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I’ll come right out and say this – this is a self-serving post. However, and this is a biggie, think of it as a view from the other side. If you are reading this while figuring out how to go about choosing a freelance web content writer and if at the end of it you have additional data on things to consider when choosing a freelance writer, we both get what we want.

Freelance writing and ghostwriting have become very important in these times when there is constant demand for content. You seldom have the time it takes to focus on writing articles for your blogs, websites or Facebook updates and Twitter streams. And yet without all these avenues of social media marketing, you will not be using the incredible power of the virtual world. The answer to your problem is a freelance writer. (No matter what those quick-rich websites suggest, it is morally wrong and legally punishable to cut and paste from other people’s websites.) But herein lies a challenge – how to choose a good freelance writer?

Professionalism – This is a real catch-all and you should look for every sign of it from the first point of contact. Given the ease of setting up as a writer from anywhere in the world, this field of ghostwriting has drawn a lot of hobbyists. While some of them do write well, you may well end up paying for someone else’s learning curve and there is the matter of a relaxed attitude to deadlines. At every step of the way be rigorous in your standards in judging the writer’s professionalism.

Writing Skills – This is the crux of the matter after all and you have to make sure that the style of the freelancer suits your context and expectations. There are two ways to do this – you can ask for existing samples from the writer’s portfolio or request an article suited to your needs and pay for it. The existing samples is a perfectly useful option but be aware that there are unethical freelancers who may use material not created by them. The option of a paid customized sample works well for you to estimate the exact fit and for the writer to know that you are serious about the project. When judging the sample look for spelling, grammar, tone, consistency and overall logic. None of these are negotiable.

Expertise – Engage with your writer and understand what the freelancer brings in terms of sales and marketing expertise. A writer with a broad awareness of your goals and with the ability to tailor the words to fit your needs is going to be a major asset. An interview, either over the phone or on Skype, can help you in gauging the writer’s level of comfort with your field or subject area.

Price – We all work with budgets and so price is always a consideration. But give this the right amount of importance and don’t focus on cheap alone. In the long run, cheap content may well do more to damage your brand and may cost you way more than your up-front saving.

References – It is best to work with a writer who has a proven track record. While there are young or new freelancers who are capable of delivering high-quality material, it is always a good idea to request a professional history to gauge the work experience of the freelance writer. Professional references can also be helpful in verifying that ghostwriters can deliver on their promises.

Some leg-work and good judgement at the point of choosing a freelance writer can go a long way in making your writing project be a smooth and seamless experience.