Professional Writers or Amateur?
Seek writers who are actual professional freelance writers. That sounds funny, but the truth is that many people are hiring themselves out as writers who are not well qualified. They're lacking in grammatical skills, they're out for a quick buck, or they simply copy what other people are writing.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire Writers?
You'll be surprised by how cheap are the services of writers on the Web. Writing that might have costed hundreds or thousands of dollars offline can be found for less than $100. The Internet has changed the pricing structure for write-to-hire work: Because writers don't need to spend long hours pursuing leads, they can charge less.
But the old adage that you get what you pay for remains in effect. Due to increasing unemployment and new online opportunities, people are turning to writing Web content who never wrote anything more professional than rough school papers. Some - both native English speakers and non-native speakers - lack facility with the rules of standard English. The result? Hire cheap writers, and you may get bad work that ultimately is no bargain.
On the other hand, this doesn't mean a cheap freelancer is a bad freelancer. The good writers may start cheap, but as they get more of a portfolio, they can charge more for their efforts. The excellent writers may not be affordable if you're on a strict budget.
For basic, small-scale Web content writing, depending on your project, you might not need "excellent" - competent might do very well. But keep in mind that professional-quality writing might have long-term benefits for your website. If you're offering $5 for a 500-word article, you're far less likely to receive quality work than if you offer $50 or more.
And if you want to hire a writer to write you a sales or landing page, expect to pay more - much more. But make sure you're getting somebody qualified.
It's not always easy to recognize a good writer, let alone one who can write the content you need. When a portfolio looks impressive and the price is right, you may be eager to buy. Wait. Read writing samples. Specifically, read samples of the kind of work for which you'll be hiring. Is the writing clear? Would it sell to you, if you were a customer?
If you're hiring writers for "keyword writing" - my term for text that centers around a keyword instead of a topic - then make sure the writer produces articles that don't sound as though they were written for search engines. Which brings me to...
Hire Writers Who Know Writing, Not Just Fancy SEO Tricks
Lastly, seek writers who write for humans. Why? If nothing else, because of search engine ranking. Yes, of course the writer should have strong SEO (search engine optimization) skills and know all the white-hat techniques for driving search engine traffic to your pages. But your search engine rankings hinge largely on how readable your content is and how useful it is for the reader. If it's not well-organized, clearly written or grammatically correct, it's on its way out of the ranks.
It boils down to this: Outsourcing writing jobs takes its own special kind of talent. Whether you're a writer yourself or just want to hire a freelancer, you'll need to become proficient at recognizing a good freelance writer when you find one. You certainly don't want to spend the money to outsource, only to find you need to rewrite the darn thing, anyway.
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