Using freelance writers for content marketing: 5 steps for success

If you’re serious about content marketing, then you need to commit  to producing content.  And for many organizations, finding the extra cycles for content creation is a challenge.  Freelancers can be an invaluable part of the content marketing strategy.

How do you make this work? According to OpenView Labs, the secret is finding good freelancers:

I would suggest that choosing the freelancer is only the first step in the successful freelance relationship.  Once you have chosen someone to work with, there are several steps that you need to take to help the relationship be successful.

1. Define the project objectives

If you’re working from a content marketing strategy, this is a no-brainer.  It seems obvious, but I often have to ask for it.  Make sure the freelancer knows the intended audience for the piece, their stage in the buying cycle, and how you plan to use it. (Is it a call to action for an email campaign? A follow-up from a sales contact?)  Knowing this information will help the writer create something that achieves your directives.

2. Have a message map

Whether it lives in a formal messaging document or simply a web page, you should be able to identify your key positioning for your product/solution, including the target audience, most important benefits, and unique underlying value proposition—what makes you different from the competition.

If you don’t have this information nailed down, then the freelancer can pour time and effort into a project only to find out that they’re heading the wrong way. Every on spends more time on review cycles and the experience as a whole is much more frustrating, as stakeholders argue about messaging rather than the content.

Don’t have a message map already? A freelancer can help you create it – but it should be a separate project from the actual content creation.  When everyone has buy-in on the messaging, then creating the specific content pieces is a much smoother process.

3. Give clear direction on tone and style

If the freelancer is meant to be writing in the ‘voice’ of the company, then give them clear direction on what that tone or style is. Some businesses have a style guide, which is terrific. If you have a website that you love, that can also serve as the anchor.

4. Make sure they know the SEO keywords

Provide the most important SEO keywords at the beginning of the project.  A savvy writer can ensure that keywords will land in the most appropriate places to give the resulting content some search engine attraction.

5. Don’t micro-manage

It may seem counterintuitive, but particularly with writing projects, giving your freelancer complete outlines and detailed excerpts can actually add time to the project rather than accelerate it.  Yes, you should provide plenty of background, research, quotes, and your own thoughts and perspectives.  Having a phone conversation can be very productive.  But if you have hired a good freelancer, you should trust them to take it from there.

2 Comments on “Using freelance writers for content marketing: 5 steps for success

  1. Excellent ideas, Jan. I would love to work for clients who follow your advice. I’m especially surprised by how many don’t have a message map!

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