Partnering with freelance writers is a great way of creating content without adding to your workforce. It also saves you time since you can get at least 1,000 words of content (i.e. two pages) within 24 hours. Compare that with the time you yourself may take, and you have a cost-effective bargain on your hands.
Yet there’s more to working with freelance workers than handing them a brief and providing feedback. Here are 10 secrets of working with them to ensure the success of your project and get value for money.
1) Find out Which Types of Content Your Writer Can Handle
There’s more to content writing than blogging. Writers create texts for infographics, explainer videos, social media posts, reviews, lists, and much more. And these are the fun types of content.
Some publishers need longform content, case studies, eBooks, white papers, and similar texts to establish thought leadership. These aren’t easy to write because they need a certain tone, thorough research, and an edge to stand out from similar pieces online.
Unfortunately, not all writers can produce all types of content. In fact, even the most experienced copywriters still have a tough time with tricky pieces. For instance, press releases are difficult to write because they need to be authoritative, informative, and promotional at the same time. Striking that balance in a subtle way requires a lot of practice.
So, before advertising your job or project, determine the types of content you will initially need. Based on that, you can choose the best freelancer for the job at hand. You can later expand your writing team to accommodate new skills.
2) Get Acquainted with Scope Creep and Avoid It
Scope creep is one of the biggest problems freelancers face. It occurs when a publisher requests some additions outside the initial agreement. It could be a quick edit or a labor-intensive addition. Regardless of degree, scope creep is one thing which can affect your relationship with writers.
While some publishers include additions to get more value for money, majority are uninformed clients. They haven’t fully understood what they wanted when they initiated a project. Thus, they get new ideas with time. Unfortunately, this practice can impact a writer’s bottom line and their time.
Here are some suggestions to help you avoid this issue (and keep your star freelance writers):
- Use clear language while creating your contract. Make sure to define the work, length, and frequency of the services you’ll avail.
- Find out about the prices of extras. For instance, a writer may charge you a little more to include images and meta tags.
- Discuss details of your project and have the writer go over it. They may offer a few good ideas which you can incorporate.
3) Understand the Difference Between Rewrites and Revisions
Even the most brilliant copywriters may produce first drafts which you dislike. As a result, you may ask them to write another draft from scratch. Yet this may not be part of your contract with the writer.
Majority of freelancers offer a revisions per project policy. This policy is based on the assumption that you liked the first draft but want a few minor changes. For instance, you may ask the writer to use the term ‘business growth coach’ instead of ‘business consultant’.
A revisions per project policy is helpful because it covers aspects you yourself may have forgotten to communicate. At times, these aspects aren’t realized until you see them (or miss them) in your copy.
Rewriting mean scrapping everything already written and restarting from scratch. This may be hard because writers need to start from square one to understand what their clients need. Rejection may also hurt writers; this is especially true if they’re new to content writing.
Experienced writers will communicate with you to better understand your feedback. Yet you too are responsible for the rewrite. That’s why you need to meet writers halfway by providing targeted feedback. Only then will you get the copy you want without wasting more time.
4) Be Open to Working with Non-Native Writers
Publishers prefer hiring native speakers for their projects. This is because their grammar, spelling, and understanding of culture and nuances are better.
Yet several statistics have shown otherwise.
The American Community Survey by the Census Bureau revealed most U.S. public school students struggling with English were born in the US. Approximately 72% of students aged 5-17 didn’t speak English well despite being citizens. The remaining 28% comprised foreign born students, or those born to American parents or naturalized citizens.
To avoid frequent rejection, some international freelancers have resorted to creating fake identities. With fake IDs and IP masking software, non-native speaker writers believe they have a better chance at getting hired.
Yet clients won’t be the only ones affected. Writers will have to come up with more lies to support their fake identities. Once a client catches one of these lies, they’ll lose trust in freelancer writers. Especially those from the same country as the one who tricked them.
So, give non-native speakers a fair chance. Don’t dismiss them altogether while selecting a writer for your project. Assess their skills by giving them a small test before assigning them any work. For instance, you can have them write a 250-word test on a unique topic such as why choose [your service/product]. This will reduce chances of plagiarism and give you an idea of the writer’s capabilities.
5) Don’t Judge a Freelancer by their Cheaper Price
In most cases, cheaper isn’t always better. This, however, doesn’t apply to freelance writing. You can find copywriters online who would charge you less than $10 for 500 words for high quality content.
Question is – why are writers charging such low rates? Especially after putting in considerable time, research and effort. Here are some good reasons:
- Lack of Writing Experience – Close to 30% of new freelancers make less than $10 per hour according to The Pay Survey 2019 from Make a Living Writing. Most new writers don’t charge much because they grab at whatever they get to establish their reputation. Unfortunately, this can backfire. Writers who only earn through freelance work will suffer the most.
- Writer’s Nationality – Non-native freelance writers may lower their prices to tempt clients. One reason they can actually pull this off is because of the exchange rates at their countries. Just remember to be fair while paying them for their work.
- Inability to Bid – Websites such as Upwork allow freelancers to bid on projects of interest. Yet even the most skilled writers may not be aware of current rates. As a result, they may end up under-pricing their services.
As you can see, none of these reasons indicates you’ll get mediocre work. You can take extra precautions to ensure your money is spent on the right writer. asking for samples and even assigning a short test. Asking them to write a test sample allows you to filter out non serious writers who may bail out on you mid project.
6) Take the Time to Know Your Writer Personally
Everything you’ve read so far is to help you know your freelance writer professionally. Yet you need to make the effort to know who you’re working with on a personal level. By doing so, you help them develop the office camaraderie they miss by freelancing. This, in turn, allows you to create a stronger and more productive relationship with them.
So how do you pull this off? You can start by asking them about their day, cats/family, or plans for the weekend. This will help you assess whether your freelancer is the type to open up or keep to themselves. Still, they’ll definitely appreciate your friendliness. They may even choose to stick with you after the current project concludes.
A word of advice though: don’t try micromanaging your writer. Freelancers are self-managers, so they may not need much input from you daily. Instead, give them space and flexibility to handle the task at hand. You can always set milestones to ensure they’re on the right track and avoid rewrites.
7) Communicate Whenever You Hit a Snag
One of the biggest fears of freelance writers is receiving a project cancellation notice. Especially after investing their time and effort on a client’s copy. Before you send that notice and start looking for another freelancer to pick up the slack, ask yourself the following two questions:
- Have You and the Writer Been Communicating throughout the Project? – Communication is one of the best ways of avoiding misunderstanding. And it goes both ways. For example, you may have missed communicating an integral piece of the project. Similarly, the writer could have forgotten to inform you about an incident which affected their ability to meet a deadline.
- Can the Problem Be Resolved at All? – Determine whether the issue at hand can be addressed properly before you wrap up a project on a bad note. For that, schedule a face-to-face meeting or a Skype call to discuss the issue. Make sure to discuss all your reservations and listen to the writer’s side. If you don’t think you can salvage your work relationship, conclude the project on positive terms instead of screaming ‘canceled’.
8) Always Pay on Time
According to the Freelancers Union, 44% of freelancers face issues related to payments. Despite their clients owing over $10,000 in unpaid invoices, they let them slide because tracking these payments may waste around 36 hours.
This issue isn’t caused by clients deliberately not paying their freelancers. Majority don’t have a payment infrastructure to pay writers on time. After all, the only payment systems they use are for their full-time employees and third-party vendors.
Even if this isn’t your first time hiring a freelance writer, consider creating a freelance payment strategy for the future. That way, writers and others you may hire won’t need to wait for your billing cycle.
On the other hand, you can resort to finding and paying freelance writers through platforms such as Upwork and Fiverr. This is a good idea for smaller publishers as these platforms ensure prompt payment.
9) Don’t Make Assumptions About the Writer’s Availability
It’s important that publishers understand writers may juggle several projects along with their personal lives. Therefore, they may not have the time to handle everything you send their way. This especially applies to any last-minute projects you may think of.
Ideally, you should have the content you want written planned out before approaching a freelancer. If you want to rely on their expertise for this task, give them a day or two for requirements gathering. You can then discuss their ideas and add your own feedback. However, make sure they’re up for this before assigning your project to them.
If you wish to retain them for future projects, give them a heads-up before the current project comes to an end. This is important if you wish to ensure the consistency of your content’s tone and style. Keep in mind that some writers may reject your offer, so ask them to refer someone who can replicate their style.
10) Be Kind and Give Credit Where It’s Due
Freelance writers are known for pushing themselves to maintain high productivity levels. They take the time to manage their workload and ensure the satisfaction of multiple clients at a time. Yet at the end of the day, they’re only human.
In addition to being a writer, your freelancer can be a student, child, parent, etc. They may push past their own limits to meet tight deadlines. After all, your project is their top priority and a source of income.
With that in mind, encourage them when they get the job right. Once they wrap up your project, give them credit both in private and on their public profiles. These may be small gestures, but they mean the world to writers.
With these tips, you’ll definitely get the most from working with a freelance writer. You’ll also become a great client, which in turn will attract more talented writers to work with you. So, good luck and here’s to great content coming your way this year.