Thinking of outsourcing some of your content creation? You’re not alone.
According to Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 content marketing benchmarks report, content creation is the most commonly outsourced marketing task.
Coincidentally, it’s also ranked as the number one factor that contributes to campaign success.
So you can see why building great relationships with freelancers and collaborating with them effectively to scale your content marketing output is pretty important, right?
Here are the five best ways to get the most out of your relationships with freelancers.
1. Get your workflows and processes in order first
You probably already know you don’t have enough content, but that might not be the only thing that’s preventing you from scaling your content strategy. Before you enlist the help of others, you first need to clearly define your content marketing campaigns and how you want to execute them.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a much better idea of how many freelancers you’ll need and what skills they should possess.
Before you start looking for freelancers, figure out the answers to questions like these:
- What content formats will you need? (Blog posts, social media updates, explainer videos, product infographics, lighthearted memes, etc)
- What topics will your content cover? (i.e., will it seek to attract interest, address pain points, provoke public debate, educate people about the world or increase conversions?)
- Where and how will you publish/promote this content? (On your website’s blog or on free online publishing platforms such as Medium, YouTube and Vimeo?)
- How far in advance will you plan out your content? (Will you create a content calendar or blog schedule, or take an ‘as needed’ approach?)
- How frequently will you require new content? (Daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly?)
- Will your freelancers work directly into the backend of your site? Will they be responsible for creating or compiling visual assets? (Do you have open-source software, an in-house graphic designer or a stock image library subscription?)
These are all important questions that can make or break your content marketing efforts, regardless of whether you enlist the help of freelancers or not, if you don’t have the answers.
For example, recent research suggests that blogging frequency impacts your ability to generate leads.
You might think all you need are freelance content creators to scale your strategy. But if you look at the full picture of your content marketing strategy, you might realize you need extra help publishing and promoting it as well.
2. Be clear on exactly what you are getting them to do
Before you look for freelancers to work with, you need to clearly define what you actually want them to do. It’s never as simple as ‘write a blog post’ or ‘create a video’. Look at what’s actually involved in the content creation process you wish them to undertake:
- Do you want them to do the research component, or will you do it?
- Do you want them to source images and screenshots, or will you do it?
- Do they need to link to existing product pages or find relevant backlinks?
- Do they need to perform SEO keyword research and/or optimization?
- Will they be collaborating with or interviewing any stakeholders throughout the process?
- How many rounds of approval or feedback will the content need to go through?
If you can clearly define exactly what exactly you want your freelancers to do, they’ll be better able to provide a much more accurate quote for their services.
Let’s say you hire someone to make five minute videos for your blog, and fail to tell them that you want them to upload it to Vimeo and create preview clips as well. They probably won’t be happy to do the work at the price they originally quoted when they learn of this new requirement.
3. Find freelancers who are the right fit for your niche
Freelancers aren’t difficult to come by, but if you want to find ones that will create the right content for you, then you need to put a lot of effort into finding the right ones.
There are a few popular ways to find freelancers around the web: you can look on freelancer platforms, such as Upwork and Guru, or you can browse LinkedIn. If you need a graphic designer specifically, you can also turn to niche platforms like 99Designs.
You can even use social media to find the right people for the job. Just look at Twitter search: when you type ‘freelance writer’ into its search tool then click over to ‘People’, you’ll see the most popular Twitter profiles listing those keywords in their bio.
You can even make your search more specific using more keywords, such as ‘freelance SaaS writer’. Use the same trick to search using hashtags like #creativefreelancers, #freelancelife, #copywriter, etc.
You can also turn to good old-fashioned freelance writing job boards such as:
You’ll probably end up with more than a hundred applications if you use the most popular job boards, but there are niche boards out there that attract more specialized traffic as well.
Wherever you find freelancers, look for those who have demonstrated experience working in your niche. It may sound obvious, but you’d be amazed how many people overlook this simple principle either in haste or in an attempt to cut costs.
4. Choose consistent and regular channels of communication
There are many ways to communicate in the digital sphere, but that doesn’t necessarily mean communications with your freelancer will be easy to keep track of. In fact, the more tools you use to communicate, the more likely it is you or your freelancers will miss or overlook important messages.
Try using a web tool or content management platform with your freelancers where you can keep all communications, project briefs, updates and feedback in one place. For example, if you usually provide content briefs through email, you could specify that they’ll only submit completed content in Google Drive.
Better yet, you can use an all-in-one application to help streamline your content marketing strategy, communicate with your team, and assign tasks to freelancers. (We can help with that!).
5. Reward them generously
If you’ve done a lot of work in setting up your CMS and finding the right freelancers to work with, the last thing you want is for them to disappear after a month or two and have to start the process over again. So how do you get them to stick around? Well, it may sound crass, but money talks.
Make it a point to reward your freelancers generously for their work. This involves, first and foremost, paying them a decent wage. Budgets are always tight, but if you pay freelancers poorly, they’ll only stick with you until they can find a better-paying job.
It also means regularly giving them feedback and praise so that your relationship has a solid foundation and they genuinely enjoy working with you. Chances are, they are on the lookout to improve their skills, and if they start working with a client whose expectations and needs are very clear (who also pays on time and with pleasure), they’ll do their best possible work for you.
How much you should pay your freelancers will obviously depend on the value of their service and skill level. But look for ways to be a stellar client. Avoid annoying habits that frustrate freelancers like:
- Not responding to emails or queries
- Not paying invoices on time
- Subjecting them to lengthy unpaid update phone calls
- Not giving enough direction on the content (then requesting multiple revisions).
You can also offer to set your favorite freelancer up on a retainer basis. According to a Freelancer’s Union Report, finding work and, correspondingly, income stability are the top barriers to keeping freelancers from doing more work.
Freelancers value the guarantee of consistent work, so give it to them if you can.
Hiring freelancers is a smart and strategic way to scale your content marketing strategy without breaking your budget. However, if you want them to truly save you time and drive your marketing goals, you need to do more than just head to the content mill and place an order.
Follow the tips outlined in this post and you’ll be able to skip ahead of the learning curve and start getting better ROI on your content marketing strategy with the help of freelancers.