Google has led businesses (albeit somewhat forcefully with the Panda roll-out) to embrace the importance of good content. If you’re one of those businesses who realized your growing need for content, you probably either turned to existing employees, hired new ones, signed on with an agency, or are considering a freelancer.
Working with a freelance content creator is the quickest, most consistent, and least expensive way of handling your need for increased content. But hiring a freelancer is a little different from an agency or an employee. Here are a few things you need to know to ensure the working relationship goes smoothly:
Tips for Working with a Freelance Writer
There’s a Content Creation Schedule (and you’re part of it)
Unless your freelancer is on retainer to you, you can assume a couple of things:
- You are not her only client
- She cannot wait for you to give her work if she wants to eat
People who have never worked with freelancers, or at least in-demand ones, will assume the working relationship is much the same way it is with your employees — when you have work you give it to her.
A good freelance writer is in hot demand these days and adheres to an extremely tight delivery schedule. Last-minute jobs are probably not possible unless you have asked the freelancer to keep a certain date clear and have paid her to do so.
If you have a lot of last-minute work, you either need to rework your content needs and schedule, find someone with zero clients, or pay to work with a freelance writer on retainer who can wait for your work.
No One Can Talk on the Phone and Write Content at the Same Time
Writer’s write. That’s how they pay their bills. If you want the writer to participate in an activity that precludes writing such as being part of a conference call, touring a facility, hosting a webinar, or taking your kid bowling, she will not be writing, and thus not able to make a living. Expect to compensate the writer for things that keep her from writing.
A Writer is Not an Operations Manager or Project Manager
You should expect that a freelance writer writing for business in today’s world will understand:
- (a little) HTML
- Grammar and how to right good (Just kidding. Write and well.)
- Content marketing
- Your audience, tone, and industry (or be willing to learn or research it)
- How to write attention-grabbing titles
- The importance of scannable content and other design elements
- How to find topics that appeal to your ideal customer
Writers must have a host of skills outside of crafting a beautifully written paragraph. However, if you expect your content creator to manage other operations within your organization, you need to make that clear in the beginning. Most writers are not project managers. They cannot bring cohesion to your team, or organization to your business, without taking time away from the content creation. If you need a more organized operation or increased efficiencies, hire that specialist.
A lot of what people know about the day-to-day operations of a business is picked up because they sit in the office and “hear” things. Your freelancer isn’t going to overhear you telling your assistant that you’ve rethought your content strategy. Failure to communicate with your freelancer, means she won’t know about the change of mind.
If you run an entirely in-house operation, outside of your content creator, this may be the hardest part of the working relationship to get used to. When you all sit under the same roof, some things get communicated by osmosis (or office gossip). This will not happen with an outside person.
Always Ask for a Deadline
Most freelancers work by a strict schedule and will make sure they can meet your deadline. If one is not provided, most freelancers will ask when you need your project completed. If he doesn’t, ask him what his schedule looks like and when he expects to have it done.
Just because the project only takes about an hour (in your mind), doesn’t mean he can do it the hour you turn it over. Asking for a delivery date means everyone is on the same page.
Working with a freelance content creator can be a wonderfully rewarding experience as her skills can bring a lot to the team. Where else can you find an employee you can pay based on productivity and deliverables but reap the benefit of someone who has the latest knowledge on content marketing and social media best practices? (You have to keep your skills up-to-date when your paycheck depends on them.)
A truly skilled content creator can also help you with content strategy and analysis of how effective your content is. Before you turn to your next-door neighbor to write your business content, look at what a content marketing professional can add to your content mix.