Congrats. You’ve leveled up as a content-creating entrepreneur and are now ready to hire freelance writers to help you grow your content or marketing business. When you outsource work, you free yourself up to focus on more important aspects of growing your company, like attracting new clients.
And yet, if you’ve never managed a team before…or even hired people (particularly freelancers), you may need a little guidance to ensure you kick butt doing it.
Know Exactly What You Want
If you’re handling all the incoming projects for your firm, it can be easy to just throw your hands up and say, “I need help!”
But consider exactly what you need help with, because the more specific you can be, the more likely you will be to hire for your needs. If you need a writer, what industries or experience do you want them to have? Do they need entry-level knowledge, or are you looking for more experienced writers (know that you’ll have to pay for that privilege)?
Do you need one-time help or ongoing 10-hours-a-week kind of help? Do you want to be able to meet with a writer in person, or would working remotely suffice?
All of these questions will help you craft your job description and ensure that only the most qualified applicants.
Make Time to Manage
A lot of business owners make the mistake of being relieved to have help when they hire freelancers and then walking away from the situation. The problem is: these folks still need to be managed, and unless you also hire a manager, that’s now your role.
Use a project management tool like Basecamp or Trello to hand out assignments and set deadlines. The more you can automate, the better. For example: if every month, a writer has an assignment of five articles, set the regular deadline for turning in these articles as the fifth (giving yourself time to review the articles and send to the client).
Make sure you review your freelancers’ work each time they turn work in, because they are now representing your brand, and you need to ensure they’re meeting your quality expectations.
And provide feedback on the work. If it’s not meeting your standards, let them know specifically how they can improve; don’t just provide blanket statements like, “it’s not up to par.”
Check in with them once a month or so and see how things are going. Are there frustrations or challenges that are keeping them from doing their best work? How can you help them succeed?
Create Easy-to-Follow Processes
If you’ve been doing all the work in your business, you could probably finish a task with your eyes closed. But what about someone who’s new? How can you set them up for success?
Start by documenting processes, even the small ones. If one task is to create content within a client’s WordPress account, start by providing the link and login details. Tell which categories need to be checked, whether photos should be added, and which plugins need to be used.
A freelance writer should be able to read these instructions and follow them without issue, but do check in to ensure that they process is clear.
Get Your Freelance Finances Straight
Do you know the proper tax forms to file if a freelancer bills you $600 or more in a year? Do you realize that you don’t pay tax for the work they do for you, the way you would a full-time employee?
If these questions are making your palms sweat, bone up on how to pay a freelancer, and what tax forms to file (clue: a 1099-MISC). Also use accounting software that lets you categorize your freelance expenses correctly, and even pay them promptly.
Always pay your freelancers with a check or a bank card. Essentially you need a paper trail to track these payments so you can use them as an expense when it’s time to file taxes.
Treat Your Freelancers With Respect
Treat the relationships you have with your freelancers a bit like you would if you were the boss of full-time employees, though in some ways the relationship will be different, in part because they’re freelancing and may work with/for other people as well, and you won’t always be their top priority.
Give them plenty of time to work on a project, and don’t demand instant turnaround (unless you’re also offering a bonus for moving you up the priority list).
Tell your freelancers how much you appreciate them regularly. Work to get to know them personally. If you have a team of freelancers in the same geographic area, create events so they can get to know one another and feel more like a team.
Remember: your freelance content writers are helping you do more in your business. So find ones you can rely on, treat them well, and they’ll continue to work hard for you for years to come.