Writing

How to Provide Feedback to Freelance Writers that Helps them Grow

Hanson Cheng
May 14, 2021
13.5 mins


One of the essential skills every business needs in the digital age is written communication.

That’s because writing plays a critical role in most online activities. It takes good writing to create content that:

  • Ranks high on search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Moves people seamlessly down your sales funnel.
  • Is engaging enough to help you build a tribe of followers.

Whatever your business goal, you can use content to help you achieve it.

And that’s where your collaboration with freelance writers comes into play.

To ensure a fruitful collaboration, you must give your freelance writers feedback that will help them grow.

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The benefits of giving feedback

Giving feedback, especially negative criticism, is never easy. It’s time-consuming and may also be touchy. Nevertheless, you have no choice but to give your freelance writers feedback.

Here are some reasons why you must invest time in giving your writers proper feedback:

Improves the quality of work produced

One of the most significant benefits you get from investing time in providing feedback to your writers is that the quality of work they produce improves. Research shows that there are over 4.6 million blog posts published every day.

For your content to stand out and achieve its goals, it must be top-notch. And that’s why feedback is essential.

Helps develop better writers

Another benefit you get from providing feedback to freelance writers is that it helps produce better writers. Even though they may be freelancers, investing in their development will also benefit you. That’s because better writers result in less editing for you. It also means faster turnaround times for projects. 

Builds better relationships

Communication is an essential part of developing healthy relationships between you and the freelancer writers you subcontract. That’s why providing feedback to freelance writers should never be trivialized. The better the relationship you have with your writers, the better the quality of work they produce.

To get the most out of your freelance writers, you must take the time to give them feedback. Not only will this result in you having a stable of better writers, but it will also have an impact on your bottom line. Remember, content plays a critical role in most aspects of your business — particularly marketing and sales.

8 ways to provide feedback to freelance writers — in a way that helps them grow 

Now that you’ve seen why providing your freelance writers with feedback is critical let’s dive into how you can do it. The eight tips below will help you do it in a way that helps your writers grow and develop their craft.

1. Consider your role

Another critical best practice to follow when giving your writers feedback is to consider your role in the content they’ve submitted. 

No, you were not there physically while they were writing. However, you should be in their heads to guide them.

How?

By providing your freelance writers with a content style guide, content briefs, and clear instructions.

A screenshot of content style guide
writing components Venn diagram
Example of content style guide.

(Image Source)

As you go through the work produced by your writers, do so through the lens of your style guide. If your style guide, content brief, or instructions aren’t clear, it creates room for error. 

It’s also good practice to onboard new freelance writers to help them get a better picture of your brand and what you expect from them. You can easily do this by using webinar software to initiate new writers. 

So, before you give your feedback, consider your role in the outcome of the content produced. Doing so will ensure that you give your feedback in a better light. It will also help you discover areas of your style guide or briefs that you must improve.

2. Be specific in your feedback

“Your writing is a bit off.”

That’s feedback, but what does it mean?

What should the writer do to correct their “off” writing?

Vague feedback is frustrating for writers. It leaves them in limbo as they have no idea what you mean. Insufficient feedback will also delay the content production as time will be wasted getting clarification on the feedback.

That’s why, when giving feedback, be as specific as you possibly can.

To do this, you must prepare your feedback in advance. Note everything you want the writer to work on and how you expect them to work on it. When you give your feedback this way:

The chances of the revised version being close to perfect are higher.

You show the writer what is expected of them, resulting in subsequent work being of better quality.

It may take time and effort to provide specific feedback, but it’s time and effort well invested in the end. By doing so, you’ll be helping your freelance writers build a better personal brand marked by high-quality work.

Grammarly does an excellent job of providing a detailed feedback on the use of tone, grammar and everything else.

3. Always put your feedback in context

To help your writers better understand your feedback, always put your comments and suggestions in context. You must tell them why you want the requested changes. Simply telling them what to do will lead to them making the same mistakes in the future as they won’t know the reason behind doing things your way.

An example of feedback that lacks context would be, “This doesn’t sound reader-friendly.” leaving it at that is confusing as there’s no context. A better way of putting it, for example, is “This doesn’t sound reader-friendly as there’s too much jargon.” This way, the writer will know not to put too much jargon in their writing. 

4. Give examples and solutions

To help communicate your feedback better, use examples. Show your freelance writers how you would have done it or how you expected them to work on the section in question. Giving examples or offering solutions with your feedback is an excellent way of helping your freelance writers grow.

For example, if the writer missed the tone of voice you’re aiming for:

  • Direct them to a piece of written content that exemplifies the tone.
  • Edit a section of the article to give an idea of how the piece should read

One aspect of writing that makes it unique is that some skills lean toward tacit knowledge and are best explained by showing examples.

5. Be positive — even if the feedback is negative

Developing your freelance writers’ skills should be a priority when giving feedback. That’s why you must always be positive — even when giving negative feedback.

How do you do that?

Focus on Improving the Writer’s Skills 

Your feedback must be aimed at helping your writers grow, not just pinpointing mistakes. To do this, frame your feedback in a nurturing way. Never give feedback in a way that feels like an attack on their work. In a nutshell, don’t just focus on the current project. Instead, look for learning lessons that will help the writer produce better work on future assignments.

For example, let’s say a writer’s assignment is to write on the best affiliate marketing tools. Affiliate marketing is one industry riddled with so much jargon and technical terms. Help your writers improve their skills by showing them how to turn technical and boring topics into easy-to-read and enjoyable articles. Don’t just tell them their content is bland and too technical, show them how to improve.

Critique the Assignment, Not the Writer 

Constructive feedback focuses on the assignment, not the writer. Don’t tear down the writer’s techniques and skills — use the assignment to help them develop. To do this, point out parts of the article that you want to be improved. More than that, provide ideas and ways in which your writers can do just that. This way, your writers won’t feel like you’re criticizing them.

Reinforce the Positive

Negative feedback, although helpful, can be discouraging. That’s why you must help your writers develop confidence in their writing skills by reinforcing the positive parts of their work. After all, all feedback shouldn’t be negative.

As an editor, your job is not just to ensure your brand produces unique content. You must also help develop great writers.

6. Adapt your feedback for different personalities

When you work with several writers, you’ll discover that they all have different personalities. Obvious as this may seem, it’s an essential factor that many editors don’t put into consideration when giving feedback. 

For your feedback to be more impactful, you must adapt it to fit the personality of the writer you’re giving it to. 

While it may take time to learn your writers’ personalities, you must build your relationship with them up to this level. By ensuring that you adapt your feedback to each writer’s personality:

  • You make each writer feel appreciated.
  • Make it easier for your writers to accept and appreciate the feedback.

Adapting your feedback to each writer is the best way to ensure that you give your feedback the right way.

7. Leave room for the writer to give their opinion

Giving feedback must never be an issue of barking commands regarding the changes you want to see in your content. Feedback is best given in a manner that leaves room for the writer to also share their opinion. Sometimes what you may consider being a mistake on the writer’s part could be something they did on purpose.

You must remember that you hired your writers because you trusted them to do a good job. Prove your trust by leaving room for discussion concerning the comments you make on their content. Doing it this way is a great way to help your writers grow in their craft. 

8. Get on a call if necessary

There are some situations, especially when onboarding new writers, where getting on a call is better than providing written feedback. And if there’s a common pattern among your team of freelance writers, you could consider using meeting management software to give your feedback to the team as a whole. This will also allow you to reiterate the expectations you have for them. 

Invest in your writers by designing an efficient feedback process

For your content marketing to be successful, you need writers who understand your brand and can write using your tone and voice. Such writers are not found — you must invest in training them. And an integral part of training writers whose writing is on-brand

Use these tips to design an effective feedback process that you can use to provide your writers with feedback that will help them grow.