What Is a Freelance Writer? A Business Perspective

February 26, 2019

If you're looking for information about freelance writers, you've probably tried a Google search. Unfortunately, most of the results are about how to become a freelance writer. That's why we’ve created this freelance writer guide from a business perspective.

Our goal is to help business owners understand the phenomena of freelance writers and how hiring one can help boost your marketing and increase conversions. Now that most businesses have a digital platform, you have to create great content to stand out from the crowd.

To do that, you need to understand what a freelance writer is and what they have to offer. We're here to help, with this handy guide to all things freelance writing.

What Is A Freelance Writer?

A freelance writer is someone who works as a contractor or remote employee. They are generally self-employed and offer writing services that range from social media content to press releases and magazine articles. For businesses, they can help boost marketing goals by creating white papers, how-to guides, newsletters, and blog posts to drive traffic to your website. Freelance writers include copywriters, content writers, and technical writers as well as writers who are well-versed in creative writing, blogging, and academic writing. These types of writers are experts when it comes to copywriting, proofreading, and promoting content.

Freelance writers are professional writers and can be hired as full-time employees or for part-time gigs. You can also find freelance writers for one-time writing gigs such as creating an instructional manual for technical products. Freelance writers may also work for multiple writing clients and can create content in a variety of different industries. They may manage their own blog on the side and freelance writers have differing hours of availability and rates.

In general, freelancing writers are different from in-house employees in that they get paid per project and don't usually receive company benefits and perks. A great content writer will cost anywhere from $200 to $300 an hour or more. New freelance writers that don't have much experience can cost significantly less—typically charging anywhere from $10 to $20 an hour.

Freelance Writer Services

Freelance writers offer a wide range of services depending on the client's needs. They can upload content into website platforms such as WordPress and can manage your company's online presence on social media and in sites such as LinkedIn. They can take over blog management and manage all social media accounts.

Many freelance writers are also well-versed in SEO or search engine optimization. They can perform keyword research, which helps them narrow down the focus of content on topics that your potential customers find interesting or engaging. They can manage content step-by-step from keyword research to creating the content calendar and publication. They also demonstrate exceptional writing skills and can save business owners time when it comes to creating content.

Some freelancers can also provide ghostwriting services. This enables business owners to put their name directly on content, without having to spend the hours it takes to write and edit pieces. These ghostwriting services may extend to books and memoirs that can establish business owners as thought leaders in the industry.  

How Do Businesses Hire Freelance Writers

Companies have several options when it comes to hiring freelance writers. They can take the process internal and use the company HR department to find and vet new writers. Alternatively businesses can use writing agencies or hiring companies to help find the perfect candidate for a part-time or full-time job.

Content Agencies

Companies can also post ads on job boards or reach out to content mills. Content agencies such as Izea provide a wide range of content writing services for both small business and large corporations. You let them know what type of content you want to be created and what you expect from a writer and they take over the rest. The content agency will handle all the little details such as due dates and editing and you receive the final product for a quick review. This is often a time and money-saving option, but quality can vary depending on the agency.

Job Boards

Companies can post freelance writing jobs and writing assignments on job boards such as Indeed. Job boards increase your reach and you'll typically receive hundreds of submissions. The downside here is that there is no quality control and you'll have to personally sift through the applicants to find the best fit.

Freelance Marketplaces

You can also share your freelance business needs on marketplaces. Writers often use these platforms to promote their freelance writing business. Their profiles serve as mini-portfolios and you can see who they've worked with before in their freelance writing career.

Freelance marketplaces such as Upwork offer a blended version of job boards and content mills. You can post a job ad for writing work and receive hundreds of applicant submissions and check out writing portfolios and recommendations from past writing clients. Some marketplaces including Upwork feature algorithms that ensure you see the best freelancers for your needs first. They'll also send a list of qualified writers to help you narrow down your search.

Freelance marketplaces also make it easy to pay and hire writers. The marketplaces feature built-in services to help you conduct interviews and see applicants' writing samples. All payments are processed over the platform so you don't have to worry about setting up a payment method. You also have the benefit of quality guarantees and dispute resolution services if any issues arise.

Writing Agencies

For premium content, businesses can use writing agency services such as The Writer Finder to hire freelancers. These agencies comb through writer databases and find writers that are tailored to fit your specific needs. They typically charge a one-time fee to send over a curated list of writers. The writers are hand-selected based on their type of writing, expertise, and cost. These agencies take over the entire hiring process and it's an ideal choice for businesses that are too busy to search for writers and have the capital to outsource the hiring process.

How Are Freelancers Paid?

This depends largely on how the freelancer was hired. If you use a freelance marketplace, payment is typically arranged through the platform on a bi-monthly or monthly basis. The marketplace usually keeps a portion of the writer's fee and charges businesses a small fee to post job ads.

If you've chosen to hire a freelancer yourself, you have to decide how to process payment. Most professional writers work with potential clients to set up a system that streamlines payment and article terms. Many successful freelance writers receive payment via PayPal. The first step is to negotiate the rate with the freelance writer and decide how often they will be paid if it is an ongoing project.

The next step when arranging a freelance writing gig is to decide how payment will be processed. You can choose to pay using an online platform such as PayPal or Venmo or use an in-house payroll service. Payroll services are a good idea if you are working with freelancers on a regular basis since they help to keep tax contributions and other responsibilities organized.

Most freelancers are paid using an invoice system. The writer completes assignments and keeps track of the payment amount for each one. At the end of every two weeks or the month, the writer will draft an invoice with the outstanding payment amount. You can then choose to pay them using a payroll service or via PayPal or some other agreed-upon method. Do what works for you, but make sure to be 100 percent clear on the process before any writing is contracted.

Hiring A Freelance Writer

There are many different types of freelance writing. Whether you're looking for a freelance blogger or a social media savant to support your content marketing team, there is a content writer out there for you. If your office is looking to get published in trade magazines, optimize a sales page, or drive blog traffic, hiring a freelancer is a great way to achieve these goals.

Freelance writers help free up so much time for other team members so they can do their day job and focus on more important things. They also possess incredible writing skills that help you connect to potential consumers and build your brand reputation.

In the freelance writing world, not all writers are created equal. Look for writers that have extensive expertise in your industry. Always ask for writing samples to vet their writing style and see how well they present information. If you like their writing, set up an interview so you can get a feel for their personality and how well they can mesh with your existing content team. If you need help with your freelance business needs, reach out to us at The Writer Finder—we're happy to help you find the perfect writer for your needs.