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Many marketing teams find themselves in the position of needing to outsource some or all of their content creation. The problem is: Finding the right creators is tough.
I hear horror stories all the time.
The content they wrote needed so much editing, I may as well have written it myself.
It wasn’t written in our voice at all.
They took my money and disappeared.
The writer delivered the content three days late – and it was only half of the content we paid for.
I admit, freelancing early in my career, I enjoyed hearing these stories. They reminded me that while there might be a lot of copywriters out there, I didn’t actually have a ton of competition. I turned in great work, always on time, and went above and beyond to deliver more than my clients asked for. Apparently there were a lot of writers out there who simply didn’t do these things.
When I shifted gears from being a full-time freelancer to being a business owner, however, these horror stories began horrifying me. I was now in the position to hire freelancers to support my business, and I struggled to find copywriters who were both talented and reliable.
So in order to help you avoid having to tell your own horror stories, I’ve rounded up some resources for you.
Most marketing managers immediately head to the writers-for-hire websites. Sure, with enough due diligence, you can find a diamond in the rough there now and then (more on that below) – but there’s actually a more direct way to find that carefully cut and polished gem.
The best-of-the-best freelancers are booked up months in advance, and they can afford to be very, very picky. If you want to woo one of these guys or gals to your outsourced marketing team, you’ll need to seek them out and “romance” them a little.
In other words, get to know them and help them get to know you.
Go to networking events where content creators gather. You’ll find a plethora of writers at marketing and copywriting conferences, or even local meet-ups, and communities like Boston Content, or Seattle Content.
Take the time to socialize and get to know as many of the writers there as you can. Get their contact information so you can follow up with those whom you feel might be a good fit.
Then – vet them. Check them out on LinkedIn. Scope out their websites. Ask them for clips or portfolios if you can’t find examples of past work on their websites.
(Note: Don’t get turned off right away if a writer doesn’t have clips on their website. Some freelancers don’t post examples of their work because they’re protecting the confidentiality of their clients. Never hesitate to ask for clips!)
Finally, once you’ve narrowed your list down to a handful of content creators, meet with them. Go have coffee with them if you can. If you can’t do that, get on the phone with them. Tell them about your brand, your business needs and any preferences you have about working with them.
(Note: A pro will ask you about your business long before they launch into talking about rates and scope of work.)
That should help you get a feel for each freelancer before you have spent your marketing budget on hiring them.
If you must start with the writer-for-hire websites, start here. These are 3 places I personally know great content writers are hanging out online. You’ll still need to go through the listings and talk to quite a few before you find your next hire, but these sites will give you a great head-start.
All the writers listed on this webpage have gone through Copyblogger’s certification program. In order to keep their good standing, they are required to maintain their Copyblogger membership, so you can be sure of two things:
They are keeping up on their content marketing education.
They are serious enough about their career that they’re investing money in it.
All the writers on this page have gone through the Copy Hackers conversion copywriting training program and passed the very rigorous exam at the end. Most of the writers you’ll find here specialize in conversion copywriting, and tend to lean more toward writing website copy, sales pages, and marketing/sales emails – but you can find a content writer here from time to time as well.
Snap Copy is actually a bit different, and regardless of the name it is unnaffiliated with both us, SnapApp, and Snapchat (if you can believe that). Instead of wading through writer bios, you buy credits, submit your small writing project, and the Snap leadership team will assign the best writer to your project. Though you can certainly send Snap your ongoing content projects, this site is great in a pinch, too.
You might have noticed I didn’t include some of the cheaper writer-for-hire sites in that last section. There’s a reason for it. You won’t find experienced, high-quality writers on sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
Who you will find on those sites are writers who are just starting out, and writers who live outside the country and may not have a strong command of your language.
You might be thinking “But I’ll get more for my money if I hire cheap writers!”
No. No you won’t. You’ll get the added costs of in-depth editing and full rewrites. Not to mention wasted time and a lot of frustration.
If you want to hire someone who can help you get results from your content – choose carefully. Experience, skill, and good business practices count for a lot.
Treat your content creators like valued team members. That’s really what it all boils down to.
For more on this, check out our recent post How to Best Manage Freelancers + Guiding Them With Strong Research Practices.
Hopefully now you have some good sources to work from the next time you need to hire a freelance content creator.
Remember, however, that the best source of all is your own network. Talk to your colleagues at other companies and find out who they’re hiring to help them with their content.
Pro tip: If you reach out to a freelancer and they tell you they’re booked up (and you’re not in a position to join their waiting list), don’t hesitate to ask them if they know any other freelancers that may be able to help them. The copywriting / content writing world is a small one. More than likely the writer will be able to give you a few more names to reach out to.