Ask any freelance writer about his or her marketer clients, and you’ll hear that there are those they love working with . . . and those whose emails they dread receiving.
With the growing use of entertaining, informative content as a primary means to connect with customers, marketers and writers are teaming up more and more frequently to produce written pieces of marketing collateral that are both engaging and effective in their purpose.
It’s a powerful duo -- when it’s executed well. Unfortunately, as anyone who’s ever sat staring at a computer screen -- trying to to turn a paid-for-but-poorly-written piece of content into a conversions-driving winner -- knows, marketer-writer engagements aren’t always as simple as they sound. If you’re serious about making these partnerships work, here are a few tips to help smooth things along:
1. Give us clear guidelines.
It’s perfectly fine to give the writer you hire creative freedom. In fact, most writers work best when they’re allowed to explore the topic a little on their own and brainstorm new ideas. That said, however, "freedom" is no excuse to leave us without any direction.
The more information you’re able to provide up front, the more likely that you'll be satisfied with the finished product. Put yourself in our shoes. Wouldn’t you want to know about key details, such as the target audience, the goal of the content or the desired tone? Giving us as much information as you can will set your writers on as straight a path as possible to producing great content.
2. Understand our limitations.
According to Karri Stover of writtent.com:
“A freelance writer is not an ad agency and usually isn’t a brand strategist. While a good writer can offer suggestions and create alluring copy, articles, guides and social or blog content, most of them are not equipped to help you design a logo, [create] an advertising campaign or give feedback on images or website design.”
If you do require a writer who can fill multiple roles, such as a graphic designer or marketing consultant -- which some of us certainly can -- you need to be very clear about this in your initial proposal. Otherwise, expect to receive only the service you’re hiring us for: quality written content.
3. Shortchanging us hurts you in the end.
Not everyone can write compelling copy that will actually help your business grow. Most everyone, however, can throw up a profile on various content mills or reply to a job posting on Craigslist. It can be tempting to hire these writers, thanks to the low-end rates they charge. However, you have to look at not only how much you’re going to spend, but at how much value you'll get for that cost.
Professional freelance writer Kenny Myers shares that, “Experienced writers with established businesses can command a higher price per word, and won’t usually accept content mill rates. You don’t have to break the bank to get acceptable content, but you won’t get great work for free, either.”
You don’t need to go broke paying $2 a word, but if your business needs top-quality content to succeed, recognize that there’s a trade-off between spending extra on an established, professional writer who can provide what you need, and being forced to put your own time into reworking cheaper, but lower-quality work.
4. Respect our time.
Freelance writers are most often paid a flat rate for content produced. This means that, any time you ask us to research something for you, rewrite a document, look over something you’ve written yourself and give feedback or do anything else that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of content you’re expressly paying for, we’re working for free.
While most writers are happy to offer revisions and help you with various other tasks, please try not to take advantage of this professional courtesy. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t make sure you’re getting your money’s worth or to be afraid to make use of the talent you have on hand. Just be sure that the writers you hire are being fairly compensated for the amount of work done.
Trust me -- the really good ones won’t stick around for a client that continually takes advantage of their generosity.
5. Do your homework.
Just because hiring someone for a freelance position is typically much easier than hiring someone for a full-time, on-site position doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the task as seriously as you would with a full-timer.
As mentioned, not every out-of-work college grad or stay-at-home mom is capable of providing you with the professional and effective content you need. Established, professional writers should have a large portfolio of samples, records of job history and feedback and a reputable online presence.
So, when considering which writer to hire, take the time to thoroughly research these things and find the writer that’s the perfect fit. Ultimately, the time you invest up-front in choosing the right content-creation partner will pay dividends in terms of the time saved down the line as your projects progress.