If you’re a SaaS provider, an IT business, or any other kind of tech company, you want to have a good tech blog — and a solid blog writer, to boot. Generating quality technology content can help you attract customers and stand out against the competition.
Hiring a good freelance writer can be challenging, though. It’s difficult to know the right questions to ask, gauge your candidate’s responses, and decide on the best writer. You want to hire a writer who can create content that is accessible and informative.
Here are some questions to help you prep to hire your next technology writer. Some focus on the writing side, while others are about tech. All of them can help you narrow your pool of talent to a single candidate that is perfect for your brand.
1. What kind of tech content are you used to creating?
A good writer can adapt to whatever content you need. When it comes to tech, in particular, there are many different types of content that you may want your writer to create.
For instance, an infographic can communicate dense data. Whitepapers and case studies can provide in-depth industry analysis that reinforces the case for your products or services. Employee profiles can make your team more relatable.
What forms of content has your candidate written before? What are they comfortable with? Do they have samples you can see?
A writer doesn’t have to be highly experienced in all of these forms of content creation to be a valuable asset to your team. However, they should at least be familiar with all of them.
2. Are you a good technical writer?
There’s a big difference between a technology writer and a technical writer. The former writes about technology and companies within that industry.
However, the latter has more to do with the kind of writing required. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines technical writers as those who: “prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily.”
In other words, a technical writer takes detailed, complex information and presents it in a digestible manner for the appropriate audience. That could be anything from a detailed instruction manual to a deep-dive whitepaper.
Regardless of the specifics, a qualified candidate should be able to write technically if the content you’re looking for revolves around “0s” and “1s.”
3. What is your experience with software?
A tech writer doesn’t have to moonlight as an accomplished engineer to prove their grasp of tech concepts. However, they should have a solid idea of what technology is and how it works.
Ask your writer candidates what kind of experience they’ve had with software and hardware in the past. How have their past technological encounters uniquely prepared them to write about your company’s tech products?
4. Do you have any training we should be aware of?
Even if a writer has already listed any specialized training they’ve received on their resume, it’s still a good idea to ask this question. There is a large gamut of different educational options out there.
Did a writer just complete a quick course on Google, or do they have a 4-year cybersecurity degree?
Along with the complexity of the training, ask how recent it is. If someone has a computer programming degree from the ’80s, there’s a good chance most of their knowledge is outdated. (When that’s the case, skip to the next question.)
As with other questions on this list, a “no” doesn’t disqualify a candidate. However, training and certifications are valuable items that should be on your radar if they exist.
5. How do you stay up-to-date on the tech world?
Engineers and programmers must stay current on the latest technological advances — the same goes for tech writers. A writer can quickly fall behind on the latest and greatest in tech as they focus on content creation.
Asking how a freelance writer stays abreast of cutting-edge advances can show you two things.
First, it reveals how knowledgeable they’ll be as they write for you. Second, it can give you an idea of how they’ll maintain their proficiency in the future.
6. Are you able to work with an SME?
Subject matter experts (SME) are becoming an essential part of the content creation game — even for tech blogs. Your company may be unique in your space, but that won’t automatically be reflected in your content. An SME can ensure that your writing is brimming with unique information and one-of-a-kind solutions.
Of course, an SME isn’t a writer. That’s why you want to ensure your writer can work with others, especially subject matter experts, as they compose text.
Ask each writer if they’ve worked with an SME before. If so, try to get an idea of how adept they are at receiving complex information from someone else and turning that into valuable content that readers can grasp.
7. How do you handle writing something you’re not familiar with?
Technology is a vast and complex world. No engineer — let alone a writer — can be knowledgeable in every area.
That means no matter which candidate writer you hire, they will need to write about things they’re not familiar with at times. It’s a good idea to ask a question like this one to see how comfortable a candidate is in those scenarios and if they have an established way to handle them professionally.
8. How long does it take you to write content?
Content creation is an unpredictable activity. If you’re writing a short article about how to walk your dog, it can take an hour or less. If you’re writing a comprehensive assessment about the latest development in CCaaS software, it’s going to be a little longer.
Each writer also has their own speed at which they research and write. It’s important to be aware of this before committing to a project.
Awareness of content creation timelines can help you figure out adequate compensation, schedule, and generally set expectations.
9. How long do you stay with your average client?
Freelance writers have a reputation for moving around. Many jump from client to client as it suits them.
This may work for industries where the knowledge barrier to entry is low. In a field like tech, it can be an issue. The last thing you want to do is invest in teaching the intricacies of your products and services to a freelancer, only to have them bounce a few weeks later.
Try to get a good idea of how long your freelance candidates maintain relationships with their clients. Avoid those with a track record for short stays and shallow relationships whenever possible.
10. Are you comfortable working with an editor?
A freelancer marches to the beat of their own drum. They often work asynchronously with their clients and are expected to shoulder most of their professional responsibilities independently.
Sometimes, you want a contractor to sync up with your team to get important work done. With a writer, this often revolves around edits.
Ask each freelancer how well they work with an editor. They’re going to sugar-coat the answer (it’s an interview, after all), but it still can yield valuable insights into how good of a team player they are.
Hire the Best Freelance Technology Writer for Your Brand
Freelancers can provide elite value at a very reasonable cost. Even so, you don’t want to sacrifice quality for a deal.
Make sure to ask the right questions with each freelancer you hire. In fact, this doesn’t just apply to writers. The same goes for freelance editors, illustrators, videographers, and any other content-related contractors you choose to work with.
If you’re unsure how to find quality talent, start with a freelance marketplace like PowerPublish. Our high standards and industry expertise has allowed us to build a team of writers and editors that can turn any tech blog into a powerful piece of marketing collateral for your brand.