What to Look for in a Writer
Because of the many types of writing styles, it’s essential to choose a writer that can write well and persuasively, who also understands your work.
Often, organisations will outsource writing to a creative person who quite likely works across many fields and for a varied number of clients. However, finding a writer who understands your field, jargon, terminology and goals is invaluable. They will save you time and “fill in the gaps” so to speak - that is, help you craft a message that combines your knowledge with theirs.
1. Writing Experience
It is advantageous that a writer has credible experience. While this can take many forms, they should share their knowledge with you. Seek examples of their work. If they are not able to share specifics (for instance, if their previous work was too confidential or commercially sensitive), ask them to prepare something for you. A piece of about 500 words will give you a good sense of their style. If they have a website or blog, check it out to learn more about them.
2. Published work is a plus
Being a published writer is not essential, however it does help you to reference their work. It gives you peace of mind that the writer has worked in a team where their writing had to be of a quality high enough for publication. They understand the editing cycle, re-drafting, and how to change words and concepts, as needed. They are likely creative (to come up with topics) as well as being self-starters with an initiative that will ultimately be to your advantage if you engage them for work.
3. Industry understanding
If you can find a writer with specific insider knowledge of your industry, this can be a real game-changer. For example, I have worked primarily in art museums, universities and not-for-profits. I understand the organisational structure, the jargon, the deadline cycle, the pressure points and the strengths of these types of institutions. Find a writer who understands your particular industry or someone who has many years of working as a writer.
4. Adaptability & flexibility
Look for someone who is flexible in their approach to work. Interview your writer if necessary, and ask them questions that satisfy any misgivings you may have. Some writers are available for travel for example (myself included), while others work from an office or home. A flexible approach is vital as your piece of writing is likely to go through multiple drafts until your writer delivers what you need.
5. Not afraid to completely re-draft
Many writers are comfortable editing their work and do so frequently as they write. In my experience, great writers are willing to throw someone out entirely and start again. If your writer is not able to inspire you with their words, perhaps those words need to go. Don't be afraid to suggest an overhaul and fresh start if the message is not hitting the mark.