Category Archives: Hiring Freelance

You and Your Freelance Writer Part III: Retaining Talent

freelance retention

This is the final post in a series about hiring and working with freelance writers.

You have found your writer. She has learned what you need and like. You have learned what information she needs in order to produce the best possible work. Now what?

Let that writer know that you would like to work with her again. Better yet, set up a schedule of posts you will need over the next month or so and ask if she’s got time in her schedule to make developing content for you a regular gig.

Trust me, unless the writer is already overwhelmed with work, the idea of assignments coming in on a steady basis will make that little writer heart beat with joy. Remember, that writer is just as much a business person as you are. And freelancers don’t have the benefits package of a large company to fall back on. A steady paycheck takes a load of stress off.

Speaking of a paycheck, how much should you expect to pay for writing services? It depends. Most agencies, services, and freelancers will post their rates on a website or will happily email them to you. The more experienced and in demand the writer is, the more you might expect to pay.

Look at their writing samples first.

  • Can they write in different styles?
  • Do they have a good command of spelling and grammar?
  • Have they done both long and short form content?
  • Do they use formatting that makes the content easy to read online?

If you see evidence of what you need, take a look at the rates to see if they fit into your budget. Everyone understands that not every business owner has deep pockets. If you can’t afford more than $8-$10 a post, a blog writing service like BlogMutt or Zerys may be better for your needs.

However, understand you get what you pay for. If you are lucky someone just starting out will take a job for 3-7 cents per word and give you good value. And most blog writing services will provide a rating system for the writers. But that can be very subjective; what someone else considers 5 star work may not seem like it to you.

If you can afford it, though, a freelancer who does most or all of your work ensures the voice and style remain the same throughout the content. Over time she will learn as much about the business as you know, making it possible to write faster and perhaps make stylistic changes to better reflect your company.

When determining pay think about it this way. A freelance writer is not your full-time employee. You will not pay benefits or a full time salary to this person. If your content needs generally consist of three blog posts a week, that writer will probably spend about 5-6 hours a week on your stuff.

Taking into consideration the freelancer must cover her own benefits and office needs, paying $40-$60 a post isn’t an unreal expectation. This equates to $20 or $30 per hour. Or maybe you pay by the word. Paying $25 per 100 words (25 cents per word) is a fair price. Remember, this content will lure in visitors and convert them to customers, building your business.

Hopefully, this series has given you a better idea of what hiring a freelance worker is like. Most want to do an excellent job because that is how you get repeat business. Finding one who can provide content for you on a steady basis will make your life easier as well.

You and Your Freelance Writer Part II: How a Writer/Editor Relationship Works

Edited Paper

This is the second in a series about hiring and working with freelance writers.

It would be great if you could just mind meld with your new freelancer and impress on his brain cells exactly what you want in a piece of content. Sadly, that isn’t possible for humans and, according to Star Trek canon, Vulcans haven’t made themselves known to us yet.

So, when you first engage a writer and for a few assignments after that, open yourself to the possibility that the first effort won’t be exactly what you were looking for. After all, this writer hasn’t produced anything for you yet. You can expect him to check your other content to get an idea, but to do a great job, the writer will want feedback on that first draft.

In fact, depending on the subject matter and the type of article, you may have to go back and forth a few times to get it exactly right. And that’s OK.

So many who hire writers just want to provide a topic, offer a small amount of money, and expect perfection. You know better than that. You understand that great content takes effort and is worth the money you pay. Part of the process is making your business relationship with a freelancer a collaborative effort.

If you think you don’t have time, consider how long it would take you to produce that content yourself. Reading through a piece and providing feedback isn’t nearly as time intensive. And if you find yourself editing every word or wondering how this content relates to what you asked for, at least consider that your instructions may not have been clear.

This doesn’t mean the writer can just blow off what you requested. But for your business relationship to be successful you both have to put forth your best effort. If needed, get on the phone and talk with him. Or, before he writes an entire article, ask him to send you an outline and links to any resources he will use, especially for long form content like white papers.

If the freelancer treats this as a imposition, he or she may not be the right writer for you. A good freelance writer will welcome the chance to develop the best product as quickly as possible. With both of you meeting in the middle you will have the best chance at getting what you need.

Remember your English teacher? Create a first draft, edit, and rewrite. Your freelance writer needs to do the same. Make it easy to do so by quickly reading the completed first draft and offering any edits as quickly as you can. Remember, this content reflects on your company. You want it to be great.

Writers want to be great, too. But it can’t be done in a vacuum. So until those Vulcans show up, remember the writer can’t read your mind. Be ready to do your part to develop and publish content that will drive and convert. Be the editor every writer dreams of having.

You and Your Freelance Writer Part I: The Beginning of a Beautiful Business Relationship

hiring

This is the first part of a series on hiring freelance writers.

Whether you use freelance writers all the time or are getting ready to hire your first you want a firm relationship built on communication and trust. Freelancers of any sort hope you like their work well enough to hire them again and again or, better yet, put them on retainer. You, of course, are hoping to get top-notch content that you either don’t have the time or the skills to produce yourself.

More commonly these days, your relationship will be digital, built on email exchanges, shared links, or access to a CMS or other work-sharing application. You may speak on the phone or see each other in person but the internet has made it possible to select from a wider pool of freelancers than just those geographically nearby. And there’s always Skype if face to face works best for you.

Select the Right Writer

First of all, you need to know if this writer can write. Fortunately, the internet makes this pretty easy. Simply Google the writer’s name to find content under her by-line, read the writer’s blog, and ask for writing samples.

Then check the basics:

  • Correct use of grammar
  • No spelling errors
  • Clear formatting
  • Readability

Many freelance writers have deep industry experience. If you need highly technical content you may want to look for credentials or other proof of industry knowledge. But a good writer is also flexible and an able researcher. Don’t count out an otherwise excellent writer just because she hasn’t written for your business area before.

Getting Started: The First Assignment

The first assignment will start setting the tone for your working relationship. This is where you work closely with your new freelancer to give her the best tools for creating the exact type of content you want. Spend some time preparing an on-boarding packet with the essentials. You have a few decisions to make before sending along your first assignment.

If you have an established style guide make sure you send it to your freelancer. You will be fervently thanked.

What point of view or “person” do you want the content to have?

  • First person: “I/we have a solution.”
  • Second person: “You need a solution.”
  • Third person: “He/she needs (they need) a solution.”

There’s room for each point of view depending on the type of content. Third person is used for more formal communications such as technical white papers or case studies. Second person is typically used for a conversational tone; blog posts, brief articles, marketing white papers, and social media posts draw better responses in second person.

First person should be used extremely sparingly. Most customers are turned off by monologues about your products and services, even if you are talking about benefits. First person is rather intense and is not focused on your customer. More often it can sound patronizing and very sales-y; avoid this latter at all costs.

Who is your audience?

Target content to a specific audience. It is clicked on, “liked,” and shared more than content that tries to speak to everyone. Provide your freelancer with a buyer persona or other description of who you want to read this piece. Include more than bare demographics, include the problem this audience needs solved, who else the audience may need to convince, and any specific points you want made. In other words, what question is this content answering?

Do you have resources or will you need the writer to research?

You may already know best the types of resources with the information needed for your customers and prospects. Share these resources with your freelance writer. Find general resources about your industry to support all writing assignments and find specific ones for the content piece you need right now. Provide links to websites or webpages. If you can only find the resource in print, provide a copy to the writer.

If you don’t know of any resources off the top of your head, provide a detailed description of the topic and let the writer know she will need to do some research. Be prepared to pay for research time either as a separate line item or rolled into the cost of the content.

Set the tone.

How do you want your content to sound? Are you envisioning something humorous or do you need something more serious? Is there a particular style you prefer? Send links to some examples of content you admire and would like to emulate. Maybe you like the writer’s natural voice. Be sure to communicate your expectations.

End Note

Content marketing has become the most successful type of marketing for the 21st century. The form of the content may change but it will always need a writer to flesh out the basic idea. Selecting the best writer for you will take preparation, patience, and good communication skills. Build a beautiful business relationship from the beginning.