Managing a team of freelance content writers is not easy. The challenges exacerbate when your team consists of freelance writers. One reason for that is you have less control over freelance writers than you would over full-time employees.
That’s why you must know how to manage freelance writers effectively.
Are you planning on starting a content agency?
Does your team of in-house writers need some extra help?
Hiring freelance writers is one of the best options to get the talent you need. And the way you manage them determines the quality of the work they produce. Ultimately, it also helps ensure that your content achieves its goals.
The Case for Outsourcing to Freelance Writers
For many marketing teams, outsourcing their content creation is the best way to ensure consistency. It also helps ensure the quality of content created is maintained. Apart from that, there are several other reasons to hire freelance writers. Here are the top three:
One of the most significant benefits of outsourcing your content is that it helps you save money. To put it in perspective, consider that the average salary of a full-time writer is $53,632.
That means you’ll have to budget for an average of $4,469 every month. With a freelance writer, you only pay for deliverables. In most cases, those won’t amount to the amount you pay a full-time writer. By hiring freelance writers, you make massive savings.
Another advantage of outsourcing your content writing to freelance writers is that most of them are self-motivated. Unlike full-time writers who are guaranteed a paycheck every month, freelance writers must deliver before they get paid. In most cases, you won’t have to hound them to finish a project.
Most freelance writers specialize in a particular niche (or two). When you hire a freelance writer, you benefit from their in-depth knowledge of your industry. For example, if your business deals with affiliate marketing tools, your freelancers must understand the industry. Not only that, but freelance writers are always abreast of current content writing and marketing best practices.
Whether you’re hiring freelance writers to be the backbone of your content creation or simply to augment your team of full-time writers, you must know how to manage them. So let’s dive into the do’s and don’ts of effectively managing freelance writers, shall we?
Managing Freelance Writers — 6 Do’s You Shouldn’t Ignore
Just because they’re called freelancers doesn’t mean they should be free to do as they please. As a content manager or solopreneur, you must know how to manage your freelance writers. Here are some of the most important things you must do to ensure your freelance writers perform at their best.
1. Do Hire Right
The first step to ensure that you have a good working relationship with your freelance writers is hiring right. To hire the right writers, you must, first of all, evaluate your content needs. Doing so will help you weed out writers that don’t fit in with your needs. Other factors to consider include:
- Niche. Evaluate your candidates based on the industries they’re knowledgeable in. if they haven’t written in your specific niche but similar niches, they can still adapt to your niche.
- Experience. The easiest writers to manage are those with experience. One easy way of identifying experienced freelance writers is by checking if they take personal branding seriously.
- Samples (or writing tests). Take a good look at your candidates’ samples to determine if they can be a good fit for your brand. Alternatively, you could ask for applicants to take a small writing test.
Hiring the right candidates will ensure that your content creation flows smoothly and that you don’t spend a lot of time with back and forth editing. Apart from hiring right, onboard your freelancers properly. You can also help them integrate well with your other staff by involving them in your team-building activities.
2. Set Expectations for Every Project
To manage freelance writers effectively, you must lay down your expectations for them for each project.
This means creating a style guide and detailed briefs for each project.
A style guide is a set of predefined standards for the writing, formatting, and designing of your content. It’s the blueprint every writer must follow to ensure they produce content that looks, feels, and flows the same way. Essential elements to include in your style guide are rules that govern:
Your style guide must also highlight what your writers shouldn’t include in the content they create.
A content brief is a guide created by a content strategist (or content manager) that includes all the information a writer needs to execute a piece of content. A helpful content brief includes:
- Target audience
- Goals of the post
- Recommended word count
- Special instructions
A content brief makes it easy for your writers to know which direction the piece of content they’re working on should take. Followed closely, your style guide and content brief improve the efficiency of your writers.
3. Establish Open Communication Lines
One of the major challenges of hiring freelance writers is that they work remotely. That means communication can get quite complicated if you don’t deliberately design a system for effective communication.
To effectively manage your freelance writers, you must establish open communication lines. Remember, your writers can’t pop by your office every time they need to clarify something. The solution is to leverage communication and collaboration tools to minimize the need to communicate via email.
For example, you could use collaborative tools like GSuite to work on projects together in real-time. You can also leverage meeting management software to set and hold meetings with your virtual team.
It takes good communication to manage a team of freelance writers. And you must invest in the best collaboration and project management tools to successfully do so.
4. Develop an Efficient Content Workflow
A workflow is a repeatable pattern of activity. When it comes to managing freelance writers, this is very important.
In the case of content creation, a content workflow is the set of steps you, your writers and other process stakeholders are supposed to follow to create great quality content efficiently and consistently. Tips on creating an efficient content workflow include:
- Ensure all content is submitted in the same way.
- Deadlines are clear and adhered to.
- Keeping tabs on every stage a piece of content passes through.
- Periodically auditing your content and process.
Developing and implementing a content workflow creates a structure that makes it easier for you to manage your freelance writers. Like an assembly line, it improves the efficiency of your writing process.
Implementing your workflow using a content workflow software like Narrato Workspace would make the process even more structured, trackable and efficient. With Narrato Workspace, you can bring all your content writers, other content team members and stakeholders on a single workspace where you can assign work to writers and editors, share work with approvers and track each content piece through it’s creation journey.
Their content editor, where the content creation happens offers good grammar, readability and content structuring suggestions. It also has an integrated plagiarism checker. Integration with free image search sites like Unsplash, Pexels and Pixabay, plus graphic design tool Canva is super handy.
Narrato Workspace is currently offering free early user licenses, so a great time to use this powerful tool at no cost.
5. Invest in the Career Growth of Your Freelancers
Your freelance writers will appreciate you more if you invest in helping them improve their craft.
What does this have to do with managing your freelance writers?
Educating your team of freelance writers on how to be better freelancers helps them know what is expected of them. It also enables you to indoctrinate them on your way of doing things. This results in your freelancers becoming better at self-managing themselves.
A good way of investing in your freelance writers is to use webinar hosting software to run regular workshops on becoming better freelancers.
6. Prioritize the Necessary Paperwork
When working with freelance writers, it’s easy to overlook paperwork. Sure, your writers may be working remotely, but you still need to make sure you sign a contract or non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Thankfully, you can use electronic signature software to get all the necessary documents signed.
Particularly in the case of an NDA, processing the necessary paperwork also helps prevent freelance writers from sharing insider secrets with other clients.
Managing Freelance Writers — 5 Things You Must Not Do
Just as important as it is to know what to do to manage your team of freelance writers, it’s equally important to know what not to do.
Let’s quickly dive into the pitfalls you must avoid as you work with freelance writers.
1. Do Not Micro-manage
One of the worst things you can do when working with freelance writers is to micro-manage them.
Many choose to go freelance and not work in-house because of the freedom that comes with working as a freelancer. Therefore micro-managing your freelancers will frustrate them. And that will lead to the quality of work produced suffering.
Give your freelancers room to work and show that you trust them by only checking in on them when necessary.
2. Don’t Alienate Your Freelance Writers
Another cardinal sin you mustn’t commit when working with freelance writers is to alienate them. While they may not be a part of your core team, they still add value to your business and should be treated as such. Things that make freelance writers feel alienated include:
- Not being appreciated for their work.
- Invoices not honored on time.
- Not being updated on important changes.
If you alienate your contractors, they won’t give you their best. However, if you put effort into instilling a sense of belonging in them, they’ll go above and beyond to produce exceptional work.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Never assume that freelancers know what you expect from them. Always make your instructions as clear as possible. And when it comes to issues that regard your brand, you can never over-communicate.
When working with freelancers, it’s better to err on the side of over-communication than to let them come to their own conclusions.
Assuming that everyone knows what to do will only cause bottlenecks in your process as you’ll be inundated with questions as your writers seek clarification.
4. Don’t Be Disrespectful
Freelancers are not second-rate employees that can be pushed around anyhow. For most of them, freelancing is a choice. It’s not that they were cornered into freelancing and are thus desperate for work.
One of the worst things you can do as a content manager is to disrespect your freelance writers. Disrespect manifests itself in things such as:
- Not valuing your contractors’ time.
- Responding to queries late.
- Failing to apologize when you make mistakes that affect your freelancers.
If you’re to enjoy a good relationship with your freelancers, treat them with respect. It will make the job of managing them easier as they’ll reciprocate your respect with cooperation.
5. Don’t Hold on to Toxic Freelance Writers
Toxic employees are everywhere. Sometimes, you may hire an exceptional freelance writer who’s toxic.
No matter how talented they are, let them go.
The danger with toxic employees, including freelancers, is that they affect everyone they work with. In the end, they could lead to a breakdown in your process. So, no matter how good they may be, if a freelancer exhibits signs of toxicity, consider replacing them.
Managing Freelance Writers Well is Essential to Achieving Your Business Goals
The way you manage your freelancers determines the quality of work they produce. That’s why you must know how to do it properly. Armed with these eleven do’s and don’ts of managing freelance writers, you can build an effective team. More importantly, proper management of your freelance writers puts you in a better position to achieve your business goals.
Neal Taparia is the co-founder of Imagine Easy Solutions, a portfolio of online educational services that reached over 30 million students yearly. Neal sold the business to Chegg (NYSE: CHGG), where he stayed there as an executive for three years. He’s now pursuing a new initiative, Solitaired, which ties classical games with memory and attention training.