The relationship between freelance writers and marketing managers or editors is a symbiotic one. Freelance writers rely on dependable editors to ensure they have clear guidelines and a regular income source. Editors need reliable freelancers who can deliver content they’re expecting by the deadlines they’ve set.
What’s more, the more established the relationship, the more likely both parties will benefit. Editors can expect that long-term freelancers will follow through with their promises, meet deadlines, and deliver content that fits their expectations. Freelancers can be satisfied that their long-term editors will pay them regularly, provide them the content development support, and offer them ongoing assignments.
Why, then, is it so difficult to build long-term relationships between editors and freelancers? Here, we’ll share several of the biggest mistakes freelancers make in their relationships with editors so you can avoid them.
Problem #1: Failing to meet editorial guidelines and timelines.
This is the most important requirement when developing a relationship with a marketing manager. Editors will typically provide a content brief, keywords, and a timeline so make sure you’ve read and understood exactly what’s expected of you. If you’re not sure about something, ask them as soon as possible after you’ve received an assignment. What’s more, keep a calendar of deadlines if you’re handling multiple clients.
If you skip a deadline or deliver content that’s completely off the mark, that will likely be the end of your relationship with that editor.
Problem #2: Expecting editors to be your proofreader and fact-checker.
Gone are the days when editors would fact check your work or fix your grammar problems. Some editors may double-check your information and alter your punctuation, but if they have to do too much of this, they likely won’t want to work with you again.
The bottom line: turn in accurate and well-edited copy every time you submit.
Problem #3: Forgetting to ask questions before the last minute.
When you’re juggling multiple clients, you may not even read the content expectations until the day a piece of content is due. This is a bad habit, as you shouldn’t expect your editors to jump to attention immediately when you have a question. A good rule of thumb is giving marketing managers at least 24 hours to respond to your emails.
What’s more, be sure you’re asking all the questions you have about a piece of content in a single email. Don’t overwhelm your editor with dozens of emails, each with a single question.
Problem #4: Perceiving revision requests as a personal affront.
Revisions are a natural part of the writing process, but we’ve known freelancers who are upset when their writing isn’t accepted as golden on the first draft. Instead, accept the feedback happily; if you’re going to work with a client over the long haul, understanding their expectations precisely will help you both.
However, if your editor asks you to completely revise a piece based on information or guidelines they didn’t provide you from the start, that’s a problem. If that happens multiple times, you may not want to continue building a long-term relationship with that marketing manager.
Problem #5: Deciding it’s unimportant to build a relationship with your editor.
Since you aren’t in the same office with your editor, you can’t see pictures of their kids on their desk or chat about what they’re cooking for gameday weekend. But that doesn’t mean that your relationship won’t benefit from human connection!
We’re not suggesting you swap life stories. Instead, offer in tidbits about yourself, or ask them questions about their life outside the office if they share something personal.
Try, for example: “I’m excited to take on this piece because I worked as a graphic designer for five years and hope to tie in my experience in that field. Do you think that would work in the article you’ve envisioned?”
Or, if an editor tells you something about their life, be sure to tie in connections to it in your correspondence. “I’m looking forward to your advice! Also, how was your trip? Did you like Palm Beach?”
Problems #6 and #7: Failing to communicate problems promptly, or taking advantage of your editor’s goodwill.
If there’s some reason that you can’t meet a deadline, think of your freelance relationship like any other job. If you worked in a traditional office, you would call your supervisor, and let them know why you’re missing work, so why wouldn’t you do the same if you have to miss or extend a deadline? Things happen – your Internet goes out in the middle of the day, you need to take your dog to the emergency room – but be sure to tell your editor what’s up as soon as possible.
What’s more, don’t take advantage of your editor. If you’re constantly asking for extensions, or coming up with an excuse about why you can’t meet a deadline, your editor won’t want to keep working with you. An extension from an editor is generous, not a reason to start seeing how far you can push their boundaries.
A healthy editorial relationship benefits both marketing managers and freelancers. Maintaining this relationship is all about communication, respect, and staying within the guidelines established by both parties. Even though it takes effort, a strong editor/freelancer relationship is worth developing.
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.