In Part 1 of this blog post, we looked at some of the key reasons why businesses are hiring people to write blogs for them, rather than writing their own content in-house. If you’ve found a writer — and you’re outsourcing your blog — it’s time to look at contracts, payments, and working productively.
So you’ve chosen to outsource your blog, and you’ve found a respected blogger who specialises in your niche. What kind of service can you expect from a blog writer? How do you negotiate contracts, payment, terms and conditions? And how do you go about managing the service week by week, or day by day?
Managing an Outsourced Blog
One of the great advantages of outsourcing your blog is the level of flexibility it offers. Unless you choose to add blog writing to the services you are already contracting from a digital marketing or PR agency, most bloggers will be freelancers or micro businesses. These individuals and companies are designed to be dynamic, and adapting to suit the needs of their clients is a critical part what they offer.
Blog writing is one of a new breed of professional digital services. It’s not the sort of service you need to hire someone locally for. Blogs can be written and delivered online from practically anywhere in the world, with the overwhelming majority of communication taking place via email, telephone or perhaps a web messaging or video conferencing app. This provides clients with a great deal of flexibility in who they hire.
If the best blog writer for your subject happens to live overseas, it need not be a barrier. But if you are used to managing supplier accounts through face to face meetings, this can perhaps require getting used to a slightly different way of working.
Blogging Contracts and Payments
The terms of service you can agree when outsourcing your blog are extremely flexible. It really comes down to how each individual blogger prefers to operate, and negotiation will usually be welcomed.
Most bloggers will be flexible when it comes to the number of blogs they provide. Monthly, weekly, daily, and ad hoc delivery are all very common. The writer will simply negotiate a payment term, and invoice for however many blogs they write during that period. Try to negotiate monthly invoices to avoid being bombarded with payment demands.
Make sure you discuss and agree delivery dates and deadlines in advance, and write these into the contractual terms of service if necessary. This will protect you against your blog slipping to the bottom of the priority list if other work comes in. Bear in mind that the start of the week — and first week of the month — are often the most popular delivery deadlines. At Red Robot, we definitely find it easier when we can space out clients’ blogs through quieter times.
Typical fee arrangements include a fee per word, or — more commonly — a fee per article. Compare pricing for 500 words, and ask whether longer articles will be billed pro rata. The length of the article can be specified in advance by the client, or left to the writer to judge as they research the topic.
If you are looking for a high volume or writing, many blog writers will be happy to discuss being hired on a retained basis, or to negotiate an all-in project fee. This may be based on overall number of articles, or it may involve a switch to an hourly rate. The benefit of this is it will usually provide some level of discount compared to paying per article. It can also make it easier to control cost during complex content assignments.
Hiring a blogger on a retainer is also useful if you are looking for more than straightforward blog writing. For example, you may want someone to take over full management of your blog, including scheduling posts, responding to comments, and cross promoting content on social media. This all takes time, and most bloggers will seek to reflect this in the type of arrangement made.
Quality Assurance When Outsourcing
It’s important to discuss arrangements for re-drafting and revisions from your writer. A good professional blogger will welcome feedback and input on anything they write, and agree to alteration requests as part of their commitment to quality and customer service.
It is common, however, to ask alteration requests to be made within a specified period of time, to avoid unforeseen backlogs of work mounting up.
My blogging team provides free revisions if:
- The blog doesn’t meet the brief (see below).
- There are factual inaccuracies.
- There are spelling and grammatical errors.
- The topic does not fall within the guidelines agreed at the start of the work.
These terms should be fairly typical. If they are not written into your contract when outsourcing your blog, query what’s included.
Providing an Accurate Brief for Your Blogger
Day to day, the most important thing you will do is provide briefs for the blogs you need. What you ask for, and the level of detail you want, may have a bearing on the fee. Anything that involves additional research is going to bump up the standard price. However, it can be worth paying a little more for extra special, evergreen content.
The nature of the brief you provide will usually fall into one of the following categories:
- Full, detailed brief: The client provides clear instructions on the topic and the angle for the blog, with a title and links to relevant material to research.
- Title only: The client has a title or topic in mind for the blog, but the detail and the research are left to the writer.
- Open brief: This amounts to not really providing a brief at all. The writer is left to come up with any topic they deem relevant, within guidelines agreed at the start of the service.
The amount of guidance you want to provide on a brief is a matter of personal preference, and depends on the level of control you want when outsourcing. A full detailed brief obviously takes more time and effort, but you can be sure of what you are getting – and if it doesn’t meet the brief, you can ask for it to be re-written. An open brief requires more trust in the quality of the writer, and gives you less room to ask for revisions based on the suitability of the topic.
Tip: If you need your blogger to do all of the research for you, it may not necessarily cost you more. Often, a full, detailed brief consumes the same resource as an open brief. So it’s really important to choose the briefing method that you are most comfortable with; this avoids the need to return the content for changes, which can delay the production process.
Authorship, Bylines, and Copyright
When a new client outsources their blog to us, they often ask who owns the content. In the majority of cases, the simple answer is this: if you pay for the content, it is yours, and you own the copyright.
Another issue that causes confusion is having bylines on an article. In most cases, if you are publishing a blog on your website, it is best to have the name of someone in your organisation on blog posts, even if a ghost writer supplied it.
If you have hired a writer with expertise in their field, you may want to use their name and byline. This can give your content a boost,because you’re associating your brand with the name of a respected blogger. Either way, you need to accredit the blog to a real person; in an age of fake news, readers need to trust your content more than ever.
Free Up Time By Outsourcing Your Blog
In business, delegation is the key to productivity. And in a small business, outsourcing are key to clawing back your time. Once you get the perfect blogger on board, you can focus on the tasks that matter. All the while, you’ll be boosting the quality of your content.
Sure, outsourcing your blog can be a new expense to factor into your balance sheet. But content pays for itself many times over when it’s done right. High quality evergreen and pillar content can generate traffic for months — even years — after publication. The trick is to invest in quality from the beginning, and find that one perfect blogger that can speak with confidence and authenticity about your brand. Outsource your blog to that writer, get the contract terms right, and relax: your content is taken care of.
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