- If you work with a freelance writer (or have considered it), you know there are a considerable number of perks. However, there are some simple steps you should take to ensure you get the most out of the relationship.
- One of the biggest crimes is under-compensating a freelance writer. Simply offering them “exposure” is never worth their time and talents.
- “Be available, make sure they know you’re available to answer questions, really embrace that because you’re going to get more out of it if there’s that open-door policy,” says Meaghan Alvarado, a full-time freelance writer. She reveals what clients often get wrong when working with freelancers.
As you probably know, there are many perks to working with a freelance writer.
First off, they know how to write. And they typically know how to write for various platforms and audiences, too. Second, you can finally stop worrying about writing all your blog posts, social posts, and web content. Yup — cross those tasks off your never-ending to-do list.
Working with freelance writers can also be a fairly cost-effective way to get the writing you need to support your brand — without incurring the costs of hiring a full-time employee.
So, we know freelance writers can help your business — but you’ve got to know how to best work with them to really reap the benefits.
On an episode of The B2B Mix Show podcast, we spoke with Meaghan Alvarado, a full-time freelance writer and certified SEO writer. (And, full disclosure, we’ve worked with Meaghan on a number of projects over the years — she’s wonderful.)
From the perspective of a freelance writer, she reveals what clients often get wrong when working with freelancers.
What clients get wrong when working with freelance writers
If you’ve never worked with a freelance writer — or you’re still trying to navigate the client-freelance relationship — there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind to really leverage their talents.
Meaghan shared with us some of the common mistakes she sees clients making when working with freelancers — plus simple fixes to ensure you maintain a solid working relationship.
❌ You don’t adequately compensate
Unfortunately, some clients think it’s enough to simply hire a freelancer in exchange for “free exposure!” The idea is, they’ll write a blog post for you for free, you’ll slap their name on it, then you’ll share it.
But that doesn’t pay the bills.
And truthfully, oftentimes any exposure a freelancer would receive from a free published piece of content is not worth it. In other words, the big brands and companies that actually get substantial exposure can afford to pay their freelancers handsomely.
“I’d like to help everybody, but you just can’t do it,” Meagan explains.
If anyone ever throws out the “free exposure” pitch to her, she’ll check the brand’s Twitter page to gauge its follower count and social engagement levels. She finds it’s never worth it.
And while we’re on the topic of compensation, it’s also worth noting that, even if you’re hiring a freelancer to work on short-form content, like quick-hit posts for social media, that doesn’t mean you should pay them significantly less. Oftentimes, this type of writing takes just as much (if not more) time, research, and strategy.
❌ You don’t provide enough guidance
If you, the client, give a freelancer an assignment without adequate information, you’re doing it wrong.
Now, that doesn’t mean you need to outline the article line-by-line, sentence-by-sentence. A qualified freelance writer is more than capable of that. Rather, Meaghan says she looks for this type of information:
✏️ A loose headline and topic idea (Don’t go overboard. Freelancers like Meaghan appreciate the flexibility to run with an assignment.)
✏️ Any notes on the topic, relevant links, or competitors (e.g. sites to avoid mentioning/linking)
✏️ A style guide, which is just a brief that contains notes on your site’s writing style, format, and any grammar standards (e.g. we use the Oxford comma!). If you don’t have a style guide, consider pulling some of the top content on your site to show the freelancer as an example.
You don’t need to bog freelancers down with a full 10-page report on all your expectations. Meaghan typically likes just working with a topic and loose title. “Then I can really run with it — I don’t feel like I’m constricted with certain things,” she says.
Ultimately, the amount of information you provide will depend on the freelancer’s experience covering the topic.
If you work in a niche industry and the freelancer you hire doesn’t have experience writing on the topic, that’s OK. They can still give you what you need, but you’ll want to provide them with some resources that can help inform their research on the topic.
For example, Meaghan recently wrote an article about free zone companies in the UAE. Admittedly, she had no concept of the topic, but her client provided her with a few notes and relevant links, and she was good to go.
❌ You don’t keep an open-door policy
Although a freelance writer isn’t your full-time employee, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open.
After you send a freelancer an assignment and the requirements for a piece, let them know you’re available if they need anything else — you’re there to answer any questions.
This can not only expedite the content creation process, but it can also ensure the freelancer meets all your expectations, especially at the beginning of your partnership.
Again, you shouldn’t have to hold a freelancer’s hand (and you definitely don’t want to breathe down their neck), but if you make yourself available to them, you’ll get more out of the relationship.
“Be available, make sure they know you’re available to answer questions, really embrace that because you’re going to get more out of it if there’s that open-door policy,” Meaghan says.