Clear freelance writer guidelines

By Rhonda Campbell

Develop clear, detailed freelance writer guidelines to avoid unnecessary edits, frustration and content delays. The more freelancers you work with, the more important it is to vet and finalize clear guidelines.

Even if you don’t work with freelancers or independent contractors today, learning how to develop clear guidelines could pay off. Why?

You may need freelance writer guidelines sooner than you think

The freelance writer population is growing. As of 2015, approximately 15.5 million Americans were independent workers, the kind of folks who don’t bother with commutes and sitting for hours in offices. Fast Company also shares that by 2020, more than 60% of Americans will work as freelancers.

That means that the numbers of companies that seek out and depend on the abilities of independent contractors, like the talented freelance writer, are growing and will continue to grow. Sticky blog posts, SEO rich press releases, meta tags, picture meta descriptions, FAQs, technical guidebooks, video scripts, ebooks, marketing brochures, social media posts and website copy are types of projects that a freelance writer works on to attract customers and help close on sales.

Components of winning freelance writer guidelines

The likelihood that you will need the services of a freelance writer are significant. If you’re an entrepreneur seeking to use the skills of an experienced freelance writer to gain online and offline exposure and improve your revenues, you’d be smart to develop clear freelance writer guidelines.

Details to include in freelance writer guidelines are:

  • Tone/voice of the content that you want developed
  • Style guides that freelance writers must adhere to. For example, let freelancers know if you want them to adhere to Associated Press (AP), Chicago Manual, Canadian Style, Guardian Style Guide or the New York Times Manual Style guide.
  • References to be used in content. You may be okay with a freelance writer referencing sources like Huffington Post, Essence magazine or popular websites. You may not approve of freelancers using blogs or YouTube channels as reference sources when researching for facts, trends and stats to incorporate in content that they develop for your firm.
  • Numbers of links you want added to each article, blog posts, etc.
  • Keywords (short and long tail keywords) that you want added to written and audio content
  • The number of words (minimum and maximum) for each piece of content
  • Standard wording to be added to each piece (and where). For example, you may want to add a legal notice to each sales brochure.
  • Links to examples of previously written content that you want writers to stick to
  • Plagiarism policies – A freelance writer worth her salt will not plagiarize. However, to cover all grounds, it’s recommended that you include the policies in your freelance writer guidelines.
  • Whether or not the writer’s byline will be included with his work
  • Rights that you are buying for content that a freelance writer develops for you (i.e. are you using the work for one time only, are you buying all rights to the work)
  • Days and/or hours that you prefer that writers make themselves available to focus on your work (Please note, that since you’re working with independent contractors, you may be smart to avoid setting specific work hours for these talented leaders, as doing so could start to take on an employee relationship. Enter that grey area, and you could be responsible for providing the workers paid time off, health insurance coverage and other benefits that you provide to employees.)
  • Due date to submit new articles and other written content to you by

Send contractors an invoice template when you give them the freelance writer guidelines. Let freelancers know when they should submit their invoices. Do you want the invoices submitted by the end of each week or by the fifth of each month?

Also, provide the name and contact information of the person who freelancers can contact should they have questions. Definitely let a freelance writer know who her editor is and how she can reach her editor. Be open to suggestions from writers and seek out writers who are open (and accustomed) to receiving feedback and recommendations from editors and busy entrepreneurs like you.

Need press releases, SEO articles, blog posts, social media content, FAQs, corporate newsletters or website content or video descriptions to help grow your business? Contact freelance writer Rhonda Campbell. Freelance writer, Rhonda Campbell offers years of experience, smart rates and consultancy skills that you’ll appreciate.

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