Marketers often face the task of "doing more with less": Get more leads, create more content, build up subscriber lists, write more blog posts, and so on. Using freelancers can be an excellent way to achieve those goals in any company. Freelancers can help get more work done quickly for smaller marketing teams.
But can you imagine giving up control of your messaging and your brand to someone outside of your organization? You may be terrified by the thought. Among the common concerns of B2B and B2C marketers alike is this: "How do I maintain my brand's voice when using freelancers?"
But marketers should not be afraid to outsource content creation. You can work the following six steps into your strategy of finding and training freelancers to ensure that they have connected with your company's brand and can communicate that message consistently.
1. Create your statement of work (SOW) or job-specifications document
This seems like a given, but it is necessary to document everything you can about the freelancer job prior to looking for talent. A solid SOW or job-spec document should include the following:
- The type of work (e.g., writing, editing, social media)
- Explanation of specific tasks and expectations
- Information on timing, including deadlines and the workload
- The focus of the freelancer
- Work flow
- Amount of money you are willing to pay
2. Source talent
Finding a freelancer (or group of freelancers) you can trust is incredibly important. After all, you are going to be handing over the reins of your brand. Here are important steps to finding new talent:
- Consider using traditional job boards, including craigslist.
- Use vendor-matching services like Junta42.
- Post your job specification to freelancer-specific sites, such as Elance or Guru.
- Consider using virtual-assistant services, such as 123Employee or XceedIT.
3. Interview standouts
Depending on how many sites you submit your SOW to, chances are you may receive a stack of resumes and applications to review. Here are some tips on finding killer freelancers you can trust:
- Spend the time it takes to scan through the submissions, weed out the junk, and highlight the standouts.
- Once you have a Top 5 or Top 10 list, schedule phone interviews with each candidate to narrow down the list even more.
- Next, assign the candidates an unpaid homework assignment similar to the work they would be doing if you were to hire them.
- Then, review the work and conduct reference checks with the freelancer's past two or three supervisors to ensure that he or she can meet your expectations.
4. Create a checklist
Checklists can be a handy tool for explaining to your freelancers what is appropriate and inappropriate. Checklists can also help ensure that your freelancers complete all of your assignments to meet your standards. Your checklist should include the following:
- An explanation of what constitutes valuable content
- Quality control
- Review steps
- Formatting specifications related to headings, images, etc.
- Fair-use guidelines
5. Train the freelancer
This step may not seem obvious, especially since you are hiring qualified freelancers. But a training step is incredibly important because your freelancer must understand your brand's voice and the way your brand speaks to your audience…
- Begin on-boarding with a phone call or meeting to communicate your brand's personality, in addition to providing a solid introduction to your company.
- Train your freelancer on any systems or tools you use to manage your content activities, including your intranet, file sharing tools, and content management system.
- Explain the checklist you created; provide guidance about what is appropriate and inappropriate.
6. Monitor and review
Even though you've done the prep work to help your freelancer succeed, you should regularly check in, especially during the first few weeks.
- Review all work, using your checklist as a guide. If any mistakes are spotted, communicate them to your freelancers immediately.
- Revise your checklist, if necessary, and communicate the revisions to your freelancers.
Once you are comfortable with the work your freelancer is producing, you likely won't spend as much time reviewing; still, review periodically to ensure that your freelancers continue to properly communicate your brand's voice.