Freelance workers are turning the business world on its head. They allow you to hire just when you need a project completed, eliminate lengthy interviews and training, and enable you to negotiate a price per project for better control of your budget. Freelancers are ideal for a task like writing content— it’s something you need on a regular basis but not often enough to make hiring in-house staff worthwhile.
However, relying on freelancers is not all sunshine and rainbows. It can be very difficult — freelancers may not be available when you want them due to their commitments with other clients, a new hire may produce poor-quality work or write in the wrong style, and it can be difficult to maintain good communication, especially if you’re in different parts of the world.
To overcome all these challenges and to build long-term relationships with freelance writers you can trust, there are some best practices you need to be following.
1. Rethink the Hiring Process
There is less at stake with a freelance writer than a full-time member of staff. If you find someone who turns out to be a bad fit, you simply never hire that person again — it’s a minimal waste of resources. Nonetheless, if you’re too lax in your hiring process, you’ll run through numerous wastes-of-time without ever landing the perfect writer for your business. Here’s how to avoid that:
For starters, you need to rely on referrals. If no one in your business knows a trustworthy writer, turn online for recommendations. Reputable sites offering freelance writers for hire always feature reviews from other clients and often allow you to check out writing samples. You should also ask writers to provide you with examples of previous work that relate to your industry to demonstrate their understanding of the subject.
Next, get personal. If this is someone you will be working with closely, it is particularly important to make sure your personalities don’t clash. You want to know that you can ask for a piece of content and that the writer will deliver it on time to your specifications. Any problems in communication will make this impossible.
Finally, offer writers a trial assignment before you start piling on the work. Make sure this initial piece of content is nothing too demanding, but that it still allows you to assess the writer’s skills. Always offer compensation — only inexperienced or struggling writers will agree to work without guaranteed pay.
2. Pay a Fair Amount
Like just about everything in life, you get what you pay for when you hire a freelance writer. If you receive a low bid (even if it comes from someone who seems qualified), the chances are that quality of writing will be poor and you’ll come to regret your decision.
3. Use Time-Tracking Software
There are two options when it comes to paying freelance writers: you can pay according to quantity or according to time spent working. Many businesses choose quantity (usually by word but sometimes by page), as it simplifies the process. But simple is not always better. There are several advantages to using time-tracking software.
First, it is useful to see how long it takes a freelancer writer to create a piece of content. If a writer takes longer on a particular piece, you can assume that he or she struggled with the topic. On the other hand, if it took less time than normal, you can guess that this is a topic the writer feels comfortable with and you can assign more like it in the future.
Plus, time-tracking software lets you know when a freelancer is working — you can request notifications of random screenshots. This gives you insight into the writer’s working process and provides accountability — you can be sure that the freelancer is carrying out all the work alone and is not plagiarizing.
If you rely too much on your freelance workers, things are going to get messy. Someone on your full-time staff needs to be in charge at all times. For instance, freelancers may handle writing, editing, and even formatting, but someone on your staff should at the very least review the final result to make sure it’s what you wanted.
Consider assigning one team member as project manager. This way, you ensure that the requirements of your project are clearly laid out and everyone knows what is expected of them. You can make sure writers know when you will need them each week or month, allowing them to slot time in their schedule for your projects.
5. Find Ways to Enhance Communication
When a writing task is simple, a few messages back and forth may be sufficient. If you need to explain something more complex and want to make sure the writer understands, you could take advantage of video chats, but even an application like Skype is limited.
There are numerous tools available, created for businesses like yours, to enhance communication between team members. They allow you to do things like upload files, integrate with a project management application, talk both one-on-one and in groups, and start discussion forums. Find creative ways to make your freelance writers feel more like part of your team.
If you search online for information about hiring freelancers, you’ll find tons of horror stories — but there’s no need for it to be that way. These best practices are simple and require no extra effort on your part. I highly recommend using freelance writers for your blog, content for landing pages and other web pages, and marketing materials, and anything else you may need. Start implementing these tips and you will instantly improve your experience working with freelance writers.
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