Freelancers have become one of the most helpful resources for organizations these days. With the gig economy catching pace across the globe, companies find it viable to outsource much of their work to freelancers. As reported by The Times of India, there was a 46% increase in India’s freelancing market in the second half of 2020 (thanks to COVID-19). However, when it comes to getting the best content created from freelancers, contemporary businesses experience a dilemma.
Navigating the freelancer-client relationship can often get tricky, and this is majorly due to the fact most of the communication (if not all) takes place virtually. Whether it is dealing with a single freelancer or a team of content creators (ever heard of teamlancing?), you need to tread carefully. Freelance management is highly crucial, yet considerably underrated. Read on to learn the ropes.
10 Tips to Manage Freelance Writers
In this section, we share invaluable tips that will help you foster meaningful relationships with freelancers and simultaneously get the best content created from them.
1. Screen multiple writers
Every business differs from another in the context of brand voice, goals, and vision. A freelance writer’s portfolio can give you some idea about their work, but it cannot deliver the final verdict about whether they fit your requirements. Therefore, it is a great idea to ask for tailor-made samples from multiple writers to be assured that the shortlisted freelancer will be able to do justice to your content marketing strategies.
Once you have samples of multiple writers in front of you, it is time to run a comparative analysis. In no time, you will be able to figure out which freelancer has the vision and understanding to deliver the best writing services that are aligned with your marketing goals.
2. Hire the right freelancer
It is possible that one may be an exceptional writer but not the right fit for your organization or the project at hand. You need to make sure you hire someone who understands the finer nuances of the assignment. Not only should they be timely when it comes to deliverables, but they should also bring with them the right skill set required for the job.
But how do you achieve this? A huge part of hiring the right people is knowing exactly what you need from them and what your business goals are. The more specific and narrowed-down your ask is, the easier it will be to get the best content created from your freelance writer(s).
In simple words, hire a freelancer that possesses some understanding of your industry vertical, geographical location, target audiences, and most importantly, the vision of your organization. If a freelancer is not aware of your industry vertical, no matter how good the quality is, the chances of your getting the desired results are slim.
3. Familiarize them with your brand identity
Ideally, you should strive to make a freelance writer a part of your team. The perfect writing output comes about when your in-house content marketing team can introduce a freelancer to the precise writing style. In turn, the latter can blend their voice with the business’ existing writing style. Along with the project requirements, you need to clearly communicate your brand identity to the freelancer, for their work to reflect it.
Mentioned below is some vital information related to your organization that you should make available to the freelancer.
- Website and social media
If you already have a website or social media presence, encourage the freelancer to explore them to grasp your brand voice. Ask them if they have any queries later. You can even go a step further and point them to certain tools that will help them streamline their content creation process.
- Style guide
Generally, the marketing or editorial department of business organizations prepares an editorial style guide encompassing the writing style, formatting requirements, grammar dos and don’ts, citation practices, SEO rules, and more. If you have a comprehensive style guide to share with the content creator, it can help them understand your vision and requirements to churn out the most accurate content.
- Pieces of reference
Introducing your freelancer to some pieces of content you expect the freelancer to refer to can be of great help. It doesn’t matter if it is a web page, blog piece, or a piece of content written by a competitor. This will give the freelancer a clear picture of your expectations and help you get the best content created.
- Personas of the target audience
A buyer persona is essentially a fictional depiction of your ideal user. It requires a great amount of research, and includes the user’s demographic information, likes and dislikes, buying behavior, and more. Never skip sharing broad information about your target audience with the writer. It will help them craft content that will appeal the most to your audience.
4. Be respectful of the writer’s way of working
Every writer has a different way of working. As much as it is important that they follow the project guidelines, you also need to grant them the space and time to put out their best work. Letting them work according to their own rhythm will help them reach their fullest potential and grow with the project.
There’s a thin line between micromanagement and setting up regular check-ins with writers. And you need to be sure not to cross it. However, that is not to say you shouldn’t step in when the need arises. It is all about striking the right balance.
5. Ensure bidirectional communication
No matter how clear your brief is, you still need to keep all communication lines open to extract the best content from freelancers. Encouraging a freelancer to communicate any original idea is also a terrific strategy you can adopt.
You can consider setting up weekly or monthly meetings to be up to speed with the progress, address the writers’ concerns, and suggest inputs, among other things. The point is to assure the freelancer that they can reach out to you without any hesitation.
6. Provide a clear direction
One of the prime reasons behind multiple editing rounds and the wastage of valuable time of all the entities involved in the process is the lack of clear direction or briefing. If you want to convey your expectations clearly, you need to come up with a clear, solid brief that contains everything you need the writer to know before they get started.
To switch it up a little, you can create video briefs. Video is more engaging than any other form of content, and can help explain the process more lucidly.
A brief can include a goal-oriented description of the project, along with a sample title, specific keywords, a few key research links, and other editorial guidelines. Not too long back, we launched an ebook on creative briefs that can help you get the best content created from writers. You can get it for free here.
7. Establish a sound feedback system
Your freelancer may take a while to understand the pulse of your organization, and they may need some more guidance in the initial period. Therefore, it is essential to create a sound feedback system. Remember, this needs to be a two-way street. This includes you requesting modifications in terms of the tone, style, word choice, etc., and the writer sharing their opinions, ideas, and concerns.
8. Provide fair compensation
This is one of the most significant tips for getting the best content created. Always make it a point to pay your writers fairly and on time. Timely compensation certainly goes a long way in boosting the confidence and overall morale of a writer.
Right at the beginning of the association, set clear payment terms, including payment date, amount, mode of payment, etc. This assures the writer you are ethical and that they can rely on you. You should also be willing to discuss a raise from time to time.
9. Have the documentation in place
This is a must if you’ve set out to manage freelancers. Without proper documentation, things can get a little chaotic. This involves all the documents required at the time of onboarding. These include everything from the contract and legal agreements to the tax documents, confidentiality agreements, and everything in between.
Having everything in writing ensures more clarity and transparency than simply discussing it orally. Proper documentation also assures the freelancer that they will not be taken advantage of.
10. Make them feel included
Since freelancers contribute to your bottom line, you should make them feel as much a part of your organization as your full-time employees. In addition to communicating with them regularly and effectively, you can seek their opinions on specific issues or projects, and ask them if they’re doing okay from time to time.
You can even introduce them to your in-house team and facilitate the smooth functioning between the two. Another way to effectively assimilate them into your workflow is to encourage them to partake in the relevant activities happening at your organization. This will not only make them feel more involved, but it will also help you foster long-term, meaningful relationships with them.
The idea of hiring a freelancer can be perplexing or intimidating at first. However, with the help of an appropriately crafted framework, it will be possible for you to get the best content created from them. All you need to do is ensure you provide detailed instructions, supply enough reference material, and keep the communication channels open and free-flowing. Lastly, make sure your writer is fairly compensated, and make them feel like they’re truly a part of your organization.
- Freelancers are a valuable resource to organizations today.
- Freelance management can be a tricky job, but with a few important points in mind, you can do it successfully.
- A big part of managing freelancers is to make them feel included and having a clear, transparent communication channel.
- There is a thin line between micromanagement and seeking regular updates. Be sure not to cross it.
You can find freelancers by posting openings on LinkedIn and Upwork. You can look up specific writers you like and write to them to ask about their availability, fee, and more. Another way of looking for freelancers is asking around in your network for recommendations or suggestions.
Content is revolutionizing the digital landscape of today, and content creators are at the forefront of this revolution. They contribute significantly to a business’ growth due to their skills, talent, as well as clout.
Firstly, you need to make them feel that their opinions are welcome. You must make sure you convey all the information clearly and give them the space to process it and get back to you with any queries they may have. Additionally, regular check-ins ensure all parties are on the same page, and that the project is going as planned.