Don't Do It Yourself

How to Set Up Your Relationship with a Staff Writer

Please welcome Miranda, an accomplished author and friend who I'm thrilled to have landed as a staff writer on the Don't Do It Yourself blog. It's only fitting for both her and my blog that in her first post she talks about how to setup a relationship with a freelance staff writer!

At some point, many blog owners and other entrepreneurs decide that a staff writer is necessary. Whether you hire someone to provide blog content, or whether you want someone on staff to create press releases and other materials for your company, the relationship you have with your staff writer is vital.

How you start off can have a great deal of influence on how the relationship progresses, and whether or not it yields success. You want to start off on the right foot. In many cases, that means establishing clear terms and expectations.

Defining the Terms of Your Agreement

In any business arrangement, you need to clearly define the terms of the work done. With staff writing, this means that you need to be clear about what you pay for work.

With a blog staff writer, this is usually straightforward. You agree on how often blog posts will be submitted, as well as their length. Then, you agree on a price. In most blog staff writing arrangements, you pay on a per-post basis. Your blogger submits the posts, and you pay for each post submitted.

When you have a staff writer providing other services, you need to make sure the prices for those services are properly hammered out ahead of time. In many cases, the price for a press release is different from a static web page or landing page, and still different from a blog post. Clearly define what items your staff writer will be handling, and agree on a price for each type of writing he or she will be doing.

In some cases, it might make sense to pay your staff writer an hourly rate, instead of a per-item rate. Determine what hourly rate makes sense for you both, and then agree to how hours will be tracked. There are a number of time-keeping apps that can help your staff writer log hours, and bill for them.

Once you have nailed down the terms, you need to both agree to them. One of the simplest ways to do this is to list the terms in an email, and have both parties reply with agreeing to them. This is legally binding, and this is an especially popular way to agree to staff blog writing terms. You can also use a more formal agreement; there are plenty of templates online that you can use. However you make your agreement, be sure to clearly state the following:

  • Scope of the work.
  • Cost of the work.
  • Who owns the rights.
  • How payment will be made (including how often).
  • How revisions will be handled.
  • Provision to negotiate if a project goes beyond the original scope.

Establishing a Professional Relationship

Make sure that you have a professional business relationship with your staff writer. Keep business communications mostly professional, and be sure to pay on time and as agreed (PayPal makes that easy). Even if you have a personal relationship with your staff writer, beyond your business relationship, try to maintain a certain level of professionalism. When you set up a relationship with a staff writer, he or she will appreciate that.

Remember that these types of relationships are built on respect and trust. This is especially important in an age when you can have business dealings without ever actually meeting someone in person. Be open and honest about your expectations, and show your staff writer respect, and you will likely start off the relationship on the right foot.