How to stay organized when working with freelance writers

February 24, 2016

Organization

CRASH.

My textbooks fall onto the floor. I’m the least organized kid in my third grade class, and once a week, my jam-packed desk gives up, takes a breath, and spits up my mess. Crumpled papers, chewed erasers, and reading comprehension books are strewn across the floor.

I’ve come a long way since I was nine. These days, I have a few pens strewn across my desk, but for the most part, I keep things together. In order to make deadlines, keep meetings, and be successful as a consultant, I have to stay organized.

And if you’re going to work with me or any other consultant, you should be organized, too. An organized process doesn’t just make consultants want to work with you. Organization makes you more efficient, and you’ll be able to get a lot more out of relationships with contractors.

Here’s how to stay organized:

Focus on what needs to be done

I have a lot of onboarding phone calls with new clients, and a lot of times, they tell me things I don’t need to know. These clients usually hire me for specific editorial and marketing tasks. Often, however, these calls spiral out until I learn all the marketing tactics the company is considering. It’s exhausting, and it doesn’t help me do my job.

I’m a consultant, not an investor, and I want you to explain what you need me to do, not spend two hours explaining all the ins and outs of the business. This information often confuses me, and it leaves me unsure of where you want me to help. When I get irrelevant information from clients, it’s usually a sign that they’re not that organized.

Before you start a new relationship with a consultant, ask yourself:

Provide an editorial style guide

Oh, HARK, style guides. MY FAVORITE THING TO RECEIVE AS A CONSULTANT.

People waste a lot of time on phone calls explaining their brand guidelines, when they could streamline the process by sending out a branded style guide to any new partner. These style guides will help you onboard freelancers, but they’ll also help you solidify your brand personality, which will help internal writers and leaders, as well.

A style guide should include:

You don’t need more than 2 or 3 pages to see success. I’ve actually helped clients come up with editorial style guides that they can then send to other freelancers they work with.

Get the right tools and use them

Tools can’t solve all your organization problems, but they can certainly help. They force you to stay organized, and eliminate the need to go back and forth via email.

The tools aren’t magic. In order for them to work, you need to invest time in setting them up, and figuring out the best way to use them.

Refine the editorial process and manage expectations

I include edits and revisions with all my fees, but sometimes I don’t know what my clients expect.

It’s best if you provide deadlines, and set expectations, particularly around edits. That way, writers can build time for edits and revisions into their schedule, so that you’ll be happy with results.

If you leave comments in a Google Doc suggesting changes, send an email or put a note in a project management tool that you’d like to see edits by a certain dates. Due dates help freelancers a lot, even if they’re relatively arbitrary on your end.

Organization from the beginning

Consultants can provide a lot of value to your organization, but you need to step up your organization (HAHA, GET IT?!).

Being organized from the beginning will save you time, and it will make freelancers want to work with you.

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