#113 – 6 Mistakes You Make Working with Freelance Writers and How to Fix Them

What you will learn

  • Insights into our writing process
  • The pros and cons of different payment structures
  • Why you absolutely need to write your articles before outsourcing them
  • How to work well with writers and editors

Since starting out 9 years ago, we have worked with 150-200 writers and wrote a total of at least 10,000 articles.

So it’s probably not an exaggeration when we say we made every possible mistake there is when it comes to working with freelance writers.

So why not dedicate a whole episode to discuss six of the most common issues and our solutions to avoiding them?

Let’s jump right in!

#1 – Payment Structures

Per Article

  • Pros – simple structure for producing a lot of the same.
  • Cons – not flexible with short/long articles, wordcount often on the short end.

Per Word

  • Pros – flexible.
  • Cons – often leads to fluff words written, not as good research.

Hourly

  • Pros – flexible in terms of what they work on (more research).
  • Cons – Incentivized to spend a long time, poor value for money.

Full Time

  • Pros – 100% dedicated, usually significantly cheaper $/hr, can handle more research.
  • Cons – big commitment, less flexibility.

How Much?

  • Depends on niche.
  • Agencies are typically 8c + per word.
  • Easy enough to find freelance writers for 5-6c per word.
  • Harder to find for 3-4c (easier in health and similar niches with lots of people).

#2 – Poorly Prepared Brief and Concept

Many people hire writers right away before a single piece of content is produced. Not doing the job yourself a couple of times only gives you a loose idea of what articles should be like.

It can be annoying, but you should work closely on first pieces.

  • Take notes on what you want/don’t want.
  • Work on articles as long as needed to get to the level you’d be happy to show it to your family.
  • Build briefs and use articles you wrote as example.
  • Use your content as benchmark (writers need to reach at least THIS level).

Other benefits of this approach:

  • Figure out other content creation jobs (illustrator, video, editors, designers etc).
  • Build sequential process of life of a new piece.

#3 – Hiring Non Topic Experts and Expecting Them to Come up with Industry Insights

We often have the best intentions and want to build the best site possible. The issue is you come back to reality after receiving your first piece of fluff content from random freelance worker.

Solutions

#1 – You just play the short game and accept your content is going to be a rewrite of what’s ranking.

#2 – You learn about the topic yourself, prepare research then hand it to writer.

#3 – You hire an editor that knows about the process and handles research and accuracy.

#4 – You change the way you hire:

  • Message people on forums and FB groups.
  • Message bloggers doing good stuff.
  • Post job ads targeting only specialists and test their knowledge.

#4 – Nonexistent Editing Process

Many people just interact with people via email, send them a list of keywords and that’s it. No deadline, just asap. No precise specs for the article. This leads to late articles or articles never even sent.

Solution

  • Editorial calendar & process
  • Use tools like Trello or Asana
  • Auto follow up on deadlines
  • Task dependency in Asana is great for this
  • Store all files centrally in Gdrive, name correctly

#5 – No Link Between Formatting and Writing

Sites are not walls of text anymore. They require images, videos, a magazine-like formatting. Most freelance writers are unaware of what is available for them and end up making dull media articles.

Solution

Formatting elements index page

  • Build elements in Elementor / TA and put them all in 1 page.
  • Password protect this page.
  • Give access to writers.
  • Push back in editing for them to use it but not overuse.

Use illustrators

  • Make writers draw diagrams of concepts they write about.
  • They can draw on paper, take a photo and send photo.
  • Hire an illustrator on Fiverr to illustrate those concepts.
  • Maintain branding and watermark.

#6 – Lack of Oversight / Training

A “Set it and forget it” attitude leads to diminishing quality. If a writer thinks you aren’t looking closely, they will subconsciously vere towards mediocrity.

Solution

Weekly call

  • Speak to writers through voice/video
  • Give feedback
  • Constantly align them to your vision

Editor

Make sure they give a damn and aren’t afraid to send it back. Help them understand what average vs great difference is.

  • Share your examples + share Why.
  • Use data sources.
  • Readability – use something like hemingway app.
  • Scan vs read users and the difference.
  • What you are about – content brief objective/mission statement.
  • Who your audience is – GA demographics and/or survey.

Resources/Links

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