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Why You Should Hire a Freelance Writer Instead of Adding Another Body to the Count

Thin is in. That's why a freelancer, instead of another employee, might be the best option to keep it lean.

The underutilized value proposition

"Employees are expensive," I hear often. Recently, many of these people were dancing around joyously because AI was going to let them "hire" super-smart employees for cheap.

I posted an article saying AI was no different from all the other holy grails: They give it to you for cheap or free to reel you in and then raise the prices. Can you say Netflix? Amazon? Smartphones? Anything else in tech in the last 30 years?

Prophesy fulfilled

It seems my AI predictions are coming true—faster than I predicted. The AI hype may have peaked early. Turns out it isn't a magic one-size-fits-all solution, as it was largely touted, or at least as so many managers naively believed. Everything is always more complicated than predictions (models) say they're going to be. Copy that last sentence, paste it in bold 172-point bold font, and have it printed on a gold plaque.

AI is not your savior. Nothing is. Everything is just a tool, to be used smartly.

And one of those tools is freelancers!

Your secret weapon

Freelancers are your secret weapon. First of all, unlike AI, you won't ask them a simple question and get a total BS answer, complete with fake citations—at least not if you vet properly. You don't have to learn how to optimize freelancers, or feed them the best possible prompts, or spend an hour understanding the poorly-designed interfaces. (Seriously, remember when that fellow Steve Jobs used to wax rhapsodically about "beautiful design"? Whatever happened to that?) For those reasons alone, freelancers beat AI.

But there's way more than that. Freelancers are like condensed soup. Add water and they expand. When you're done, you can put them back on the shelf, so to speak. Or use them more if you suddenly have extra work to do. They're your accordion folders, perfectly expandable, then returning to size.

Freelancers make your payroll smaller, or at least look smaller—we know how investors like that. Every television station I've worked at hires mostly freelancers for production, so that they can claim to be leaner (more "efficient") than they actually are. When your workflow slows, you don't have lots of people taking up desks and not really doing anything. And the freelancers themselves can possibly move on to more lucrative things till your work picks up again.

Freelancers—good ones—are notoriously independent, so you don't have to micromanage them or play "helicopter boss." They know self-sufficiency and have probably figured out ways to do things on their own that you don't know about, because you have never needed to. So you could end up learning something, too.

How to Pick A Freelancer

Check them out carefully—their websites, their work. But most of all interview and talk to them and get to know them. Base your decisions on how they appear to you—smart, savvy, independent, reliable?

Word of mouth recommendations: Ask colleagues, friends, others in your industry. Who have they used and who would they recommend?

Use the internet, but not just for checking their websites, or LinkedIn profiles. Rather, google who has written what, try to find the names who created content you admire. Then try to find their websites or LinkedIn or email address. Even if they're strictly-speaking not freelancers or not freelancing at the moment, try to persuade them. If you have an interesting project they likely will be tempted. We all love interesting work.

Going steady

Good luck. Remember, you don't have to pay us benefits, vacation, etc. That may not seem like an upside to us. But then again, we don't have to be sucked into your culture as much either. So there's advantages on both sides of arm's length relationships.

And remember, if you really fall in love, you can always go steady with your freelancer.

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