213143-11-WebBy Christine Parizo, Christine Parizo Communications

Publications have always used freelancers to fill gaps, but with editorial budgets shrinking, it’s even more important to find and nurture reliable freelancers to contribute content that meets your standards. In today’s gig economy, there’s certainly no shortage of freelance writers to hire, but not all of them are created equal.

As an editor, you already know that you want to work directly with writers, not with a nameless, faceless platform. You want someone who will understand your editorial vision and your publication, someone who can turn in assignments on time, and someone who you can work with repeatedly so you don’t have to keep looking for new writers. You already have enough to do without also playing Human Resources.

The good news is, there are freelancers out there who will be your new best friend (“bestie”). They’ll be able to meet and exceed your expectations and make you look like a rock star to your managing editor. The right freelancer is a rare find, but not an impossible find, and once you do find her, you’ll want to build that relationship so you can hire her repeatedly.

At the ASBPE 2016 National Conference, I’m going to be speaking on how to find the right freelancer — and build a working relationship that benefits both of you, without hand-holding. I’m tapping my experience working with editors who have run the gamut from my new bestie to, well, not. Along the way, and from commiserating with other freelancers and business publication editors, I’ve learned a few key things:

  • What it takes to screen freelancers to make sure they’re going to work out
  • How to set the tone for the relationship
  • Everything that needs to happen to keep the relationship working

For example, I’ve learned from editors that typing in “freelance writer” to Google is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. (Spoiler alert: the first two pages that turned up were all “How to be a freelance writer”-type posts.) Web searches are worthless, and if you’re fresh out of freelance writers, where do you find good ones?

As a freelancer myself, I’ve also discovered that what happens before the first assignment is even tackled will set the tone for the entire relationship. In a way, it’s almost like dating: if your date spends all his time talking about himself on his first date, be prepared for a relationship that is about him. But if you both go in and set expectations, you’re laying the foundation for a good relationship. (But it’s not like dating, because your freelancer can — and will — work for other publications. The same probably shouldn’t be said about significant others.)

I’ve also learned the most important thing in a relationship between an editor and a freelancer is communication. Even with freelancers you’ve worked with for a long time, communicating is one of the most important things you can do. With new freelancers, it’s even more essential.

Join me at 2:00 on Thursday, July 21 to learn about how to overcome some of the common pitfalls of working with freelancers — and how to build relationships with your freelancers  that will enrich both of you (without needing to hold their hands every step of the way). Learn more about the conference here.