Finding a good freelance writer can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. There are tens of millions of contractors out there, and working as a professional writer or a freelance editor remains among the most popular forms of independent income.
With so many options available, finding a writer whose skill set and knowledge meet your company’s unique content creation needs can be challenging.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Nevertheless, there are certain traits that freelance writers should emphasize, and content marketing professionals can look for when they start the process to hire a writer.
5 Traits Only Elite Freelancers Possess
There are some qualities that a freelance writer can only attain after years of experience. It’s worth noting that most of these have little to do with the writing process. It’s on the business side of things that good freelancers tend to stand out from the crowd.
Here are a few traits to keep in mind as you recruit — along with a couple of follow-up tips to help freelance writers present themselves to potential clients, too.
1. A Good Freelancer Is Disciplined
If there’s one thing freelancers aren’t well known for, it’s discipline. The flexibility of the freelance lifestyle is a great benefit and a powerful productivity tool — when used well. But many freelancers abuse this freedom, and when that happens, it can quickly lead to lax and irresponsible reputations.
A good freelancer can stay disciplined even as they juggle their writing, business activities, communications, and other professional responsibilities.
Question to ask in an interview: Are you disciplined, and if so, can you give us an example of that discipline in your everyday work?
2. A Good Freelancer Demonstrates Professionalism
The freelancing world can be pretty disorganized. At times, this can lead to overly familiar, dare we say “chummy,” behavior.
This can be fun at first. However, the casual approach to the relationship can also lead to missed deadlines and a sub-par approach to the work itself.
An exceptional freelancer always comes across as a professional. They should feel like a member of your team, someone you can trust, and an individual committed to delivering a genuinely elite service.
Question to ask in an interview: How do you typically interact with your clients on a daily basis?
3. A Good Freelancer Is Interested
When you hire a blog writer, you want them to invest in what you’re doing even though they’re an outsider. One way to gauge how well a freelancer will grasp your products, service, and business is through their level of interest.
A quality freelancer should display curiosity. They should be eager to obtain knowledge. Understanding what they’re writing about is a crucial starting point for the creative writing process.
Question to ask in an interview: What do you know about [my industry]? Have you written in this vertical in the past?
4. A Good Freelancer Can Take Criticism
If you want your brand to deliver thoughtful content that provides value for your audience, you may also need to hire an editor, interview subject matter experts, and get a larger group in on the process.
With that said, a professional writer should be able to work with others well. They should communicate with SMEs fluently (more on that in a minute). Equally important is their ability to take criticism. If a freelancer can’t accept input and even correction at times, it’s a sign that they aren’t as invested as they should be.
Question to ask in an interview: How do you handle edits to your writing?
5. A Good Freelancer Can Communicate Well
Communication is a critical part of any well-run business. This doesn’t just apply to internal teams and your audience. It also needs to take place with the freelancers that you hire.
A great freelancer should be able to communicate with your team consistently. If you hire an expert, your contracted writers must stay in contact with them as they compose content. If you have editors and team managers, they should also be in touch with your writers regularly.
While some of that responsibility rests on your internal team, a quality freelancer can hold up their end of the communication, as well.
Question to ask in an interview: How often do you communicate with your clients, and how fast is your average response rate?
How Freelancers Can Highlight Their Strengths
A recruiter must know what to look for in a freelancer. It’s equally wise for contractors to put those qualities on display during an interview.
If you can show a potential client that you’re diligent or a good communicator before they even ask, it can work to everyone’s advantage. Here are a few tips for freelancers to demonstrate that they possess critical soft skills and traits when interviewing a client.
- Prepare a portfolio: Having samples of your writing doesn’t just show how well you compose text. It also sends the message that you’re professional and organized.
- Gather references and testimonials: The word of others is a powerful testimony to your past accomplishments and current strengths. Ask former clients if they can put in a good word for you. Consider asking them to specifically highlight your capabilities regarding some of the above traits, too.
- Ask questions: When interviewing potential clients, ask them about their business, brand, products, and needs. This demonstrates your interest and curiosity.
- Communicate well: This one is obvious but easy to overlook. Make sure to demonstrate your superior communication skills to make a good impression from the get-go.
Another option is for freelancers to join a writer marketplace. If you take this route, look for high-quality options, like PowerPublish, where you can publish samples, receive reviews, and easily communicate with potential clients.
Freelancers may seem like a dime a dozen, but exceptional freelancers are worth their weight in gold. It doesn’t matter if you’re a recruiter or a contractor, keep these important high-quality traits in mind. That way, when it comes time to find a good freelancer/client match, you can focus on what makes the great truly stand out from the rest.