Real Freelance Writers Don’t Choke

Ever see a marketing writer choke?

Even if you’ve never been a freelancer, when it’s your job to find and hire freelance writers, they should make sense to you.

That is, when you converse with them, you should feel as though you’re dealing with a fellow businessperson.

Looking for freelance writers

I’m in the market for a writer for an upcoming project. A well-meaning contact referred me to a former colleague of hers.

“She used to work in house, but now she’s out on her own,” said my friend. “She understands content marketing, search engine optimization, buyer personas, the sales funnel . . . all that good stuff. Give her a call.”

I studied several of her (very good) samples. Not only was her writing tight, but she managed the technical bits well. I didn’t need someone who was an engineer, but I needed someone whose content an engineer in the audience wouldn’t object to.

I called her and we talked about the projects I had. It didn’t take long for me to see that she knew plenty about writing and content development. But she didn’t know the kinds of things that freelance writers know.

“Can you describe your method? How do you like to work?” I asked.

“Well, I just kind of dig in and write the draft, then send it to you for review, then I work in your changes,” she said.

“Can you be more specific?”

“That’s really about it.”

“Mm-hmm. And how do you charge?”

She quoted me an hourly rate that, while low, suggested that she didn’t have a grasp on the value of freelance writers. It also didn’t tell me how long it would take her to turn content around.

“Do you have a consulting agreement?” I asked.

“I’m fine with just getting instructions via email,” she said, “or on a phone call, if you’re in a hurry.”

As introductory calls go, it felt to me like the equivalent of a limp handshake.

You want a freelancer who takes you seriously, and whom you can take seriously.

I didn’t hire her because I never picked up from her any of the fire in the belly or closer-instinct I associate with people who are in business for themselves. Sure, every freelancer has to start somewhere and pitch their first customer, but even tentative freelancers should convey commitment to prospects.

Look for that commitment when you’re hiring a writer. If you don’t see it, keep looking.

photo credit: Zach Taylor


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.”