Fuelling your content machine with great quality content isn’t easy.
Most founders come up against two primary blockers when it comes to content. Either you're limited by your time to actually produce enough content to make a difference. Or - as is the case for most founders - you spend endless wasted time trialling different freelance writers before eventually, perhaps, maybe landing on one you can trust.
It’s a total pain. And it’s draining your business of valuable time and money that could be so much better spent elsewhere.
But, happily, it doesn’t have to be so hard.
With a few simple steps you could be on your way to hiring the perfect freelance writers, without breaking the bank.
Scribly is reliant on partnering with a network of professional, friendly - and above all - skilled - copywriters. It’s how we’re able to offer a high volume of content, without compromising on quality at any step of the process.
But getting to a point of understanding what constitutes a great freelancer has taken a lot of trial and error. Thankfully it wasn't all in vain. We’ve pulled together our learnings to help you outsource your content marketing, stress-free.
Let's dive in...
Pick a freelance writer in a geography that works for you
Yes, remote teams work no matter where in the world your staff are. But often only when you have the processes in place to make it so.
If your team is predominantly based in the same timezone, then hiring a freelance writer who works to a totally different schedule is going to be limiting.
If every time you need to brief or give feedback on a piece of content you have to wait several hours, you’re quickly going to come unstuck and lose momentum. Which is naaaat good when you're trying to quickly hack together a landing page, or scale your content marketing.
A well oiled copy and content machine is reliant on having a quick iterative process, which often can't happen if timezones place you on different working schedules. So choose your geography wisely.
We can’t stress how important this point is: brief well, or expect poor content.
Whilst things like tone of voice, style and any industry-specific insights might be super clear to you, even the best freelance writer isn’t a mindreader.
Most writers are producing content across multiple verticals. They have to flit from being anything from finance experts, to social media connoisseurs and yoga practitioners all in a single day.
Their job is to skim the surface of many different areas of expertise to produce content that has value to wildly different audiences. They can’t go too deep into any one area without being typecast (though this is a strategic choice that some writers make).
So if you want anything specific to be featured in the content you outsource: then brief it. Clearly. And explictly.
The same goes for how you want your content to sound. If you’re after a specific tone of voice, then provide as much detail to the writer as possible (if you don't have your own guidelines, then other references are also great!).
Pick a writer with the right expertise
Not all freelance writers are created equal.
Just because someone is an amazing travel writer, doesn’t mean they can necessarily produce you a killer landing page.
Each type of writing has its own theoretical approach.
Ad copy should play on different emotions depending on where your users are in the funnel.
Landing page copy should give away just enough information to excite and intrigue potential customers, nothing more, nothing less.
Blog copy should be written for humans, but optimised for robots.
Not all writers can do all of those things (or at least, not without having a lot of experience - and by extension, a higher rate). So seek out writers who demonstrate specific examples of having delivered exactly the type of content that you need.
Or enlist the support of a copywriting service like Scribly.io to match your work with writers depending on their areas of expertise.
Be clear on your budget
My dad once told me something: “Buy sh*t, buy twice”.
To be fair, he was talking about a pair of shoes at the time, but the same is true for content.
Rather than churn out 50 pieces of poor content a month, put more of your budget into hiring a quality writer (or service), to get the kind of quality that will actually drive traffic to your site.
After all, it’s all about ROI.
If you have a small budget, that’s ok. Just spend it wisely. Think really hard about which 5 or 10 pieces of content will have maximum impact, and focus just on those. Or heck, just do 1, but make it great.
If your budget is more generous, then don’t waste it. Maximise your return on every penny (or dime, if you’re across the pond) you spend, by having a solid SEO-driven content strategy.
Do a test
If you’re thinking of hiring a freelance writer for a long-term project, always do a test project to see if they’re a good fit.
Set a task that you think accurately reflects the typical work they’ll do, and see how the process of working together feels.
Are they responsive to your feedback? Do they communicate well? Are they reliable? Did you need to do any heavy editing? Is their style a good fit for the vibe you’re going for?
All of these things are really important considerations when finding the freelance writer(s) that are just right for you.
That’s because there is definitely no ‘one-size fits all’ when it comes to hiring a great writer.
What’s right for your business totally depends on your personality, as much as it does the kind of work you need your writer to do.
Listen to your gut
There is absolutely no substitution for intuition.
Even though someone may seem like an excellent writer, if something about the working relationship doesn’t feel right, walk away.
Sometimes people just don’t gel. That’s ok. But for content, it can be really damaging.
Think about it, your content is effectively a mouthpiece for your business. It’s an extension of the voice and story you want to put out into the world.
That’s why it’s so important that you work with someone who ‘gets it’, and who you trust to take on that important task.
Treat your freelance writers well
In this age of the commoditization of skills, freelancers (writers or otherwise) have had a tough time.
Far too often, freelancers are seen as faceless, nameless resources. You assign tasks (usually through a project management tool so that you never actually correspond with them), receive the work, give feedback, end of relationship.
Add to that the fact that they're often paid poorly, or paid late, and it’s all just very un-conducive to productive working relationships.
It’s sad really, when you think about it. Especially because they’re likely to be a central part of your growth strategy.
When you find a writer that you love, it’s important to make sure they feel valued and respected.
Treat them well, pay them on time, and you’re guaranteed to have a long, fruitful professional relationship.
Be clear about your payment terms up front. Don’t tuck anything away in the small print. This is your writers’ livelihood, so it’s far better to spell everything out in black and white right at the beginning.
That way you can make sure that it’s a good fit, both ways.
Work with a content partner
Finding great writers is a time consuming process. But there are solutions out there that can help. Scribly.io is an unlimited copywriting service, designed to be like your on-demand copy partner in crime. You tell us what you need, we get one of your professional copywriters on the case.
We have a team of over 50 writers who are assigned tasks based on individual expertise. The backgrounds of our writers are varied, but we have everything from marketing copywriters, brand strategists, bloggers, travel writers, journalists and even some authors. Whatever you need, one of our ninja writers will have the experience and skill to take on the challenge.
Whichever way you spin it, hiring great freelance writers is tricky. But, with the right strategies, you can absolutely find the perfect people to scale your content machine, without breaking the bank. Good luck! And if you need a hand, drop us a line at Scribly.io.