october 19, 2019
Important Traits to Look For in a Freelance Writer
Freelance writers with skill and experience are out there, and they want your business. But can you entrust your business to a freelance writer? Specifically, can you trust a writer to understand the key message of your business well enough to be able to write high-quality content that engages and informs your customers?
Can you trust a writer to understand your business?
The answer is: of course you can. But before you partner with a freelance writer, get a sense of what their working style is like. You’re going to be collaborating closely with this person to produce quality content for your business. It’s an important working relationship to establish. Granted, you can’t get to know a perfect stranger in an instant. But there are a few important traits you should observe in a potential freelance writer prior to setting up a contract to work together.
This may seem obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: a writer writes. If you have a clear understanding of how written content should read, you can tell from the first few sentences whether your prospective writer is capable. How is the flow of their sentence structure? Does the subject matter grab your interest? Do they use proper punctuation and grammar? Nine times out of ten, if you’ve read a paragraph written by a prospective freelance writer and want to read more, you’ve found a capable writer. Congrats!
Willingness to learn
Sometimes, a very capable freelance writer you’d love to work with may not have specific experience in your industry/subject matter/content format. This should not rule them out as a candidate for your project. A willingness to learn is hugely critical in a freelance writer. Their job already depends on learning about you and your business quickly and easily, in order to write compelling content that speaks to your specific audience. Just because a writer doesn’t have specific experience directly related to say, educating the patients of gastroenterologists, doesn’t mean they don’t have transferable skillsets. If a writer is willing to learn more about the pain points of gastroenterology patients despite not having prior experience, their willingness to learn is a quality you should give serious weight.
A freelance writer thrives on autonomy and independence. With that, a certain level of self-discipline is required to allow them to do great work. Reliability is one of the key traits that leads to building trust in a relationship. A reliable freelance writer is responsive to your emails and questions, and isn’t afraid to ask questions of their own. Remember, they want to get to know you as much as you want to get to know them. Reliability in a freelance writer also means they consistently deliver your agreed-upon projects in a timely manner.
Listening to what a client wants and needs from their content is an irreplaceable quality in a freelance writer. If you explain to a writer that your ideal readers are stay-at-home moms who want to lead healthier lives but don’t feel they have the time, you should expect content that aligns with that vision. A freelance writer who asks a lot of questions is a good thing – they want a thorough picture of the tone you’re looking for, and the pain points your business can resolve for your audience. They want to get at the core of exactly what your content needs are, so they can write it for you.
As an extension of a freelance writer’s willingness to learn, research is one crucial skill they employ on a daily basis. In order to fine tune their knowledge of the subject matter, a freelance writer puts in a lot of research behind the scenes. That research may include asking you to complete a brief-but-thorough questionnaire, but more heavily involves calling on a variety of resources to compile work that adds value and relevance to the content they’re creating for you.
Punctual freelance writers call in to conference calls on time. They respond to emails (that need a response) in a timely fashion. They deliver projects within the agreed upon timeframe. In the rare event they’re unable to do so, they let you know ahead of time. Freelance writers are business owners, too, and the ones you want to work with place high value on time management to benefit both of your businesses.
Freelance writers have value because they create value.
A freelance writer that you want to establish a long-term relationship with isn’t waiting on every corner. They have value because they create value. Freelance writers possess all of the important traits listed here and then some. As noted in this thought-provoking article on Medium, “Writers are not assistants. Freelancers, especially, are not hired help. They are business professionals who command a high price and bring a lot of experience and talent to a client’s table.” A freelance writer can help you speak to your audience and customers in ways you might have never imagined. Just ask. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.