Congratulations. You’ve got a pool of freelance writers to choose from. It’s a great feeling to know they’re all clamouring to work for you. It means you get to choose the best fit for your company.

But what are your criteria? Do you know what you’re looking for?

Here are five questions you should ask.

1. How fast are they?

How many words an hour can you type?

A freelance writer writes. They likely write fast. In the time many people read this post, a good freelance writer would have likely written the rough draft. Your money isn’t paying for them to watch television or talk about it at the water cooler, it’s paying them to do the job.

2. How much research will they do?

There’s no question that you know your stuff. You’re the functional expert and it likely took you years of training to get there. The same will often apply to your employees.

But then, that lack of knowledge can actually a strength. Much like a reporter on the hunt for a great news story, a freelance writer should ask questions. Whether it’s of you or online, a writer will do research so they become an expert before they write. A good writer won’t simply make up a fact. They double and often triple check a fact to make sure they get it right. And their facts come from trusted sources such as Stats Canada and industry websites, not blogs. Sure blogs, may have it right, but that doesn’t give a writer the excuse not to do their job.

3. Do they believe in editors?

Don’t let anyone tell you that the content is theirs. It’s your website, your voice. A content writer may be billing you by the hour or by the project, but that doesn’t mean they can submit crap that you don’t want. They have a responsibility to write the content that you want to see on your website. At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable and happy with it. You have to live with it, not them. Choose a writer who will work with you to get the job finished.

4. What other work have they done?

This is the catch 22 question. Does the writer’s quality matter or their experience? A writer can be of the highest quality, but if they don’t have a portfolio to prove it, many are on guard. So, do you ask what work they’ve done or for a sample of their work? It’s your choice, but in any case, you want to be comfortable with their work.

Another very important reason why you want to see their work is to prove it isn’t derivative. You want to make sure that it wasn’t copied word for word from another webpage as well as assurance that it won’t be used again for someone else’s webpage.

5. How do they charge?

A freelancer can charge by the hour or by the project. Which is best for you? A smart freelancer will price the project understanding how many hours it will take. The danger for them is if you require multiple edits, but then again that’s their problem. As a professional, they set their rates. As a client, you choose if it’s worth it.

Once you are comfortable with your freelance writer then proceed. Make sure you have a proper quote so you can go back to it to enforce the work later. Many writers will have a guarantee, but at the end of the day, they survive on happy customers. If they go in knowing what you want then you will come out with great work.