Should You Hire Freelance or In-House Technical Writers

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Hiring a freelance technical writer or an in-house one can determine the success of your tech documentation and content. If you want to make an informed decision about the type of writer you need, then this article is for you.

Most thriving tech companies have one important thing in common—the indisputable quality of the content they put out. Likewise, it’s hard to lead a successful team without proper internal documentation in place.

And whether you’re planning to create customer-facing or internal technical documents, you need somebody to write them.

Rather than asking your engineers to take on yet another responsibility, you’ll generate better results by hiring a technical writer. This raises a question: should you hire freelance or in-house technical writers?

This article will list the benefits of each option, along with specific scenarios where one is better than the other.

By the end of the article, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and find the most suitable type of writer for your business.

But to do that, you first have to understand in what ways freelancers and in-house writers differ.

The Difference Between Freelance and In-House Technical Writers

To put it succinctly, the main difference between freelance and in-house tech writers is the type of employment. While freelancers work as contractors, in-house writers are your full-time employees.

There are good reasons why businesses prefer a certain type of employment. Take the following job ad for a full-time tech writer at Motorola Solutions, for example.

Source: LinkedIn

As the screenshot shows, the company states that they’re looking for somebody to work on user guides, API developer guides, and other large-scale pieces of technical documentation.

So, it makes sense for the company to look for a person who will keep the role for a longer period of time rather than introducing new freelancers to the project every month.

On the other hand, if you want to boost the amount of technical content you produce, such as blog posts or tutorials, you’ll have more success with freelancers.

For instance, Codecov, a code analysis company, is constantly on the lookout for contributors to enrich their blog.

Source: Codecov

Since Codecov’s blog covers a wide range of code-related topics, they don’t have to rely on a single specialized author—in their case, it’s much more time and cost-efficient to hire several freelancers.

In other words, while in-house writers specialize in technology used in a particular company, freelancers work with various topics and are usually commissioned for shorter writing pieces.

These differences also lead to discrepancies in subject matter expertise: in-house tech writers generally develop a deeper understanding of technologies they work with daily.

Still, if you only need a person to write technical product descriptions, you probably don’t have to recruit a machine learning specialist to work with you full time—a freelance writer will suffice.

Reasons to Hire a Freelance Technical Writer

As you can see, there’s no clear-cut answer to the question of “what kind of tech writer should I hire?” because it all depends on the specific needs of your industry, company, and product.

To point you in the right direction, we’ll now list the reasons for hiring each of the two types so that you can see which option is right for you. We’ll start with freelance technical writers.


If you need content quickly but don’t have enough time for onboarding and training writers, your best bet is to find someone who is already experienced in the field. Experienced freelance technical writers, particularly those with narrow specializations, can help you achieve your goal.

Let’s say you wanted to publish content about the emerging blockchain technology. In that case, finding a writer with a proven track record in writing about the topic would be the best approach.

For instance, this tech writer specializes in blockchain and crypto, meaning that they could readily tackle the subject and do it well.

Source: Clippings

Of course, you have to be sure of someone’s expertise before accepting to work with them. Luckily, most freelance writers have their portfolios on hand to show prospective clients.

Below, you can see articles about Web3 and crypto payments written by the author we’ve just mentioned.

Source: Clippings

Browsing the portfolio will help you determine whether a freelancer’s technical and writing experience would match your needs.

That way, you’ll be able to find writers with demonstrated experience in creating technical content regardless of the topic and get a reliable author instantly, without having to train them for months first.


Another benefit of working with freelance tech writers is the fact that hiring takes less effort, making this a more convenient option for when you’re tight on time or budget.

When you hire an in-house writer, you have a commitment to them, regardless of the quality of their work. On the other hand, working with freelancers allows you flexibility in collaboration.

If you don’t like a freelance writer’s content, no contract is binding you to keep working with them. Collaboration with freelancers is usually organized on a task-to-task basis, allowing you to switch writers until you’ve found the perfect one to work with for the rest of the project.

Some employees even advertise the work model with no tight commitment to attract technical writers with similar priorities.

Source: Twitter

Such a “no-strings-attached” approach is also what many tech writers prefer because it allows them to work exclusively with topics they’re interested in.

Another factor that makes working with freelance writers convenient is the speed of hiring.

Instead of going through multiple rounds of interviews and the training process, hiring freelancers allows you to get technical content much sooner.

That’s why you’ll often see companies in need of content skipping the lengthy recruiting process and working with freelancers who can start writing instantly.

Source: LinkedIn

The same principle applies to ending the collaboration. Once the agreed-upon number of articles is finished or the task is complete, both you and the freelancer can move on to the next project.

So, if you expect the amount of work connected to technical content to fluctuate over time, hiring a freelancer is the most convenient way to get work done.

Cost Effectiveness

If you prefer basing your business decisions on tangible metrics, you’d probably like to know that hiring a freelance technical writer is a more cost-effective option than hiring an in-house writer.

So, if you need a one-off piece of technical writing and not a steady supply of documents, freelancers are a cheaper choice.

Creating technical documentation yields numerous business benefits, so it’s not surprising that employers have started recognizing the effectiveness of technical writers and rewarding it with salaries rising well above the national average.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

However, if you don’t need technical content often, it probably doesn’t make sense for you to hire a full-time writer for $78,060 annually and pay for insurance, overhead costs, PTO, and more.

Instead, it’s more cost-effective to commission a freelance writer whenever the need arises for a new technical document.

Even freelancers working with highly-specialized documents, such as API documentation, have relatively affordable rates compared to what you’d have to pay for an in-house writer.

Source: Upwork

For instance, this freelance API writer we’ve found on Upwork charges $65 per hour.

You should note that he’s one of the top-rated tech writers on the platform, making his rates higher than average.

So, if you need fewer pieces of writing, documents that are less extensive, or docs that don’t require coding knowledge, hiring freelance tech writers becomes even more affordable.

Reasons to Hire an In-House Technical Writer

As we’ve seen, hiring a freelance writer can be a faster and more cost-effective solution to creating technical content.

However, there are several reasons why sometimes it’s better to invest more resources and hire an in-house technical writer. Let’s see what these are.

Deeper Topic Understanding

If your business needs highly-specialized content that reflects your values or describes complex company-specific technologies, hiring an in-house writer will offer more benefits in the long run because they’ll develop a deeper topic understanding over time.

While freelance writers cover a broad range of areas, they rarely have an in-depth knowledge of all these topics.

That’s why this Twitter user, whose company needs technical content about washing machines, knows their chances of finding a well-versed freelancer are slim.

Source: Twitter

They even call the needed writer a unicorn because freelancers with deep expertise in technical subjects are, in most cases, tough to find.

You can combat such problems by hiring a full-time in-house technical writer. The more time they spend working with the same product, the better they’ll understand how it works, allowing them to present its characteristics accurately.

In other words, you’ll get better content by working with T-skilled in-house writers who have a profound knowledge of the area, unlike freelance writers who switch from topic to topic due to the nature of the job.

Source: CFI

Also, in-house writers have the opportunity to collaborate with product owners and other SMEs, meaning that they can get additional input to ensure the accuracy of information.

Through collaboration with SMEs and thanks to repetition in writing within a narrow field, in-house tech writers become more knowledgeable than freelancers.

That way, you get self-sufficient team members who write technical documents and content independently, without you having to provide too much direction after the initial training.


Hiring an in-house technical writer means that you no longer need to worry whether you’ll manage to find somebody to write a technical document in time.

With a dedicated team member who handles document creation, you'll always have access to quality content written to your standards.

When you work with freelancers, you have to be aware that you’re “sharing” the writer with other businesses. That means that a freelance writer may not always prioritize you—it’s possible that they’ll speed up the writing process so that they can start working on another client’s project.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Kate Abrosymova of the marketing company Kaiiax experienced.

Source: Archbee

Abrosymova now finds that working with in-house writers is a more reliable approach because they’re always available, and they already have the knowledge of the company’s industry and customers.

And since in-house writers don’t have to rush to meet other clients’ deadlines, you can count on them to always invest sufficient time in creating well-researched, quality content.

So, if you’d like to avoid rushed documents of potentially dubious accuracy, hiring a full-time in-house writer is a safer option.

Long-Term Cooperation

Freelance writers make it easy to cover a broad range of topics. However, if you’re planning to generate a lot of content about the same niche and maintain the docs, in-house writers are a better choice for long-term collaboration.

One of the characteristics of technical documents that sets them apart from other types of content is that you have to maintain the docs in order to keep them usable, especially in the change-prone software industry.

Ideally, the same person who wrote the docs will be responsible for maintenance, which is why some companies also task technical writers with updating and extending the docs, as you can see in the example below.

Source: LinkedIn

Essentially, if you want to ensure a long service life of your docs, you have to plan for their upkeep. And seeing that long-term cooperation isn’t exactly compatible with the way freelance writers operate, you can make the process easier by hiring in-house tech writers.

Another factor that makes in-house writers more suitable for long-term cooperation is their familiarity with your internal processes.

According to Bal Simon, an experienced tech writer, a good writer can understand the documented processes and ask SMEs for clarification when necessary.

Source: Quora

Now, if you had to look for new freelancers for each individual document and introduce them to your product and work processes, that would quickly become time-consuming and expensive.

Instead, it pays off to go through the hiring process and find the in-house writer who will be able to contribute to your documentation and content as your company progresses.


Although it’s impossible to say if freelance technical writers are inherently better than in-house writers or vice versa, we hope we’ve managed to clarify the instances when one option is more convenient than the other.

To sum up, if you need isolated, one-off pieces of writing, freelance writers may be the preferred choice.

But if you want a series of documents about one particular technology or your product, it’s safer to hire an in-house writer.

And if you’re ready to start the selection process, make sure you ask your future tech writer relevant interview questions available here.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main difference between freelance and in-house technical writers?
Expand FAQ
The main difference between freelance and in-house tech writers is the type of employment. Freelancers work as contractors while in-house writers are full-time employees of a company.
What are the benefits of hiring a freelance technical writer?
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Hiring a freelance technical writer can be beneficial as they often bring specific experience and can quickly produce content without needing extensive onboarding or training. It's a more convenient and cost-effective option, especially for companies that don't need a steady supply of documents. It also allows flexibility as you can switch writers until you've found the perfect one for your project.
What are the reasons to hire an in-house technical writer?
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Hiring an in-house technical writer is beneficial for businesses requiring highly-specialized content or complex company-specific technologies. In-house writers have time to develop a deeper understanding of the topic and can work more reliably as they are dedicated solely to your company. It's also more effective if you need a steady stream of documents and have long-term plans for maintaining and updating those documents.
What kind of tech writer should a company hire?
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The type of tech writer a company should hire depends on the specific needs of the industry, company, and product. If a business needs specific, one-off content, hiring a freelance technical writer may be a good choice. However, for large-scale projects and long-term cooperation, an in-house technical writer would likely be more beneficial.
What factors can lead to cost differences between hiring an in-house and freelance technical writer?
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The costs can differ due to the nature of the engagements. Hiring an in-house writer involves a full-time salary, benefits, etc. While hiring a freelancer can be more cost-effective, particularly for one-off projects, as they are typically engaged on a per-task basis, and there is no need to invest in long term financial obligations like insurance and PTO.

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