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How to find and work with freelance writers

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If I had a nickel for each time somebody informed me to “simply rent extra freelancers” …oh sorry, I began Googling how a lot it prices to clone a canine.

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This is the factor: you’ll be able to’t simply rent extra freelance writers and name it a day. Somebody must handle these folks. Discover them, take a look at them out, onboard them, talk with them, work with them on the content material, edit their writing, get their work on website, pay them…you get the gist. It is an actual job—one Zapier employed me to do—and should not be relegated to a bullet level inside one other job description.

When you’re studying this, I am most likely preaching to the choir, so let’s get to the good things. I have been working with freelance writers for over a decade, and whereas I am nonetheless bettering my workflow, there are some things that I might advocate to anybody beginning out with freelancers—or anybody fascinated by overhauling their course of.

1. Supply neatly 

I’ve positively gotten some unbelievable inbound purposes from freelance writers—of us reaching out immediately or responding to a job posting. However in my expertise, one of the best freelancers are recruited: not essentially as a result of they’re higher writers, however as a result of you understand they’re proper for your online business.

There are a bunch of how to recruit freelance writers. My absolute favourite is asking different freelancer managers for suggestions—individuals are typically prepared to share their favorites. However in the event you’re simply beginning out and do not have these sorts of connections, you may get nice outcomes from LinkedIn. After I first began working at Zapier, it is the place I discovered nearly all of my freelance writers.

LinkedIn search leaves one thing to be desired, so I do my searches by way of Google. Kind adopted by a key phrase into Google, and you will get a bunch of outcomes. What that key phrase is will rely in your trade, however at all times attempt a couple of variations, together with the phrases author, freelance, freelancer, freelance author, and so forth.

Hey, look, all of these folks write or have written for the Zapier weblog!

If somebody seems to be like a superb match, you may have two choices:

  1. Discover their web site. Most writers have a web site that hosts their portfolio and features a strategy to contact them. It may be linked inside their LinkedIn profile, or you are able to do a Google search on their title and title and see if you could find it that approach.
  2. Ship them a message on LinkedIn.If you cannot discover a contact type or electronic mail tackle, shoot them a message on LinkedIn. You do not want Premium InMail to do that—simply click on Join > Add a observe, after which write a fast message.


This is what I normally say in that observe.

Hello XXXX,

I am the managing editor of the Zapier weblog. We’re seeking freelancers, and it seems to be such as you may be a superb match for us! When you’re thinking about studying extra, please ship me an electronic mail ([my email address]), and I can ship you extra data.


P.S. When you resolve to go the inbound route, get your job posting on the precise websites. Do not publish on Certainly or different common job websites; as an alternative, discover boards which can be area of interest to your trade.

2. Request a writing train first

Virtually each piece of content material advertising and marketing has been edited.

That is nice information for shoppers who do not should learn sloppy or complicated content material, nevertheless it’s much less nice once you’re hiring freelancers. Why? As a result of writing samples may be very deceptive. When folks hyperlink to articles they’ve written beforehand, there is no approach so that you can understand how a lot of the work is theirs and the way a lot is the publication editor’s.

It is very attainable the author submitted site-ready work, and also you’re studying their writing word-for-word, nevertheless it’s additionally attainable what you are studying would not even vaguely resemble their precise writing.

One of the best ways round that is to require freelancers to do a writing take a look at for you earlier than bringing them on board. It should not be a slog for them (restrict it to about an hour of labor, max), nevertheless it ought to enable you perceive if this particular person is an efficient match. Can they lean in to your model’s type? Have they got the subject material experience essential? Are they in a position to work inside the constraints of your program? (And, in fact, can they write nicely?)

Some of us may be hesitant, however in the event you’re clear about your reasoning, you must get a stable response charge. This is what I inform freelancers after I allow them to know in regards to the writing train:

The aim is to make certain your writing type—particularly when writing about apps and productiveness—is a match for Zapier.

We perceive that it is not essentially typical to require writing workouts from freelancers. When you do not feel snug doing so, we fully perceive, however sadly, we cannot be capable to transfer ahead with out one. Thanks on your understanding!

Observe: When you’ve recruited somebody and are assured of their skills (possibly you have consulted with one other publication they labored for, or they’ve sufficient LinkedIn suggestions to really feel reliable), you’ll be able to skip this step.

3. Agree on charges early—and have a regular charge

Earlier than you begin working with freelancers, know what you intend to pay them. I am not going to recommend charges as a result of it varies wildly from trade to trade, however you’ll be able to ask folks in your trade what they pay. Or you’ll be able to attain out to a number of the writers you have sourced to see what their charges are, after which decide yours primarily based on that.

Be sure you have a set charge for every kind of venture you assign. For instance, we pay freelancers extra to put in writing our finest apps roundups as a result of they require tremendous in-depth analysis and app testing, in comparison with a productiveness article that is extra about somebody’s private expertise and should not take fairly as lengthy to finish.

One other tip: do not pay by the phrase. As a result of time is cash for freelancers, it is smart that they may not spend the additional time to make their work as concise as attainable. When you pay by the phrase, you may nearly at all times find yourself overpaying, despite the fact that the additional phrases are literally making the content material worse. As an alternative, decide an hourly charge you suppose is honest—and inside your price range—after which estimate how lengthy it’s going to take to put in writing the content material. (Even higher, write an article your self to see how lengthy it takes.) Multiply, and that is your value.

Whereas it is okay to diverge out of your normal charges a bit for somebody who submits site-ready work, keep away from paying wildly totally different charges for every of your freelancers. That is a recipe for unconscious bias and uneven high quality.

4. Prioritize content material data over writing chops

If you do not have an editor on employees, rent one. I may be a tiny bit biased, however having a superb editor is totally essential for a profitable freelancing program. There are a ton of causes for this, however the primary one is that it lets you get freelancers for his or her material experience greater than their writing.

Sure, your freelancers want to have the ability to write nicely—nevertheless it’s extra essential that they are reliable in terms of the content material space. An editor could make the writing shine nevertheless essential, nevertheless it’s not scalable to have an editor flexing throughout totally different matters in depth.

Utilizing our greatest apps roundups for instance: if somebody had been to undergo me an app roundup with wonderful data, apps completely examined, detailed evaluation, and a transparent understanding of the app class—even when it had been a complete mess, I might rewrite it in a matter of a pair hours. But when somebody wrote clear, participating, and usually excellent copy with gentle content material, an absence of testing, and a transparent misunderstanding of the app class, I might should spend dozens of hours testing apps and checking their work.

After all, this is applicable solely to long-form content material—for copywriting and different short-form sorts of content material, you may must deal with writing chops.

5. Have templates for onboarding 

Giving your freelancers all the knowledge they want upfront will prevent roughly a bajillion hours down the street. Clearly your processes shall be distinctive to your content material, however right here are some things you must ship them proper off the bat. (The remaining can come on a per-project foundation.)

  • The method. Inform them how they need to count on to work with you (electronic mail? venture administration app? Slack?) and what every step of the method (define, revisions, stuff like that) seems to be like.
  • Examples of content material. Give them a couple of examples of fantastic content material in your website that you really want them to emulate. That offers them one thing to look again at every time they want some inspiration.
  • Your model voice information. If you do not have one, give them a fast observe about what you are in search of. (Additionally, you must have one!)
  • The contract. Ensure that they signal a contributor settlement—you must work with a authorized crew or marketing consultant on this one. You wish to ensure you personal the content material they’re submitting (that is normal).
  • Invoicing. Inform them upfront how they will bill and once they’ll be paid.
  • Any information you want from them. Do you want an writer bio? Their social handles? The rest? It’d take a bit for them to get it to you, so that you wish to ask for this stuff straight away.
  • Kill price. Do you may have a regular kill price (an quantity you pay in the event you kill the venture part-way by way of or resolve to not publish it)?

When you present this all at the start, every time a author has questions, you’ll be able to ask them to confer with this one information dump. I’ve a couple of totally different variations of it, relying on the content material kind, and every one is saved as a template in Gmail (and included in our inside documentation in case I get hit by a bus). You may also have a Google Doc that you simply hyperlink of us out to.

6. Be good, be immediate, be human

I actually want I did not have to incorporate this tip, however I do. Be good. Be immediate. Reply to emails.

Like with every little thing in life, you get again what you place in. When you do not reply to emails promptly, that provides writers an excuse to overlook deadlines. When you do not reply their questions completely, you will not get the standard of labor that you simply want. And in the event you’re curt or condescending, one of the best writers will (rightfully) stroll away.

It isn’t unusual for me to get an electronic mail from a author thanking me for being thorough, immediate, or good. And it kills me—why would anybody be something however?

7. Automate

If you are going to scale your freelance program, you may profit from automating a few of your processes. A couple of workflows you may arrange:

  • Each time an article by a sure writer is revealed in your website, mechanically ship an electronic mail to the writer letting them know.
  • Each time an bill is submitted, mechanically add it to your price range monitoring spreadsheet.
  • Everytime you get affirmation of an assigned venture in Gmail, mechanically add it to your editorial calendar or monitoring app.

My colleague Janine, who additionally manages contributed content material right here at Zapier, has a Zap that sends authorized pitches from a spreadsheet (which are available by way of a type) straight to our editorial calendar in Airtable.

The extra you are able to do to streamline your processes, the extra you’ll be able to deal with constructing relationships together with your freelancers and enhancing their work to create stellar content material.

So sure, rent extra freelancers. However keep in mind that’s just the start.