See if this sounds like you.

You understand that content marketing holds one of the most important keys to the ultimate success of your venture. You’re pretty good at it and you’ve been writing your own blog, handling social media content and authoring landing pages.

In fact, it’s such an important part of your strategy that it’s beginning to take up too much of your time.

You need a freelance writer.

The writer—or writers—you decide to work with will be speaking on your behalf. When your reputation, image and ultimate success are at stake, you need quality writing. Here are four steps that will help you get teamed up with the perfect writer for your project.

Step #1: The first issue you need to sort out is if you’re looking for an expert in your field or an expert writer. Look at your existing content. If you’re trying to match it, is your current content good because it offers information that is unique, because it is written in a way that is engaging, or is it a balance between those two attributes?

Be honest in the appraisal of your current content. If it’s “dry” but offers great information, that’s fine—as long as it’s performing for you. I know a B2B insurance company that regularly hires ghostwriters. Their goal is to offer high-level information. Personality doesn’t count.

If you’ve been creating content that people come back for because it makes them smile each morning, you need to match that. In many cases, it’s a combination of both. We’ll return to this issue in the next step.

Step #2: Express your needs in a well-written brief. “Building” good content is like building anything else: It requires a clear specification. Pulling together a bad brief is easy. Here’s one that recently appeared:


It gives virtually no information about what kind of writing is required and includes several grammatical and spelling errors. (What can you say about someone who misspells the word “competence”?) Any writer who would apply for this work immediately knows that the client lacks attention to detail.

Don’t force a writer to puzzle out what is important to you. Writers are looking for jobs that match their strengths to your needs. When those two elements are mismatched, it’s painful for the client and the writer. List your needs and refer to live examples of what you consider to be good writing—even if they are not on your website.

Be clear on the balance you desire between lively writing and in-depth information. If you need to give your readers information that they won’t find elsewhere, your writer either needs to be an expert in the field or will need to take extra time doing research. Either of these will increase the cost of your content. Be willing to pay for it.

So far we’ve discussed understanding your needs and the importance of communicating them. The other half of the equation is being able to choose the best writer for the job.

Step #3: The audition. One of the best ways to hire the ideal writer is to “audition” a few. A good place to start looking for writers is on specialist content websites like Scripted, WriterAccess, and Ebyline. Look closely at ratings and recommendations.

Any good writer will submit several samples of previous work. Look for pieces that are close to your requirements in both “tone” and depth, although they might not be in the same subject areas. Reviewing those samples, you should be able to find a few that have the potential to communicate in your “voice,” relay the required information and represent your brand well.

Give an assignment to each one and then judge the results. Pay fairly for the work; remember, one or more of these writers should be working for you on a long-term basis.

Have others read the submissions: coworkers, friends, family members. Get their opinions on the relative strengths and weaknesses of each writer.

Step #4: If you’ve followed the steps outlined above you should be well on your way to establishing a relationship with a good writer. Now it’s up to you to maintain that relationship. Continue to clearly communicate your requirements as you pass along assignments. When a writer has a clear understanding of what you need, he or she can satisfy those needs. When the writer “nails it” let the writer know; that will lead to more of the much sought-after “killer content.”