Managing Freelance Writers
Let's be honest - For many content companies, either online or "brick and mortar", consistently generating high quality content on schedule and with a high level of repeatability can be fairly challenging task when working with freelance writers.
In fact, at times, managing a team of freelance writers can be a lot like herding cats. You are often not aware of their schedules, they have commitments and make excuses that you have to accept as fact (I'm too sick to write, my computer is broken, my Internet is down, my computer deleted the work, etc.).
In addition, since free lance writers typically work from home might live thousands of miles away and their writing can fluctuate from day to day, sometimes it can feel like you are powerless to motivate them.
For large web site owners with a writing staff and company management teams, all of the issues should seem fairly familiar unless you have struck gold with a solid stable of talented writers. While some people are born to be managers, the rest of us could benefit from a set of guidelines to help writers create good content when you need it and maintain a reliable work schedule.
Below are several items to consider when looking to successfully form a company that generates high quality content through the use of freelance writers:
- The Golden Rule: Accept that you are working with freelancers and treat them like professionals, because they are. Just because a person works from home does not mean that they are any less professional than a person that works in an office. Treat them like peons and you will be treated in the same way.
- Be Available: If you expect your writers to be available, you should be available as well or have another manager on shift to handle questions or concerns. Nothing compares to having a leader ready and available to make quick edits, talk to writers and speak to clients. Paying a good editor a salary or hourly rate is a very good investment if you can count on them to keep your writers busy and motivated.
- Always be Clear: Make sure your writers know the deadline, how and when they will be paid for their work, what the assignment is, how long the content needs to be, etc. The more information that you can give a writer, the more confident they will be and the better the quality of the content will be.
- Delegate and Assist: It's ok to help out on a large project, especially if it needs to be done quickly and you are understaffed. However, always turn to your writers before doing something yourself. They may need the work to pay their rent and constantly taking the "fun" work or doing too much of it yourself can take money away from your writer's pockets and make them feel like you do not trust them.
- Handle Revisions Appropriately: If you do receive a revision from a client, understand that it is a necessary part of the process. Do not get angry with the writer, but make sure that they know which revisions need to be made and why. Give them time to take care of them and trust them to consider them. If you notice the same mistakes happening multiple times, mention it but always remain calm.
- Schedules: Give your writers the freedom to choose the work that they do when possible and give them a wide time margin for writing. As work from home writers, they will likely not be comfortable writing 9-5 every day. However, they should let you know when they plan to be available or how much work they can handle each day. Above all, if you ask a writer to be available, make sure that they have work to do. Nothing is worse than requiring a writer to be available and then making them sit there waiting for content to write. They will quickly lose interest and when a ton of work does come in, you will have a hard time getting them back in the game.
- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: Always be willing to reward good work over time. Give your writers more responsibility (and perhaps, more money) as they do solid work. Work with less than quality writers to make steps toward creating content. Recognize mistakes and writing issues that will not be able to be fixed and "remove the problem". The amount of time that you waste on a poor writer can be detrimental to your profits or the livelihood of the company that you work for.