Let’s face it; it’s not always easy to come up with content on the fly. It’s even worse if writing is one of your least favorite activities. You sit down at your computer, and the blank screen stares back at you, daring you to fill it in. More than just a simple chore, it feels like a root canal.
Writing isn’t for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you hate to write, if you struggle to write, or if you just don’t have time to write. There comes a time in almost every organization’s history when it’s obvious that content is needed, but there’s no one in-house to write the content. You know what’s coming next.
Time To Hire A Writer?
It’s not enough to struggle through with sporadic posts and poorly written attempts at gaining attention from a readership. You’ve got to make people notice you. That’s not going to happen if you post once every 77 ½ days on average. Instead, you’ll just fall into the chasm of oblivion that awaits those who don’t regularly post.
Setting A Budget
A content writer worth his or her weight will not write for $5.00 or $10.00 a post. Sure, you may try that for a while, but you’ll soon find that with content, you get what you pay for. Many of the writers who agree to such terms are not writing in their first language. Others cut corners so that they can make a living writing many posts at this rate.
The first thing you should do once you’ve decided that a content writer is necessary is to figure out what your budget is. Because you cannot expect quality for pennies, by starting with your budget, you can figure out how much money you have to pay someone to write for you.
Next, consider going with a service that offers a package – a flat fee for a given number of posts ready to go for you for that month. This is a good way to get quality while still saving money. If a writer is working on a number of posts on similar topics, they can afford to charge less because the research will take less time. Even if you hire a contract content writer directly, discuss whether there is a discount for paying upfront, maintaining an ongoing relationship, or bundling services.
What To Look For In A Writer
When you hire someone, be sure to look at his or her previous work. Ask whether there was an intermediate editor involved. Sometimes, you won’t be looking at the work of a writer, but of an editor who spent quite a bit of time cleaning and revising the original submission. Ask for references, and follow up. Questions to ask include:
- How much editing was involved with the pieces the writer provided?
- Were you satisfied with the writer’s performance?
- Did you provide the information, or did the writer need to research on his or her own?
- Did the writer complete the assignments on time?
- Was the writer pleasant to work with?
- Did the writer communicate well with you?
Sealing The Deal
After deciding who you will work with, you will need to put together a writing agreement or contract. In this document, be sure to specify how much you will pay, your deadline policy, how to notify you if there is a problem, and how many revisions will be included (many writers will charge extra for more than one revision).
You should also specify how the writer will be paid (check, PayPal, Dwolla, etc.), how often, and whether you need an invoice for the work he or she completes. You should also specify what happens in case the working relationship is not good – if you need to pull out of the project, how you will terminate things, and what happens if the writer doesn’t hold up his or her end of the bargain.
Finally, specify whether the writer may use any of the content provided to you in a portfolio, whether the content may be used again, etc. Generally, you should offer portfolio rights (the writer may share a link to the content provided to you), but not allow the writer to publish the piece elsewhere.
Be sure you are clear with the writer how topics should be generated and how research should be conducted. Never use work that has been plagiarized. It’s worth running a few random pieces provided by the writer through Copyscape or a similar service – though, with writers who charge proper rates, this is a less common problem.
A good content writer can be a lifesaver. When you develop a good relationship, he or she may come up with topics that fit your content needs. Be open to collaboration!
Ronda Bowen is VP of Editorial Services at Creative Mindscape. She also provides editorial consulting services to a variety of businesses and individuals, runs a handful of blogs (including WiningWife®), and serves as Fundraising Director for JB Dondolo, Inc. In her downtime, she’s a distance runner, a foodie, a wine and coffee aficionado, seamstress and crafter, and board game enthusiast. Learn more about Ronda’s various projects on her website.