So, you’ve done the hard part: you found the best freelance writers out there who’ve adapted to your agency’s brand voice and demonstrated their potential for creating quality content for your clients. But onboarding a freelancer isn’t really the same as onboarding an employee. There’s a lot less paperwork involved, for one. But agencies often face bottlenecks in the onboarding process that can result in costly delays. Here’s how to make onboarding go as smoothly as possible.
1. Pre-screen writers to get what you’re looking for.
Just because a writer is an expert in one area doesn’t mean they’ll translate to the asset type you need finished. Or perhaps they lack experience with an industry or audience your client is catering to. Test them out with samples (where they’ll be paid for their effort and own the piece) and have some interview questions ready.
2. Cut right to the point with what you need from the freelancer.
Your freelancer isn’t your employee: you don’t need to know everything they’ve done with their lives since the Bush administration or where they see themselves in five years to ensure they’ll have a culture fit. They don’t need to read onerous handbooks either. Freelancers are problem-solvers who are in and out even if you plan to use them on a regular basis.
What do you need done? When do you need it by? Don’t make the writer figure out what you need from them. Provide concise and clear instructions and sets of deliverables. Communicate clearly with your freelance writers and they’ll even go above and beyond for you upon demonstrating they’re fast learners.
3. Create a style guide in advance.
Every agency has different needs when it comes to style based on the volume and types of clients you work with. Style can be more uniform or tailored to each client. Or if the writer really impressed you with their samples and portfolio, you’ll trust their judgment as to style. But if you’ve got certain stylistic standards in mind and the writer isn’t being given direction from the outset on how you want copy to look and read, it’s going to make onboarding more cumbersome.
4. Get your writers familiar with your clients’ networks to deliver the most value for them.
Sites and content networks you’re building for your clients can grow enormous with the help of content writers. New writers that you’re bringing on simply may not be in the know of who owns various domains and aren’t mind-readers. Keep them apprised of plans to grow networks– as well as places to avoid linking to– through the style guide and other documentation prepared in advance.
You should also state whether your goal is to increase outbound or inbound traffic so the writer knows which keywords to target and how often to create internal links. This will prevent endless revisions or having to get someone in-house to make fixes.
5. Provide an easy way to work with the writer that makes communication, revisions, and collaboration as simple as possible.
Working with a platform like WriterAccess provides an easy way to collaborate, request revisions, and assign work. Working through email and external systems like Slack or Drive can be a temporary fix that works well for the short term but aren’t a good long-term solution if you’re onboarding several writers for large projects.
Writer onboarding doesn’t have to be difficult so long as you plan ahead and readily define what you’re looking for.
Rachel P is a 6-star writer and 4-star content strategist specializing in game developers, tech start-ups, and tax professionals and their unique content marketing and strategy needs. She created the first content strategy course and wrote the first tax law book just for indie developers, demonstrating her dedication to professional development for interactive entertainment professionals and free agents. Rachel can be found at punk shows or communing with amphibians on the shores of the Bronx River.