I find examples of your work? Do they have writing samples online for you to check out? 
  • Can you send me a writing sample (on my XYZ topic)? You should ask for a writing sample about your topic, not something else. If you want to see how well he or she writes about business, his or her piece on pets isn't going to help you. 
  • Are you available to produce at least X articles per month? There is no point in hiring someone who doesn't have enough availability to work with you.
  • What are your rates? Make sure you're aligned on this from the start. Never book an interview with someone without knowing how much they intend to charge, or you'll inevitably waste a lot of time.

Step 5: Assign a test project

Once you have found a few different writers, it is a good idea to give them a test project. This will show you how long it takes them to write a piece for you, as well as the quality of their writing.

Our advice? Give out at least 5 test assignments in order to find 1 or 2 good writers to work with.

Inevitably, if you find 5 good writers out of 100 applicants, 1 or 2 will just drop off at this point, failing to answer your request.

If you get 2-3 sample projects back, consider yourself lucky. Now it's time to review their work and make sure they tick all the boxes in terms of quality, style, understanding of the industry, clarity, ability to engage the reader, provide a well formatted article. But don't forget the basics, you also want someone you enjoy working with, someone responsive, reliable, someone you can trust.

That being said, you have to remember that even the best writer isn't right for everyone! You may not enjoy his or her writing style. You may find yourself rewriting parts of it because you just aren't happy with it. You may want to make it sound more like you. Likewise, you may send it back for edits, and then more edits. You aren't going to want to begin a partnership with someone that isn't right for your business. 

However, it is also important to remember that it takes time to build a good partnership between you and your writer. You may find yourself working closely together for the first few pieces, and then you don't have to worry about it anymore. Your writer may have learned your style and how you or your brand writes, so that he or she is easily able to provide quality content that you can post without doing a thing! 

Step 6: Hire the right candidate, then take the first steps

After you've seen work from a few writers, it's time to make a choice. Here's our advice on how to take the first steps.

  1. Create a brand personality document to outline who the brand is, what their target audience is, the tone of voice to be used online, and more.
  2. Create a content strategy document or outline it for the writer, if they're a full time hire, they might have the skills to help you define the strategy further. In any case, know where you're going, your goals and what job your content needs to do for you.
  3. Build up a backlog of content, so the new hire can hit the ground running and you don't make the mistake of have them come up with topics without prior strategy and research work done.
  4. Create detailed outlines for all articles. If you're in charge of strategy for your content, if you have clear goals in terms of SEO, then you don't want to leave your writer alone in figuring out what to write, which headings to use, length for each article, keywords, etc. You'll quickly find out, the better the outline, the better the output. Good outlines will help you save a lot of time and frustration in back and forth with your writers.

We hope this was useful. If you're unsure about going through all the steps above (it is a lot of work!) and you're looking for a reliable blog content writing service, give MixBloom a try. Check out our rates and what we include with our packages, starting at $450/month.

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