Everything You Need To Know About Hiring a Freelance Content Writer In 2023
The hiring process is always dicey. So, hiring a freelancer might seem like an easier option — it's less of a commitment than employing someone full-time, but that's not always the case. As a freelance content writer, I've been working with some clients for years. And while it's much easier for us to part our ways when the time comes, no one wants to go through multiple freelance writers. So if you also want to hire a freelance content writer for a long-time partnership, you're in the right place.
Even though I don't hire freelancers myself, I hear stories from my colleagues and clients that help me understand what's important when building a long-term partnership with freelancers.
In this article, you'll find:
What do content writers do?
Is it better to work with a marketing agency, freelancer, or hire in-house writers?
Where to find and hire freelancers
What are the red flags to avoid when starting communication with a freelancer?
And how to build a strong foundation for a long-term partnership
If you want to skip to a particular part, you can do that here:
For those who are in for a long read, let's go!
What is a content writer?
Before we dig deeper into what it's like working with a freelance content writer, let's see if you need one to begin with. A content writer creates content for websites, blogs, social media, and email campaigns. Unlike a copywriter, a content writer produces long-form content that targets multiple content goals (however, you might find that many companies use the term copywriter to describe most commercial writers):
Leading them through the buyer’s journey.
Their goal isn't always to sell but to build an intuitive content funnel that allows customers to navigate freely on your website and go through the buyer's journey. The professional content writer uses everything at their disposal (SEO skills, research, storytelling and you brand, customer, and tone of voice knowledge) to create optimized, researched, and comprehensive content that brings value to your readers and persuades them to discover your products, considerand buy them.
What does a content writer do?
A content writer prepares content to fit your whole content strategy. They plan topics, research them, perform SEO research, write and edit content. Of course, many content writers focus solely on writing, which is great, but in the current job market, it can be an advantage to know other skills.
You need to hire a content writer if:
You want to create more valuable content for your customers;
You want to develop clear content funnels;
You want to build your brand's DNA through content;
You want to create awareness about your company;
You want to attract more organic visitors to your website;
You want to increase your lead conversions;
You need someone to create informational content like blog posts, guides, how-to articles, e-books, etc.
On the other hand, you might need to hire a copywriter if:
You need direct sales copy;
You need to wow people to purchase your products immediately;
You're launching a new ad campaign.
Freelance content writer vs. marketing agency vs. in-house writer
Ahh, the life-long debate — who should you hire — a freelancer, an agency, or a full-time employee? There's no right or wrong. Your choice depends on your goals and the amount of work that needs to be done. But let's see the pros and cons of each type of employment.
Freelance content writer pros
When you work with a freelancer, you communicate and deal directly with them. That means that whatever task or edits you have, they can take on it (almost) right away.
Communication with freelancers is straightforward —you find a communication platform that suits you both, and you communicate whenever there's a need. You don't need to go through customer service or a project manager to assign new tasks or ask for revisions.
Every freelancer sets their own rates, and you can find thousands of different offers. But when compared to your in-house team and agency, freelancers don't put a significant markup on their prices because you work directly with them.
A copy that an agency would charge 200 euros might cost only 100 euros ordering from a freelancer. You only pay for the actual work, not their coffee breaks, sick leaves, and days off.
Large talent pool
Post that you're looking to hire a freelance content writer on any freelance job marketplace or a group on Facebook/Linkedin, and you'll be bombarded with countless message requests. While most of them aren't worth your time, many freelancers can deliver great results and offer competitive prices.
Working with freelancers allows you to try different professionals and hire people just for particular projects. If your vibes don't match, you can always pay for the work they've delivered and say goodbye.
Every freelancer is a business owner selling their services to you. So, they want to offer you the best service they can. It means they can alter their offer, add additional services, and provide extra revisions with more flexibility. You don't need to go through a lengthy process of changing your contract or communicating with a bunch of project managers or an HR department.
Freelance content writer cons
When the freelance talent pool is so large, you can't avoid scammers and shoddy work. Low prices and fast results make it easy to be tempted but remember the saying: buy cheap, buy twice. When you hire people you find on questionable sites, freelancers with fake reviews, no experience, or no portfolio your risks of being scammed increase.
No call, no show
When no contract ties your business with a freelancer, it's easy to get your fingers burned (That’s why I always recommend signing a contract, especially for bigger projects). Without a reliable hiring strategy, you might encounter many freelancers who work just fine, but one day they stop responding, leaving you with no one to do the job.
Pros of working with a marketing agency
Many service options
Marketing agencies often specialize in multiple services. If you need content writing done along with web design, you can get both.
A trustworthy agency is a reliable choice because you sign a contract, and they must provide the service you ordered. Although there are scammy agencies, you should be fine if you do basic research and read customer reviews.
Another benefit is that marketing agencies work with multiple people. So, let's say a writer who's been working on your projects gets sick or quits, they will find someone else to replace them and do the job.
Peace of mind
The good thing about working with an agency is that you don't need to communicate with the writers yourself. You just tell what needs to be done, and project managers ensure that the results match your expectations.
Marketing agency cons
Can be pricey
Agencies put a hefty price markup on the work they provide. (You can see an agency markup analysis in this article by DashClicks). And they have all the right to do so. They give you peace of mind and guarantees, so you might as well pay more. Most agencies work with both in-house and freelance workers, they have to pay them and also do the administrative work, while at the same time generating profit.
Low agency fees might actually be a red flag. If you pay below average for content work, you can be sure they pay unlivable wages for their team. Low salaries mean low morale and overworked staff, resulting in poor results, copied and template work.
It takes longer to get results
While having a project manager dealing with writers can be a good thing, it also means more extended communication and more misunderstandings. If you need something done, you have to contact a project manager responsible for your project. That manager then reaches out to writers. Messages get lost, people have their own schedules, and sometimes things just get lost in the piles of email sequences.
In-house writer pros
They are always there
If you need a quick edit or to brainstorm new blog topics, your in-house writer is just a few tables or a Slack message away. No need to wait as long as they're not busy with other tasks.
All their focus is on your projects
Even if an in-house content writer has some side gigs, they legally can't do them while working on your paid time. So, you know that they're giving 100% of their focus. An in-house content writer also knows your brand, customers, communication style, and vision, reducing mistakes and other misunderstandings.
You work with this person 5 days per week, so you know their communication style, motivational language, and needs at work. You can build better relationships and motivate your in-house staff to become great assets to your company.
In-house writer cons
Hiring full-time is an investment. You pay their salary, taxes, insurance, social guarantees, sick leaves, time off, etc. Let's say you have a slow month where you don't need that much content, you still have to pay them the same salary.
When you sign that contract, you hope it's for good this time. But what if the new hire fails to meet your expectations? What if they are horrible team players or just slacking their days off, earning a comfortable living? Of course, if there's a legit reason, you can always fire them, but searching for a new person and hiring and onboarding them is very expensive and time-consuming for a company.
It takes time to find the right fit
That brings me to my next con — the hiring process can take months because you want to find someone who can be a team player for at least a year or longer. That means countless interviews, outreach messages, meetings, no-show-ups, etc.
How much do freelance writers charge as of 2023?
Freelance content writer rates vary greatly depending on the writer's experience, location, skills, project difficulty, and other factors. On average, a copywriter's hourly salary is around $30.00 in the US, with some reaching $40 and more (I use data on copywriter salary because it often represents the salaries of all commercial writers). But you'll find people who can write a blog post for $10 and those who write the same post for $500.
Where can I hire freelance content writers?
The good news is that there are many websites where you can find and hire freelancers. With writers being among the top freelanced positions, you can be sure to find enough candidates. But you want to be aware of the search and hiring process to find professional, reliable, and efficient workers.
Here are the top 6 ways to find freelancers for hire
Fiverr is one of the biggest freelancing job markets in the world. That means you can find many great freelance content writers. In addition to copywriters, content writers, etc., Fiverr is a popular platform among designers, web developers, virtual assistants, and other freelancers.
How much do content writers charge on Fiverr? You will find content writer rates ranging from less than a dollar to $100 and more. So, you have to search for the best price/quality ratio.
What to expect: many talents to choose from, meaning you must search well to find the right candidate. Most users charge meager rates, so be aware of the quality.
Upwork is the biggest freelance job market in the world. It's an excellent choice if you're looking for fast and affordable outsourcing. Like Fiverr, Upwork also offers various services like content writing, copywriting, photography, graphic design, you name it.
How much do content writers charge on Upwork? You'll find that most content writers on Upwork charge between $15 and $40 per hour.
What to expect: while many say Upwork is more prestigious than Fiverr or similar freelancing platforms, you'll find many content writers who charge ridiculous rates and provide copied or poor-quality work. You can definitely find great freelancers, but it might take a while.
ProBlogger is a job marketplace for all sorts of writers. You can post a job or browse the talent page to find the right candidate for your content projects. The platform also has many resources to help you create better content and improve your marketing efforts.
How much do content writers charge on ProBlogger? The rates for posting a job listing start at $80, and then you can set any rate you think is suitable for the job. To choose from the candidate list, you have to pay an additional fee based on how many resumes you wish to collect.
What to expect: a site with a high reach and publicity. You can expect to receive many inquiries and find great freelance content writers.
LinkedIn is a professional social media network designed for job search and networking. Linkedin is becoming a popular platform for hiring full-time staff and freelancers. You can post jobs for free and check the candidate's profile, experience, education, and network. That can be a great advantage if you're looking for a top-class freelancer.
How much do content writers charge on Linkedin? It depends on the writer, their skills, experience, field, location, etc. While you might encounter low-paid freelance content writers, many people who invest their time in building a reputable Linkedin profile charge higher rates.
What to expect: a great platform to network with industry leaders, communicate with freelancers and get to know them better.
Freelancer.com is a similar platform to Upwork and Fiverr. You can register for free and post a job. The platform works on a betting principle, where you post a project, and service providers place their bets. You can also pick from the list of freelancers and contact them privately.
How much do content writers charge on Freelancer.com? The rates vary, but you can choose the best bet, which allows you to find the best price/quality ratio.
What to expect: freelancers can bet on your offer when you post a job on the platform. That means you have full autonomy to choose an offer with the best price. However, like on other freelance job platforms, you'll encounter countless low-quality writers, so it might take time to find a suitable choice.
While recommendations aren't an online platform for freelance jobs, it's one of the best ways to find and hire professional and dedicated workers. If you have people in your network you can trust, ask for a recommendation for a writer. Someone likely had a good experience working with at least one freelance content writer. While it might cost more to work with someone good enough to earn a recommendation, it's totally worth it. And think about all the money you'll save by not wasting your time on scammers and unprofessional writers.
7 Freelance writer red flags you shouldn’t ignore
Now that you know where to look for freelance content writers, you can roam free, hiring right and left. Well, there are many things you should be aware of before hiring a freelancer. You might be surprised at how many scammers and fraudsters are waiting to waste your time and take your money. The best way to avoid them is to notice red flags before assigning them any tasks. Here are some red flags to look out for before hiring a freelance content writer.
1. It just doesn't feel right
When you contact a freelancer or they email you, notice how they communicate. Are they polite and give their full name, website, or other things that help verify their identity? If someone emails you with an email like: firstname.lastname@example.org, I would really reconsider. Also, notice if they immediately take on a task or ask for an advance payment without asking questions first.
2. They have no social proof
Social proof is important for businesses that want to make sales and freelancers who want to land clients. At the beginning of starting a freelance business, it might be challenging to get testimonials and reviews, but as time goes on, a freelancer should have at least a few clients they've worked with. If they have no testimonials, no social media accounts, a portfolio, guest posts, or other information showing that they have worked on other projects, it's a red flag.
3. They don't have a portfolio
It's always strange when a freelancer doesn't have a portfolio. You don't need to work for someone to create your content to represent your work. You can write a blog on your website, do some projects for exposure, and publish on platforms like Medium or your own social media. While it doesn't indicate that someone is a scammer, it doesn't show they are willing to invest time and effort in building their business.
4. They don't want to sign a contract
Most standard freelance contracts don't put too much pressure on a freelancer or a client, they just provide some guarantees. And who doesn't want to insure themselves? Most likely, someone who is planning to breach the contract.
5. They want to communicate outside of the hiring platform
If you contact a freelancer on platforms like Freelancer.com, Upwork, etc., you have the advantage of the platform protecting you. When you don't receive your order or receive the wrong or poor-quality work, you can ask for a refund or some other compensation from the platform.
But some scammers try to lure clients to work outside the platforms where there's no protection. You must be careful when dealing outside the platform because nothing will protect your money or information if a person shows up to be a scammer.
6. They avoid calls or in-person meetings
While it doesn't work in every case (especially when you contract through freelance gig platforms), if a freelancer always finds an excuse to avoid meeting you in person or jumping on a call, there's something off about that person.
Having a call can give you more security when dealing with a new hire. In addition, it's easier to explain some tasks during a call than go through countless emails.
7. They can't issue an invoice
Nobody likes paying taxes, but just like the Sun rises every morning, everyone has to pay taxes. I've encountered many freelancers who work without permits, don't pay taxes, and hide their income. While it's your personal choice whom to work with, don't be surprised when one illegal action turns into more. Think about it this way: would you buy services or products from a business that openly avoids taxes? Probably not.
How to start working with a freelance content writer
Now that you know where and how to find reliable writers, it's time to see how to start communication for long-term success. It's not enough to send a few messages before you order freelance services, it's important to work your way to know the person and their style to see whether your partnership can be successful.
Whether you got a recommendation from a colleague or found a writer on Upwork, first communication is essential. Notice how they communicate, how long it takes for them to respond, and whether you find common ground. Even if they're an expert in their niche, you need to click on the professional level to avoid problems later on.
Discuss your needs and their services
Before you sign a contract or place an order, clearly explain what you expect from a freelance content writer, what tasks you plan on giving them, your work process, etc. A trustworthy content writer will assess this information to see whether they're the right fit for your project.
As a freelancer, the more you work in the field, the narrower your expertise and niche get, so you don't want to provide a service you know you aren't good at. From the freelancer's perspective, it's good to know your client's expectations to see whether you have the availability and tools to provide your best work and meet deadlines.
Sign a contract
When you agree on the terms, sign a contract. A contract can be minimal protection for you and a freelancer. It's helpful when one of the parties can't provide their obligations or the work doesn't meet the agreed terms and standards.
Agree on further communication
Many managers and business owners are reluctant to work with freelancers because managing them is more complicated. However, I always recommend looking at a freelancer as a person you hire to redo electrical wiring at your home. You probably know a thing or two about electricity, but you don't stand behind their back all the time managing where to put electric circuits and other parts. That means you should also trust the freelancer. If you did your homework choosing the right worker, you should be able to trust their work.
But you should still assist them during projects. The input from a client is crucial. Honestly, the most challenging and revision-requiring tasks are the ones that come without instructions, briefs, or when a client just says, "Do the way you think it's right." It's good to be clear and descriptive when assigning tasks and check in with the content writer from time to time.
Should you use AI instead of hiring a freelance content writer?
With emerging AI writing tools, everyone's wondering: "Will artificial intelligence replace human writers? Will robots write your morning newspaper?" And while many people jump on the bandwagon saying that the future is here and you can forget about hiring writers, programmers, and designers - the topic is more complex.
AI text generators are definitely getting more advanced and intelligent. You can craft a coherent text with just a few lines for context. But the tool is still a tool, not an actual person. They can't sense your audience's unique needs and style or bond through human communication.
Even though it's predicted that such tools will only advance, the need for quality and unique content is increasing. Google, the most-used search engine, focuses on detecting poorly written, copied work and prioritizing unique and valuable content crafted by humans.
But suppose you're working with content writers who charge a few dollars for a blog post and present it with more grammar errors than there are words, then yes. In that case, it's better to generate content using an AI tool that won't make grammar errors. But again, in the ideal world, AI tools should help writers to come up with outlines and deliver results faster.
Hire a freelance SaaS content writer
Working with a freelance content writer for the first time can be intimidating. You might ask yourself: where do I find reliable workers? How can I be sure they won't run off with my money? Etc. But working with a freelancer can be a great way to get extra help on your projects, come up with helpful insights about your business, and save money. If you follow my tips in this guide, I assure you, you'll significantly reduce your chance of error and hire trustworthy people to work on your content.
If you're looking for a new SaaS freelance content writer, you have come to the right place. I've been working for over 5 years, planning and writing content for SaaS businesses in different industries. Email me, and let's get to know each other better.