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The Key Questions
When evaluating freelancers, it’s important to know the right questions to ask. Use open-ended questions like the ones listed below to help gauge how experienced and suitable a freelancer is for a job. Their answers, whether they be vague or detailed will be incredibly revealing about the type of writer they are.
What Type of Content Can You Write?
On the surface, this might appear to be an obvious question but it is in fact an essential one. There are many freelance writers for hire who specialize in certain types of content but aren’t great at others. You could for instance encounter a writer who’s adept at writing blog posts but can’t write business proposals or press releases. It’s important to hone in on what the freelance writer's limitations are before you decide to hire them.
What Industries Do You Specialize In?
Many freelance writers often do work in more than one industry. However, if they claim that they can write in any or every industry then they’re likely spreading themselves too thin. With writers like this, it’s more the case that they are average at writing in those industries but they can’t excel in any one area.
A good freelance writer should know their strengths and weaknesses and be readily available to admit them. If you encounter a freelance writer who makes such claims then ask them to provide writing samples to confirm their abilities. If you’re looking for a writer specializing in ecommerce, someone who can help you produce content for your online store, make sure that they have product pages in their portfolio.
What Writing Styles and Tones Are You Comfortable With?
A good writer knows how to adapt their tone to make it fit with the company they represent. Look at the words they use to see if it matches the tone your business is going for. If a freelance writer can match your tone then it's likely they’re capable of doing so for other clients as well. This is a sign of an experienced writer that you’ll feel confident handing work off to.
What's Your Research Methodology?
Regardless of how skilled they claim to be, no writer should claim that they don’t need to do research. This is important to note because a freelancer that works with you long term will likely face challenging topics that they’ll lack knowledge of. So, ask them about how they learn about a topic and what resources do they favor using. Their answers will reveal whether they have a set process in place for learning or if they just rely on their own knowledge.
Can You Optimize Content for Search Engines?
Knowing the basics of optimizing content for SEO is something that experienced freelance writers are expected to know. Now, this doesn’t mean they should be capable of taking an active part in your SEO strategy. It’s more about having a freelancer who’s skilled enough so that they can optimize a title, headers, and blog content, write a compelling meta description that makes readers click, and an internal link to pre-defined pages on your site with the appropriate anchor text.
Describe Your Typical Revision Cycle
How a candidate talks about their revision cycle will determine how seriously they take client work. You should prioritize your search for freelancers who are happy to accept revisions especially at the start of your business relationship. When answering this question, the candidate should be able to describe their revision process but also volunteer that they offer revisions. These revisions should be a certain number and outlined with a specific timeframe.
Once the interview is over and even if the candidate has successfully answered all of the above questions you should still wait for two more things before hiring them. First, always ask for samples of their work, and second ask for multiple references. This is due to the fact that the existence of work does not prove that the candidate can contribute to a good working relationship. But if the references and work samples are great then you’ve found yourself an excellent freelance writer.