5 Questions When Meeting Freelance Marketing Writers in the Wild

Networking with technology marketing writers

When you meet freelance content marketing writers in networking situations, here are five useful questions for qualifying them.

Believe it or not, freelance marketing writers do get out in the wild from time to time, where, if you’re shopping for writers, you can hire them.

You may encounter them at chamber of commerce meetings, industry get-togethers and networking mixers for your profession. Note that they don’t frequent the same venues as most technical writers or even advertising copywriters. They’re trying to get closer to the people whose business they seek than to their colleagues and peers.

Freelance marketing writers want work, and they may even want it from you.

Here’s a sampling of questions you can pose to determine whether to short-list the writer who approaches you in the wild:

  1. “What do you write?” This is the first hurdle. Regardless of his industry or specialty, you want to know what kind of content the marketing communications writer generates. If you’re a product manager or an engineer who needs a white paper, and the answer comes back “direct mail copy and press releases,” this is a bit of a stretch. Or, if you need a grant written, and the answer is “case studies and LinkedIn profiles,” you’d better keep looking.
  2. “Are you freelance?” Many writers work in house for an agency or a company. That’s not an obstacle to your hiring such a writer, but if she works as an employee somewhere, she won’t likely have time to dedicate to your projects when push comes to shove.
  3. “Do you have a card?” You can’t judge a book by its cover, but I recommend you judge a writer by her card. A serious writer has a serious card. If it’s flimsy, or it reads “vistaprint.com” on the back, then you’re probably holding the card of an unsuccessful or fledgling writer. Maybe that’s all your budget can support, but know what you’re getting into. If she says, “I have a résumé,” that is NOT a business card; it means this person has not yet decided to make a living of freelance writing, and you should not yet decide to hire her.
  4. “Do you have a website or a blog?” This is another way of gauging the seriousness of the writer. Visit the site or blog with measured expectations — it’s not going to look like nytimes.com — but it should satisfy your basic curiosity. Note that, if you can tolerate a good writer without any serious web presence — not even a few LinkedIn articles — then don’t worry about the answer to this question.
  5. “Where can I see your writing samples and clients?” Frankly, maintaining an online portfolio can be rather laborious, so you may have to settle for e-mail attachments. But it’s common knowledge among freelance marketing writers that some kind of portfolio is one of the first things to put in place.

Real content marketing writers have plausible answers.

In short, they have:

  • a card with an address on it
  • a website or a blog with occasional updates
  • samples of their work
  • a client list

In addition, most really professional marketing communication writers have:

  • a compelling piece on why you should hire them
  • a social media presence that demonstrates a following
  • endorsements from clients

The kind of writer with which you DON’T want to do business has:

  • excuses instead of those things

Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”