If content is king, then writers are the power behind the throne. If you’re thinking about working with freelance writers to produce articles, blog posts, white papers and other content marketing materials for your company, you’ll want to treat that power well.
Here are eight tips for getting the best work out of your freelance content marketing writers.
Finding and hiring a freelance writer that works well for you and your needs can be tricky. Look for bylines on articles or ask colleagues for recommendations. If you go through a freelance agency, pay careful attention to portfolios to ensure you’re getting what you want. A background in journalism means the freelancer has experience digging for facts and writing clearly — traits you’ll want for your content marketing production.
Have a Vision
When you give an assignment to a freelancer, you need to know what you want. An assignment should include a word length, a title and a deadline, as well as information about the expected audience, tone, message and sources you’d like to include. Providing this information helps your freelancer understand the vision you have for the piece, and then report and write it the way you want.
As the freelancer is working on your piece, have a point person ready to answer any questions that come up. If there are difficulties in getting the sources you wanted or if the reporting uncovers other angles the piece could examine, work with the freelancer to find solutions.
If you have a project management system, include your freelancer in it and provide some quick training on tracking and uploading work. Doing so will ensure everyone’s on the same page, and can give you a place to store resources such as contact information, background on the piece and communication about the project.
Pay Promptly and Well
The work a freelance writer produces is valuable — and “exposure” doesn’t put food on the table. It’s a professional courtesy to pay freelance writers promptly. Many bill within 30 days, but if you want to keep your freelancer happy, pay on publication or even receipt. If you and the writer have put together a contract that includes payment terms (and ideally, you have), stick to it. It’s a business agreement like any other.
Give What You Want to Get
Don’t be afraid to make difficult demands, such as a rush project with a quick deadline or some work that’s much longer than you usually assign — just make sure it’s worth it. Freelance writers are used to being flexible and are usually interested in finding a way to accommodate special requests if you’re able to provide a bonus. It’s not a good idea to make a habit of last-minute requests or surprise rush jobs, but if you’re in a bind, see what your freelancer can do to help.
Let your freelancer know what’s working — and what’s not. Their flexibility means freelance writers can easily change tone or writing style, or approach articles from a different point of view. If you’re happy with a freelancer’s work, tell them what you like about it, and they’ll keep providing what you’re looking for. If you want a change, talk about what you need, and work together to find a solution.
The longer a freelancer works with you, the fewer issues you’re likely to have. She’ll become more familiar with what your organization wants out of its content marketing, and will be able to make more decisions about the content on her own, without checking in. You’ll know what to expect from her work. And the more you hold up your end of any agreement or contract, the more she will trust your organization and will be more likely to accept more assignments.
An ideal freelance relationship is built on that trust: you can provide the writer with a headline, a sentence or two about tone and audience, a deadline and an amount of money; the writer presents you with a researched and well-written article or white paper that’s exactly what you were looking for, on deadline. Following these tips can help put your organization on a path to building that relationship.