Hiring a professional or freelance writer is easier and more cost effective than you think.

By Michael Premo, Content Specialist

Throughout the Tampa Bay region, many small businesses have known for years that they need frequent updates to their website and social media or else Google won’t be able to find them. The problem is that small business owners don’t have the time to post something a couple of times a week or write a weekly blog. Writing takes time and energy, so, if you’re a small business owner, you’ll need someone to do it for you.

Employee As Copywriter

What I often find is the task of writing within a small business has been delegated to an employee. This is a Band-Aid solution that often results in poor content strategies and infrequent updates.

Some employees are good writers, but they experience writing fatigue and fail to deliver on time. Or, the worst-case scenario, they’re not a good writer and make mistakes that work against your organic search efforts. Google will lower your ranking if you post irrelevant content or have grammatical errors throughout each post. Plus bad grammar doesn’t look good to potential customers.

Find Your Writer

There are many freelance sites that will connect you with writers throughout the world. Most of these services are at a discount because the writers are inexperienced and need to boost their portfolio. Freelancer exchanges are not viable when you need a mutually beneficial partnership.

For this area of the United States (Tampa), writers from another country are not familiar with local activities and vernacular (words and phrases spoken by people in a particular region). Their writing may miss the mark, lack authenticity, or seem ingenuine.

A writer has to understand your business, who your customers are, and the value they find in your services.

Many of the “discount” writers on these sites also fail to develop a close relationship with the businesses they serve. They may be good writers but aren’t able to connect with your audience, which turns the discount into a loss.

Another thing to consider is that these sites have fees for you and the writer. Some charge writers as much as 25% of their contracted rate, as if they were an agent for a professional athlete. In the end, you end up paying for those fees.

Hiring a Content Writer

Enough about the things to avoid when hiring a writer. Now, let’s focus on finding and hiring one.

How do you find a writer? Here are five quick tips for hiring a professional copywriter.

  1. Reach out to Your Network

The businesses I work with are from my network and their referrals. So, the best place to look is your business connections and ask them who they are using. These are trusted sources with experience. Don’t be afraid to pick their brain about how the process works and costs. You can also ask for recommendations on LinkedIn.

  1. Agencies and Freelancers

There are a wide range of agencies, such as mine (613Creative), that provide content services. Advertising agencies, such as Pinstripe Marketing, can also provide content strategies and implementation services. They have a lot of expertise with media and a wider range of services to fit your needs.

If you find a freelance writer, chances are they have a daytime job. This makes it difficult for them to do business during the day. In these situations, remember that your business needs to be a priority, not a side job to earn a few bucks.

  1. Portfolio

Now that you’ve found your match take a look at their portfolio and the type of work they do. If it’s not available online, send them an email for samples and descriptions of the work that you want them to do. Details to look for:

  • Voice – Can they write using conversational or formal language?
  • Media – Do they understand how different media affects their audience?
  • Sales – Can they craft messages for soft sales?
  1. Rates and Retainer

This topic is difficult to generalize because rates for writers vary according to what you’re trying to achieve. Some are paid by the word, while others (like me) charge by the hour. Take a look at your budget then negotiate with them for the best fit. Plus, agencies work on retainer, so be prepared to pay one upfront to get your projects rolling.

  1. Contract

A contract puts forth the terms of your agreement. It can be as simple as an email or have a whole list of things: indemnification, nondisclosure agreement, and confidentiality. You get to choose how you want to proceed.

Content Is a Marketing Necessity

The one thing holding a lot of small business owners back from implementing a content strategy is cost. It’s a valid worry, but businesses have to invest in their digital marketing (website, social, email, and text) or else fall behind their competition.

Content is essential to your marketing efforts. There really is no way around it. Plus, it covers a range of marketing activities that support your efforts to retain customers and entice potential ones.

I have developed and implemented a variety of content strategies for businesses and individuals throughout the Tampa Bay region and the United States. Send me your requests for a proposal and let’s get your content marketing off the ground.