5 Ways To Screw Up Working With A Freelance Writer

Nothing can put a damper on your marketing and corporate communications mojo more than not having a consistent and clear Orange text box with white font "OOPS! Don't Do It Again."brand voice. We all know businesses that struggle with that—maybe you’re one of them.

 

Consistency builds recognition and customer trust. Every brand—small and large—depends on those things to succeed.

 

So when you find a freelance writer who understands you, you won’t want to let her (or him) get away! You’ll want to do what you can to build a long-term working relationship and avoid pet peeves that might drive writers away.

 

Five Ways To Ruin Your Working Relationship With A Freelance Writer

 

  • Waiting Until The Last Minute

Contrary to what some people believe, a career in freelance writing demands managing time carefully. A well-established freelance writer will have a full project schedule that doesn’t allow much (if any at all) bandwidth to work on rush assignments that pop up out of nowhere. While true writing ‘emergencies’ might occasionally happen, most often we-need-it-yesterday projects happen because of poor planning. Get your act together so you can give your writer enough time to do the job well without undue stress.

 

  • Not Providing Enough Direction Or Information

Even though you should expect a writer to bring the element of creativity to assignments, you still need to share some details, expectations, and guidelines. Are there word-count constraints or requirements? Who is the target audience? What purpose will the piece of content serve? Is there a subject matter expert at your company whom the writer can call with questions and to draw out more information? What key details should the writer incorporate in the content? By providing as much information and direction as possible up-front, you’ll allow your writer to focus on producing great content rather than pulling teeth.

 

  • Not Responding With Feedback

Nothing is more disheartening than busting butt to accommodate a client’s deadline and then receiving radio silence after sending a draft for review. If your writer has pulled out all the stops to meet your schedule, do her the courtesy of responding with your feedback and change requests in a timely manner. At the very least, acknowledge you received her work and let her know if you won’t have time to review it until later.

 

  • Starting…Stopping…Then Restarting A Project

I’ve been a part of several projects that seemed to live on forever because clients didn’t make them a priority or even a passing thought. Starting, stopping, and then restarting a project after it has been on hold for months or years demands more time and effort than a writer has bargained for. It requires re-visiting every detail and getting up to speed all over again. That’s frustrating and infuriating. If you begin a project, be prepared to see it through on your end.

 

  • Habitually Not Paying On Time

Because freelancers can only handle so many clients simultaneously, getting paid on time is essential to their business success. If you constantly make a writer shake you down for the money you owe, you’re hurting her cash flow. Ouch! And that will hurt your chances of having that writer work on future projects for you.

 

Freelance writers are an adaptable lot and realize s*&% happens, but frequent offenses that create a difficult working situation will eventually take their toll. Fortunately, with some planning and common courtesy, you can do your part to build a mutually beneficial client-writer relationship—one that will last long-term and facilitate a consistent brand voice.

 

Your turn!

Are you a freelancer who has struggled with any of these issues? How have you overcome them with your clients?

Are you a client who has built a long-standing relationship with a freelance writer? What tips can you share about creating a successful working relationship?

Get Over It: Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Using A Ghostwriter

It’s an ethical dilemma for some clients. Is it right to claim authorship for a piece of writing that you’ve hired someone else toGet Over It - Text write?

 

As a freelancer who ghostwrites blog posts and articles for clients, I find that’s prospects’ biggest hesitation about using a ghostwriter. They feel guilty about posting something as their own if they haven’t personally written it.

 

Does that sound like you?

 

Get over it.

 

There’s no shame in hiring a professional who can do the job better than you can. Many people simply don’t have the time or writing skills to craft a compelling, well-written blog post or article. And rushing to get to the finish line or forcing a skill that doesn’t come naturally can cost you in several ways.

 

  • Whether you’re submitting an article to a high-profile industry publication or posting on your own blog, creating a piece of writing that’s sub-standard can cause embarrassment and hurt your professional reputation. At best, prospects and customers will think you had a bad day. At worst, they’ll think you’re careless and incompetent.

 

  • Without the natural ability and skills, you might find yourself spending a half-day or more on a 500-word post. So much for productivity and effective use of your time! Yes, hiring a ghostwriter will cost you some money, but what’s your time worth?

 

  • You might miss out on valuable readership if your writing doesn’t have an attention-grabbing headline or doesn’t incorporate the information and keywords to help it become found by search engines.

 

Still not feeling comfortable about the idea of hiring a ghostwriter?

 

If completely turning over your writing to someone behind the scenes unnerves you, know that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can still have a hand in the process when you hire a ghostwriter by doing one or more of the following:

 

  • Take an active role in brainstorming topics.
  • Contribute your expertise and experience by giving your ghostwriter specific key details you want to communicate.
  • Craft a very rough draft and let your ghostwriter flesh it out and refine it.

 

No matter what your involvement, make sure your ghostwriter understands your “voice.” The tone, wording, and style should sound like you, not the ghostwriter. Always review and read aloud what your ghostwriter has written and ask for a revision if the piece seems out of character. Even though you haven’t written it, the writing needs to genuinely reflect you.

 

So, don’t feel guilty about hiring a ghostwriter. It’s a wonderful way to eliminate the stress, preserve your valuable time, and ensure you’re presenting your very best professional image online.

 

Your turn! What has stopped you from using a ghostwriter for your blog or other writing? If you use a ghostwriter, what benefits have you gleaned from it?

 

 

 

9 Questions To Answer Before Asking a Freelance Writer For A Quote

“How much would you charge for writing content for my website?”Question marks

 

It’s a well-meaning but far too general question if you’re interested in getting a quote on content writing services.

 

Just as contractors can’t give you an estimate on your kitchen renovations until they have taken measurements and learned whether you want a hardwood or linoleum floor, content writers can’t quote you a project rate until you’ve given them some detailed information.

 

Before asking a freelance writer for a quote, prepare to answer the following questions:

 

1. How many pages will you need content for?

This matters to writers because it gives them a feel for the volume of content they’ll need to write. Obviously, a website with five pages will take far less time and effort than a 30-page website.

2. Which pages will you need content for?

The specific types of pages make a difference, too. Crafting an “Our Services” page requires more time than writing a catchy blurb for a “Contact Us” page.

3. How will the pages be structured?

A website’s layout and design elements can affect the amount of time a writer will spend on writing your content. Some websites’ home pages have a slider and small content boxes which link to specific pages, some sites are designed as a single page on which visitors scroll to get to different sections, other sites are laid out in other ways. When estimating the work involved, it helps writers to know how content will fit on the various pages of your website.

4. How will you collaborate and exchange information?

Email and easy-to-use online collaboration tools like Trello and Evernote make the process more efficient. Face-to-face meetings require more time, especially with a commute factored in.  And if you prefer to provide information via phone calls and expect the writer to take notes, that’s more time consuming for a writer, too.

5. Will you/your team provide all the key details that need to be included or will outside research be required?

Online research and phone interviews add hours to projects. Most writers will want to factor that into their pricing.

6. How many levels of approval will there be?

If one person is the first and final stop, the revision process will typically be smooth and short. When content needs to be approved by a marketing manager, a top-level executive, and a board of directors, things can get drawn out.  The writer could face multiple revision requests as each tier of approval has its own ideas of what content should say or how it should sound.

7. If you’ll have an “About Our Team” page, how many staff members will be featured there and are there existing bios to draw from?

The number of team members you feature will affect the amount of time a writer will spend on this page. And if those team members don’t have existing bios or LinkedIn profiles with key details, your writer will need to spend time gathering that information from them.

8. If you’ll have “Products” or “Services” pages, how many products or services will need descriptions and how extensive will those descriptions need to be?

The quantity of products and services and volume of content for each can dramatically affect how much work a writer faces. Expect to provide this information upfront. If you’re not yet sure about the quantity of products and services, you might instead ask the writer to quote this page on a per product or service basis. I.e., the writer might quote you $125 per product description, and your cost for that page will then depend on how many products you finally decide to include. For example: 4 products = $500.

9. When is your deadline?

If a writer won’t be able to accommodate your timeline, what’s the point of getting a quote from her? Sharing your content deadline upfront can save both you and the writer from wasting time. And if you’re expecting the writer to meet a rush deadline, expect to pay more—especially if your writer is in demand and will need to either adjust her project schedule or work above and beyond her normal project load.

 

The writers you connect with may ask some of these questions or all of these questions, and they might have other questions as well when considering what to charge for writing your website content. Regardless, you’ll get a more accurate quote and avoid added expense later if you’re prepared to provide as much information as possible about your project from the get-go.

Your turn! If you’ve worked with a freelance writer on your website content, what questions did they ask when pricing your project? If you’re a writer, did I miss anything? What would you add to the list?

 

 

Image provided by Dawn Mentzer/purchased via Canva

 

How Much Should You Pay For Content Writing?

As tough as it is for freelance writers to set their rates, it’s equally as difficult for clients to know whether they’re getting quoted a fair price.Price tag

When I started my freelance writing business over five years ago, I did some research to help me arrive at my pricing. What I found confused me more than helped me.

The disparity of rates among writers offering similar services is astounding.

Many freelance writers don’t post their rates on their websites. But to get a feel for the range of rates that are out there, a quick search of Upwork’s (formerly oDesk) writers turns up billable rates of $10 per hour to $100 per hour. That’s quite a variance.

As a writer, I’ll sometimes check my rates for reasonableness by using Writer’s Market’s “How Much Should I Charge” guide for writers. It lists an array of writing projects and provides “low,” “average,” and “high” rates when billing by the word or page, hourly, and by the project. The distance between the low and high ends, however, is often substantial. For example, the low rate for blogging is $6 per post and the high rate is $500.

No wonder you, as a client, don’t know what to expect or what to accept.

So what’s fair?

It depends.

What Makes A Writer Worth The Price?

Besides having solid writing talent, there are other things that set good writers apart and make them worth their rates:

  • They take the time to ask questions and understand the scope of projects before quoting a rate.
  • They want to understand your business, your prospects, your customers, and your objectives for the content before they start writing.
  • They meet deadlines.
  • They’re clear about what they’ll need from you and when they’ll need it to meet deadlines.
  • They’re collaborative and easy to get along with.
  • They’re professional and will represent your company with integrity if you ask them to interview sources outside of your organization.
  • They offer suggestions and ideas to make your project a success.
  • They approach freelancing as a serious business, not as a hobby.

The last bullet point is one I should expand upon. As small business owners, freelance writers have more than just their time on task to consider when setting their rates. They pay taxes, and they incur costs for things like their phones, internet, project management tools, proposal generators, insurance, computers, printers, office supplies, invoicing and bookkeeping software, fuel for their vehicles, accounting and legal consultations, business entity formation, website development and hosting, social media management tools, and the list goes on. And after all that, they need to pay themselves.

They also need to factor in the non-billable time they spend operating their businesses (reconciling bank and credit card statements, preparing invoices, following up with prospects, networking, organizing files, updating their social media and websites, staying up to date on industry news, dealing with tech issues, etc.).

Cheap Could Cost You.

It sounds cliché, but when contracting a writer, you will often get what you pay for. Dirt-cheap writers are often cheap for a reason.

Writers who don’t have the right skills or who don’t take their work seriously, could end up costing your business far more in the long run than what you’d pay a really good writer.

  • You could end up with content that sounds unprofessional.
  • You might find yourself spending your valuable time requesting a significant amount of corrections or changes to content that’s far off from what you asked for.
  • You could miss out on generating new business—or losing business—if assignments drag out past their deadlines.

All of those things can hurt your bottom line, so keep them in mind before you run from a writer who charges more than bargain basement rates.

Can you afford NOT to hire a good writer?