Each week, well-intentioned ideas pop into my inbox. Ambitious business owners and content-needing marketers reach out to ask about my writing services. My usual follow-up includes asking for more details about their specific project, insight into their overall marketing plan and their process to collaborate with a freelance writer.
Often, my response is glossed over.
Um, we just need you to write something, they’ll say. Sure, but I need a little background on your audience, goals and why we are creating content, I mention.
Ahhh, makes sense, they reply.
Then, I explain the core documents that should be shared with a writer and workflow tips to get the best ROI for their content-creating dollars. And, now I’m sharing this basic information here too.
If you want to get on a professional writer’s busy calendar, be ready to collaborate.
In this blog post I’ll explore:
- What is a Content Plan?
- What Other Information Do I Need to Share With a Writer?
- How Can I Best Collaborate with a Freelance Writer?
What is a Content Plan?
In a recent blog post penned for ClearVoice, I define a content plan as, “all the marketing assets and data-gathering functions needed to achieve the goals set forth in your content strategy. Everything from SEO research and engagement tracking, to blogging and white paper writing, are included in a content plan. Your content plan will both align with your content levels and scale as you increase your content marketing budget.”
In simplest terms, it’s the groundwork and content you plan to tackle. Before hiring a writer, know what you want to produce. Is it blog posts? Video scripts? Social messaging? Newsletter content? Or, letters from the CEO? Whatever the content is, it’s likely the first question a freelance writer will ask you about, followed by a few more basics such as:
- What type of content do you need?
- What’s the word count?
- Do you have an assignment brief to review?
- What’s the project timeline/deadline?
- What’s the project budget/rate?
When initially contacting a freelance writer, show that you’ve done some leg work on the project and have a clear understanding of your content needs. For example, you might say, We’ve built out an editorial calendar for the third quarter this year and would like to bring on two freelance writers to generate a total of four short-form blog posts and two long-form white papers each month. Is this something you’d have the capacity to consider, starting production in July?
I would personally swoon over an inquiry message that offered that much detail. Why? I know the type of content you require (and if I offer that service), when the project will start (and if I have the time for it) and how much you need each month (and if I have openings on my calendar to accommodate this). I can easily look at my current workload and reply to you with a solid yes/no response in terms of my capacity to work on your specific project.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and advertisements. I earn a small commission if you shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you amazing content. Thank you! ~Angela
What Other Information Do I Need to Share With a Writer?
OK, let’s say we’re off and running. After the initial few messages, this seems like a viable collaboration in terms of needs and timeline, now is your company or the client you’re representing able to share more about their audience and why they are creating content?
As a writer, I will ask for a handful of background details to inform and guide my content creation. I know you have a specific voice and tone you want to woven into the content to build your brand’s authority and identity.
Now, help me help you.
Offer these core marketing documents so I can study them and create content that authentically aligns with your needs.
- Branding guidelines and strategy
- Content strategy
- Editorial/Writer’s guidelines
- Assignment brief/summary
There may other information that’s helpful to share as well, depending on the project. For example, a few years ago I re-wrote several pages for an advertising agency’s website. Being able to see the “old” pages and read through notes about what they liked and didn’t like about the previous text helped me understand how I could best freshen the content.
Personally, I love when my contact shares favorite posts from their site(s) or writing from sources they admire. Reading these gives me a feel for the style, formatting and length of text they expect and appreciate.
How Can I Best Collaborate with a Freelance Writer?
First and foremost, have an onboarding process for anyone you hire to assist you with your business. We aren’t mind-readers and a little guidance goes a long way. I go into detail about onboarding in this post.
Next, have a contract ready to review. We do read the fine print and we are looking closely for information about payment timelines, kill fees, late fees, overtime rates, the inclusion of bylines, non-compete clauses and how long the contract is valid. Are we entering into a one-month partnership, or a year? This information helps freelancers plan out their workflow and availability for other clients.
Be ready to also have conversations about workflow and tools you use to virtually collaborate with remote and in-office teams. I like BaseCamp, Zoom and Google Docs.
Finally, communicate often. Both parties will have questions as the partnership progresses. Be ready to receive and ask for clarification and updates about the projects you’re working on and you’re sure to have a successful collaboration.
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