Finding a capable freelancer to write financial copy, whether it’s for blogs, press releases or website content, can seem daunting. Conveying the intricacies of money, retirement, investing, regulation and budgeting with authority and credibility in a way that is both readable and engaging requires a talented writer with a solid comprehension of financial issues and trends. The writer you choose will also need to pass muster with a compliance editor who may or may not know a thing about SEO or writing for publication; they’re focused on meeting legal standards and requirements.
Financial writers who succeed do so because they have a fierce interest in the topic, both professionally and personally. For financial professionals who are tasked with hiring a freelance writer, the ideal candidate should be able to write objectively and knowledgeably in a voice that represents your standards and image.
A good, results-oriented financial writer is, as I mentioned, objective, as well as disciplined and informative—at least, that is how I see it. However, there are times when facts and opinions may blur, in which case a writer can utilize two contrasting viewpoints to create a more potent article.
Provided you, as the client, are open to suggestions, a strong article or blog can be achieved by presenting two opposing viewpoints in a way that allows the reader to comprehend a bigger picture. Just as effective is a writer who is willing and able to express a client’s viewpoint even when it is in strong opposition to his or her own. These strategies can be valuable to writing on any topic effectively. But unless your writer is skilled in this type of execution, the resulting copy can be confusing to readers and should be avoided.
In my experience, the client’s voice is what matters—unless the writer finds an assignment request to be ethically inappropriate, in which case the writer will most likely choose not to accept the project. Of course, you need to communicate with the writer to make sure they have no objections to a topic that is particularly sensitive.
As the client, you understand that your viewpoint should take precedence, but it may not be easy to find another financial writer if the one you depend on objects to an assignment. This might be a good time to discuss a balanced piece on the contrasting viewpoints, which can be a great way to lend credibility to your article. Only choose this route if you’re confident that your writer can achieve a balanced result.
Having written for a wide range of financial professionals myself, I value each individual client’s principles and perspective on how they wish to be represented. Writers are in the unique position of being asked to write articles with a certain focus based on the client’s viewpoint and intended audience. Many times writers are given a topic but little direction from the client regarding where to go with it, so when a first draft is presented the client may reject it on the grounds that it is not what they wanted. At this point, the writer has spent hours researching and writing a piece that must be scrapped and start over from scratch. Such a blunder can result in missed deadlines and cause some friction.
This scenario can and should be avoided by communicating thoroughly from the start. An experienced writer knows to gently press the occasional taciturn client for direction before beginning an assignment. Because of the unique complexities of financial writing, I usually require a scheduled phone interview with a new client to discuss the details. First I do my homework by reading the client’s website, LinkedIn profile and Google search results to gather as much information about his or her professional scope as possible.
I can then approach the call with my homework notes, which help me consider content options if I need to. Once the conversation begins, a seasoned writer will listen intently to the client explain his or her project goals. If the client has a general idea of what direction an article needs to take but no specific focus, it is the writer’s responsibility to pick up on cues and suggest one or more trending topics relevant to the client’s services to determine a central theme for the article.
This is really important, since more often than not, this exchange leads both the writer and the client to the optimal core topic and boom! You’ve achieved a connection that elicits confidence. Once that connection is made, the chances of the writer delivering an extraneous first draft are extremely rare to nil. The first draft may still require edits, but that’s OK. You have a platform to work with, and perfection is attained in the editing process.
Ultimately, an experienced writer wants the client to be happy with the work, and isn’t going to bristle over any changes the client wants made (unless the writer has a good explanation for why the changes might diminish the article). As the client, you should know early on if the writer you’ve hired is committed to achieving your goals, and that includes taking their professional expertise into consideration when they object to certain changes. Ultimately, you should feel confident that the writer is working in your best interest and not just trying to avoid making changes.
Before hiring anyone, make sure to read examples of their work and gauge their knowledge, experience and mastery over the kind of communication style you want represented in your content. Communicate openly until they’re comfortable with moving forward. I’ll bounce questions off a client if the information they provide seems too broad or vague, and you should expect your writer to do the same.
In my experience, some clients are overly polite by nature; that is, they won’t risk coming across as condescending by asking if I have any questions. But I’ll ask for clarification if I need to. Some writers aren’t as assertive, and fear that asking questions may make them appear confused. Encourage questions if you sense this is the case—never hesitate to encourage questions, since it may be a relief to your writer to be asked. My longest term clients are those who can communicate openly, empowering me to come back with the content they expect.
Over time, your writer will become familiar with your expectations, services and clientele, and will be able to write polished articles with less time spent in pre-article pow-wows. In fact, I have long-term financial clients who can shoot an email to me with just a few words—for example, “election year volatility”—and I am familiar enough to know what they’re after.
Building a relationship with a writer takes a little time, but once you’ve found the writer who clicks, you’ve struck content gold.