10 Things You Must Know Before You Hire ANY Professional Writer

In this article, we’re going to look at ten things you must know before you hire any professional writer. In order to get the results you want, you need to be clear about your expectations and be able to convey them in a way that the writer will understand.

When things go awry in a writing project, the number one culprit is usually poor communication. In this report you’ll learn how to communicate effectively with any writer(s) you choose to work with.

  1. The first thing you need to know is not all writers are created equal. Some are copywriters, who work on direct mail, advertising and promotional pieces. Some writers are journalists, who work for newspapers. Some work as ghost writers. And some writers work for magazines, creating articles on different topics, such as health, lifestyle, technical topics and more.

As an example, if you hire a technical writer, here are some important traits to look for:

  • Clear communication.
  • Minimal use of jargon, except when absolutely necessary.
  • Writes as if speaking to a ten year-old (this is important because it forces the writer to be clear).
  • A writer who explains all the steps and doesn’t assume that the reader knows the subject. This is a major error made by many software publishers and instructional book writers. If the writer omits a step because he/she thinks the reader should know it, the entire teaching process could fail.
  • Uses many illustrations, photos and screen shots when explaining a process and, if necessary, will create a video. This is important because quite often, text is not enough and the only way to truly explain the process is with video.
  1. Before beginning a project, ask the writer for samples of their work. Many writers will be able to provide print samples and/or published works online. Ask for references and see if the writer is involved with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Interview the people who wrote the references and see if they hold up in real life.

Note: And while it’s acceptable to ask a writer for examples of published work, it’s not OK to ask a writer to create a free sample. That’s a red flag to many a professional writer.


Because it’s a common scam online.  In this case, the employer asks the writer to create a sample article. More often than not, the job doesn’t exist; the “apparent” employer absconds with the work and the writer doesn’t receive a penny. If you ask a writer to create a sample piece, be prepared to pay for it.

* There’s one caveat to this rule. If you’re hiring writers from outsourcing sites, it’s wise to administer a short writing test (usually a paragraph) on a subject you know well, as a screening test. The reason for doing this is twofold: To make sure that the writer can deliver, and also because on outsourcing sites, profiles can be faked and if you hire someone without doing your due diligence, you could wind up with substandard writing.

  1. Some writers also have other skills, such as the ability to produce illustrations, photography, screen shots, video and more. It’s important to find out up-front what the writer can do. If the writer can cover these areas for you, it will save you valuable time. Bear in mind that if the writer offers these services, expect to pay more for a project.
  2. When working with a writer it’s important to be clear about what you want. Here are some things to consider:
  • Have a clear outline.
  • If writing a book or manual, break things down by chapter and section.
  • Do you want the writer to edit their own work or will you take it to someone else?
  • Do you expect the writer to create and build a layout in addition to writing?
  • Make sure you have detailed writing guidelines and/or a style guide. If possible, provide writing samples. This will make it easier to get the results you want.
  1. As mentioned earlier, not all writers are created equal. Fees will vary widely, depending on the subject matter and the writer’s experience. As a case in point, don’t expect to pay a copywriter the same rates you would use for an article writer.

As for payments, the best way is by project. That way you know what your expenses will be, up-front. If the project is billed by the hour, costs can go up quickly and unpredictably.

  1. When beginning to work with a writer, a good strategy is to start with small projects and see how well the writer performs. If you’re satisfied with the result, upgrade the assignment(s). While you might want to stipulate that a writer has to have a good working knowledge of your subject, that’s not always necessary. A good writer can write about anything, assuming that they have access to the proper resources. One such technique is to interview experts using resources such as HARO (Help a Reporter Out – http://www.helpareporter.com/), Free Publicity (http://www.freepublicity.com) and PR Marketer (http://www.prmarketer.com/).
  2. Hire a writer who is proactive. This is a writer who can take the ideas and topics they’re given and come up with different ways of writing the article, report, etc. A good question to ask (and engage the writer) is: “How would you write about this topic?”
  3. Make sure that the writer has a good attitude. This is extremely important, especially if you want to build a long-term relationship. This is one reason why you need to check references, not just for the quality of writing, but to see how well the writer gets along with others.
  4. The last step is to sign a contract with the writer, one that clearly spells out all the terms, when the writing is to be delivered, fee schedules and cancellation fees (if applicable). Revisions should also be covered, since they’re often necessary. Having everything in writing keeps both of you on track and eliminates problems later. Make sure to keep a copy of the document for yourself, as well.


You now know what’s involved when deciding to work with any professional writer. Implementing these steps will make it easier to get the results you seek and will also make life easier for both you and the writer(s) you hire.

An Invitation from Nathan Segal

Do you want to increase your profits? Write to me or call me at (408) 844-4851 for a complimentary consultation on how writing can make money for your business (value $250.00).