Writing Ads for the Right Freelancers: How to Advertise Effectively Online


As the economy grows more and more in the digital field we see within the market  a change to the way in which we work. Whether you hire freelancers or work as one, the rise of the freelance economy is a trend here to stay, and one which impacts business across the board as a result.


This change can bring with it a variety of opportunities and exciting pathways. It can also be problematic for a business. While a formal job listing will typically have a detailed background, description of the position, and criteria, freelancer job advertisements are typically more casual.


Usually, a clients list their job quickly, a freelancer applies quickly, the job is then awarded and (provided you’ve got a good freelancer) completed quickly. While it’s correct to think once the job is assigned it becomes the freelancers responsibility to get it done, at the outset the way a advertiser lists and outlines the gig can have a huge influence on its overall setup and success.


Whether you advertise through a dedicated freelance website, via a mixed-use site that features content and jobs, or even just via your own website and social media channels: how you outline what you seek can have a big impact on the expression of interests you receive in return.


Rather than this be a derision on businesses and their efforts to advertise – for the online freelance world is wide and varied and comes with considerable complexity as a result – at its core this is a question of business productivity. When productivity is less than optimal, it damages both sides of the equation.


Just as a bad ad can see a freelancer miss out on good work, so too does it mean a client misses out on the opportunity to hire from the widest number of candidates, with the greatest diversity of skills to complete the project. In sum, a bad first ad damages both sides of the equation.

As this piece is written a writer who works as a journalist while also maintaining a business, an understanding of this issue from both sides of the equation is held, and some ways to address it are apparent. Let’s look a little now at why this occurs, and how to address it..


Keeping Things Traditional


With the online economy has come a dismissal of much of the old way of doing things in business. Formal applications can be done away with with a link to someone’s portfolio, linkedin, or even a slick pixel-heavy CV. This format can be innovative, intriguing, and help someone stand out in the field. It does still require a basic outline of the essential and vital details.


This applies both to people seeking work, and those seeking to hire work. Its written across the world wide web how a good CV can be compiled, less often how a good ad can be written. Let’s look a little now, and begin first with an example of a bad one to identify the issues here.


Here is a typical ad you could often see, and be quite unhappy too..


Need a writer. Got massive biz happening. So chill it’ll make ya head spin. 

Hit me up *mic drop*,

‘Big Gary’


Big Gary may indeed have a big business coming along but his ad needs a little work. It’s very casual, missing details, and offers no indications of the skill set needed beyond ‘writer’.  Big Gary may as well be inviting his buddy out clubbing instead of a freelancer project…


‘Yo. This club has massive biz happening. So big it’ll make ya head spin. Hit me up’

‘Yo. This club has massive biz happening. So big it’ll make ya head spin…’

An ad like this creates problems across the board. Many freelancers shall move beyond this to ads that offer more clarity. Those who do apply for the role may not be the right fit because they have made an application based on what they thought the job is – not what it actually is. Then, for those who did apply and have the skill set to match, they may find soon after the specific requirements of the role don’t suit them.




I am a realtor in Charlotte. I need a content writer for a series of blog posts. They will form part of a 3 month ad campaign for a business that is growing well – but wants to grow faster.


12 blog posts will be required, each around 800 words long, and the aim of them is to build awareness of my business online (so social media-friendly content a must!).


6 posts shall be on renting, 6 on buying. Prior knowledge is useful but ability to research even better. My budget is X per post, and the deadline is Y.





Laura may not mic drop to sign off like big Gary does, but save for this she’s got a better ad. She identifies what she wants, why she needs it, and the project specifics (length, duration).


The sheer variety of tasks on offer in the freelance world means specifics can be a challenge. Suffice to say though, the difference between these two ads is clear. In turn, an ad does not need to be perfect – instead it just needs to be informational.


Further, if anything is unclear about the ad thereafter (and it’s natural that often it can be) this can be sorted out once a freelancer has made an ad, and asked a follow up question.


A Good Freelancer Will Fill in the Blanks


It would be a mistake to think just because you know you need something it means you need know everything about it. This is also where many people can go wrong when writing ads. It is just like how you know you need a mechanic because you car isn’t working, you don’t know exactly how they fix the problem with it – and that’s OK.


Car engine

‘Yeah,  there’s been smoke from the engine since my bud Big Garry drove us home from the club..’


The same applies to freelance tasks. Many professionals may be weary of going into specifics for their are concerned what they identify may expose what they don’t now. The issue here is not that you mention what you don’t know; but when you fail to do so. Rather than avoid the issue and do a bland, general, and ultimately forgettable ad be upfront instead.


What You Don’t Say Matters


It it also useful to put forward what you don’t know, and what you need help with. This may seem counter-intuitive at first, but a good freelancer will walk you through what you need help with; they just need know first where they can help. This is because the divide between your knowledge and theirs can take up a lot of time. Let’s look at an example now..



I run a fashion business. I want some wireframes made up for a new website. I’m not good at this stuff so need some help figuring out what I need’.


This is not so great. Its vague. It lacks details. It means a freelancer may well skip applying for it.

How about this instead..


‘Hi. I run a fashion business in Los Angeles. I’m starting a new website to revamp my brand across California, and also connect with new clients on the West Coast. My primary market is young professionals seeking well-made but affordable formal wear.


I’m not sure exactly what I want my final design to look like, but have already picked out a number of colours and fonts I like. I can also provide examples of websites I like to help with the design process.


This is better. Clear, detailed, and provides clear indicators about what someone knows and needs help with.


 How to Be Specific When You’re Unsure?


One of the problems someone seeking a freelancer can encounter is finding a happy medium between indicating what they need, while also not ruling out unnecessarily people from applying.


What should be avoided is vagueness, absence of clarity surrounding crucial details – price, scale of project, and deadlines – just as putting in a little research before listing should be done. Doing so can save you time, money, and pain when a project stalls.


So, know you need a writer but don’t know what kind exactly? Google for some sub-categories and pick a couple of subsets that best fit your project. Know you need a web designer but are not sure what programmer to get to specialise in what language?


Google what languages are used for what parts of the web. Many programmers can do work across a variety of languages anyway, but if your WordPress is in need of a revamp getting a PHP specialist over a generalist front end developer can make the project go far quicker.


Signing off on a Good Ad


Speaking the same language between these two different perspectives can always take a little time at first, but provided the first point of contact has enough detail and specifics surrounding the project; that is usually enough to get it over the line.


In turn, you can go through exhaustive examples of how to write the perfect ad for all of time. While these are good guides, no ad shall ever fit exactly the specific needs you wish to have addressed when it comes to seeking out freelancers for your business. Rather than


After this, it’s a matter of sorting out the details on the project, agreeing to a deal, and seeing it through. Place a good ad and you’ll always attract good freelancers. This means from the start the prospects of a quick, easy, and quality realisation of your product is set to occur.

Ed Kennedy is a journalist, ghostwriter, and web developer from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via enquiries@edkennedy.co on LinkedIn or Twitter@EdKennedy01

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