This is Part Two of a two-part series. The first part discussed how freelancers could build relationships with marketing managers and editors. This article will focus on what marketing managers and editors can do to establish trust with reliable freelancers.
Some editors may think of freelancers as temporary talent whom they only use when their in-house staff is overburdened. Others may see freelancers as disposable labor, folks they can discard and replace after one lackluster piece of content.
It’s not difficult to see how these misperceptions of freelancers came to be. Many freelancers do produce often less-than-skillful copy for bargain basement prices.
But consider the benefits a long-term, reliable freelance writer can bring to your team. They can deliver content when, and if, you need it. You also don’t have to assign them content if your workload slows. Later, when your content load picks up again, you can reconnect with freelancers with whom you’ve built a relationship.
These advantages demonstrate why it’s valuable to build a relationship with a high-quality freelancer. How can you find a freelancer to work with over the long term?
Be clear on your expectations – and don’t punish a writer if they don’t interpret unclear directions the way you hoped.
The most important thing to remember is that freelancers can’t read your mind, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. If you have specific expectations, let your freelancer know what they are. These include details like key words, number of source links, word count, timeline, revision expectations, and other parameters.
If you’re in a new phase of content development, you don’t have to be clear on every detail. Instead, you can let the writer know the parameters you do have and let them take it from there. However, be sure that you give them the time – and pay them accordingly – if you expect them to adapt what they produce as your expectations become clearer.
Provide samples of content you like.
If you have a specific type of content you want to emulate, it’s a great idea to share these pieces with your writers when you give them an assignment. Share successful examples that your editorial team has produced. Or, if you’re starting in a new direction, find content you want your freelancer to emulate from other companies’ websites.
Be ready to answer your freelancer’s questions.
Especially when they’re first getting started, strong freelancers will ask questions. So, be sure that you’re available to them in a reasonable amount of time or let them know you’ll be out of the office. Be glad that freelancers are asking questions, as these clarifications early on will save you time and revisions in the long run.
Realize your writer may not understand your content guidelines perfectly right away.
If your writer doesn’t produce exactly what you’re looking for in their first piece of content, don’t immediately start looking for their replacement. Instead, offer feedback, especially if there are elements you want them to include in every piece.
What’s more, let them know from the beginning that you’ll be providing feedback and expecting them to revise when you first start working together. This way, they won’t be surprised that you’re requesting one or more round of edits.
If the freelancer doesn’t revise or doesn’t automatically apply your feedback to their next piece, then you might not have found the writer with whom you want to develop this relationship.
Be authentic about what you’re looking for – and if the freelancer hasn’t delivered.
There are some editors or marketing managers who don’t tell freelancers when they’re not satisfied with their content. They simply scrap the piece, write off the freelancer, and move on.
This isn’t fair to the freelancer, as it doesn’t give them a chance to improve. Like the previous piece of advice suggested, first give them suggestions and ask them to revise.
If you still don’t like what they’ve produced, then tell them you don’t think they’re a good fit. If a relationship isn’t going to work out, do your freelancer a common courtesy and tell them you don’t want to continue working together. Otherwise, they may continue reaching out to you and pitching without knowing you don’t intend to continue working with them.
What’s more, if your freelancer didn’t follow the content guidelines you provided, you can offer a kill fee, a portion of the whole price, rather than the entirety of the price you negotiated.
This scenario demonstrates the importance of building a relationship with a freelancer who does understand what you’re looking for: you save time and money.
Compliment your writer on a job well done.
While you might feel you only need to provide feedback on ways you expect your writer to improve, it’s also helpful to tell your long-term freelancers what they’re doing well, too. If you always accept content without describing the particular elements you like – perhaps a particularly compelling introduction or a useful call to action – then they won’t know what you want them to replicate in every piece. Freelancers don’t know exactly what you liked best unless you tell them.
The Importance of Clear Expectations
Freelancers can be valuable members of your editorial team. Like any other member of your staff, new freelancers need clear guidelines and expectations to be successful and remain satisfied with the terms you’ve negotiated. After you’ve given your writer the tools they need to work effectively, your properly-onboarded freelancer can work independently with little input from you.
Editor’s Note: This post was written by nDash freelance writer Alicia Bones. To learn more about Alicia — and to have her write for your brand — check out her nDash profile.