Hiring a professional freelance writer can be a great move for your business or project. But, pro writers are licensed or certified by anyone, so finding the right writing professional for your needs requires a little bit of know how. We’ll guide you through what you need to know about freelance writing and hiring professional writers so that you can get the right writer for the job.
Who Is A Writer Professional
As with most terminology, defining exactly what a professional writer is can be tricky. The biggest issue is simply that for most any criteria one can develop, an exception is easily found, rendering the definition only partially correct at best.
Some would argue that a professional freelance writer is one who does freelance writing full-time. Full-time speech writers, big-time copywriters and editors at major marketing firms, who handle freelance writing projects on the side and their clients, would all disagree.
Moving the definition a bit to include only full-time writers (including those who only freelance part-time) excludes potentially great writers from numerous fields and backgrounds who may simply enjoy, or make better money in another career. Researchers routinely write concise supremely dense 108-page reports, attorneys (and their law-clerks, and paralegals) write very persuasive legal briefs, small business owners may write many of their own documents, and financial planners write complicated plan documents that cover a lot of technical ground in a way that anyone can understand them. Not to mention great writers who are part-time for any number of reasons.
Likewise, some sort of income or revenue limit is, by nature, arbitrary and not representative of skill or competency. Many crappy writers make big money thanks to hustle, networking, and connections, while many amazing writers make very little thanks to only being willing to write in certain circumstances or due to lack of marketing savvy.
Even if any of these definitions were sufficient, the only way a potential client would know is to ask the writer, who might have plenty of motivation to “spin” the facts in their favor.
Instead, as a potential client, the business owner, manager, or other person doing the evaluation and hiring can rely on just one criteria: How professionally the writer in question carries themselves.
What Makes A Professional Writer
In evaluating the professionalism of a writer, the potential client determines not only the potential quality of the writer’s work, but the nature of working with the writer as well.
It is common for writers to be creative types. As such, they often also dabble in other creative interests such as visual media, theatre, music, and so on. Also, they often come with the “artist attitude,” an unfortunate state of mind where the rest of the world seems to be incapable of understanding genius when they see it.
A writer who doesn’t return phone calls or emails in a timely manner before getting the job is unlikely to start being responsive after getting the gig.
A writer who can’t meet the deadline for a proposal or other materials probably won’t be all that great at meeting deadlines for writing projects either.
A writer who won’t put in minimal effort to appear professional at a pitch meeting or meet and greet, isn’t likely to don a jacket if a meeting with senior management becomes necessary.
In other words, make sure that the writer you are considering works the way you want to work with a professional writer before hiring them.
Next, examine the way the writer presents their business. Is it a full-scale operation with its own letterhead, business cards, website, email, and phone line, or is it a number scribbled on the back of the card from his “real” job?
Does the website clearly state that this is the business of a professional writer, or is it a “throw-in” to a different business. The effort a writer puts into their writing business is a good indicator of how much effort they put into their writing for clients as well.
Remember, always ask questions and ask to see examples of a writer’s work. A professional writer has produced samples of their work on numerous occasions before and should have no trouble providing them to you. A professional writer has generated proposals, responded to requests for information, answered questions about how they do business, and quoted rates for projects many times before. Again, a writer who seems caught up or unresponsive on these points is unlikely to be a solid professional writing choice.
Doing some background research and looking into a writer’s style and behavior will provide a clear enough picture to determine if you have found the right fit or you should continue looking. Either way, do not allow a single writer to color your overall experience. Professional writers can and do add enormous value every day to businesses and projects that use them, and they can do the same for you. You just need to get the right pro.