As a result, marketing leaders are opting to outsource at least some aspects of their content creation, be it copy, video, graphics, or other formats. And just like they must understand what makes their internal teams tick, so, too, must they think through how to best work with external partners if they want to maximize ROI and keep those who already understand their business at the ready for future projects.
If that sounds like a lot of work, it is. Here are five ways to ease the process.
1. Start With Strategy
Too often, marketers don’t take the time to give freelancers a rundown of their audience, company goals, or positioning preferences. But it’s imperative to communicate these elements to them. Given how important audience alignment is for content performance, commissioning work without sharing the “who” and “why” behind it amounts to throwing money away.
Some suggestions: Put together a standard deck to send to freelancers during the onboarding process. Provide examples for them to model, but keep it to a single sheet. You can’t expect someone who isn’t a paid employee to spend hours poring over your company’s history. Ensure they read it by asking a few open-ended questions about your positioning or vision.
2. Share Your Editorial Calendar
There’s a lot that off-site content creators need to know before they begin work. A Kapost and Gleanster Research report found that lack of a centralized calendar is the top reason marketing teams miss deadlines. Although you can’t expect freelancers to manage your schedule for you, you should be transparent about when and why you need their content.
Informing freelancers about what else is in the pipeline also enables them to build on it. Infographics are often built to accompany blog content, for example. A freelancer assigned to create a graphic should at least see headlines for the associated articles before starting work.
3. Request—Or At Least Explain—Revisions
Despite the best preparation, content can sometimes come in that doesn’t fit the bill. While it might be tempting to have your internal team make the revisions and move on, don’t. Doing so might save you time now, but it won’t in the long run.
After all, external creators won’t know what isn’t working if you don’t tell them. Think of revision requests as target practice. The requests show creators exactly where they missed the mark, and they offer new opportunities to hit the bullseye. If your freelancer contracts don’t allow for revisions, add a clause to future ones. For the rest, screenshare the revised copy, audio, or video with them, talking through what you changed and why.
4. Give And Receive On Social Media
Whatever the content you’re working on with freelancers, it’s safe to assume everyone wants it to make a splash. A likely side perk for the contractor: A project’s success can help them score future work.
So, leverage the reciprocity principle. Just as the freelancer promotes your content on their own channels, a shout-out or social mention of the contractor from your channels costs you nothing. Your audience is probably multiple orders of magnitude larger than theirs, especially if you’re a major brand. Of note, brand messaging shared by team members on their personal channels earns 561% more reach than those messages shared by brands’ owned channels.
5. Invest In Top Producers
Once you and an outside content creator have successfully collaborated on a few pieces together, ask yourself: Is a long-term relationship in order? If so, move beyond piece-by-piece assignments. Rather, plan out a series to give the creator some scheduling (and financial) certainty. Communicate trust by offering them larger opportunities that you might typically take on in-house.
Remember, too, that content creators are people. Learn a little bit about them. By giving the relationship a personal touch, your last-minute requests are that much more likely to be honored. Best of all, you’re likely to get quality referrals when you need creative reinforcements.
Content creation from afar is tougher than it looks. Take time to explain your company’s goals and audience, be understanding when a submission doesn’t hit the mark, and reward creators for a job well done. Become their favorite partner, and they’re sure to become yours.