A few weeks ago I met a small business owner who had just hired a freelance copywriter and was worried about her decision. She had interviewed the writer and was so impressed by the writer’s personality that she decided to hire the writer on the spot. While we continued to talk I was starting to realize that she had made the decision to hire solely based on the fact that she liked the person she interviewed. The new writer was not meeting deadlines, didn’t have a good grasp of communicating with my friend’s marketing team and missed an important informational meeting with the client. Red flags were everywhere. She asked me to step in and help, which I was glad to do, but shared with her some of the following things she should have asked before getting into the situation at hand.
Here’s a list of important questions you should ask when hiring a freelance writer.
1) What are some of your most recent ad campaigns and how are they working?
This is where you ask to see examples of their work. To me, this is the most important part of the interview. Make sure they tell you why the campaign was developed, how the ideas came to fruition and what the response has been to the campaign.
2) What kinds of writing do you do and what is your speciality?
Many writers say they can write anything for you. This needs to be a red flag instantly. You want to hire someone who has experience writing the format you need. If your company wants to develop a website, make sure the writer you use knows something about keywords and how to make your website searchable. A website that is unsearchable is worthless. So don’t toss your advertising dollars out the window.
3) What is your work style?
It’s also equally important to know how your writer plans on working for you. Are they working from home? Do you expect them to come into the office? How do you plan to handle client/writer interactions? What additional resources will they need to get their work completed and done excellently? Setting forth your expectations in advance is key to creating a trusting, working relationship.
4) Who are your top 3 references and what will they tell me about you?
Always ask for a reference no matter how well you like the writer. This is where the small business owner made her first mistake. You want to know that the writer has a good solid work ethic and that other professionals trust them with their business communications. You also want to ask the writer how those references will speak about their relationship with the writer. It’s good to have a confident writer and one that is well-respected in the industry. If no one has heard of them, that too should be a red flag. With the small business owner, she came to find out that the freelancer she had hired was more of a sales professional and was good at making up stories, not creating marketing messages that generated results.
5) What is your process for working with a new client and what steps do you take to get ready for a new project?
This is also a key question to ask and one that many small business owners don’t. When you bring up this question you are gleaming a wealth of vital information from the writer. This is a great time to talk about the cost of the project, see how organized the writer is with their projects and even determine if the writer is good brainstorming with clients/your team.
It’s easy to find a writer to carry on a project. It’s much more difficult to find the writer that you want to create a business partnership with for the long haul. Think of it this way, if you are going through writers as
often as people brush their teeth, you’re loosing a lot of revenue retraining new writers. Think about your choice. After all it’s your choice and it’s your decision. Make it a wise one.
All the best-