6 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Freelance Writer

By George Slaughter

1. What is your writing background?

Ideally, a freelance writer has experience producing the sort of documentation you need. For example, if you need a news release to announce a new hire at your company, you want the writer to have experience in producing news releases

2. Do you have experience in my field?

A technical background can be useful, but experienced writers know how to learn everything relevant about a given topic in a short time. This is true whether the writer is an advertising copywriter, journalist, public relations specialist, or technical writer.

Writers prepare for assignments by gathering all published materials on the products or services they must document. Such materials can be internal to the company, or external for the general public. Such materials can be online, or printed, or both.

Writers interview and establish collaborative relationships with the subject matter experts (known as SMEs) to ensure that the key technical points get covered.

3. What kind of assignments do you handle?

Many writers cover the full spectrum. Meanwhile, other writers are specialists that focus on a specific type of written deliverable, be it articles, brochures, data sheets, news releases, technical documentation, web content, or white papers, among others.

4. Do you charge by the assignment or by the hour?

The answer can vary depending on the scope of the assignment. For example, preparing a news release would take less time than creating content for a multipage website. Often a writer will estimate the hours needed to do the work, and then multiply the estimated hours by an hourly rate to quote a price.

5. How long will it take you to produce the copy?

The answer can vary, depending on:

  • Assignment scope and type. For example, creating a news release would take less time than creating content for a multi-page web site.
  • Deadlines. While it’s better to begin a project early and collaborate to make it happen, sometimes circumstances dictate that you need an immediate turnaround.

Unexpected time lost due to sickness or other delays.

6. What happens when we need to revise the copy?

Writers work with SMEs, editors, and other reviewers as appropriate to ensure accuracy and timeliness of the documentation.

Reviewers typically have a set time (say, two weeks) to review and return their feedback, or the document is considered to be approved.

About the Author

George Slaughter is a writer, editor, and content strategist. His web site is georgeslaughter.com.