Working with a content writer is just like taking care of your health.
You get out what you put in.
If you don’t eat well, you don’t get any kind of physical activity and you keep burning the midnight oil, you’re almost certain to look and feel awful.
The same goes for hiring that content writer.
Even if you’ve picked the most talented person for the job, you won’t necessarily get optimal results unless you follow through and build your working relationship. Worse still, you could end up wasting your time and your effort.
The same goes from the content writer’s perspective. Although I can use my skills, experience and initiative to try to figure out my clients’ needs, there’s no way this content can meet its full potential unless I have the correct input.
The trouble is, if you’re brand new to hiring freelancers, it’s unlikely you’ll know what you need to be doing.
That’s why I’ve put together a quick guide to help you work with your content writer to get the compelling, engaging content that you’re after.
1. Be clear about your requirements
You need to make sure that your writer knows exactly what you expect them to deliver.
Otherwise, you might not quite get exactly what you were hoping for.
For example, let’s pretend you really fancy eating tacos for dinner. In fact, you’ve been fantasising about sinking your teeth into their oozy cheesiness all day.
So you jump into your car and head to your favourite Mexican restaurant and order a margarita as soon as your bum hits the bar stool. You just can’t wait to tuck in.
The waiter wanders over to take your order and asks ‘What can I get you?’
You smile back contentedly and simply say ‘Tacos, please’.
Although he’s confused by your order, the waiter just presumes that you mean the regular beef tacos that he loves too.
In what feels like no time at all, your tacos are right there in front of you, ready to be doused in chilli and enjoyed.
But there’s one problem. You don’t eat beef.
In fact, you’re vegetarian so there’s no way you’re going to eat those things, hunger or no hunger.
You were so excited about getting those mouth-watering tacos that you completely forgot to tell them what you wanted. The result was you ending up frustrated, disappointed and hungry.
It works the same when you’re ordering content from a freelance content writer.
As awesome as we are (ahem!), we’re not mind readers.
Yes, we’re experienced and know how to whip up a content salad that will taste amazing.
But we don’t want to have to make assumptions about what you want or need. You need to tell us what ingredients to throw in.
The easiest way you can do this is to use a creative brief.
Although the name makes it sound very formal, it’s simply an organised way of getting your needs and requirements down on paper.
It can be as basic or as complex and detailed as you want.
When you’re sending this brief to your freelance content writer, you should always include the core information such as:
- Title or topic
- Keywords (where relevant)
- Target audience
Any extra info you can share will be very welcomed and will help your content writer find the right ‘angle’ for the story and create the bespoke content you want.
2. Set a deadline
Even if your website isn’t even live yet or you’re not working to a specific time frame, it’s a good idea to set a deadline for each and every piece of content you order.
It doesn’t matter whether you need it in the next 72 hours, by the end of this week, within a fortnight or before the end of the century.
Setting a date will ensure that your content pings into your inbox significantly faster and you can put it to work ASAP.
Freelance content writers are busy people. They work with many different clients on different projects and often in different sectors. If you can give them a deadline, they’ll be able to organise their schedules more effectively and deliver you what you want.
3. Give plenty of notice
If you want to avoid stress and get awesome content for your website, it’s best to give your freelancer plenty of notice.
You see, writing content takes time. Several hours, in fact.
We don’t just sit down and start writing then have a finished piece ready in half an hour.
It takes several hours to research the subject most effectively, understand the key issues, explore the right ‘angle’ to take and ensure there’s a logical flow through the piece. That’s even before we get down to the writing, editing and proofreading…
For all of this to go smoothly, we need as much advance warning as possible.
By all means, you can send me a last-minute blog post or article request and I’ll get it completed and back to you as soon as I can.
But for your content to be as compelling, insightful and generally useful as it can be, I need time.
Besides, I’ll also love you a lot more. 🙂
4. Stay in communication
Whether you’re trying to communicate with someone for work or personal reasons, a lack of responses can be both frustrating and worrying.
Don’t they care about you? Are they avoiding you? Don’t they care about your project?
To avoid this happening, it’s a good idea to be clear about how you’ll stay in touch with your freelancer when you start working together. That way, you’ll be able to solve any problems and answer any questions as needed and ensure you both have a great experience.
If needed, suggest times when you’ll be available to chat and make sure you check your emails or other messages on a regular basis. Sometimes they can get lost or end up in the spam folder.
5. Be friendly
Building an open, friendly relationship is key when it comes to building a mutually beneficial working relationship with your freelance content writer.
If you’ve done your homework before hiring, you will have chosen a professional you can trust. You’re on the same team and your goals are the same.
So be friendly and approachable.
Ask them about how their weekend has been or how their business is doing at the moment. Be your authentic self and you’ll boost your working relationship to achieve even greater things.
You’d be surprised to learn how many long-standing friends I’ve made over the years via my freelance work.
6. Give feedback
If you want to get better content, you need to learn to give feedback on your writer’s work.
When you do this, you’ll help your content writer to tweak their writing so that you can get precisely what you were looking for.
For example, you might want them to go into further detail on a particular topic. Or remove a sentence that mentions a certain industry expert that you detest. Or switch the tone to better match your brand voice.
Even if you feel uncomfortable doing this, it’s worth the effort and your freelance writer will welcome your input. Just make sure it’s constructive criticism.
As inbound marketing experts, Hubspot say; “Feedback to a writer needs to — among other things — highlight the first draft’s specific flaws, its strengths (however few there might be) and the goals of the assignment. Otherwise, the writer has no incentive or means to improve.”
Besides, nothing boosts your mood more than a few words of positive feedback.
Bottom line- Communication is key
Whether you’re hiring a new freelancer or assigning a new task to your existing writer, you should make sure you’re communicating effectively.
Tell your freelancer writer what you need, being clear about the finer details that will guide the project. Give them feedback whenever you can, stay friendly and aim to give as much notice as possible.
You’ll avoid headaches or misunderstandings, save time, safe money and most importantly, get results.
Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?