There are all types of freelance writers and all types of businesses. Some businesses need to invest heavily in top notch writing talent. Often, this is not the case. Some companies can manage just fine with a low-priced writer from a content mill.
So how can you hire a freelance writer without spending too much?
Mom-and-pop local businesses can use content platforms.
If you have a small trades-oriented business in a low-population area, you won't need much more than simple blogging by a native English speaker to power up your SEO. Your business could be an auto repair shop, handyman service, lawn care company, pool cleaner, dog groomer, or anything else that a) is easy to understand b) is not hugely competitive like legal services.
One blog post per week should keep you ahead of your competition. You can easily find affordable writers on content mill sites, including Upwork, Guru, and Fivvr. Textbroker has been around since 2005 and is one of the older content mills.
I would avoid Freelancer because by and large the providers do not seem to be native English speakers.
Writers for a small business or a professional group in a competitive industry
I'm thinking of small businesses that have commercial space and employees. This could include something like a plumbing or electrical firm, building contractor, wellness spa, clothing or baby store, or small restaurant. This category would also include professionals such as smaller medical groups, local accounting and legal firms, and a small architectural or engineering practice.
All of these businesses must project a credible image and face intense online competition. They require frequent posts of authority content by industry writers. Authority content is high quality, researched writing that that establishes the website's owner(s) as a knowledgeable resource. Authority content is more difficult to produce and requires a writer with native knowledge of the English language.
WriterAccess accepts writers who reside in English-speaking countries. The platform pays 3 cents to $2 per word, depending on the project's complexity and the writer's experience, and keeps 30% of the total fee. WriterAccess's point of difference is it uses AI to match talent with projects.
ClearVoice is another platform that matches you with vetted writers. They have a useful article on what freelance writers get paid per word and per hour. ClearVoice has been used by some big brands, including Intuit and Esurance, but the website is unclear about how the process works and pricing for non-enterprise brands.
Contently has 100,000 content creators including writers plus illustrators, designers, videographers, and photographers. It matches content creators to brands. Payment is generally low but enterprise brands use the platform on a regular basis.
Writers for an e-commerce store or a competitive businesses
Really good content is expensive. And, generally, there is no direct measure of content ROI. Yes, website owners can look at KPIs like click thru rates, time-on-page, pages per session, and general engagement like comments – but these do not explicitly justify the cost of great content over less sophisticated creative work.
Nonetheless, great content will attract online users to your funnel and will pull them through to a desired action.
Scripted provides writers for an average of 10 cents per word. A high quality 2000-word article takes around six hours to write, provided the writer knows the subject matter and the style is straightforward. The writer would earn between $150 and $200. Clients only pay for work they love, so if the client provides poor direction the writer would waste a day or more on an unpaid gig.
Zerys is similar to Scripted and pays about the same. A 2,000-word, highly researched white paper would pay just $180-$220. A writer could easily spend 12 hours or more on a difficult white paper. A low rate of payment rewards the writer for speediness rather than quality.
If you need very high quality content, you should hire a freelance writer. An independent writer is more expensive than a content mill writer. Most will estimate the project as a flat fee and produce the best possible work, rather than worry about the word count. Per word payment encourages writers to be verbose rather than succinct and to meander in their writing rather than get to the point quickly.
A freelance writer is running a business and has a reputation to build and maintain. You will have plenty of writing on their sites to judge them by. If you read a site (like this one) and enjoy the writing, then hire the writer for your own project. If you want complete certainty, hire the writer to work on a modest job such as a short bio for your website's About page as a preliminary test. Once you are satisfied, you can hire the writer for longer gigs.