Building a Great Relationship With Your Freelancers

Working with Freelance Writers

Tips for Working With Freelance Writers

It’s very important-after a certain point-to find people who can help your business grow and/or take on aspects of your business that you feel weak in doing (or just loathe doing!) and this means a bit of a heart-wrenching search to find those people. It’s also something of a never ending search because you never know what you’ll need until you need it! I’ve done it myself (and continue to do it every so often) and I can tell you this: it can be hard.

A key component at this point is the relationships you build with those you outsource work to. I’ve seen many schools of thought on this, from the micro-managers to the clients who let their workers go wild without much in the way of guidance. I’ve seen more than enough clients try to pay as little as possible to their freelancers, others who probably pay way too much; clients with no backbone and clients with too much! And those I haven’t seen, my writer has rolled her eyes over.

Building a solid relationship though is very important, particularly if you don’t want to be searching for new freelancers every six months, thus changing the tones of your website and starting the trust game over again. While I cannot say for certain what works for everyone, I can say what has worked rather well for me. I have been working with a freelance writer who owns her own business called Quill for Hire for about four years now and while there have been a few bumps here and there, we definitely have what could be termed a solid working relationship and a friendship. So here’s what’s worked for us:

  • Patience and understanding. My writer has a family, including a son with a disability who requires a lot more extra care than the average kid. By being flexible in my deadlines and patient when she has to work weird hours, I’ve built up a lot more tolerance on her end when I’m late (and I’ve been late with payments, work and other things before because, hey, life happens!) and a better attitude with a less stressed out writer. Your freelancer has a life outside of work: honor it.
  • Reasonable pay. Quill for Hire is pretty affordable and when I first met her, she was incredibly cheap. However, don’t think for one moment it stayed that way and that I badgered her about raising her prices! Freelancers have to eat, they have to pay bills, they enjoy doing things and they need money to do it! By being skinflint about your pay, consistently paying late and generally being difficult, you will get a resentful worker who will ultimately quit on you. If you cannot afford to outsource your work, don’t. When you can afford to pay a proper amount, then hire out. Remember: you get what you pay for and if you pay too little and don’t do things like allow increases regularly and don’t give bonuses and pay late, you will get garbage in return. (On that topic: bonus=good!)
  • Try to give interesting work and value their input: My writer has some pretty awesome ideas for niche websites and I pay her to run with them. Many people try to keep their workers on one or two sites and nothing else and hey, maybe that works. But I find that I have a happier, more creative and more energized writer when I let her do some work that isn’t related to my core sites and take her ideas. Remember: your content writers/designers, etc. have to keep working on your site long after you’re done, so try to keep it interesting! And if you can’t do that, again, bonuses go a long way.
  • Say something nice. It’s very easy to badger freelancers, to critique them and then ignore them when they’re doing their job right. While any good worker will take your critique and learn from it, even the best freelancer will need some encouragement and kind words. Don’t ignore your freelancers when they are doing a good job-compliment them! This will give most workers impetus to keep working hard and doing well which will reflect positively in your business.

Building a great relationship with my content writer has led to great dividends for my business and a good friendship. I have a writer who will write just about anything for me, from credit cards to energy to insurances with a smile on her face (usually) and she can rely on me to help her when she needs it by relying on my regular pay and regular words of encouragement layered on top of a solid friendship. We’ve now been working together for about four years and will hopefully continue to work together for a long time and that’s the kind of investment that is worth the time, money and risk taking to get.

So take a chance, do a bit of research and treat your outsourced workers well! You may end up with someone as awesome and wonderful as Quill for Hire, my personal content writer and a good friend.

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