Managing Freelance Writers: How To Find, Train & Retain Top Talent

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Managing Freelance Writers: How To Find, Train & Retain Top Talent

Social | Jan 19, 2023

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One of the backbones of great digital marketing is quality content. While visuals and design may pique the first spark of interest, the 1000 words the image is worth are just as important to keep audiences interested! Learn how to find writers that understand your brand voice and help you craft the content your brand strategy needs.

Why Freelance Writers?

Believe it or not, copy creates our entire collective internet experience. From starting a simple search engine request, words build the query. Those words produce page titles and metadata. Clicking on any given page will send you to pages full of headings, content paragraph blocks, links to other avenues, and descriptions. Deeper still, you’ll find requests for more information that require text explanations, related blog posts/think pieces, product descriptions, and other text all facilitating the purchase process for your brand or small business. And we haven’t even delved into social media yet with its captions, statuses, bios, posts, and more!

Even the most verbose of copywriters can’t possibly generate enough copy to cover the various platforms available in today’s digital marketplace all alone! Boost your reach faster and more effectively by trusting a team of freelance writers to fill in content gaps or offer fresh new takes on your material.

How to Find and Hire Writers

The first step to managing freelancers is to find writers and freelancers to manage! The best way to go about this step is doable all from the comfort of your favorite internet-equipped device.

1. Cast Your Net

There are plenty of job boards to choose from, and using multiple platforms is a great way to get a large pool of freelance writers, submissions, and options. Sometimes, though, more isn’t always more. In the same way that knowing your audience helps in digital marketing, understanding the general demographics of job posting sites can help you decide which one(s) to use.

Fivver, Upwork, and Other Task-Oriented Platforms

If you need a quick turnaround, have sporadic/short-term needs, or are unsure of how long you want freelance writer support, task-based boards like Fivver, Upwork, TaskRabbit, and more are all ready to host your posts! Plus, you aren’t limited to short-term requests, so this is a great way to get started and grow alongside your freelance writers. These platforms are all user-friendly for candidates and clients alike, but note that the candidate pool will have a wide range of available skill sets (from absolute beginners to seasoned experts, and everything in between) from all over the world! Payments are usually a flat rate per assignment/project and can vary based on what you and the freelance writer agree upon through the platform. The back and forth of haggling over pricing may be time-consuming, and you may find less qualified applicants clogging up your inbox if your descriptions aren’t detailed and specific upfront.

LinkedIn, Indeed, and Other Job Boards

The first places most job-seekers consider, especially for longer-term employment, are the classic job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed. Profiles for job seekers are much more detailed to sign up for, and that effort alone can gate-keep your position from a flood of too many inexperienced application submissions. However, since traditionally, these sites help established companies find team members, your job description will likely need to be more thorough as well to attract quality talent.

To be fair, your job description should be detailed and organized no matter where you list it, but also note that any additional hiring paperwork would need to be handled through your own HR department or internal team as opposed to paying through the platform like the ones mentioned above. It all depends on your company’s unique structure and needs to find writers.

2. Sort Your Submissions

With the internet making job listing posting easier than ever, the job application process is also equally easier than ever. This sometimes leads to applicants applying without reading the entire listing or applicants pitching themselves for positions they don’t quite fit from their experience. Deciding on relevant criteria to sort freelance writer applications is critical to saving time and helping you find writers faster. Whether you are using the platform itself or using digital boards to post your own application link to a spreadsheet to capture candidate info, find a way to manage and sort the data by the parameters set by your company, such as the location of hire or other data-based metrics that can organize freelance writer candidates.

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3. Develop a Sample Test

Once you’ve narrowed your field to a manageable number of applicants, it’s time to find writers that can show their ability to match your brand aesthetic, voice, tone, and writing style that you feel fits best. Some writers may already have proof of this in their portfolio which can help make tough decisions, but devising a test specific to your brand niche, industry, or desired writing style is an excellent candidate evaluation tool for a few reasons.

Understand How Freelance Writers Think

Creating a timed, clear, and quick sample test gets you more quality information from your potential candidates. A portfolio shows you what a writer can do, but what does it take to get them there? Getting a sense of a freelance writer by watching their writing process from a small test will help you get the most accurate assessment of their skills and give you a snapshot of what working together would feel like before diving headfirst into managing freelancers. Both sides can get a clear picture of expectations and future assignments to make sure it’s a mutually beneficial partnership.

Understand the Writer’s Attitude

There’s an old saying that applies very aptly to any evaluation of freelance writers for company culture fit: “Attitude monitors talent.” If an applicant refuses to take your test, it can show their inflexibility and lack of teamwork. (Granted, sometimes if there is a compelling body of work when you find writers, so weigh pushing back on having a writer test if their argument of experience and work suits the reasoning). However, if someone instantly rejects the opportunity to try their hand at your initial request, what else would they reject upon receiving an offer? You can find writers with brilliant talent, but if they aren’t open to edits, critiques, or other elements of the creative process, they won’t make for a good team player, which is crucial to any start-up or small business.

4. Make An Offer

The last step is deciding on which candidate(s) to choose among your vetted candidates and making an offer. The particulars of this step can vary with freelance writers depending on your specific business model, financing, and organizational elements, but work with your HR department or carefully document what process is used for budgeting and compliance purposes.

Managing Freelancers - Dos and Don’ts

Once you have your fleet of freelance writers, you’ll find managing freelancers work a little differently than managing internal employees. The nature of freelance work is a lack of direct commitment to your company and brand since when you find writers that work on a project-by-project basis, they expect flexibility. Knowing how to navigate this is a delicate dance, but we’ve got tips you can use!

DO Be Clear and Collaborative About Deadlines

Freelance writers likely have other clients they assist and additional responsibilities outside of their projects. This is the nature of managing freelancers instead of adding to your internal team. Being clear about deadlines and requests is important, and providing enough time for each task is key to keeping your assignments organized.

DON’T Micromanage

Freelance writers certainly need guidance that can be provided through a brand guide, outlines, and other resources to make for more consistent results. Checking in for progress reports can also help ease nerves about how long a project will take, but inundating them with contact is not the same as effectively managing freelancers. In fact, a little trust can go a long way in building morale.

DO Cultivate Community

While freelance writers aren’t exactly “part of the team” in the same way, it never hurts to express a team-based sentiment to managing freelancers. Since the goal of your initial sourcing and hiring writers was to build your brand, remind the writers of this goal to help them feel the purpose and fulfillment of the work they’re doing. Compliment their valuable contributions to keep them coming!

DON’T Lose Touch

Keeping in consistent and clear contact with your freelancer writers is great for ETAs for assignments, understanding delays or needs for flexibility, and maintaining morale among your freelance writers.

Need Support to Find Writers?

Save yourself the stress of managing freelancers or finding freelance writers altogether by simply trusting the experts at USA Link System! Our team includes innovative and creative writers ready to tackle any task your growing brand needs. Plus, since we’re a digital marketing agency, you can expect expert results already optimized for SEO and crafted to boost engagement and give you the best ROI. Contact us today for your free consultation to see if we’re the right fit for you!

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