Things Your Freelance Writer Should Know

By on October 18, 2017
Finding a freelance writer is easy, finding one you like, not so much. When you finally find one that you like, be very clear about these things. Even if ‘but they’re in the style guide”.
  1. Word Count
Word count, the most essential, basic, the first thing your freelance writer should know. It’s at the bottom of most submission pages, or explicitly stated. It is the number the writer will go by.
But what if it’s not, or hasn’t been updated? Don’t say 300 words when you mean, 400, you mean, 500, 500-700, but you can go over- be extremely clear. It is very important information, and not your writer’s fault if you fail to update it, or be clear.
2. Topics
Topics or word count, depending on the writer, one of the first things they ask about. What do you cover? What would you cover, any subtopics? Whatever you want them to write about, don’t be shy, be direct. It also makes hiring the writer, or the writer, accepting the job, much easier.
3. Audience
Who is the audience? This is an essential, must know or else. Along with knowing what to write about it, your writer needs to know how to write about it to appeal to your audience.
Writing for teenagers is very different from writing for retirees. Writing for a print audience is very different from writing for an online audience. The success of your content depends on your writer knowing this information.
4. Tone
Some topics are less serious, less technical than others. But not everyone agrees hoe much less serious and technical. It’s hard to make an article about “How to Make Friends” very scientific without sounding off putting.
Some writers might remove all technicality, be more casual. Some might be more scientific, logos driven. Dictate what direction your content goes in, and give specific examples and editing notes. If you want more technicality, say so. A good writer will be able to adapt and edit.
5. How Much Freedom They Have
Don’t say someone can be funny, and then when they’re funny, tell them their work is crap. If you let some people be funny, have a little more freedom, you have to let everyone have that freedom.
What language can they use, can they write in their own voice, can they make bold, personal statements? Be painfully clear about this. Some will get offended, but it’s better than your unbacked, unexplained and super emotional offense that makes your writers quit on you.
6. Due By
When should they get their articles in for editing? Yes, this can get overlooked, ignored. You can’t just edit it whenever it comes in, and publish it. You have a schedule, everyone is much happier with a schedule. Everyone, including you, the editor, is held accountable.
Editing takes time, and sometimes it’s not the writer’s fault that the deadline is missed.
7. Deadline
When will the edited final product be published? Where does an article fit in the schedule? You, your readers, and content creators should know this information. And it should be available to everyone on your team.
If the Due Date is unclear, then the deadline, published by, date is a good way to guesstimate it. Having a clear, obvious, deadline is better though. It also helps keep everyone accountable, and your readers reading.
8. Who’s the (Actual) Editor
Managing Editor, Editor in Chief, Editor- all different titles, with different functions. Managing editors are on the ground floor, and manage the editing, and scheduling. They are assisted by the editors they manage, or the writers. The Editor in Chief is above, and manages all them, and does less editing day to day.
Writers can edit their own articles, just be consistent and clear that they are supposed to. Or make sure they know who their editor, or editors are.
If you’re getting five different reactions to a piece you’ve submitted five times. There’s a game of hot potato going on, and guess what the potato is. It is better for a writer to have one, or two, consistent editors. Whatever their editing titles are.
9. Other Media
Do writers need to provide pictures, video? That’s manageable for most nowadays. What size, how long? What kind would you like? Do you have some they have to include, or you’d like to be included? Be very specific about this, oppress them a little. Make sure everything makes sense, comes together.
And provide tutorials, resources for them if this is the case. Writers are used to attempting to keep up with the times. Old writers can learn new tricks.
10. New Directions
When you have a revelation, new idea, policy, or general change in direction- tell everyone. It’s not the writers, or editors, fault when they submit work that’s not up to the new par. And you don’t publish it, for to them, no apparent reason.
If you pull something like that, there are other people and publications they could write for. That are much better communicators. And will listen when they ask why the technology magazine has a new food section, and why.
Your underlings have very good points sometimes, give them a chance, lend them your ear.
Being the boss isn’t always fun, but as long as you keep everyone informed, answer their questions, and don’t blame any publishing, editing issues on them. And treat them fairly, they won’t quit on you.
They will need a reminder of what’s in the style guide occasionally, instead of having an attitude, try memorizing 15 pages of rules and checking every sentence for every rule, on a deadline. You’ll realize that you’re probably not surrounded by idiots.
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