How Freelance Writers Support In-House Teams

2022-06-30T14:11:51-05:00May 16, 2022|Opinion|

It’s no secret that the workplace is evolving. The digital era has made it possible to recruit talent from half a world away. The pandemic — and in particular, coming out of the pandemic — has led to an endless mishmash of in-person, fully remote, and hybrid teams. 

In the area of marketing, in particular, content has become the overwhelming focal point for any and every industry. With every company creating content at a rapacious rate, many in-house teams have found it challenging to match both the quantity and quality of their competitors’ content. 

If your in-house team is struggling with content creation, you can use freelance writers to support them.

In-House Teams Face Serious Content Creation Challenges

There are many advantages to having an in-house content creation marketing team. For instance, they can:

  • Master your brand voice and tone
  • Thoroughly understand your products and/or services
  • Invest more time in creating truly high-quality content

For all of the advantages, though, in-house teams can’t always check every requirement. For example, a staff of salaried employees is expensive to maintain.

The marketing veterans at the content marketing agency Manifest highlight four areas of particular concern when it comes to in-house creative content teams weathering the ongoing content wars:

  • Maintaining energy levels: It’s hard to stay inspired as you create endless streams of content every day.
  • Attracting (and retaining) top-level talent: Everyone wants to create the best content, and remote work makes it easy for qualified employees to job-hop.
  • Creating and maintaining key marketing processes: Internal teams don’t have the same briefings, feedback loops, and overall business structure as an external agency.
  • The threat of a lackadaisical approach: External agencies maintain a natural tension with clients, which keeps everyone sharp and can be lacking with in-house teams.

The catch is that outsourcing your content creation to an external ad agency doesn’t remove the cost issues. Plus, it’s difficult for in-house teams and agencies to work in tandem since both have their own way of doing business.

Instead, if an in-house team is struggling with many of the concerns that Manifest targeted, they should turn to the freelance community for help.

How Freelancers Can Support In-House Agencies

Tech tools and cloud-based platforms make it easier than ever to find qualified freelancers to do practically anything.

Even so, freelance writers and freelance editors, in particular, remain amongst the most common contractors available. When you hire a freelance writer for your in-house marketing team, you access a host of different benefits, including:

  • Professional writing experience at a fraction of the full-time cost.
  • A writer who knows how to work as a third-party professional and can jump right into your system.
  • A source of outside creativity that can keep the inspiration flowing.
  • Niche perspectives and experiences, from tech blog writers to health writers, legal writers, and writers for practically any other industry.
  • The ability to tap into professional writing without going through the red tape rigmarole of a full-time hire.

All of these benefits are available — if you hire the right writer. However, there are a few questions that you should ask if you want your outside hire to truly support your in-house team:

Where is your in-house team lacking? 

Do you already have a good social content creator but need a better blog writer? Are your thought leadership pieces inspired, but your press releases aren’t getting picked up? What kind of writing needs do you need to fill?

Do you know how to vet a freelancer? 

Just because a freelancer has a good resume doesn’t mean they’re a slam-dunk hire. You want to ask the right questions to make sure they’re worth the trouble of onboarding to support your team. Do they have samples of relevant content? Do they meet deadlines? Are they willing to sign an NDA if necessary?

What industry-specific questions should you ask? 

Just because a writer can write doesn’t mean they can write for you. How is each writer qualified to write for your industry? For instance, along with the freelance hiring basics, a law firm should ask a potential legal freelance writer law-related questions, such as their past legal experience and what areas of law they are familiar with.

What is your freelancing budget? 

Your freelancing expenses can vary depending on your needs. If you need to offload boilerplate work so that your in-house team can focus on the deeper stuff, you may be able to get away with a slightly less expensive, less experienced freelance writer. If you want serious industry insights, your budget may need to be higher.

Asking the right questions is key to finding the best freelancers to support your in-house team.

Maintaining the Balance

As a final thought, don’t just think in the short term. Sure, a freelancer can come in, pick up the ropes, and start contributing content reasonably quickly. But where will you be three months from now? Do you want to invest in keeping your freelancers around for regular contributions, or are they a temporary solution that you can replace in the future if needed?

If you want to build long-term relationships with your freelancers, it’s essential to strategize to avoid friction between in-house creators and freelance writers. A few suggestions for ways to do this include:

  • Keep actual content creators (in-house and freelance) separate.
  • Establish a clear hierarchy with content managers who can interact with both in-house and freelance writers alike, depending on the situation.
  • Invest in team-building and loyalty with your in-house team.
  • Pay your freelancers well and maintain ongoing communication, even when needs are slow.
  • Express to in-housers and contractors alike that they have value and are contributing to your success.

For that last item, in particular, don’t be afraid to be specific. Make sure everyone feels they belong!

Finding Synergy with Freelancers and In-House Teams

There are benefits to using in-house marketing teams. Freelance writers have value, as well. Bringing these two marketing forces together can create some serious synergy.

However, you have to make sure that you do so thoughtfully. Consider your freelancing needs in detail, identify the right questions and plan for the long-term. 

If you can go into the experience prepared, you’ll give yourself the best chance of hiring freelance writers who can truly benefit your in-house team — and vice versa, too.

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