The Employer’s Guide to Creating Clear Writing Assignments

Photo of a person using a laptop to complete writing assignments.

Selecting a freelance writer from a pool of qualified applicants is only the first step. Now, you’ll begin building a solid working relationship with your freelancer. Whether you have a one-off project or you’ll need content written for many years to come, it’s imperative that you provide clear directions on each writing assignment. The more information your freelancer has regarding your expectations and preferences for writing assignments, the better he or she can meet—and exceed—those expectations.

The Basics

The first step toward providing clear instructions is to determine exactly what type of content you want. You may need an eBook, video script, blog post, or social media copy, for example. Determine whether you need multiple pieces of the same type of content, such as five blog posts or two explainer video scripts. Then, consider the following:

  • Topic: Specify the topic area or instruct the writer to choose a topic. If you want the writer to choose a topic, then you might want to provide a few suggestions to ensure the content stays on target. Specify whether the writer’s chosen topic should be submitted to you for approval prior to writing.
  • Word count: It can be helpful to express this as a range, such as 400 to 500 words for a blog post or 10,000 to 12,000 words for an eBook. If your writer will be producing multiple pieces of content, be sure to specify whether the word count applies to all of them. If you’re hiring a writer to do tweets, there’s no need to provide a word count since Twitter restricts tweet lengths. However, you may want to remind the writer of the character limit (280 as of 2019).
  • Keywords: If search engine optimization (SEO) is a concern for the content, either provide the freelancer with a list of keywords or ask the freelancer to conduct keyword research. Provide your preferences, if any, regarding keyword usage.
  • Deadline: Give the freelancer a deadline for each piece of content. Specify that the deadline is by end of the business day in your time zone. If the project is very large, such as an eBook, you might want the freelancer to check in with you at set points along the way.

The Direction and Angle

Selecting a topic is just the start. You should also give the writer a sense of the direction or angle you want. For example, let’s say you’ve hired a freelancer to write a blog post on natural health supplements. You should specify whether you want the post to lean heavily on scientific research and statistics. Or, let’s say you’ve hired a freelancer to write tweets for your furniture store. You should specify if you prefer to focus on promoting a particular brand or type of furniture. In addition, provide information on the demographics of your audience.

The Finishing Touches

There are a few other bits of information you can provide to your freelancer to ensure a successful project. The freelancer will need to know if you want links in your content, and if so, whether they should be external or internal links—or a mix of both. You might also want the links to have a certain anchor text, which you should provide. In addition, consider the following:

  • Do you have any special formatting requirements?
  • Are there any particular resources you want the writer to use for research? If so, provide the links.
  • Do you have any style preferences, such as the use of Oxford commas?
  • Do you want the writer to upload the content to a content management system (CMS) or to WordPress? If so, provide login credentials.

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