When you hire a freelance writer, one of the best ways to ensure you get your money’s worth is to offer then good feedback. Good feedback helps a writer focus their effort and skills on giving you just the right outcome that meets your requirements. When hiring, it’s obvious that you want the best writer. However, the writer is also looking for a competent client, one who can give then constructive feedback. Understanding feedback is therefore crucial to how well the project will progress for both parties.
Praise or Criticism Isn’t Necessarily Feedback
Telling the writer something is great may sound like feedback but it’s not entirely feedback. For example, if you tell me the preceding paragraph is great, I’ll be pleased but I won’t know why you think it’s great. Are the short sentences easier to read; is the grammar not too complicated; etc.? On the flip side, just saying something doesn’t read right also does not help make it better. Remember, the writer is outputting what he thinks is best, helping them understand how to change it is what will make more sense.
Put It All in Writing
Now that that’s out of the way, you’ll want to make sure you put it all in writing. Even if you prefer speaking to the writer, it’s best to first send them the feedback via email or chat then call them up to discuss it. That way, it’s clear what is being addressed. Also, remember feedback can mean the writer doing additional work so you need to be very clear as to why you need them to do so and that you are feedback is not merely superfluous. It’s always good to remain on the same page so the work proceeds smoothly and in good faith.
Feedback Has to Be Actionable
When you read the drafts from your writer and they just don’t read right, don’t just send them back and ask for a rewrite. Take time to figure out why you think they don’t read right. Think of some actionable things that may help the writing get closer to what you are looking for. For instance, if the writing has many long and complicated sentences (these are easy to pick out), note this down and ask the writer to redo the work with shorter sentences. Then go over it again and see if the readability has improved. Keep iterating until the work reads just right. While at it, do avoid vague and unactionable feedback. An example of vague feedback would be, “Please rewrite these three paragraphs to sound more interesting.” That’s as vague as can be.
Prompt Feedback Is Best
To provide prompt feedback you’ll need to factor in feedback sessions before you start the project. If it’s a short project like say an article, you can have the writer do a paragraph first and then see if they are on the right track. Also, give it as short a turnaround time as possible. As soon as you hire, let them know that you require the first paragraph written and submitted within an hour. This has the added advantage of ensuring your project takes priority with the writer. On delivery, provide them feedback within a similarly short turnaround time. Once the feedback has done a full loop and you are both on the same page, proceed with the rest of the project.
Focus on the Work, Not the Person
Sometimes you’ll hire a contractor who’s gifted but has some personality quirk that doesn’t make them very likable. For instance, they may not be very eloquent in speech, or be extremely brief in chats. While these can be irritating, it’s the work that matters. As you provide feedback, please do not provide feedback based on personality and character traits as far as they do not directly impact the project. In the example above, feedback should not include asking them to take public speaking classes or beefing up their chat replies. Stick to the work and what will make the work better.
Feedback in any project is crucial. I’ll be publishing another five points to better feedback tomorrow so be sure to check out the next post.