A Word on Collaboration

teamHiring freelance writers is an act of collaboration. On paper, you’re putting up the money and distribution while they do the actual work of putting the words on paper, but you’re not funding some novelist to write whatever they please, here. When commissioning work, you’re setting up the guidelines and putting some of your own creative energy into the process. Whether that means writing a half page of instructions or just looking for a writer and telling them “Give me a blog post about puppy food,” it’s not just on the writer’s shoulder, you’re bringing ideas to the table, as well. No matter how hands-off you try to be, even the act of selecting the writer puts you on the creative team.

This is one of the reasons writers and their employers frequently butt heads: they don’t quite realize that they’re partners. In a typical creative collaboration, whether we’re talking about writing or painting or music or developing apps, there’s more of an even split of duties in terms of both partners doing the hands on work and both partners having equal say in the final product. When hiring a freelancer, the writer does most of the hands on work while the client has 100% of the final say, so there are some considerations to keep in mind when working this way that don’t quite apply to other forms of collaboration.

  • Hiring the Right Writer 50% of Your Job

Do you ever wonder how Spielberg got the dinosaurs to look so real in Jurassic Park? Here’s the secret: he didn’t. He hired Stan Winston, told him what he wanted, and trusted him to get the job done.

  • Flexibility Helps You Reach Your Deadlines

If you can accept that the writer has their own voice, that the finished piece might not read, word for word, like it did in your head when you first commissioned the piece, you’ll have a much easier time producing great content. Obviously, there are those pieces that go totally off the rails, but a big part of any collaboration is judging the finished piece on its own merits rather than on how close it was to your initial vision.

  • Communication is the Other 50% of Your Job

A pretty-good writer with whom you have a great back and forth will always deliver better content than a capital-G-Great writer who’s bad at taking instruction. Yes, flexibility is key, but again, you’re producing marketing content here, not trying to finance the next great American novel.

In short, it’s all about being on the same page as your writer, and managing the big picture, guiding the intent, the purpose and the tone of the content rather than trying to control every word. Just steer the ship, let the writer worry about the words.

Writer Bio: Gilbert S is a writer and artist who lives in rural New Mexico with his dog, Sir Kay, and his wife.


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