What to Look for in a Freelance Writer: Session #3 Hire a Real Person

Please hire a freelance writer who is a real person, writing and working for themselves, not for some cheap labor camp where blogs, white papers, and research papers are tapped out by a person with whom you are not allowed to have a real working relationship.

When I became a full-time freelance writer and editor, I thought the best way to start would be to work for a few of those paper mills. I’m not talking about toilet paper and tissues mills here; I’m talking about those companies that hire writers to create research papers for students in need, to write blogs for businesses, to edit strangers’ dissertations, and the like. I won’t name names because there may be some merit to these companies, and I do know a couple highly-skilled writers who are slogging away in them even though they tell me they are not satisfied with their jobs. So I can’t judge these companies in their entirety, but I can judge a few aspects of them.

One aspect is that they pay highly qualified writers pennies per hour. Most of the jobs require hours of research and then hours of writing. And after that comes the editing, sometimes with an editor belonging to the company and sometimes without. A writer can do all this and get thirteen dollars (before taxes) from one of the major paper-writing companies. If a writer has a Ph.D. and is allowed to take on the more challenging jobs, they can receive around thirty dollars for the paper. But it may take more than eight hours to do a decent job with research and writing.

When you buy a blog post or an article from these machines, you support a system that is unsustainable. Many of the good writers will get other jobs, and writers who don’t care as much about quality will realize they still can’t make ends meet and will fall by the wayside. A few lousy writers and talented, independently wealthy writers will stay for the long haul, but as a side effect, consumers will expect the same low price from a freelancer who isn’t working for this system. It is hard earn a livable wage on seven dollars a paper unless quality suffers at the hands of quantity. Then, it may be possible. Let me know if I am wrong because I am still signed up with two of these big writing companies.

At any rate, what you invest, you reap.

Another beneficial aspect of working with a real freelance writer is that you have the access you need to communicate with that writer. When I email with and speak with my clients, I can get a feel for their tone and voice. I match the tone and voice of the project to theirs. It’s harder to do this when I can’t access clients directly. Many of the big companies make efficient, authentic communication very hard. Some of this is to protect the anonymity of the writer. This makes me wonder why I thought I needed a writing job where I couldn’t be myself…oh…because then the consumer of the paper, you, would be able to cut out the middleman, contact me directly, and pay me what I’m worth…ah, I see. Sweet anonymity.

At one company, I had to choose a handle—a nickname to protect my identity. I guess this would save a teacher who was moonlighting as a part-time writer with one of the academic paper writing companies some embarrassment when one of her own students contacts her through the company to write a paper that she assigned the student in the first place. When GreenBanana9 writes your paper, you’d never guess that your English teacher would be sitting down that night to score the paper that you turned in but which she actually wrote for you. It does pose some ethical questions, doesn’t it?

But when you hire an independent freelance writer, you get to call them by name, pay them what they are worth, and save them from the moral quagmire. You also get someone who will come to know you well enough to make certain that your ad copy, newsletter, website, or project actually sounds like you and matches your branding. And at the end of the day, that’s what we all want, isn’t it?