At Fixate, our network of subject-matter experts is the backbone of our content-marketing business. They’re the folks who write most of our content on a freelance basis.
As we’ve built our business over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about how to keep that network of experts happy.
Why Freelancer Happiness Matters
You might think that keeping freelancers happy doesn’t matter much. After all, they’re not employees. All they do is turn in work to you. As long as they meet their deadlines and quality expectations, why worry about whether they’re happy?
Well, you should care about their happiness for several reasons. The most important is freelancer retention. If your freelancer network has a lot of turnover, you have to waste time retraining writers. You also lose the institutional expertise that you get from freelancers who have worked with you for a long time.
Keeping freelance writers happy is also important because happy freelancers are more likely to produce good work on time. You don’t want to work with disgruntled freelancers who passively aggressively turn in half-baked articles, or miss deadlines because they don’t prioritize doing good work for you.
Last but not least, you want freelancers to be happy because happiness is a form of compensation. In the freelance world, if you pay enough, you can always find someone to do a job, even if they hate doing the job. Money makes up for unhappiness. But ideally, your freelancers won’t dislike working with you. If you give them a smooth process, rewards, and an overall pleasant experience, they’ll be willing to work for you for lower rates.
Tips for Keeping Freelance Writers Happy
So, how do you go about making sure your freelancers are happy working with you? The following are our tips, based on our experience of building Fixate’s contributor network:
- Pay fair rates. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth noting because unfair rates are so common in the freelance writing world. Because the supply of freelancers is greater than demand, you’ll be able to find freelance writers even if you pay subpar rates. But then you’ll end up working with freelancers who are struggling to make the pay worth their time, and you’ll end up with substandard work. So don’t be cheap. Pay what it takes. Ensure that your freelancers know that you respect and value their time and expertise.
- Pay consistent rates. It also helps to make sure you have a standard, consistent pay rate for all freelancers. Sure, you may have to make exceptions in special circumstances. But in general, paying everyone the same helps to prevent jealousy and keep your freelancer community healthy and happy.
- Provide recognition and rewards. It’s important to let freelance writers know when content they have produced is particularly well received. Reward them for consistently good work. This is why, at Fixate, we make sure to pass on messages from our clients to our freelancers about particularly good articles. We also offer a series of incentive programs to reward freelancers who write consistently over a period of time, help with recruitment, and so on.
- Have regular meetings. You want your freelancers to feel connected to you and your network. Regular meetings are one way to do this. Some freelancers won’t want to attend these, so you shouldn’t make them mandatory. But others value the opportunity to connect with you on a regular basis just to check in. It’s another way to let them know their time and expertise are respected and valued.
- Make sure their work gets published. In the influencer-marketing business, freelancers write for more than just money. They also want to get their names out there. For this reason, it’s crucial to make sure that the work they write is actually published— ideally, under their own names. This is why, at Fixate, we work closely with our clients to ensure that the work our writers produce is published.
- Respect their opinions. At Fixate, we heavily edit the work our freelancers produce. It’s part of the way we provide value to our clients. But as we edit, it’s vital to keep our freelance writers’ original messages intact. We edit for language and style, but not to change the opinions of our writers. Even when we disagree with them, we don’t put words in their mouths. Respecting a writer’s opinion is especially important if you want to build an effective network of influencers.
The list could go on, but these are the most important lessons we’ve learned about keeping freelance writers happy as we’ve built Fixate. We think that adhering to principles like these is what helps set our content marketing business apart from generic content mills, where freelancers are paid to put words on a page, but otherwise go uncelebrated.
If you liked this post, you might also want to check out our tips on keeping freelancers engaged.
This post was originally published in May 2017 and updated in November 2022.