What Makes a Good Writing Partner?

What does make a good writing partner?

It’s a counterintuitive question. The answer seems obvious: great writing skills.

But anyone who’s worked with a freelance writer before knows that the working relationship—and the quality of its fruits—involves a lot more than just writing.

You need a good partner, as well as a great writer.

As someone who’s been on both sides of the relationship, I have some opinions on this. So I talked with 8 other pros who hire and work with freelance writers to get their thoughts. Whether you’re a freelancer looking to level up what you bring to the table or you want to know what to look for in hiring one, here’s what they had to say.

Storytelling chops and writing to engage

Two things are crucial: the ability to craft and tell a compelling story, and the ability to self-identify good content. Someone who takes a brief, understands the client, and works their hardest to produce the best piece of content on that topic.

– Jordie Black, Content Marketer @ Copy and Check

I look for writers who can write expertly about a topic and in an engaging manner. I appreciate when writers have mastered “the hook” and can draw readers into a piece.

– Kate McDaniel, Product Marketing Content @ UiPath

You can’t be a robot. This is hard because we’re often not writing for ourselves, in our own voices. A lot of client projects require that we write in the ‘company’ voice, or the company owner’s voice, etc. Even then, you have to be able to inject genuine emotion and passion.

– Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, B2B SaaS Consultant

Write for humans, not search engines

For us, it would be subject-matter expertise and how well they can present a topic. I personally detest writers who write for search engines and not for humans. It may sound simple, but it’s a rare quality.

– Taru Bhargava, Content Marketing & SEO Specialist @ Foundation Marketing

Human-to-human writing – someone who’s able to translate corporate speak, industry jargon and tech-talk into words anyone can read, understand, and engage with. That’s a gift.

– Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, B2B SaaS Consultant

Subject matter expertise and passion

I look for a really good understanding of who our audience is whether that’s shared in their pitch to me or in their past work. Also an understanding of SEO and what topics are trending for our audience.

– Erica Peterson, Founder & CEO @ Moms Can & Co.

I like when my writers are passionate about a topic. I don’t settle on a topic until I can hear them light up and get excited. Nothing like when you can feel their gears turning. That’s when I know it’s going to be the best content for them to write and my readers to absorb.

– Melissa Goff, Senior Marketing Communications Manager @ Liveops

Professionalism and reliability

A great writing partner presents a high quality, well-researched first draft, and handles feedback professionally. If we are working on multiple projects together I appreciate if it’s clear they are remembering and incorporating feedback from previous projects into new projects.

– Kate McDaniel, Product Marketing Content @ UiPath

Out of the ~20 freelance writers I've worked with, the ones that stood out catch on to best practices quickly. If I show them a client blog, they’ll incorporate a few internal backlinks into the articles they send me, without me having to edit it in. The writers I work with long-term are great writers, but more importantly we work well together. They're rarely late on their deadlines, catch on to my project management system quickly, and very easy to assign pieces to. Basically, I don't have to worry about them. These are the rare unicorns.

– Rachel Go, Content Strategist and Inbound Marketer

They [good writing partners] are always curious about your target audience and ask a lot of questions. They try to get as close to your company as they can to make the content authentic to the brand. They ask for feedback, they inquire whether what they’re delivering aligns to your goals.

– Juliana Casale, Head of Marketing @ Crazy Egg

“Good writers are good people.”

As my friend and writing partner Lauren Van Mullem says, “Good writers are good people.” She contends that you can’t be a good writer unless you’re a good person, because being a good writer means putting the needs of your readers first. Good writers want to know what their readers want in life and work, what jobs they need to do, and what’s preventing them from reaching their goals. They’re invested in the end-reader’s success. The writing will always be better, as will the working relationship!

– Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, B2B SaaS Consultant

What makes a good writing partner?

A great writing partner offers more than writing chops. That’s part of what makes it so hard to find good freelance writers to work with. It takes more than just reviewing writing samples. Often, you have to actually work with someone and decide through trial and error if they’re the right writer for the job.

Your writer should be a partner. A partner in caring for your audience and trying to make their lives better. A partner in driving the results your content strategy and leadership demand. And a partner in creating high-quality, empathetic, and engaging content—not white noise shouted into the Google void.

When you find that partner, hold on to them.