When you're scaling up your business, you need to hire writers to help you with your content. While you could form an in-house marketing team, you would need to train your employees in writing for SEO; if they do not already know how to optimize articles for a business blog, that means several weeks of training, which you might not have.
Not that working with freelancers or agencies is a cakewalk—any project involving different teams is bound to have a few missteps. You need to have a solid communication process, or you might find yourself acting as a liaison for your company and the agency you hire. Here are some pointers for establishing smooth working relationships with your independent content writers.
Hiring outside help for your writing means agreeing to terms of service or signing a contract. If you hire a freelancer, you would need to specify payment terms, put in a non-disclosure agreement, or a ghostwriting clause. Note that some freelance writers won't sign if they don't share rights to their work. They might not also sign a contract with a non-compete clause.
Whether you're working with a month-to-month service provider or a freelancer, you will need to clarify a few things before you begin. Agree on things like the number of revisions included in the agreed-upon price, deadlines for the draft or revisions, and the specific content creation tasks that the freelancers should accomplish.
Typically, writers prefer to connect with clients through email, Slack, or other text-based communication channels. Writing concerns is best for project partners with time differences. It also helps your freelancers or agency partners know what hours you will be available for instant messaging. Knowing your office hours could help them manage their deadlines better.
With a text-based platform, both of you have one place where you can refer back to conversations and links to resources. Using writing platforms like Etherpad or Google Docs is an excellent way of collaborating since these enable you to leave comments and track edits.
Create a brief that gives the writer a comprehensive view of all the key details of your collaboration. The brief is perhaps the most crucial part of the project since it will directly affect the end product. Include in your content brief your target audience and the buyer personas relevant to this marketing campaign. Who do you imagine benefiting from this article?
Indicate as well services, products, or information you want your writers to mention. Although writers can deftly weave your keywords or products into the text without it sounding awkward, they are not mind readers. They are unlikely to know which of your services need a boost unless you tell them. Also, include in your brief a short description of your brand voice. If possible, show them previous blog posts that capture your brand's personality. Finally, add things like target keywords, ideal content length, and links you want them to add.
People disagree about whether or not clients need to provide an outline for the team or freelancer they hire. If you don't have much time or if you have worked with this particular writer in the past, it could suit your timeline to let them create the outline and submit it for approval. If it's your first time working with this particular team, though, you might want to spend time detailing what you want to see in the articles.
If you've worked with the writer and trust them, and if you are not too particular with what you want to see in the articles, you can skip the outline. Note that having worked with a writer in the past is no guarantee of future success. You will have to handle revisions yourself if you don't like the writer's angle for their article. If you allowed complete creative freedom, they might charge full price if you ask for a rewrite.
Let your writer know what you think about the work, especially when you are not satisfied with the output. Many writers prefer hearing constructive criticism over damaging a business relationship. Remember, though, that when you're providing feedback, you need to be respectful. The words you choose matter—if the email is curt, demeaning, or whiny, they might not be as receptive. Point out examples of factual errors or instances where the prose does not flow the way you want. Simply stating that the article 'can still improve,' without giving concrete details, will not help the writer deliver a better output next time.
Consolidate your feedback; it can be overwhelming for the freelancer to deal with dozens of emails containing your various concerns. You can start an email thread with the subject, "[Feedback]: Project Name," to keep things organized.
Communicating well with your freelancer or content writing agency will help you get the best results. No contractor wishes for a project to flop, so they will be willing to accommodate your wishes if you inform them ahead of time. You don't want to waste your office hours sending emails back and forth about revisions, so it's vital to get everything in writing, clearly outlined, and with definite benchmarks for completion or success.
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