11 Tips to Get A+ Work from Freelance Writers
A Guide to Getting Optimal Results When Outsourcing Your Blog Content
Are you amping up your online marketing efforts as the pandemic continues to limit in-person interactions with existing and prospective customers?
If “yes,” you might be face-to-face with the challenge of writing high-quality blog content consistently. You’re not alone in your struggle to create content in-house. According to research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, 50 percent of B2B organizations and 55 percent of B2C organizations outsource some of their content marketing activities. Moreover, 84 percent of those B2B companies and 80 percent of the B2C companies outsource content creation.1,2
If outsourcing blog writing is uncharted territory for you, you may have some doubts and apprehension. After all, how can a freelancer know enough about your industry, brand, and your customers to do the job well? How do you even begin to get them up to speed? Won’t a freelancer be less vested in your success than an in-house writer? What should you expect, and what are your responsibilities?
All are valid concerns. In this post, I’ll share some tips to help you develop a successful working relationship with your blog writer.
11 Best Practices When Outsourcing Content to a Freelance Writer
1. Share information about your business, your products and services, your customers, and your competitors.
Your writer will need a solid understanding of your strengths and what differentiates you from your competition. Discuss your unique value proposition and share any marketing materials, website links, and other documentation to give her an accurate picture of what your company does and stands for. The more acquainted your writer becomes with your brand, the better able she will be to write content that addresses what’s most important to your readers, strikes the right tone, and aligns with your goals.
I’ve always found that a bit too much information is better than not enough. However, carefully choose what you share with your writer. Make sure the resources are relevant and, if you provide any lengthy documents or videos, direct her to the specific sections where she’ll find valuable insight. If your writer has to watch hour-long webinars or read through volumes of material to ferret out what’s important, it may cost you more.
2. Discuss what you wish to accomplish.
Do you have specific SEO goals that have prompted you to bring a writer on board? Or are you predominantly looking to strengthen your bond with existing customers? Whether you’re looking to attract more website visitors or deepen your existing followers’ knowledge will affect how your writer approaches your blog content.
Your goals will also help determine whether the writer is the right person to assist you. Some freelancers are adept at appealing to readers but not well-versed in the nuances that make content more SEO-friendly. Others may have proficiency in structuring posts with elements that Google smiles upon, but they lack the knack for writing conversationally to bond with readers. And some writers have mastered both aspects of crafting blog content that will perform well with the target audience and search engines.
3. Agree on the scope of work and pricing.
This ties in with the above point, and it’s a step you’ll want to tackle before you start working with a writer. Things to consider:
- Will you or an SEO specialist provide topics and keyword direction to your writer? Or will your writer be responsible for brainstorming topics and proposing keyword focus?
- What word count range do you prefer for your blog articles?
- Will you provide key points and details that you want articles to include? Or will you expect your writer to figure out all of that via online research or interviews, etc.?
- How many people within your organization will have to review and approve the content?
- How do you want the writer to submit the content to you? (e.g., in Word documents via email, in a shared folder in Google Drive, or some other way?)
- Do you want the writer to write your posts’ meta descriptions?
All of the above will affect how much time and work a writer must put into your assignments. Naturally, they will influence the writer’s rates to you and billing methodology (e.g., by the hour, per post), too.
4. Describe your style and wording preferences.
Think about specific style preferences you want to be carried out consistently on your blog.
- Use of the Oxford (serial) comma
- Title and header capitalization
- Industry acronyms and abbreviations
- Formatting of lists, quotes, sentence spacing, etc.
- Compound words that might be written separately, hyphenated, or as a single word (e.g., health care, health-care, and healthcare)
- Taboo words or phrases you want to avoid
5. Provide input.
Expect to be a part of the process. Your writer will be better able to produce content that showcases your authority in your field if you and other subject matter experts at your company share your expertise.
I find it extremely helpful when clients weigh in about topics—it facilitates the creation of content that genuinely reflects their value to their audience.
6. Set reasonable deadlines.
Ideally, you and your writer will have a blog content calendar that confirms when topics will be assigned, when draft content is due, and when the final approved content will be ready to go live. If you don’t have a set schedule, make sure you give your writer ample lead time to reserve time for your assignments. Freelancers juggle work from multiple clients and must fulfill their commitments to all of them. They may not have the bandwidth in their project schedule to act on last-minute requests.
7. Have realistic expectations.
Writers are not miracle workers. If you’ve ignored your blog but now wish it to attract website visitors or generate a stronger following on social media, it will require time. And if you have SEO goals for your blog, many other factors besides your content will affect your results. Realize that even the most stellar blog articles cannot overcome challenges brought on by neglect, technical SEO issues, or a damaged brand reputation.
8. Review drafts thoroughly.
While a capable writer may produce drafts that are spot on the first time, expect to ask her for some minor revisions—especially if the topic is complicated or highly specialized. Writing is a process. Give drafts your full attention when reviewing them, and let your writer know if you require any changes or additions.
9. Provide feedback promptly.
Answer questions from your writer and provide feedback on drafts as soon as possible. Review and comment promptly (my idea of “ideal” is within one business day) to enable your writer to make necessary adjustments while the content is fresh in her mind. Swift feedback is especially critical when topics are time-sensitive. If you wait too long to give your writer your approval or change requests, the content may “expire” and no longer be relevant to your audience.
10. Proofread before publishing.
Despite your writer’s very best efforts and your thorough review, some little “oopses” might slip by you. Whether a “to” where there should be a “too,” a missing comma, or a misspelling, errors happen occasionally. Realize that doesn’t mean you or your writer are lazy or careless. There’s a scientific reason why those little mistakes go undetected. Before publishing content, read it aloud and consider asking someone else to review it as extra quality assurance measures.
11. Be honest if it’s not the right fit.
If you’ve done all of the above, chances are you’ll have a mutually rewarding working relationship. However, sometimes things don’t pan out. If your writer is unable to grasp the subject matter or capture your brand’s tone of voice, or if they miss deadlines, make the same mistakes repeatedly, or otherwise are not delivering content that meets your expectations, let them know (respectfully). No writer is right for EVERY business, so avoid the two-sided torment of trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. If a writer is struggling and failing to meet your needs, it’s probably best for both of you to accept that and move on.
Ready to Hire a Freelance Blog Writer?
You have many resources available to help you find talented and reliable blog writers. Whether you search on Google, explore LinkedIn profiles, pursue options on freelancing platforms like Upwork, or ask your network for recommendations, keep your desired qualifications and goals in mind. If you fully understand your needs before looking for a writer, you will stand a better chance of engaging the right one from the start.
1Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs. “B2B Content Marketing 2020 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends–North America.” contentmarketinginstitute.com, https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2020_B2B_Research_Final.pdf. Accessed 8 February 2021.
2Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs. “B2C Content Marketing 2020 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends.” contentmarketinginstitute.com, https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2020_B2C_Research_Final.pdf. Accessed 8 February 2021.