Part 1–How to work well with your freelance writer–Communicating clearly

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by Amanda Cleary Eastep

Which scenario fits you best?

1. You’re busy running your small business. You know you need stuff like web content, brochures, or blog posts to attract new customers and to keep your current customers informed. But you don’t have a marketing and communications team.

OR

2. You’re in charge of a marcomm team for a large company. For various reasons, your staff is stretched to the limit. You need someone who can take up the overflow or take on special projects.

Small business or large company? It doesn’t really matter, because you have decided a freelance writer may be just the person to get it done.

Here is the FIRST in a series of tips to help you empower your freelancer–once you’ve hired her–to complete your project efficiently while meeting your highest standards.

#1 Communicate clearly.

I have worked with clients whose calls rival a Bat Phone conversation in their sense of urgency and level of assignment detail. Other clients will shoot the schnit with me for two hours–20 minutes of which may contain a few vague ideas.

Mr. Bat Phone doesn’t have time to lose. He’s swamped.

Ms. Friendly is all about relationship. She needs to get to know the person who is writing about the business she has built over the past 20 years.

I respect both types of clients. They need important work done and done well. And for that to happen, they need to communicate clearly to me throughout the process.

Phone consultations are often the first level of communication. Because freelancers work remotely, no face-to-face meeting may occur (unless you count Skype).

Please provide your freelancer with:

1. The type of project–Let’s say it’s a case study.
2. The purpose of the project–The old case study is too technical and needs updates. Sales people will use it when meeting with prospective customers.
3. The word/page count–The former 4-pager needs to be one page with punchy headers.
4. The deadlines–One week for the first draft, two weeks for the final copy.
5. The main contact person–Preferably someone who will provide all the necessary information the writer needs in a timely and organized way.

An email from the project contact may be the next communication.

Please provide your freelancer with:

1. A recap of the project, if necessary, and any updates or changes.
2. An outline–I had a project contact supply me with a spreadsheet that obviously took her a lot of time to create. I’m sure it wasn’t for my benefit only, but with an 80+ webpage project to complete, I would have been lost without it. Simple outlines for smaller projects, such as a product flier, can be just as invaluable for the writer.
3. The resources your freelancer will need–Links to valuable websites; PDFs or Word documents with background info; and, for reference, copies of the current pieces that need the revamp.
4. The names/numbers/emails of people in the company the writer can contact for additional information.
5. An occasional emoticon : )

What would you add to these initial lists?

NEXT TIME:
The second tip involves communication (as most of these tips do) but deserves it’s own category. So, in the next post, I’ll cover: Constructive feedback.

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