If freelance writers and designers are a core element to your content marketing strategy, then keeping them happy, to ensure many productive future content engagements, should be one of your top priorities. You know your rock star freelancers have other gigs, so how do you ensure that you’re their employer of choice? Start by committing to these 6 best practices.
1. Mind your scope creep.
Yes, we’ve all had those projects that once underway needed a course correction. But if your projects are consistently changing in scope (without the accompanying Statement of Work and payment schedule increasing accordingly), you may find your proposed projects not making it onto your freelancer’s calendar.
2. Don't change the topic or channel after the agreement is signed.
If you’ve agreed on three content topics with your freelancer, changing one of them after the agreement is signed and your freelancer has gotten to work on them gets things off on the wrong foot. The time they’ve estimated the project will take to complete included any research they’d need to do, and their familiarity with the subject matter. If you switch gears on them, they may end up spending considerably more time than budgeted to complete your project, which isn’t likely to endear you to them.
3. Be upfront about how the content will be used.
If you plan to take the content the freelancer is creating for one channel, and reuse it without the freelancer’s involvement, let them know that upfront by requesting all rights to the work. Many freelancers charge differently for bylined work than work-made-for-hire content. So make sure you’ve spelled out your intentions before they content is drafted. Further, if they know it’s to be repurposed for a specific channel, it may affect how they write the piece I know that I’ve cringed to see content that worked great as a blog post being repurposed without editing in another channel that it didn’t really work in. Ditto for reusing an image in a channel other than the one it was created for. It pains a freelancer to see an image distorted by being stretched to fit an aspect ratio for which it wasn’t designed.
4. Don't make edits on bylined content without showing the author.
Have you ever had someone take a heavy hand to a piece you’ve written, and inadvertently change the meaning of a quote or your philosophy? Or worse yet, had a typo introduced? If you’re publishing content with the author’s byline on it, always give them a chance to review and approve your edits. And if something does slip through the cracks, be responsive when they reach out to you asking for a correction. Even if you don’t think a typo is a big deal, if your freelancer contacts you about it, make sure to address it in a timely manner. After all, it’s their reputation on the line as well.
5. Give credit where credit is due.
Have you ever sat in a meeting and listened in horror as your boss took personal credit for your work? It sucks! And when you get public kudos or an industry award for a piece a freelancer crafted for you, if you grab all the credit for yourself, don’t think it will slip past unnoticed. Inevitably, that interview you give about writing the piece will make its way back to the freelancer responsible for its awesomeness. Yes, you paid for their work, but if you take public credit for it, without acknowledging you had some help, don’t be surprised if you have one fewer helper.
6. Pay invoices in a timely manner.
No freelancer started working for themselves due to an unfulfilled dream of being a bill collector. In fact, when freelancers sit around having a cocktail, slow paying clients almost always come up— and their names get spread around. Your freelancer relies upon your timely payment for the work they’ve done for you in order to keep their business going. And they don’t appreciate having to follow-up with you multiple times to see when, exactly, that check was put in the mail. Consider using electronic payment options, like bill.com or PayPal, when possible, to give your freelancers a more timely payment schedule.
If you keep these best practices in mind, and treat your freelancers as you’d want to be treated yourself, you should have no problem keeping your content beast fed. What are some of the ways you've nurtured your freelancer relationships? Let me know in the comments!