Q. What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A. Look for a seasoned professional with proven deadline experience. For instance, I worked on newspaper copy desks for over 20 years, and I have what it takes to get pages published on time.
If you need a blogger, look for somebody who can develop engaging niche content, stay on topic and build a devoted audience. My hiking blog, for instance, has attracted more than 5,700 RSS subscribers over the past six years.
A writer worth hiring must be able to tell stories vividly, conversationally and authoritatively. If the writer's work seems ripped from the pages of Time or People, you're on the right track.
Any "expert" in social media must be able to find and engage people online -- not just rack up long lists of "friends" and "followers." The website Klout.com is a great place to compare people's social-media skills. Any reading above 60 is good; anything above 70 is excellent.
Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. The best writer/editor/blogger for you might not be the best one available. The trick is to find one who understands your business, has ideas for helping you make more money, and can deliver the work on time.
Your company has a story to tell; the editorial professional you hire should be passionate about finding the best way to tell it.
Hiring an editorial professional isn't so different from hiring a plumber or contractor: you're paying them because they can do it and you can't. That means trusting their judgment and expertise.
Q. What questions should a consumer ask to hire the right service professional?
A. How will help me attract more customers and make more money?
Can you provide references from current and former clients?
How did you handle a deadline crash and burn? How could it have been prevented?
How soon can you complete the project?
Can you work under contract?
Are you insured?
How have you helped a business or publication gain readers and influence, and become more efficient or profitable?
Are revisions included in the hourly rate?
Will you work for a project fee rather than hourly?
Q. What important information should buyers have thought through before seeking you out?
A. What is your goal for the project? If you cannot state it plainly, you will not get satisfactory results.
What metrics (readers, clicks, sales, etc.) will be used to gauge success?
What kind of voice do you want? Informal? Institutional? Conversational? Regional?
Q. Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?
A. I'm simply a better writer, editor and blogger.
I write like people talk; I tell stories with taut, active, language that keeps them reading.
When I edit, I make sure the text gibes with everything else in the document: words, headlines, photo captions, breakouts. I make it a cohesive whole with minimal redundancies.
When I blog, I stay on topic, provide timely and useful information and connect with readers to keep them coming back. I started my first blog before the word existed; I understand the medium better than most.
Q. What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A. Price should be the last consideration when hiring an editorial professional.
Hire the right person and you'll make your money back several times over, no matter what you pay. Hire the wrong person and you'll be endlessly nipping, tucking and tweaking -- and wishing you'd gone ahead and hired the right person to begin with.