Freelance Writers: 4 Keys to a Great First Assignment

Freelance Writers: 4 Keys to a Great First Assignment

You found a few freelance writers that you’re excited to begin working with—this is amazing!

However, it’s important not to just jump into the deep end with a flood of assignments.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve worked side-by-side with brands to help them build their writing team. I’ve also seen (and made) my fair share of mistakes—from assigning 5 blog posts with them out of the gate to asking for a 48-hour turnaround time.

If you want to build a great writing team, you really need to work with each writer to set them up for success. Any time you’re starting work with a new freelance writer, keep these four things in mind. They’ll help you get better content in return (and your wallet will thank you).

1. A white paper should not be the first assignment.

The onboarding process is already hard enough (for you and the writer) without the added pressure of a major project. Please work with your writer and give them a blog post as your first assignment.

Not only is this an easier way for a writer to onboard themselves onto your company, but it is going to save YOU so much time.

If a writer does poorly on a white paper, you’re stuck paying for a higher overhead cost, AND you will have to rewrite a 2500-ish word document.

If a writer falls short of expectations on a blog post, it’s a lot faster for you to edit 800 words AND provide them with feedback.

2. Give freelance writers more than 72 hours to complete that first assignment.

No, weekends do not count toward the 72 hours.

Once you fully onboard a writer, 72 hours for an 800-word blog post is a normal ask. But it’s not if they’re new to writing for your company. They need extra time to do their homework—which would include reading some of your blog posts to understand the tone and researching the industry to wrap their head around the assignment topic.

If you want a good, solid first pass, please give the writer at least a week to write this first piece of content for you.

3. Take care of minor edits in-house.

Too often, I’ll see brands asking for very small edits from writers. My favorite is probably, “could you please change this word to X?”

In the time it took you to write that comment, you could have already changed the word.

Even though the writer is working for YOU, there does need to be a certain amount of mutual respect. If you ask for many edits, like in the example above, the writer will soon realize the amount of hand-holding you need to bring a piece of content over the finish line. As a result, they might ask for more money on future assignments.

4. Provide feedback, edits, AND the final version to freelance writers

I understand that the entire point of finding a writer to come on board is to offload some of your work. But in the beginning, it IS going to take more time. However, the ROI moving forward is worth it.

If you want a new writer to do a great job, you really need to explain to them why you like—or don’t like—something they wrote. And it needs to be actionable. It can’t be simply, “I don’t like this paragraph.” It needs to be, “This paragraph is a bit too casual for our audience; could you please button it up?” Playing the role of an editor will help you get the best results.

Yes. The first piece of content with a new writer will likely take more than two rounds of edits. But once you’re on your third assignment with them, all of that effort you put forward will pay off.

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