Welcome back to a new year of blog posts about freelancing. In this series, I offer advice to both potential clients wanting to hire, and to new freelancers taking their first tentative steps into this brave new world of self-employment. As a client looking to outsource your content writing needs, you’re probably full of questions when it’s somebody you’ve never worked with before now. How do you approach it? What to ask?
Naturally, you want to ascertain quickly whether they are the right person for you, but you also don’t want too much back and forth. Here then, is a list of five essential questions you should ask a prospective freelance content writer before hiring them.
1: What Is Your Schedule Looking Like?
Any good content writer will give you an honest answer, including a potential turnaround time for your project. It’s one of the first questions you should ask – whether they can get your project finished in a time that is suitable for you. If your question is more about volume, it’s understandable you want an idea of how much they can do for you. While you should never be pushy, you do deserve a straight answer. If they are vague, give a clear idea of when your project should be finished and ask if they can manage it by then or are willing to negotiate.
2: Are You Comfortable Researching and Writing About This?
While many clients ask about experience, I would argue that this is the wrong question to ask. You want to know whether they are capable; that is more important than experience. A good freelance content writer can write about almost anything so long as he or she has relevant research skills. Unless your content is in a technical area or niche and you’re talking to an expert audience, you should ask more questions centred on ability than experience. A bad freelance content writer will say “yes” to anything and everything and thoughtlessly too. A good content writer will either give you examples of their experience or explain their research background.
3: How Much Will it Cost?
By the time you start your negotiation, you should already have an idea of how much the project will cost unless you don’t have much of an idea of how much content you want and the content writer simply can’t give you a straight answer because your brief is vague. Fortunately, the majority of clients I have know what they want. There are some cases where clients have had a job dumped on their desk by their boss and told to get on with it and don’t know where to start. If you are both unclear, even after negotiation, the content writer will offer to go over everything and give you an estimate including payment methods (hourly or by the word).
4.What’s Your Revision Process?
Any good writer should at least manually proofread. Ideally, they should also use a software package such as Grammarly to check as they go. There is no excuse now for missing most typos (I’m sure I still miss things on occasion even being as thorough as I am) as there is a free Grammarly extension for MS Word. A good freelance content writer also runs the text through a plagiarism checker just to make sure. We want the article as unique as possible for the client and as tight as possible. At the very least, a proofread should tighten up the rough draft.
What Times are You Typically Available?
It’s important to know each other’s work patterns. There was a time when practically all of my clients were in Australia, so my working week went Sunday-Thursday because that was what worked best. Now, I pretty much do 8-4/5, Monday to Friday with some time left over on Friday afternoon usually allowing me an early finish. Most of my clients are in the UK now so I follow the British office hours and it works out well for my American clients too. If you need me outside these times, feel free to ask by all means and I will do my best to accommodate. Either way, you need to know when you can get hold of each other and when they are unavailable. If you have a report that needs proofreading and it’s 2am my time, you certainly won’t get it back within the next three hours.