Thursday, July 19, 2018

What you should ask of a freelance writer

A good freelance writer is priceless.

They can drive traffic to your website, establish you as a thought leader in your niche, increase conversions and help build relationships with your target audience. Demand for freelance writers has led to an explosion of contracted content writing services.

Many freelancers work independently, while others work through digital agencies—and quality can vary widely.

A lot of companies are duped by services that sell stolen content that has been “spun” until it is barely readable. This content is often written by low-wage workers who have little to no English fluency and the writing lacks depth as a result.

[RELATED: Ragan Consulting Group can help you find, tell and share your organization's compelling stories in any format]

The challenge, as a business owner, is finding a content writing service that doesn’t suck.

Here’s what you should consider before hiring a writer:

1. Ask for a portfolio and references.

Be wary of content providers who don’t give you the opportunity to see their work.

A content writing service should have samples of their work posted on their website. The samples should vary and showcase all of the work the company is capable of doing. Also ask to see any published writing.

A freelancer should have samples, as well. Many will have writing excerpts on their website, and they should be able to provide you with links to their published work.

If you aren’t convinced they’re up to the task, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a customized sample. However, you should expect to sign something indicating that the sample remains the property of the writer and that you won’t publish it without compensation.

2. Reviews are important.

It’s easy to find consensus about a freelance writer.

Of course, to get a well-rounded look at a company, there are a few things you should do:

· Read reviews from a variety of sources.

· Pay attention to commentary and social media engagement. Many freelance writers also publish customer testimonials or case studies.

· Ask around. There’s no doubt that other businesses you know are using these services. Hit up your followers for recommendations, and check in with online business associates.

Sometimes, reading a straightforward review gives you all of the information you need.

3. Cheap writing is a red flag.

If you find a content writing service offering impossibly low rates, you should be extremely wary. The content they deliver is low quality and often lifted from other sources.

Citatior editor, Joanie Stevens, advises:

A contractor you can trust won’t be cheap. What they will do is give you your money’s worth. They’ll provide you with well-researched, original, engaging content. In terms of value, that is a better deal every time.

Your best bet is to comparison shop. Speak with several freelancers and service providers. Pay attention to the going rates. Be wary of any company charging more or less than the average.

4. Look for a variety of services.

A well-established content writing service will have staff on hand to handle all of your needs.

This is important if you have a large amount of content to produce—or you need ongoing help meeting your requirements. Niche services are okay in some cases, but a company offering a variety of services won’t usually suffer from staffing issues or other problems.

Here are a few content providers which offer a variety of services and a few self-help services to help you stay on top of your content.

  • Flash Essay has a very reputable copywriting division. They offer services such as web content writing and guest posts and have a large staff.
  • Grammarly is a free service that checks your content for grammatical or spelling errors. You can use the Grammarly website or its plug-ins.
  • Hot Essay Service has a well-known copywriting department. In addition to offering writing, they offer editing and proofreading services. For some, using these complementary services offers a savings advantage.
  • Purdue Owl is known mostly for academic writing and is a good resource. Much of the marketing content is in AP format. Clients can use this to double check the quality of the writing they receive.
  • Rewarded Essays is a writing service offering multiple content solutions, and they can fill your order quickly.

5. Professional web design and user experience.

The truth is, this is an industry with a very low barrier to entry. There are no licenses or tests. All it takes to become a content writing company is simply registering and publishing a website.

It’s great when talented people with limited funds can get a start in a business like this. Unfortunately, this also means unscrupulous people will go into business, as well.

A company which intends to serve its customers for a long time will care about more than taking orders. They will take the time to create a well-designed website. If a writing service website is professionally designed and has a good user experience, it’s more likely you can trust the quality of their writing.

6. A talent for research.

Never ask a potential writing provider if they are a subject matter expert. They don’t always make the best writers.

Instead, seek out freelance writers who pride themselves on being good researchers. A freelance writer with a talent for research can tackle a blog post, article or other content on any subject.

They know where to go for information and how to turn that information into great content.

Amanda Sparks is a seasoned content writer who has contributed her talents to both Rated by Students and ISAccurate. A version of this article originally appeared on the Spin Sucks blog.

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