What to look for
The internet is full of freelance writers—or at least people who call themselves that—so even with a relatively small budget, you can afford to be fairly picky about who you hire. Highest on your list of things a good candidate will have should be:
- Relevant experience: “Freelance writer” can mean a lot of things, and writing press releases is very different from (for example) writing ad copy or ghostwriting ebooks. You want to find a freelance writer who has experience specifically writing press releases, and ideally someone who has experience writing press releases that are relevant to the industry your startup operates in.
- Relevant samples: Don’t take anybody’s word about their experience. Ask for samples (two or three is a good number) of press releases they’ve written, and look them over to be sure they’re producing the quality and type of work that you’re looking for.
- Professional attitude: The best writer in the world won’t be much use to you if they can’t meet deadlines or respond to emails promptly, and this can be a real problem amongst freelancers. A little bit of leeway is necessary since most freelancers have other clients and in some cases full-time jobs to attend to. But if a candidate misses an interview appointment or is repeatedly slow to respond to your emails, look elsewhere. There are plenty of other fish in the sea, and someone who’s slow to respond during the interview process may be an unresponsive nightmare once they’ve nailed down the gig.
Do you need distribution?
Another thing to consider is whether you just need a release written, or whether you need it written and distributed to journalists. If you just need the release written because you’re going to distribute it yourself, that should be simple to arrange. If you need to hire a freelancer who can write the press release and distribute it to relevant journalists in a compelling way, that’s also possible, but be prepared for a more lengthy search process and—of course—a higher price.