What to Look for in a Freelance Writer: Session #1 Good Humor

Think about the columns you read regularly. Think about your favorite authors. Think about the ads and commercials that stick with you even years after you viewed them. They probably all have one thing in common: good humor.

When a piece of writing is comic or amusing, it resonates with people. It makes them smile. And when people are smiling, they are happier. The mere act of tipping up the corners of your mouth signals your brain to release dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine makes you feel happy and dispels depression. Serotonin erases worry and stress and also dispels depression. When something triggers a smile, whether it’s a piece of writing or something else, we associate it with feeling good.

No matter what type of writing you are hiring a freelance writer for, good humor should be near the top of the list of characteristics you are searching for in a writer. If you are hiring a freelance writer to market a product or a service, you definitely want your writer to know when to plug in a punch line.

While sad people do tend to spend more money overall, over 67% of people (whether happy or sad) respond well to humor in marketing, with 45-64 year-olds viewing humor even more favorably than their younger counterparts.  If you want to appeal to all audiences, playful wittiness in your writing or ad copy will strengthen your message. It will alleviate a bit of sadness, so sad folks will think favorably of your product or service as they are spending, as will happy people. Win-win.

Keep in mind that humor only works as long as no one gets hurt. The same goes for hiring a freelance writer to create your newsletters, emails, or other projects. Humor that cuts at a group of people will not be as effective as humor that uplifts everyone. If you find a freelance writer who is highly skilled at humorously tearing apart your competition, know that most readers (especially consumers under the age of 45) will prefer less comedy and more fact in the comparison between what you offer and what your competition offers. But those facts can still be shared in a way that makes people smile.

Levity that is uplifting and genuine does help sell products, services, and experiences, so keep in mind that if you hire a freelance writer who naturally has a good sense of fun accompanied by a respectful knack for expressing that fun, hire that writer! Whimsy can always be reined in for pieces where comedy is neither needed nor appropriate, but it’s harder to hire a somber freelance writer and expect that person to be able to fake being funny. That’d be like hiring Sarah Palin when you really need Tina Fey.