Why Freelance Content Writers Aren’t Getting the Results You Want. You post a job listing. Start understanding what your freelance writers need from you to create content that’ll truly support your business. Project deliverables: When do you need articles completed? If you find your projects are clearly defined but you still aren’t getting good results, you may need to improve how you are recruiting writers. Look for those with a history of successful writing specifically for content marketing. Now, imagine you told your freelance writer, “I want you to create a post like Backlinko’s skyscraper technique article that’ll help our company get noticed.” Chances are good that your writer doesn’t have a massively popular website with enough traffic to run tests and draw conclusions in your industry. Once the idea is approved, we outline the framework of what we plan to cover and share with the client. He adds copious notes, either changing topics we planned to cover or adding personal anecdotes or data points to incorporate in the final draft. In my nearly 10 years of experience doing this kind of work, I’ve seen that the most successful companies are the ones that understand exactly how and why they’re using content marketing.
You need content – and lots of it.
But you’re faced with only so many hours in the day and a finite number of content marketing team members. Most people will advise that the best way to get all that content is to outsource it.
You post a job listing. You pick the lucky applicant from the hundreds of proposals, assign an article, and offer a few insights on the subject.
You get a first draft … it’s lackluster at best (and unintelligible at worst).
Managing outsourced workers effectively comes with a learning curve. To adapt more quickly, you can take several steps to improve the quality of content you receive from your freelancers.
And when you want the kind of content that’s so brilliant, engaging, and revolutionary that it instantly brands your company as the leader to watch in your industry, freelance writers still can be a great option, but it takes more investment from you.
Whether you’re new to working with freelancers or an experienced pro, stop wasting money on outsourced content that doesn’t meet your needs. Start understanding what your freelance writers need from you to create content that’ll truly support your business.
Set the foundation for quality outsourcing
In 2007, Tim Ferriss highlighted the concept of outsourcing with his book, The 4-Hour Work Week. Though he oversimplified the process, Tim covered how to master outsourcing, although it’s something few have done well.
Communication is one of the biggest challenges. To act on your behalf successfully, your freelancers need to understand what you want them to do and how you want it done. That means providing them with:
- Background information:
- What does the writer need to know to write for your project successfully?
- Can you recommend any good learning resources to help the writer get up to speed?
- Content specifications:
- What can you tell the writer about the people who will be reading the article?
- What do these readers need to take away from the piece?
- Funnel position:
- Does the content piece need a call to action? If so, how does the article fit into the sales and marketing funnel?
- How is success defined relative to the article’s performance?
- Project deliverables:
- When do you need articles completed?
- Do you have a preferred document format (for example, Google Docs or Word Docs)?
- How will you communicate feedback and revision requests?
If you find your projects are clearly defined but you still aren’t getting good results, you may need to improve how you are recruiting writers. Here are some ideas.
- Look for writers with web experience: Web writing is one of the few forms of professional writing that prioritizes engagement and action over simple education. Not all writers understand the difference. Look for those with a history of successful writing specifically for content marketing.
- Find writers with subject-area expertise: Plenty of generalist writers can cover multiple topics successfully with a bit of research. But the best results generally come from those who have spent significant time writing about your industry and are familiar with its ins and outs.
- Change up your hiring sources: Hundreds of places exist where you can find freelance writers; if you aren’t happy with your current writers, it could be that you aren’t sourcing from the right location. I typically find the best results on industry-specific job boards like the ProBlogger Jobs Board and Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers’ Den Job Board.
- Ask for referrals: Here’s a secret: The best writers rarely advertise their services, and they rarely respond to job-board listings. To find them, ask around. Not everybody will reveal the name of the ghostwriter handling their content creation, but you may get lucky and find a few good leads this way.
Rethink your outsourcing expectations
What happens when you’ve gone through all the steps above, and you still don’t get the results you want from your freelance writers? It’s time to explore some of the more advanced challenges that can derail freelance writing relationships: