Most of the posts on this blog talk about the positives of hiring a freelance writer for your website, blog, or marketing copy – and to be sure, there are a lot of benefits to sourcing your writing work – but that’s not to say that there aren’t downsides as well.
I understand more than most that you’re putting a lot on the line every time you hire a freelance writer.
I’ve worked on both sides of the formula, being hired myself and hiring other freelance writers, and I could share some real horror stories that came out of it all.
Now, I won’t share them, because the last thing I want is to scare you away from making the decision to hire a writer, but what I want to do instead is point out some ways you can protect yourself when you choose a freelancer so you don’t end up getting screwed in the process.
The truth is, many business owners and professionals are understandably wary of trusting their content to a new writer.
There are risks aplenty, and you’re right to worry that the writer will:
- Provide poor quality
- Fail to deliver by the deadline (a disaster when it comes to press releases and pre-sales material)
- Just take the money and disappear
- Overcharge for services
These are all legitimate concerns; I’ll be the first to tell you that.
What can you do to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you? There are 4 simple ways you can keep yourself safe from those unscrupulous freelance copywriters. They’re an amoral, soulless bunch, trust me.
How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off By a Freelance Writer
#1 Check out Their Writing Samples
Writing is a craft like anything else. You would never hire a contractor to build your house without looking at some buildings they’ve built in the past. Ask for writing samples up front to get an idea of the writer’s skill level. A lot of people think they can write well, but in the end it just doesn’t measure up. It doesn’t hurt to ask for some references either. A good content writer will not hesitate to let you talk to previous clients because he/she knows the quality of the work.
#2 Don’t Pay 100% Up Front
As a freelance writer myself, it pains me to suggest this, but it’s undeniably important to only give partial payment up front the first time you work with a new writer. Otherwise, there’s nothing stopping them from taking the cash and hitting the road. A 50/50 deal usually works best. And remember, no writer will work without an initial deposit either. We’re just as wary of new clients as you are of new writers!
#3 Give Them All the Information
If you have a specific goal or style for your content, you have to let the writer know at the beginning of the project. Many writers have no trouble adjusting their style to match the needs of a client, but they still need a direction before they can do that. Make sure the writer knows the subject, word count, keywords (for SEO writing), and tone before you let them write the first word.
#4 Sign a Contract
I’ve personally never had an issue with a writer or client who didn’t sign a contract beforehand, but it’s something both of you should consider. The contract should state the details of the project, the timeline, the number of edits included in the price, and any other pertinent details. Read over the contract and have both of you sign a copy. This is a formality that probably won’t be necessary for multiple projects, but it’s a good starting point to be sure you’re both on the same page as to what’s expected. After the first 2 or 3 projects, my clients usually just email me the new project guidelines and I email back the work.
If you want to stay away from those other unscrupulous writers out there, contact me to talk about your project. I promise, my scruples are squeaky clean.
If you have a horror story of your own from hiring a writer in the past, post it in the comments below.