How to Find a Freelance Writer & Work With Them – Client Guide

Where do you find a freelance writer? How can you be sure they fit your needs? How do you set up your writing projects for success and long-term writer relationships?

Whether you are looking to simply hire a writer to fulfill a short term need, or need a team of professional copywriters to grow your business, this guide will share everything you need to know about finding and working with freelance writers.

Part One: Do You Need a Freelance Writer?

Let’s face it. From emails to text messages to online forums and social media, we all write all day every day. If you enjoy writing and are confident in your skills, you may wonder if you even need a freelance writer in the first place.

However, even if you like writing and have the time, it’s always a good idea to engage a professional writer for projects like:

  • Blog posts
  • Press releases
  • Technical and whitepapers
  • User manuals and how-tos
  • Advertisements and marketing copy
  • Product descriptions
  • Video scripts
  • Interviews and profiles
  • Websites and brochures
  • Sponsored content for other sites, networks, and publications
  • Public speeches, sales presentations

A professional writer has specialized skills and knowledge about the content and style needed for these different projects, and is aware of industry standards and best practices that will produce more effective results.

A freelance writer also writes for a living, so they are able to maintain a company blog or create social media content on a regular basis, without balancing the competing priorities you may face in your daily work. 

Consistency is key when building a following, so engaging one or more regular freelance writers is a great way to stay on schedule.

However, not every writing project is a great fit for a freelance writer. If you are too busy for your regular workplace writing tasks, you may be considering outsourcing some of your internal communications to a freelance writer. But certain writing projects are usually not good projects for a standard freelance writer, like:

  • Company newsletters
  • Internal reports and presentations
  • Company policies and training materials

Most company internal communications use specialized language or acronyms, refer to specific individuals and departments, have an unusual degree of industry or insider information, or assume a broader context of goals, initiatives, plans, and projects that are difficult to explain to an outsider.

They also may require special confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements, depending on your company policies. These types of writing are better suited to an employee who understands the company language and context, and it may be better to hire a staff writer if you have a large volume of these types of tasks. 

Part Two: What to Expect when Hiring a Freelance Writer

A large part of successful freelance writing projects depends on setting your expectations correctly, and understanding how to work with a writer before you even begin. Here are some of the things to know and understand before you begin looking for a writer.

  1. Research market rates and prices. Individual freelance writer rates can vary dramatically depending on the project, the platform, and their skills and experience. Different types of writing projects can also be priced by the project, by the word, by the page, or by the character.

    A few minutes of searching will reveal widely divergent prices (from $50-$1000 per blog post, for example), but will help you develop realistic expectations for your budgeting.

    We have a dedicated post on Freelance Copywriting Fees that you may find useful.
  2. Know how to prepare a brief. Before engaging with a prospective writer, you should prepare your brief. The brief will answer many of the writer’s initial questions and help you reach an agreement about rates and deadlines. In brief (ha!), your brief should include:
    • Project parameters, including what the project is, expected length, and expected time frame
    • Audience and objectives, including reader profiles and your CTA
    • Key points that need to be covered in the content
    • Writing style and tone of voice guidelines
  3. Look for references to share with your writer. Finding references and examples is a great tool to use with a freelance writer, but can also be valuable for aligning your internal team and getting everyone on the same page. Look for similar projects that you really like, or even examples of what you don’t like and don’t want.
  4. Plan for internal reviews and notes. If you have several internal stakeholders, make a plan for the writer’s communication channel, and when and how notes and feedback will be given. It’s always helpful if you can gather and coordinate internal feedback, and communicate with the writer through a single person, to avoid late or conflicting feedback. 

Part Three: How to Find a Freelance Writer

Once you have prepared the project framework, you are ready to begin searching for a writer. 

There are endless ways to find the right freelance writer for your needs, but here are some of the most common methods.

  • Seek referrals. If there is a particular example that you like, reach out and ask who wrote it. Ask your coworkers and contacts if they know of writers who might be a good fit for you.
  • Leverage your network. Many professional writers are active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks, and they can be found by a simple search. This is a good method for being able to research a writer’s style and relevant experience before contacting them.
  • Ask a writer for recommendations. If you know of a good writer who is too busy for your project, ask them if they can refer or recommend someone else. Many writers are active on content platforms, writer’s forums, and other places where they connect with each other.
  • Post your request on a job board. There are several websites and resources designed specifically to connect clients with writers. Some of the most established writer boards are ProBlogger, Freelance Writers Den, and Writer’s Weekly.

    There are also online job boards that aren’t as specialized for finding writers, including sites like UpWork and Media Bistro. Keep in mind that each of these platforms will have their own rates and policies, and may have different agreements in their Terms of Service. UpWork, for example, is more than a job board: it requires you and the writer to use their payment platform indefinitely.
    • Pros of using a job board:
      • Your writing project is seen by a large number of professional writers, increasing your chances of finding a good fit
      • Some platforms allow both clients and freelancers to rate and review each other, so you can choose freelancers with a track record of satisfying their clients.
    • Cons of using a job board:
      • Every board has different policies and expectations; you may need to try a few to find one that is a good fit for your needs.
  • Use a content mill. A content mill is a platform that coordinates a team of qualified writers to regularly fulfill writing requests. You can post a list of topics and time frames, along with your style guide and other information, and various writers on the platform will complete your writing jobs.

    Platforms like Verbilio, TextBroker, and Scripted typically have set rates, where you purchase credits on the platform, and then they distribute the money for each completed job. These platforms usually pre-screen writers, provide writer ratings and reviews, and have a communication platform for notes and feedback.
    • Pros of using a content mill:
      • For ongoing projects like a company blog, it can streamline the process of regularly getting content, because you only have to describe your project and your needs one time
      • The platform does much of the work of pre-screening, plagiarism checking, and following up on your deadlines for you.
    • Cons of using a content mill:
      • Your writing projects may be written by a different writer every time, so there can be unevenness in writing quality, style, and tone of voice
      • In order to keep clients on the platform, many content mills restrict one-on-one communication and feedback with individual writers, so it can be a challenge to talk about the work with the person completing it
      • For ongoing writing jobs, many people prefer to build a relationship with one or more writers, rather than a content platform, so that they get writing that is more consistent in style and quality.
  • Hire an agency. The explosion of content marketing has led to the growth of a number of writing agencies. Agencies manage your writing projects for you, using their team of freelance writers to meet your needs. Agencies like Semrush Marketplace,, or Blu Mint offer set pricing and project management, so you simply get the content you need.
    • Pros of using an agency:
      • The agency coordinates and manages your writing projects, finding writers who are a good match, ensuring the work is completed on time, and ensuring that the work meets quality standards.
      • Agencies can work at very high volume if and when you need a lot of content.
    • Cons of using an agency:
      • Agencies are usually optimized for high quality, large volume writing, but it can also be too generic; content that reflects your brand, is optimized for your SEO, or appeals to your specific audience may have an additional cost.
  • Use an online forum. Reddit, for example, has many subforums where you can post writing jobs or look for writers. The subreddits hireawriter and freelancewriters can be a good place to share your jobs, and there are lots of smaller subreddits for different specialized content needs.

    Be aware that online forums are, well, online forums; if potential writers don’t like your project or your offered rates, they may comment accordingly. Moderators may have strict rules about what kinds of jobs can be posted or how posts should be formatted. It’s usually better to spend some time reading and understanding the specific community before participating in it.

Do You Need a Specialist?

Most of these freelance writing solutions are built around standard writing tasks like blog posts, websites, social media, and the like. They may not be the right solution if you need a specialist freelance writer. Some examples of specialized writing may be:

  • Technical, legal, or scientific writing. These writers can be more difficult to find and much more expensive.
  • Creative or fiction ghostwriting. Ghostwriting usually requires a collaborative relationship with the writer, and relies less on simply creating a brief.
  • Bi- or multilingual writing. If you need to localize your content, a bilingual writer is an excellent choice, because they can ensure that style, tone, and messaging remains consistent through the translation process.
  • eBooks. Self-published eBooks are a popular marketing technique, but can be a big project. Look for a very high-quality writer with experience, and offer payments by milestone rather than upon completion.
  • Journalism. Journalism is a specialized form of writing, but there are a lot of great freelance journalists. You may simply read a piece you like and approach that writer individually.
  • Concepting. It’s no surprise that, with the large volume of blog posts and social media content that is in demand, you may run out of ideas for your company blog. In that case, you may look for a “pitching platform” like nDash, where writers come up with ideas for you. 

Part Four: Choosing and Onboarding a Freelance Writer

If you are using a content mill or an agency, you won’t need to onboard a freelance writer at all. But for everyone else, once you’ve connected with a potential writer, here are the best ways to make sure they are the right fit for your needs:

Writer Evaluation

Ask the right questions. When you are first communicating with a new writer, share your brief with them. Make sure that the writer:

  • Has relevant experience
  • Has the schedule to meet your deadline
  • Has availability for ongoing work, if relevant
  • Can work within your budget

Once you have a basic understanding, request relevant writing samples from the writer. Ask for 2-3 examples of their past projects.

Remember that many professional writers ghostwrite their work (i.e. it is published under someone else’s name), or may not be allowed to disclose all their clients, but all writers should be able to produce meaningful examples of their work.

When reviewing writing samples, here are the things to be most mindful of:

  • Is the work readable? In other words, is it free of mistakes and typos? Do the sentences, paragraphs, and overall structure hang together and make sense? Is it easy to follow the writer’s intention and make sense of the piece?
  • Is it relevant? Relevant doesn’t have to mean about your specific topic or industry. “Relevant” should relate to your desired feel or tone.

    For example, if you want content with a professional, expert tone, does the sample demonstrate that? If you are looking for something light-hearted and humorous, has the writer displayed that? If you want persuasive writing that moves the reader toward a CTA, is that reflected in the sample?

If you don’t feel like the provided samples demonstrate the quality of writing and professional execution you are looking for, thank the writer for their time and move on. If you like the work but aren’t 100% sure about whether they are a good fit for you, consider a test.  

Writer Testing

For large projects, ongoing work, or simply to make sure you’re on the same page with your writer, a paid test or trial is a great way to build a relationship before committing to a large undertaking. Most writers welcome these sorts of tests, because it helps both of you make sure you aren’t wasting your time on a larger project.

To create a writer test:

  1. Create a small (~500 word) assignment using the process you would use for a full-length project (your briefing template, style guide, etc)
  2. Offer a reasonable payment for the trial
  3. Establish a reasonable deadline for the trial

When you receive a writer test, it’s always a good idea to run it through a grammar checker and a plagiarism checker to verify the originality and quality of their writing. 

When evaluating a writer test, don’t just read and react to the result. Pay attention to the process.

  • Did the writer ask good questions?
  • Does the final product reflect what was indicated in the brief?
  • Was the trial completed on time?
  • Were you happy with the amount of communication?

Remember that the writer will also be using the test to evaluate you as a client. They will be considering:

  • Was the brief clear and effective?
  • Were the rate and deadline reasonable?
  • Did the client promptly answer questions or reply to communication?
  • Did the client give meaningful notes or comments?
  • Did the client pay on time? 

The test should be successful from both perspectives before you proceed to the next step.

Establishing a Work Agreement with a Freelance Writer

Once you have found a promising writer, it’s time to establish a work agreement. A work agreement may be a written contract, or simply a string of messages. Either way, make sure that you have an agreement in writing before proceeding.

Assuming you’ve already written your brief in earlier steps, here are some of the factors to include in your work agreement. 

  • Any privacy or non-disclosure expectations
  • Submission guidelines (do you want them to send document attachments? Send links to google docs?)
  • Payment time frames and methods. Do you want them to invoice you? Will you pay with PayPal or some other money transfer service? 

If you are planning on working with your writer on an ongoing basis, the more information you give them, the better. If it’s relevant, share your content strategy, your future goals, and your most pressing needs, and ask for their ideas, suggestions, and feedback.

The best writer relationships are collaborative, where you are both working together with a shared understanding toward shared goals, so make the writer part of your team. 

Part Five: How to Manage and Keep a Freelance Writer

While there are seemingly millions of writers in the world, good ones are hard to find and hard to keep. Once you’ve invested your time, money, and energy into building a relationship with a freelance writer, it’s important to build on that and maintain a productive relationship.

Here are some tips for managing a writer and your writing projects:

  • Consider using project management software. Using a platform like Trello or Slack can help you keep your writing projects organized and streamline communication with your writer(s). It saves time in reading and tracking tons of emails, and builds good shared reference for both of you. This is especially valuable if you are working with multiple freelance writers and need to track projects with all of them.
  • Manage your edits. It’s normal for there to be relevant comments and feedback as you work with a writer. However, nobody likes endless notes and changes, and they cost time and money. If your writing projects get hung up on many rounds of edits, something needs to change.

    Here are some things to review and modify:
    • Your internal review process. Does it often happen that your team gives conflicting notes and feedback? In some companies, that’s simply part of the culture, but try to keep it from affecting your writer.

      Work internally to collate feedback and build consensus, and communicate combined and cohesive notes to the writer
    • Your brief. If certain questions or edits come up over and over again, consider including those points in the brief and establishing them at the beginning of the project
    • The fit. If you find yourself repeating notes and edits, it’s possible that this simply isn’t the right writer for your needs. Chances are, if you’re not feeling it, the writer isn’t either, and it’s fine for you to agree that the relationship isn’t working out
    • Your rate. Some people and companies simply feel that multiple rounds of edits and notes, late edits, last-minute changes, etc. are necessary to get the project just right. This is particularly true for long-lived writing projects like websites or print brochures.

      If necessary, talk with the writer about increasing the rate to accommodate for these additional rounds of review and their flexibility for last-minute requests. 

Keeping Your Writer(s) Happy

Freelance writers are a resilient bunch, and it doesn’t take a lot to keep them happy.

Building a long-term productive relationship can be as simple as:

  1. Being open to ideas and feedback. Your writer may have suggestions for your content, your style or voice, or your strategy. They will often have valuable feedback on your briefs, your project management system, or your feedback process. Take their thoughts and ideas into account
  2. Being flexible. Everyone has occasional scheduling conflicts or mishaps. People get sick, internet connections go down, emails get lost… staying laid back and flexible helps keep your writers happy, and also saves you a lot of stress and heartburn
  3. Paying on time. It’s that simple. 


The global marketplace has hundreds of thousands of good (and bad) freelance writers, especially with the huge demands for all kinds of online content. There are dozens of good ways to find them and lots of solutions available to meet your writing needs. 

However, in my view, for ongoing projects, the best way to work with freelance writers is to build productive, long term direct relationships. So if you can, try and recruit directly and not via an agency, content mill etc. It helps to ensure that your content is consistent in style and tone, and saves time and money over time as the writer requires less detailed briefs, fewer notes and revisions, and adapts to your needs and schedule.

Whilst there are many great freelance writers around, actually finding them and onboarding them takes time and some trial and error. So when you find a good writer who understands your work and style, communicates well, and delivers on time, do what you can to keep them.

Photo of author

About Rebekah Villon

Rebekah Villon is a professional writer and marketing consultant who specialises in strategic content for B2B communications. In her personal life, she enjoys the freedom of remote digital work while travelling, pursuing hobbies, and continuous learning.

Leave a Comment