Beyond the Blog: How To Manage Writers for Long Term Assignments
While blog posts and webpages are both very popular forms of content, marketing agencies occasionally need to hire technical writers adept at creating specialized white papers or ebooks. These longer term assignments can be very profitable for writers and agencies alike, so handling them with care and setting up your writing team for success is essential.
Clear, Flexible Guidelines
When assigning a long project of several thousand words, it’s important to strike the right balance in your writer guidelines. You want to give a good idea of the outcomes the client hopes to achieve with this paper or book, but still allow for some flexibility. Overly strict or proscriptive guidelines can stifle a writer’s creativity and engagement and cause them to experience burnout before completing a long term project. On the other hand, if the guidelines are too open, writers may stray from the client’s intent, resulting in wasted time and a frustrating revision process.
Quality Checks Along the Way
Dividing a large writing assignment into smaller chunks makes sense for the writer, agency, and client. By divvying up a 5,000 word white paper or 30,000 word ebook into chapters or section headings, you can have the writer turn in completed pieces as they go. Or, if the agency and client prefer to receive the whole document at once, there are still several ways to check for quality along the way:
- Outline. Ask your writer to create a working outline before beginning work on a longer assignment. Be sure to build in some sort of pay structure for this work; either increase the overall rate for the assignment, or pay per word for the outline as well as the finished document. An outline allows both the agency and the client to see if the writer can structure their work appropriately, and also shows that they can quickly meet a deadline, which bodes well for the rest of the project.
- Abstract. Another way to check for quality is to require a written abstract at some point in the process. An abstract is a common feature of white papers; for ebooks, you could request a brief introduction or table of contents. Either way, this document will give you a sense of the writer’s ability to communicate the entire project with concision and can confirm that they have a good sense of the overall structure and content of the document.
- Annotated Bibliography. Especially important for research based documents, an annotated bibliography is simply a list of sources with brief notes on their validity and relevance. Asking writers to submit their annotated list of sources early in the process confirms that the research will be up to par and can cut down on time-consuming revisions later on. This step is key if the client has any concerns about quoting or referring to industry competitors in the field.
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.