Working with a Freelance Writer

Are you thinking about hiring a freelance writer? Most often, business owners consider that alternative when their own staff is already overwhelmed; no one on staff is an adequate writer or can agree on content; the business owner has too few writing projects to hire someone full-time; or customers are clearly seeking improved marketing materials, including a new or updated website.

If you are hiring a freelance writer for the first time, here is what you need to know:

1. Find a writer who grew up speaking and writing the primary language of your customers. If the primary language is English, you can certainly find writers from other countries who will write more cheaply than a native speaker–they will also make more cultural, idiomatic, and grammatical mistakes. Look for a freelance writer who considers freelancing a career, not a stepping stone to a full-time job, because you want that writer to be around for your next project. Ask for referrals from those who have already worked with the writer

2. Ask the writer for examples. You need a business-savvy writer with a style that fits your expectations. A portfolio will tell you more than a degree.

3. Understand that writing is a partnership between you and the writer. Writers need to start somewhere to develop content, whether by interviewing you or your customers for information; or by reading all the previous material written about a particular project or product; or by researching your competitors. Even writers who are steeped in your industry–remembering that a writer is a writer first–need access to information or to those who have information about your specific company, products, and services.

4. Keep reality in mind when setting deadlines; writing, editing, research, interviewing–it all takes time. And freelance writers usually have multiple clients who compete for that time. Your freelancer will help you determine a schedule and should keep you up to date every step of the way–if the freelancer fails to meet deadline, and seems to ignore the difficulty that creates for you, find a new freelancer.

5. Know that the customer comes first. What seems perfectly clear to you, with your inside and specialized knowledge, may confuse a potential customer. Your priorities (“let’s list every product we ever manufactured”) may conflict with the customer’s priorities (“tell me you can solve my problem”). A freelance writer’s main goal is to make sure your message is delivered clearly, concisely and passionately to your customers. So while the writer’s words may not be your words, they will be the customer’s.

You freelance writer should be committed to the work of writing, meeting deadlines, communicating clearly and professionally with you and your customers, and delivering content that you and your customers want to read.

From our base in Peterborough, NH, TWP Marketing & Technical Communications writes marketing copy that engages your customers and delivers your message with accuracy, clarity, and passion.

12 Reasons for Hiring a Freelance Writer

After 20 years as a freelance writer, I have discovered 12 reasons why business owners hire a freelance writer. Regardless of the business owner’s industry, years of experience or overall marketing expertise, hiring a freelance writer addresses one or more of these concerns:

1. I don’t have the time to write.

2. I know what I want to say but I don’t know how to say it.

3. I need someone who isn’t full time but is dependable; will handle my writing projects when they come along; and understands my business.

4. My products or services or solutions are complicated and/or highly technical, and I need a better way to explain them to potential customers.

5. I’d like to standardize my replies to customer inquiries, my marketing collateral or cold call scripts so that my brand is clear.

6. My proposal (or report or manual) writing team needs someone to unify the content and figure out what’s missing, repetitive or contradictory.

7. My business has changed; I need a collaborator who can clarify what I should be writing now and then write it for me.

8. I’m writing a blog and I’m out of ideas for posts.

9. I need more publicity online/in print but I don’t know how to go about it.

10. I’m not detail oriented–at least, not with writing. I need someone who actually enjoys grammar and spelling.

11. My current marketing collateral sounds exactly like my competition’s; I need a way to differentiate myself.

12. I hate writing.

A professional freelance writer is adept at clear and accurate communication, organizing information, collaboration, addressing customer concerns and priorities and providing creative content.

Why would you hire a freelance writer?

If you recognize yourself in any of the top reasons for hiring a freelance writer, please contact me. At TWP Marketing & Technical Communications, based in Peterborough, New Hampshire, our words mean business.

What Your Freelance Writer Needs to Know

Before you hire a professional freelance writer, you want to know the writer’s experience, rates, process, and reputation. But as a professional freelance writer, I also need to know five things about you:

1. Your deadline. I want to complete your marketing or technical writing project on time–even ahead of time–but that necessitates knowing your deadline. If your deadline isn’t realistic, I’ll let you know up front. If it is flexible, I’ll provide a ballpark on when to expect a first draft or finished project.

2. Your audience. What audience are you are trying to reach with your blog, website, success story, brochure, proposal, or user manual? “Everyone” is not an answer. Your audience will differ in their knowledge, problems, resources, and so on. How will you reach them? I may have suggestions for building an audience or selecting the most efficient marketing approach.

3. Your process. Will you correspond best by email, phone, or Skype? How easy will it be to connect with the people you want me to interview? How open will you be with information? Will your reviewers start editing each other’s edits? What is your approval process?

4. Your budget. I’m not asking because I want to gouge you; I’m asking because I don’t want either of us to have a surprise at the end. I’m happy to give you estimates on the basis you prefer: project, per page, hourly.

5. Your goal. Are you trying to educate, entertain, or inform your audience? Do you intend to follow up with them or do you expect them to contact you? Where does this project fit in your overall marketing plan? Would you be open to suggestions on how to meet your goal?

If you know your deadlines, audience, process, budget, and goal, you are ready to speak to a freelance writer. If you don’t, at TWP Marketing & Technical Communications, we have years of experience in helping companies just like yours figure out a solution that meets or exceeds your expectations.

That’s what a professional freelance writer does.

 

10 Reasons to Hire a Freelance Writer

  1. You have incredible ideas about your website, brochure, blog site, social media, and press releases–and no time. You need a freelance writer to execute.
  2. Your customers and staff keep asking you the same questions, over and over, taking up your time and overwhelming your help desk. You need clear, consistent information and directions for them.
  3. You have a writing project in mind but no budget or reason to hire a full-time writer. A freelance writer handles projects one-by-one as they come up.
  4. You have a great customer to interview but no idea what questions would generate a compelling story. A freelance writer with experience in interviewing not only has the right questions but the right objectivity.
  5. Your blog/website/brochure has fallen out of sync with what you actually do. You need someone to update it and keep it updated.
  6. You promised your customers a quarterly e-newsletter but the last publication was 10 months ago. You need a freelance writer to deliver fresh ideas, write the articles, and make sure the newsletter goes out on schedule.
  7. Five people contributed to your user manual/website/brochure, and now the content is inconsistent and redundant. You need one writer to create cohesive content out of chaos.
  8. No one is opening your newsletter or clicking on your online articles–no one at all! You need a professional writer to give you feedback and add some zest to your marketing copy.
  9. Every time you send marketing or technical content out for review, you get so many contradictory editorial comments that you’ve given up. You need a professional freelance writer to evaluate, prioritize, and make sense of the comments.
  10. None of your staff are confident in their English skills. Access to a freelance writer gives everyone assurance that content is written in standard and professional English.

If you are faced with any of these situations, I can help. With more than 15 years of experience as a freelance technical and marketing writer, for every size of company from Fortune 500 to sole proprietor, I deliver the content you need on schedule and on budget. At TWP Marketing & Technical Communications, our words mean business. Contact me today.

5 Questions Every Freelance Writer Will Ask You

I consider freelance writing a collaboration: My clients have something they want to communicate, and I want to communicate it in the best possible way. But like any professional freelance writer, I first need to know these 5 things:

1. Who is your audience? Every piece of marketing collateral should be written to someone. You cannot expect writing to engage customers if you are writing to “everyone” because not everyone wants your product or service, lives in the geographic area you serve, can afford what you offer or has a problem you can solve. The better I know your audience, the more my freelance writing will appeal to them.

2. What will you do with the final product? I need to know if the marketing collateral will appear online or in print, so that I know whether to include keywords, links, color photographs, black & white charts, etc. I need to know how a webpage or post fits into an existing website or blog; if a newsletter will be sent both electronically and by snail mail; and if information from an interview will be used as a testimonial in a brochure or as the basis for a case studies or white paper.

3. What is your timeline and budget? Every project takes time to complete; I expect to be paid for my time and expertise. I usually charge by the project–after all these years I can closely estimate how long most writing projects will take–but I can also charge by the hour or by the word. As a professional freelance writer, my goal is to complete your marketing collateral ahead of time and under budget. But to do that, I first need to know your expectations.

4. Who is my contact? Any writing project that will be reviewed by a committee takes far longer and is much more difficult to complete than a project that goes through one central client contact. Multiple reviewers tend to fight with each other, which makes it much harder for me to come up with a final product that everyone likes.

5. Will you be straightforward with me? Clients who tell me when something is wrong give me the chance to fix it; clients who are too polite to criticize make my job harder. The best client criticism is detailed and given in that collaborative spirit I spoke about earlier. As a professional writer, I welcome criticism because I like making clients happy.

If you are not sure about your own answers to any of those questions, give me a call or email me so that we can discuss your project further. A few minutes of conversation should start our collaboration on the right foot.

 

Freelance Writing: Why I Write

From the moment I could hold a pen, I started writing–before I could spell a word, I scribbled. At first, the lure was tactile: the smooth flow of ink on paper, the thought that someday my ideas might be enshrined forever and ever on that clean white sheet.

As time went on, another factor entered into my love of writing: communication. Here was a way I could say what I wanted to say, in the exact words and with the exact feelings that were so hard to find at a moment’s notice. Writing gave me the time and freedom to say what needed to be said. Unfortunately, it those days, my writing hero was Charles Dickens, and it took me a while to learn that clear communication required–well, clear writing: short, exact words; short sentences; crisp pacing.

Finally, I discovered that the ability to communicate clearly in writing held value for other business owners in other industries. They valued good writing for its ability to connect them with their customers; but they were inventors, builders, thinkers, managers and sellers, not writers. They needed my skill.

After 20+ years working for technical companies and technical publications, I moved to New Hampshire and became a freelance writer, branching out to help not only my old employers but companies in the retail, construction, service, financial, energy, medical and green industries.

As a freelance writer, I help businesses reach their customers and help customers find the solutions they need. My writing grows businesses, connects individuals and solves problems. What more could I want?

Working with a Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer of website content, blogs, newsletters, success stories, user manuals and other technical and marketing content, I find that the people who hire me are generally too nice for their own good. We freelance writers are tough. Here are a few facts you may not be aware of:

1. Freelance writers live on promises. They’re delighted to let you wait two or three months before paying them. In fact, if you think you might have additional work for a writer “sometime,” you might as well hold onto the check until sometime arrives.

2. Freelance writers have only have one client–you. They thrive on shifting deadlines; the time set aside for you will always be there, regardless of whether you move the deadline further way–or weeks closer.

3. Freelance writers love group reviews. There’s nothing like a committee for developing one unified, clear, logical vision of what your content should look and sound like. Everyone agrees with everyone else and no one ever edits anyone else’s ideas. As for delays while each group member takes a three-month vacation–never happens.

4. Freelance writers include anyone with a liberal arts degree: actors, poets, painters, musicians–well, maybe not poets; they get a little emotional. No need to worry about a writer’s primary language. Hey, if someone recognizes the alphabet, they’re a writer.

I hope that clears up a few myths about freelance marketing and technical writers. But if you need an experienced and flexible writer to help you over the rough places, please contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications.