August 17, 2022
Marketers in search of content creators will find pickings slim — at least, for good ones.
An experienced freelance copywriter typically has more than six clients and struggles to take on more. More than three in five freelancers say they have enough work, according to a new report from Contentoo, a European platform for sourcing content marketing talent.
Yet nearly the same number of content marketing managers say they need additional help. This is a problem especially for smaller companies. Nearly half of them mostly rely on freelancers, while larger companies tend to use a mix of in-house and freelance copywriters.
“The war on talent becomes a very real challenge that organizations must find ways to overcome,” say the Contentoo report’s authors. “Bringing new content marketing talent into an organization poses a perennial challenge for managers and freelancers alike.”
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Even if a content marketing manager finds someone, the hard work begins in onboarding and making sure the freelancer seamlessly becomes part of the content team. Freelancers need to get up to speed on brand identity, tone of voice and content strategy. Poor onboarding leads to freelancers making assumptions, which might not be accurate, Contentoo says.
In turn, freelance copywriters say they want to know about competitors, targeted keywords, examples of content that the client likes and doesn’t like, topic ideas, etc. Clearly defined content schedules also lay a solid foundation for the manager-freelancer relationship.
Compare this to toxic clients who are unprepared and lack clear vision or direction for their projects, say freelancers. Without a clear understanding of expectations and outcomes from the outset, these managers will ask for multiple changes in direction and scope.
One of the most interesting findings from the Contentoo report: Reliability is a cornerstone of a great relationship. Problem is, reliability means different things for freelancers and managers.
Freelancers value client reliability in clearly communicating projects, working collaboratively, providing realistic deadlines, giving good guidance and constructive feedback (not to be confused with micromanagement). Most of all, reliability means being financially stable and paying on time, freelancers say. It’s a chorus throughout the Contentoo report. Pay on time.
Managers value reliability, too, albeit differently. They want reliable freelancers who manage their time independently and hit their deadlines.
“The ideal freelancer is independent, creative and doesn’t need too much structure to take an idea and run with it,” said Julie van der Weele, director of brand and communications at Foleon, in the report. “If it takes more time and effort to get content done with a freelancer than it would take to do it myself, then I’m unhappy.”
Now for the “reliability” kicker: Contentoo reports that managers value reliability in their freelancers over writing skills and price.
Reliability over writing? The thinking goes, managers are focused on content-program outcomes, not individual performance. Then again, content quality matters. Great content solves a problem, engages target audiences, fosters customer relationships, and drives sustainable revenue growth.
“It can be hard to find good talent,” said Arron, a content marketing lead, in the report. “There are a lot of freelancers out there, many of which do not deliver good-quality work. If you find a good one, you have to keep them.”
Tom Kaneshige is the Chief Content Officer at the CMO Council. He creates all forms of digital thought leadership content that helps growth and revenue officers, line of business leaders, and chief marketers succeed in their rapidly evolving roles. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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