Freelance Writers: How to Find Freelancers to Outsource to When You’re Too Busy

By Karen Cioffi.

Freelance writing is a business. It doesn’t matter if you work from home or have an office; it’s a business and needs to be treated as one. Along with being a business, freelance writing, for many, has its ups and downs, its slow times, its busy times. But, what do you do during an exceptionally busy time when you get more work than you can handle?

Your Backup System

From experience, I learned that you need to have a few things in place. One of the main things is having a backup system – a team of reliable contractors in place who are professional, reliable and capable of handling jobs you outsource to them.

The Difference between Independent Contractors and Employees

The reason you want to use independent contractors (instead of outright hiring an employee) is for tax and convenience purposes.

With an employee, you pay them even if you don’t need them. With independent contractors, you hire on an as-need basis, of course. And, you’re not responsible for paying their taxes; they are (you’ll issue them a 1099 instead of a W2, which full- and part-time employees receive).

Finding a Freelancer: The Importance of Choosing the Right Team

how to find reliable freelance writers to outsource work toIt’s common knowledge that as a writer, no matter what you write it’s a reflection of your writing skills. This even includes the comments you leave on social networks and blogs.

Well, this extends to the freelancers you outsource work to. Keep in mind as you’re sourcing candidates that they’ll be a reflection of your writing skill and your professionalism.

Choose the right ones, and you can make your life so much easier and save you so much time. Choose the wrong ones, and oh boy, let’s just say it can be a nightmare.

Where to Find Freelancers

This can run the gamut from free classified ad sites like Craigslist, to social media, to popular freelance writing websites like FreelanceWritingGigs. Finding freelancers will be the least of your problems; finding qualified ones will be the main problem.

Finding Freelancers: My Experience Outsourcing Work to Other Writers

As a freelance business owner, you certainly don’t want to take on a job and then find out the writer(s) you subcontracted with aren’t capable of handling the job. This has happened to me and I ended up spending lots of time editing and even rewriting content to ensure it was acceptable to the client.

Out of five contractors I hired, two were lacking terribly and a third really wasn’t qualified either. This just added so much time, effort and stress to the entire gig.

Bottom line, you could end up losing money, in the sense that you’ll be working much harder for the same pay. Or worse, you might end up missing a deadline.

So, how do you make sure the freelance writers you subcontract with knows her stuff?

How to Find Freelancers: 4 Methods I’ve Used to Find Reliable Contract Writers

Following are four methods I’ve used to vet independent contractors.

1. Research the writer.

Check out the writer’s website. See what type of content they write and how the website is set up. This is one of the first indicators of whether the potential team member is a professional. The website should be focused. You should quickly be able to determine that it is indeed the site of a freelance writer.

Also keep in mind that being website savvy is not always a sure sign of writing ability. This method of vetting freelancers should be used in conjunction with others, eg . . .

2. Ask for a writing sample.

You might ask the contractor to supply a writing sample in line with the type of work needed. For example, if your gig is for health content you might request a sample in line with the content needed.

This method and it’s not always a true indicator of the writer’s abilities in a particular niche. It’d be helpful and a better indicator if you give explicit instructions, such as keywords and other particulars for the content needed.

3. Use the trial-and-error method.

You can hire them and after a couple of articles or other content submitted determine if they’re qualified. If the writer isn’t qualified, you’ve wasted time that will need to be made up to ensure the job is done professionally and on time.

What I learned with this method is that you need to give yourself enough room, just in case. Instead of hiring three freelancers, hire five and offer less work to each, with the possibility of more. This gives you some leeway. It’s kind of like a backup for your backup.

The good thing about this method is you’ll find out so many things about your potential member, eg, are they reliable, will they respond to communication in a timely manner, can they meet deadlines, etc.

All of this is important and helps you to choose the best members for your team for the long haul.

4. Work with writers you already know.

This is probably the best scenario. If you know freelance writers, know their qualifications, it will save you a lot of time and possible headaches.

Being a freelance writer, you never know when the next ‘big’ job will come along, one that you can’t handle on your own. Taking the time to find reliable, qualified help when you’re not in the thick of it, so to speak, can help you be ready when “the big one” does come along.

Share Your Thoughts on Outsourcing to Other Freelancers

Have you ever outsourced work to other freelance writers? Have you wanted to but were afraid to? What did you find easy/difficult about the process? What would you do differently next time? What advice would you give to other freelancers about outsourcing? Please share in the comments section below.

About the Author: Karen Cioffi is an author, freelance writer, and online platform instructor. She is also the founder and manager of Writers on the Move, a marketing group for authors and writers.

Learn how to boost your writing and marketing efforts with Karen via The Writing World newsletter, where you’ll receive weekly tips and guidance, plus updates on free webinars. Sign up today and get “How to Create an Optimized Website – 3 Essential Author Website Elements and 9 Must-Have Pages.”

P.S.: Learn how to take your freelance business to the next level by outsourcing.

It’s the number one way to grow your business to the point where you’re earning more, without working more.

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    1. This article really helpful for me. Basically i am belonging from HR profession, currently we have opening for an content writer hopefully your article help me out to fulfil the recruitment. Please if possible kindly send me the links of such websites.

    2. Nancy, you’re so busy writing for children’s educational publishers, it’s no wonder you’d need help, even if just for research.

      While most freelancers may not come across a project that requires more than one subcontractor, you just never know. Better to be prepared – I wish I had been.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Karen Cioffi` recently posted…Freelance Writing – How to Avoid Underestimating Price and Time (7 tips)My Profile

    3. Melissa, I am also pro ‘pay it forward.’ As you and Yuwanda note, it’s good karma and just the right thing to do.

      But, sometimes a job comes along that you’re responsible for, but can’t humanly do completely on your own. I got a health writing job for 80 to 100 articles per month, in addition to product descriptions. This was in addition to other work I had. And, when opportunity comes a knockin’ . . . 🙂

      I’ll write more about that experience in other articles. It was interesting and taught me plenty.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Karen Cioffi` recently posted…Freelance Writing – How to Avoid Underestimating Price and Time (7 tips)My Profile

    4. Karen, these are great tips. I’ve thought about doing this but haven’t been sure where to start. Thanks for the nudge!

    5. Excellent and informative article, Karen. In all my years as a freelancer, I’ve never actually hired other writers to work for me (probably because I’m a compulsive perfectionist), but it’s definitely something to consider. When I get swamped, I just work longer hours! I have also recommended other freelancers I know for jobs that I can’t take on, and while that doesn’t earn me an immediate fee, it does pay off in the long run because then these people recommend me!

      • @Melissa:

        RE “When I get swamped, I just work longer hours!”

        I did this for years (still do to some degree). But the way I started to grow my business was to bring others on. When you touch every project yourself, you’re trading your time for money. But leverage is how you grow a biz; and to do that means to leverage your time. It took me years to really digest this lesson. But once I did, boy what a difference it made to my business.

        One more thing, RE recommending other freelancers — you’re right, it comes back to you in spades. Karma truly does pay off, esp with freelancers b/c we tend to be a bunch who revels in helping others. 🙂

        Thanks for dropping by and sharing your experiences. I appreciate it.

    6. Yuwanda, that’s great to know!
      Karen Cioffi` recently posted…Freelance Writing – How to Avoid Underestimating Price and Time (7 tips)My Profile

    7. Shirley, I’m guessing you’re talking of something like a barter system. I haven’t heard of this is practice, but that’s not to say it doesn’t exist. From my experience, writers usually want to be paid for their work when it’s done. Interesting thought though.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Karen Cioffi` recently posted…Freelance Writing – How to Avoid Underestimating Price and Time (7 tips)My Profile

    8. Maggie, using social networks is an excellent way to go. My preference would be LinkedIn, although I don’t take the recommendations seriously. And, as a freelancer there are a number of other networks or groups you can use. Sites like Inkwell Editorial and groups like the Professional Writers Alliance are good places to cast out a fishing line.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Karen Cioffi` recently posted…Freelance Writing – How to Avoid Underestimating Price and Time (7 tips)My Profile

    9. Suzanne, using writers you know it the way to go. But, sometimes the genre (e.g., specific business or health topics)you’re project is in isn’t familiar to writers in your circle. Then you might find the need to go beyond the writers you know.
      Karen Cioffi` recently posted…Freelance Writing – How to Avoid Underestimating Price and Time (7 tips)My Profile

    10. Carolyn, I have your book and love it! You’re so right that when the need arises to partner with other writers care should be taken.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Karen Cioffi` recently posted…Freelance Writing – How to Avoid Underestimating Price and Time (7 tips)My Profile

    11. @Suzanne:

      As you so astutely point out, networking with other writers is a great way to find reliable outsource help when you need it.

      And social media is tailor made for this IMO, esp sites like LinkedIn (as poster Magdalena pointed out).

      Thanks for dropping by.
      Yuwanda, Site Editor recently posted…Freelance Writers: How to Find Freelancers to Outsource to When You’re Too BusyMy Profile

    12. @Karen:

      I’m excited to have a writer of your caliber aboard. I look forward to having you share your wealth of knowledge with Inkwell Editorial’s readers.

      And, your first post is a hit! Congrats 🙂
      Yuwanda, Site Editor recently posted…Freelance Writers: How to Find Freelancers to Outsource to When You’re Too BusyMy Profile

    13. Karen, this is an interesting thought. Do you ever hear of writers “trading” articles. In other words, “Will you do this for me in exchange for me doing something similar for you in one of your busy periods?”
      Shirley Corder recently posted…The Birth of a BabyMy Profile

    14. Yuwanda, I’m excited to have my first article with Inkwell Editorial!
      Karen Cioffi` recently posted…4 Basic Website Questions Every Landing Page Must Answer and Answer QuicklyMy Profile

    15. Great tips, Karen. I think all of us could use a little extra help now and again. I particularly like the ‘use someone you know’ tip. We all have a social network and this is exactly what the network is for. LinkedIn is particularly good (though I don’t take the endorsements seriously) as it often has job history and even resumes available.

    16. Hey, Karen,

      Great tips. I think subcontracting writers you know is the safest way to go. And if you network regularly with other writers, you’re sure to have a great list of people to use when you need help.
      Suzanne Lieurance recently posted…Do Parentheses Have a Place in Fiction?My Profile

    17. Karen, in my multi award-winning The Frugal Editor, I talk a little about how to choose an editor (also often a freelance situation). It isn’t easy. But certainly it should be done with as much or more care than hiring a plumber. Our whole project (or book) depends on getting one who does more than the basics and from whom we can easily partner with.

      Carolyn Howard-Johnson
      Loving helping writers get read with my HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including the multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) .