Should I Hire Freelance Writers?
The digital economy lends itself to the proliferation of freelance workers in every niche. Whether you’re looking for someone to drive you around town, create graphics, or write great content, there’s a freelancer available. Deciding when you should hire freelance content writers instead of relying on your staff can be tough.
Depending on your available monetary resources and the writing skill of your team, hiring freelancers to help supplement your website’s content may make sense immediately, a few years down the line or, possibly, never.
Advantages of Hiring Freelancer Writers
Working with freelancers offers businesses a variety of benefits, especially in terms of agility and specificity.
Freelance content writers usually have a niche specialty that you may not need in full-time employees. If you need content for a very specific topic that isn’t what your employees usually work with, a freelancer is the best option for your money.
Although the hourly rate of a freelancer is likely to be higher than an in-house content creator, their effective hourly rate is much lower. Remember when hiring that freelance writers must pay for their own tax system, health insurance, equipment, and more. This is why you might be paying up to hundreds of dollars an hour instead of the hourly wage you pay your employees.
You’re likely to find loyalty among your freelancers as well. Since freelancers have to work hard just to find work, treating freelancers well and giving them at least fairly consistent work will reward you with thorough and caring freelancers.
Freelancers can also bring you a larger audience through their own social media and professional circles. If you hire a freelancer and give them a byline, you can also request that they share their work. This can help your company shine in front of new eyes!
They may also be able to help you find new freelancers, especially if a freelancer discovers that they can no longer work for you. Most freelancers know other writers looking for work.
Hiring freelancers can also help your own team write better content! With the example of what’s out there through your freelance writer’s submissions, it can become easier to write yourself.
The flexibility of freelancers also means that you can have someone posting content after normal business hours. Whether you’re looking for content overnight or over the weekends, there are many freelancers willing to work at odd hours.
Disadvantages of Hiring Freelance Writers
Although there are many advantages to hiring a freelancer, there are also some reasons that you may not want to hire someone outside of your own business.
First of all, it can be much more difficult to stay in contact with a freelancer than someone in the same building as you. Most freelancers prefer to communicate over email or a more removed method rather than, say, Slack or Skype.
If you’re the type of person who likes to check in on our workers frequently, a freelancer may not be the right fit. There are some freelance writers who are comfortable with frequent contact, but many or even most are not.
There is also a degree of uncertainty to hiring a freelance writer. Even if you have reached out to someone whose work you admire, there are no guarantees. Their previous work could have benefited greatly from an editor. Or they may have a crisis during the time frame of their assignment. Of course, these issues could also be true with employees!
You will also need to manage your freelancers. This task may entail more work than you anticipate. If you’re only hiring one or two freelancers, it’s likely a responsibility a staff member can take on. But if you’re trying to hire a full stable of freelancers, you might need someone on staff working only on content management and editing.
It’s important to remember that it may be easy to find freelancers who will be loyal to you, but it is not inherent to freelancers. Many freelancers will be thrilled by the prospect of consistent work. Others may do one or two assignments then decide to move on to other jobs. Finding your freelancers may take time.
Finally, one of the most important things to remember about hiring freelancers, which may or may not be counted as a disadvantage, is that they require different tax forms. As long as you’re on top of your tax game, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Make sure you give any freelancers a W-9 tax form. If they receive more than $600 from you or your company, report that amount to the IRS by issuing a 1099 form. This will ensure that the freelancer receives the correct forms and tax information during tax season.
You may need to consult a tax specialist to be certain that you are classifying and taxing your freelancers correctly. Don’t err on the wrong side of tax laws!
So, How Do I Hire a Freelancer?
Weigh the advantages and disadvantages above to decide if freelancers are right for you. If you decided that they are, we can help with your next steps.
There are a number of ways to find the right freelancer for your needs. First, I’d suggest reaching out to people in your field and people you’ve worked with before. You might be surprised to by the number of people in your industry looking for a side gig.
This method is especially useful in a specialized industry because you know the people you’re contacting have experience. Some of your contacts may have non-compete contracts preventing them from taking on your freelance work. They still may know someone who can help, though.
If that doesn’t pan out, try using a job board to find writers. Job boards host writers of all different calibers, niches, and abilities. Many people like to use Craig’s List or eLance. If you aren’t willing to spend the time it takes to sift through the unqualified writers on those sites, reach out to one of our editors to see how we can help!
Ask any potential freelance writers for samples of their work. If the assignment you need completed is large, have them complete a small test to assure the quality you need.
Once you’ve settled on someone, make sure you are both clear on payment and other terms of your agreement. It’s a good idea to get this all in print. Some freelancers only include one edit of their work with a starter price; some won’t edit at all. It’s good to know everything ahead of time so you aren’t blindsided!
If the piece you’ve assigned is for a short duration, resist the urge to check in. If it’s a longer (weeks or months) assignment, the number of check-ins or progress markers should be agreed upon as part of the contract.
Now that your contract is in place, sit back and wait for the goods! Hopefully, it’s all you imagined it would be. Luckily, if it’s not, there are plenty more people looking for freelance work out there!
Is there anything else you look for in a freelancer? Sound off in the comments below!