The best freelancers are not the ones you hire for a project, only to say goodbye when it’s complete. The best freelancers are partners. They come to know your brand inside and out, and they feel like part of your team. They’ll suggest things to you that you hadn’t thought of, pitch new story ideas and share your content on social media. They care about you and your brand.
But you don’t get these kinds of freelancers unless you’re deliberate about how you work with them. Be careful about how you onboard freelancers, get them up to speed using a style guide, and have a process in place for effective communication.
What freelancers want from you
Just because they don’t work in your office doesn’t mean they don’t want a lasting relationship. In fact, freelancers are much more motivated when they feel connected to the teams they’re working with.
Freelancers want to feel valued and respected. They likely won’t feel positively about you if you see writing as a commodity. If you start treating them as though they are suppliers, they will quickly begin to feel undervalued and overworked. For more about how to retain and reward freelance writers, read this post from #DearMegan.
And if they try to negotiate a new rate or suggest a change, don’t balk, even if you don’t agree on how much you should pay for their freelance services. In general, freelancers always prefer to talk things out to get a greater understanding of your product and company, rather than run on assumptions about what you want. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and have a conversation.
Effectively onboarding freelancers
Get organized; don’t waste precious time trying to figure out what your freelancer needs from you. It starts with effectively onboarding your freelancers. Here’s how to do it:
Set expectations. The freelancer works for you, so it’s your job to set expectations around what you want. Are you flexible or rigid on due dates? Do you expect to hire the freelancer for one project, or do you have ongoing work for them?
Sometimes, marketers forget to set expectations around edits and revisions. Be clear about how many rounds are a part of the price as well as how you’ll give feedback. You should also let the freelancer know how long it will take to review a piece and what your payment cycle looks like.
Create a style guide. Sometimes, marketers don’t want to hire freelancers because they feel it will be impossible to get them up to speed. They have a point — freelancers aren’t in the office every day. They don’t have meetings with your boss. They don’t have your perspective.
Even so, you shouldn’t spend a lot of your precious time trying to onboard freelancers. Instead, you should develop a style guide that you can pass off to any new freelancer. If the freelancer reads the style guide, they’ll understand your expectations, your tone and what you’re looking for. Your style guide should include:
- Info about marketing personas, target audience and customer base
- Information on voice and tone, as well as formatting and grammatical preferences
- Lists of competitors not to reference
- List of favorite sources to reference
- Any majors do’s/dont’s
Use a platform for communication. No one should be trying to manage content creation and distribution via email and Google or Word docs. It’s a poor, antiquated system compared to what’s available today. It’s unwieldy and clumsy, and you can’t grow at scale. With a content marketing platform, you can scale any content initiative with ease and collaborate with the world’s top freelancers.
For example, the ClearVoice content marketing platform has an integrated freelancer marketplace. You do everything from within the platform — plan, hire, collaborate and publish. You can use it manage all of your freelancer relationships.
How to deal with feedback, edits and revisions
If you’re happy with a freelancer’s work, make sure to tell them. You may be a great client to work with, but most freelancers have seen their fair share of difficult people. It will mean a lot to get positive feedback. If things aren’t going well, you need to be honest and straightforward. Picking up the phone and talking through your concerns is always better than staying silent.
Freelancers are open and accepting of edits. Not only can they help them become a better writer, but they can help them understand exactly what you’re looking for. Even so, sometimes editors change really minor things, and send it back for reviews, and then do it again, and again. The process takes forever. It’s always better to simply fix small things yourself.
You can successfully find, hire and work with freelancers
You have a lot of responsibilities as a marketer. You can’t do it all yourself, and freelancers can help you reach your goals. Although the process of finding, hiring and working with freelancers may seem difficult, it’s actually fairly easy to manage, as long as you’re deliberate about the process.
Freelancers can offer a hand when you need it most, and their individual expertise can shape the way you run your content marketing. Freelance content creators should not be seen as machines who can get some writing done, but should be considered partners as you build out an effective content marketing strategy
Our latest ebook explains how to leverage freelance writers to improve and grow your content creation efforts. For the complete guide, download “How to Successfully Find, Hire & Work With Freelancers.”