AMY PORTERFIELD: “So don't just make an edit without an explanation, because in the long run, this really weakens the ability for your contractor to shine. So you've got to give feedback.
“So, like, for example, if there are some punctuation edits, make the edits as a suggestion, and then give them a comment as a gentle reminder that this is the type of punctuation we use. Like, here's one. I've got a team full of women, and we are exclamation-mark crazy. And so I, for many years, I would get into the document, I would highlight the three exclamation marks, and say, ‘We only need one here.’ Or I would take the exclamation mark, turn it into a period, and say, ‘We sound like we are high school cheerleaders. We need to tone down the exclamation marks, and let's just put in some periods here.’”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: I've got a podcast recommendation for you, I mean beyond Online Marketing Made Easy. If you love this podcast, you're going to love the podcast by Scott D. Clary. It's called Success Story, and it's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and features Q&A sessions with successful business leaders and keynote presentations and conversations on sales and marketing and business and startups and entrepreneurship, all the stuff we love, right? And you can hear episodes like “Unleashing Your True Potential: A Practical Guide to Boosting Self-worth and Wealth through Authenticity” and another episode, “How to do Content Marketing Properly.” So listen to your Success Story wherever you get your podcasts.
Welcome back to another episode of Online Marketing Made Easy.
Now, here's the thing. If you clicked on this episode, I have a feeling you're thinking that you might need a little extra support on the content-creation side of things, which is totally natural because you're probably wearing all the hats. And if you need a little extra content support, that is just fine. Remember that when you give yourself the gift of extra support, you'll be able to show up for your audience and for your business and for your family and for yourself in a bigger way. There's nothing wrong with seeking support as you and your business continue to grow. In fact, if you found yourself in a place where you're ready and most likely need to bring on someone to support you with your content creation, you've probably needed this for a while, so congrats. That means that you are growing, and that's exciting, so you need to celebrate that.
So that's what we're diving into today. I've taken all the most-important aspects and strategies and lessons learned from hiring and successfully working with content support over the years in my business, and I put them into a nice little episode for you so that you can pop in your earbuds and learn and implement to help your business continue to thrive.
And remember, I was the director of content development for Tony Robbins, so content is my jam. It's that one area in my business that I feel the most comfortable. Like, marketing, I was able to learn and teach myself over the last fourteen years, so I feel good in that area. But content is, like, in my bones. And so this is a topic that I could talk about for hours and hours, but we don't have that kind of time, so we're going to get to the good stuff.
And here's the thing. There's a process for this because it takes a bit of time and a bit of work and lots of communication to bring on a content-support, let's say, contractor and make it work successfully. So I'm hoping what I share with you today will save you time, energy, and headaches.
Also, just a note that in this episode I'm talking in terms of hiring a contractor to help you with your content, not a full-time employee. However, you can absolutely take everything that you learn in this episode and apply it to hiring a full-time content-support role as an employee. But a lot of you want to first hire a contractor. Many of you listening right now are not really ready to hire a bunch of full-time people, so I like starting with a contractor. That's exactly how I started my business, with a bunch of contractors, so I think it's the best way to go.
So this is how I'm going to break down this episode. I want to talk a little bit about why hiring a contractor for this type of role could be beneficial up front versus going straight to employee status. And I also want to dive into the importance of going above and beyond with support for your contractor and why this pays over and over again in the long run. And we’re going to talk about the best practices to find a qualified content-support contractor, the importance of vetting them, and I walk you through how to onboard them step by step.
Remember, this is all what we do in my business. So if you like when I take you behind the scenes and share with you what works in my business, this is one of those episodes.
We’ll then talk about how to offer feedback to your contractor. Yes, this is an important piece to a successful relationship, and it makes you a better leader, and you're going to get great work from them if you know how to give great feedback.
And then, finally, my personal favorite, I'm going to walk you through how I like to set up tasks for content-support contractors in my business to help them feel extra supported, have everything they need in advance, and make it easier on me, too.
Oh, and I've also created a very special free resource. Because this is kind of a meaty episode, so I wanted to give you a free resource that goes hand-in-hand with this episode. And I'm sharing three examples of project test runs that I like to use to help vet out and get a feel for the contractor and how they work and how they communicate. So we're going to talk about project test runs in this episode, but I'm going to give you three examples from my own business. You are going to love these. Amyporterfield.com/552. Just go there. Amyporterfield.com/552, and you'll see an opportunity to grab those example project test runs. My friends ask me about these all the time. I give them to my friends to help them hire content coordinators and contractors, so this is something, like, on the inside that I’m giving to all of you. I can't wait for you to get your hands on it.
Okay. So as you can imagine, we have a lot to cover, so let's get to it.
All right. First up, whether you decide to go with an employee or a contractor for your content, I'm just going to talk about you going with a contractor, but you do whatever feels right for you. And also, I actually don't think this is the first contractor you should get in your business. So for my newer entrepreneurs, I do think you should hire a virtual assistant first, and then from there, look at what you really need for your business. I actually think the next contractor you should get is a marketing project manager. I've talked about that on the podcast before. And then from there, I would look at getting some support from a contractor for content. But hey, you do whatever you feel is needed, and if you're feeling a lot of pain and frustration around getting your content out there, and if it's just something that doesn't come natural to you and you need the help, then get that contractor whenever you feel is needed. Don't follow my rules, because I want you to do what feels best for you.
Okay, so here we go. When you hire a contractor, the great thing is that you can bring them on for just a few hours a week, which I love. But also remember, with contractors, you do not get to be their priority. And so they're going to have other clients, and so you need to set realistic goals for them, realistic timelines, because they've got other clients. That's one of the reasons why I eventually moved from contractors to full-time employees, because I didn't want to compete with their other clients. Now, also at the time, I lived in California, and there are very strict rules around who could be a contractor versus who needs to be a full-time employee, and I essentially was going to break some of those rules if I wasn't careful, so I needed just to move everyone over. But that's a conversation for another day.
When you first go into looking for a content-support contractor, be very, very clear on how many hours per week or month you'll need them. The worst thing you can run into is not having a clear idea of the needs for their role and then not having enough or maybe too much for them to work on. So it can go either way. So this could cause a really great candidate to leave you.
But when you do decide to bring on a content-support role, just remember that you will need to give them more guidance with everything. And while that may seem like a pain in the butt, just know it's worth it in the long run. So think about it. By you taking the time to go above and beyond up front, you're saving yourself a ton of time down the road. This is the biggest mistake I see when people either hire a contractor or a full-time employee. They do not put the time in to train them and give them more guidance then they think that they have time for, and so then the person literally is confused, and they want to leave. So the more time you give them in the beginning, the better this relationship is going to turn out. So find the time, my friend. Pour into them, and they will pour into you.
So I'll get into all the docs and the guidance and all of that that I suggest offering them and all the tasks that you're going to give them. I’ll get into that a little bit later. But I thought it was important that we touch upon it now.
Now, I often hear entrepreneurs say, “If I want it done the way I like it, I'll just do it myself.” Hi. My name is Amy, and I used to believe this. And can I let you in on just a little secret? This belief actually hindered my growth, and it caused me more headache and frustration than necessary and led me to feel overwhelmed almost all the time. The reason I used to work every night, every weekend, practically every holiday, is that I felt like I needed to do it all myself. And I wasn't hiring people. Or when I did hire people, I would take on the things I thought they couldn't do and not even give them a chance to do it. And I literally worked myself into the ground. And I’d like to say that there are people on my team that can run circles around me in different things that they do, meaning they have surpassed me in their skill and knowledge. And although that is a little hit to the ego, because as a business owner, I feel like I need to know all the things that are going on in my business at all times and have my hands in everything because how am I going to know what's going on? No. When you're ready to scale your business and you want to get into the multi-millions of your business, you have to believe that other people can do it better than you can, which means let go of the ego. And this is something that I really struggled with. So I'm not saying it's easy, but it's absolutely doable.
Okay. So I won't go too far into this here, but if you want more information on how to pass the torch more easily, check out episode 446. I called it “The Art of Delegation, & Why It's the Best Thing I've Ever Done.” Yeah, I have an episode on this because it was so important for me to let go. So amyporterfield.com/446. That's where I want you to go.
If you struggle with letting go, I've got you covered, because I do believe that if you start empowering your contractors and give them the resources they need, they're going to do a better job than you could have ever imagined. And the longer you work together, the better they will be at really just bringing your vision to life.
So we see this in my business all the time. We have a content-support contractor for my podcast content, and we also have one for my copywriter. So I still have contractors. Even though I have full-time employees, I also need a little extra support in different areas. So, like, I have a full-time copywriter, but we do a lot of projects in my business, so we also have a copywriter who's a contractor, and we use her a few hours a month in order to get the extra support that we need. And over time, we found that with the right guidance and feedback and collaboration, our contractors have flourished when it comes to creating content for my business.
And I do not doubt that you'll experience this, too. On top of that, handing off some of these content projects will allow you to pour into other areas of your business. Maybe that's having more time to serve your audience with live videos. That's something I do more of. Because I don't create all of my content, I have the opportunity to be on what I call front stage, which is doing my live videos, recording my podcast, doing all these interviews for my book. I can be front stage because I know my team is handling the back stage, which includes some content creation.
I do want to say up front that I'm very much involved in my content. It's always from my own voice. I'm always pouring into our content department, sharing ideas and different angles I want to go. But they are definitely killin’ it over there and running with it. So I'm very hands off on some projects, and I'm so proud of what my team's been able to do. But it's taken some time, and I'm going to walk you through how we've done it.
Essentially, my goal is to get you working on your business instead of always in your business. You know the difference, right? Working on your business means you're casting the vision. You're coming up with the strategies. You're watching what other people are doing and finding out how that might work in your business. You're the big-idea person, and you’re front stage. Working in your business means you're actually creating everything from scratch, and you have your hands in everything. It's not how you scale a business, my sweet friend. So we cannot do that. Even if you're just starting out, this is super important for you to understand, so I wanted to share that with you.
And then, lastly, I think you'll be surprised how refreshing it can be to bring on another person to help with your content. What I mean by that is that they can offer a new, fresh perspective on a topic, one you maybe never would have thought of.
For those of you who have been around my content for a while and have been in any of my courses, I teach this concept called the invisible bridge, and it's become a really big piece of how we teach people to create content that will help them sell more. I won't get into the concept here; I've talked about it a bunch on the podcast. I didn't create the invisible bridge. Jilly is my longest-standing employee. She is in my content, on my content team. She's a content manager, and she came up with that. And I use it all the time. So I'm telling you, this fresh perspective from other people kind of breathing new life into your content might just blow your mind.
All right. So you're ready to bring someone on to support you with content creation. Where the heck do you even find these people? My team has had some luck with the website Fiverr. That's F-I-V-E-R-R. I'll link it up in the show notes. This website has been around for a very long time, so it's definitely a tried-and-true resource. And then there are always websites that you can share your job posting to. Many require a fee, so just keep that in mind. One of my favorites is Create & Cultivate. It's a great platform. We share our job descriptions there. And then CreativeMornings is another great one. And then, of course, LinkedIn is great as well. So there's no shortage of platforms to choose from if this is the route you decide to take. But I think it's worth, if you're hiring a contractor, I want you to create that job description, and I want you to put it on a few different platforms to find the right person.
But my absolute-favorite way to find a content-support contractor is through referrals. I start asking around to my entrepreneurial friends, and because I create a job description, I send them the job description or text it to them or email it to them. And I say, “Do you know anyone? Can you pass this around?” So asking my peers, and because I'm looking for a contractor, we can share. Like, I've shared contractors with Jenna Kutcher and Jasmine Star so many times it's ridiculous. And so we often share different contractors. So let your friends know who you're looking for. And that's the beauty of a contractor. They're going to have multiple people that they work with.
Or maybe they might have a friend or a friend of a friend who might be a good fit. When we brought on our podcast content-support contractor—her name is Hollis—we asked around, and my content-development director—so the person that heads up my content department—had a friend who had worked with Hollis at a past company. So she had great experiences with her and knew she was working as a contractor now, so she connected us. So Hollis has been a great asset to us, and we are so grateful for the connection that was given by simply spreading the word. So that's how we found one of our contractors: a friend of a friend.
Another great resource for finding a contractor is to ask your audience. The nice thing about audience members stepping into a role like this is that they're very familiar with your content and your voice and your company and your brand, and so they already have a pulse and a foot up on creating stellar content. I've definitely hired some contractors and full-time employees who have been part of my audience for years. I mentioned Jilly. Well, she's an example of one of those hires. She's been with me for five years, but she used to just be one of our audience members. So never underestimate the power of just asking around.
Now, whether you choose to use a website or get some great names through referrals, you always want to ask to see a few writing samples because that's really essentially what content is, right? So this is going to give you an idea of the kind of work they do, how they write, and if they might be a good fit.
So for example, in my business, we always use a pretty conversational tone, whether it's a podcast outline or just, like, an email. So if someone came to us who was proficient at writing legal documents and grant writing, they might not be a good fit. They may be, but seeing their writing samples will help you to determine that.
Now, you may be thinking, “Why don't I just give them a writing assignment?” And this is a great idea. But keep in mind that as a contractor, you cannot request free work from them. You will have to pay them for their test project, which isn't a huge deal. You just want to be aware of that. So if you budget for running your potential contractors through, like, a project test run, which honestly is a really smart idea, and we'll talk about that, you can get a really good feel for if they'll be a good fit for your business.
Again, remember, I created a free resource just for this episode, where I'm sharing three project test runs that I've used when hiring content-support contractors in the past. And you can use them as a guide if you choose to create your own project test runs as well. And here's why I love a good project test run. They're not only great to see the kind of work someone does, but I always give a deadline—so I want to see if they're going to hit the deadline—and I always ask them to ask questions during a period of time. Like, “If you have any questions, please ask them before this date.” And knowing that they stick to that date and seeing how they ask questions, how they communicate, it’s really valuable for me. So if you want to take your potential hires through a test run, go to amyporterfield.com/552, and you can steal my test runs and make them your own.
Now, that being said, I do think it's helpful after you hire your contractor to assign them a task where they spend some time analyzing and getting familiar with your content. So for example, we would put together some of our top-performing podcast episodes and our emails and our social posts, and I'd also include content that speaks to the core topics you teach and talk about. And we would give these to the new contractor so they can see, like, what's working and, like, what we think is really good content for the company.
So for my company, that would include something like on digital courses and list building and scaling a business. That's the kind of content I would put in front of them so they understand, like, what we're all about, what our messaging looks like, what we stand for. So what about you? Can you think of some pieces you'd share with your contractor? Like, what would you put in front of them so they really start to understand not only your business, but how you talk about the things that you teach? Even if they've been part of your audience, I'd still do this.
So let's say that you found someone brilliant, and you're so excited to get them rocking and rolling on some content pieces for you. Slow down, my friend. First things first, there are some admin tasks and boxes that need to be checked before they can start creating amazing content. This is what's going to separate you from people that rush into hiring and getting that person working on a project. This is what's going to separate you from having someone that's mediocre or might not even work out to someone that's going to blow your mind. You are responsible for getting them to the point that they will blow your mind.
So in my business, we have a checklist that becomes an Asana task, where we go through the list to make sure we have everything we need from our contractors. Now, this list includes things like an NDA, or a nondisclosure agreement. We have people sign that. Many contractors have their own NDA, so check with them to see if they want yours or if they have one you can both sign.
We also have a freelance and a Google Drive agreement. So these essentially just ensure you're both on the same page for things like compensation, total hours agreed upon, help to protect your intellectual property, and other important things like that. Now remember that these forms protect both of you, and because I'm not a lawyer, I won't be the one to offer guidance on these forms. But there are tons of resources out there to help support you. I'd also recommend consulting an attorney to ensure you have all your bases covered.
Now, going back to the checklist I mentioned, we also get clear on what channels and platforms or folders that specific contractors may need access to. So for example, do they need to be in Slack for quick communication? What about Google Drive or Dropbox? Do they need full access to these platforms, or will limited access to the folders they're working on suffice? I'd say err on the side of limited access, especially if they're new and you just don't know them yet. You never know. So just be careful. And you can always give them more access down the road, depending on the projects that they're working on.
Another thing to ask yourself is this, will they need a company email address? With a content-support contractor, likely they won't. However, sometimes you do find you prefer that they have one for just, like, various reasons, so make sure you create one for them if that’s the case. If you want them to only use your work email, then set one up for them. But make it clear to only use that email so you're no longer using their personal Gmail, which you've probably been using through the hiring process. So get clear about that.
Now, what about passwords? How will you grant them access to password-protected sites that they may need? For example, do they need to get into WordPress? We love using LastPass. L-A-S-T-P-A-S-S. We use it to keep our login information safe, and this platform easily allows you to share usernames and passwords without giving away what they actually are. It's, like, this really cool thing that protects your usernames and passwords and allows you to take away access at any time. That way, you're not stuck changing your passwords every time a contractor leaves.
One more thing that my team and I have found useful is our contractor onboarding-information Google Form. We give this to all of our contractors to fill out, just to make sure we have all their details. Like I said, we just created this in Google Forms, and it includes things like full name, email address, phone number, birthday—just in case you want to send them a little something or even just remember to acknowledge their birthday—mailing address, or if they are a business or individual—so, like, if they're a business, you need their business name—and also things like their start date, project type, and then a headshot. And you can easily make this on your own. It just keeps all the information for them in one spot.
Okay. So bear with me for a little while longer on this onboarding stuff. I know it's exciting to skip ahead and get them writing, but this onboarding process is important to make sure all of your i’s are dotted and your t's are crossed.
So next, you'll want to agree on how often you'll meet, whether that's in person or virtually. So it's nice to have a touch-base-type meeting every so often, just to make sure that they feel supported, they can ask any questions, you can check in with them, you can give them feedback, and then you can share anything big coming up that they'll be working on.
So, how often you meet will depend on the role. So, for example, Kai, who oversees my podcast, she meets with Hollis once a month to get on the same page. So Hollis writes a lot of my podcast outlines.
However, this really depends on you and your business. So if you're working on a big project with lots of moving pieces and new questions that might pop up, you might need to meet weekly or every other week just as you get going on that project.
And yes, you should plan for them to charge you for this time. Just a side note to be aware of. That's the tricky thing with contractors. If they are communicating with you, if they're working with you, or if they're working for you, they are charging you. So you don't want to be meeting three times a week, because they're charging you for all that time. So be very mindful of the cadence of your meetings and make sure that they're really jam packed so you get what you need.
All right. Lastly—I cannot stress this enough—provide them with your voice and brand guides up front. This will eliminate any back and forth and editing about the words and punctuation and voice style and descriptions on your products or offers or whatever other good information you have in there. Now, I know what you're going to say. “Amy, I do not have a voice or brand guide.” Most people don't. I think I was probably eight years into my business before I had a voice-and-brand guide. But it is something I kind of wish I had sooner. So I want you to Google “how to create a voice-and-brand guide,” and then think about maybe this contractor that you're going to hire, maybe that's one of their first projects that they put together. They can kind of figure out how to put it together. Wouldn't they be amazing if they created the voice-and-brand guide, and then they also created the content from then on out? That'd be pretty cool, huh? Just something to think about. And we're thinking about doing an entire podcast episode on putting together a voice guide one day, so stay tuned for that.
All right. So make sure you share this after they sign the NDA. So if you do have a voice guide, they're looking at that after they sign the NDA, and make sure they read it in full. Remind them to refer back to it often.
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Okay. So let's move on to how to offer feedback and constructive criticism to really support their growth and help them nail your brand voice and written content quickly. I know this may sound funny, but my team has found that straight up asking your contractor, or honestly, just any employee, how they best receive feedback can make a huge difference. And on the flip side, sharing your feedback style can be helpful, too.
So, for example, I have a project manager. If she were listening to this, she knows exactly who she is. She is very to the point and direct. Like, there is no fluff whatsoever. And sometimes you're like, “Wait a second. Is she mad at me, or is she just getting her work done?” And what I've learned, because I'm so sensitive, she's just getting her work done, and I so appreciate her for it. I've grown to really love her style because I always know where I stand with her. I think it's really cool.
But I also have another project manager, and she, just, she's more personal. She likes to talk about the personal stuff before she gets into the work. Like, she leads with just, like, lots of love and hugs. And I love that from her as well.
They couldn't be more different, and they're both badasses. I respect both of them equally. I love that they both have their own style, and I think that we need a lot of different styles on the team. So I think it's awesome to see them just be authentically themselves. But you need to know that's how they communicate, because if you don't know, there might be some miscommunication here or just, like, not sure where you stand with them. So knowing how people like to give feedback and receive feedback, I think it's worth the conversation.
Now, if you're working in Google Drive or, say, Google Docs, I find that right away it's best to offer feedback in the suggestion mode. Make the necessary edits, and offer feedback as a comment to explain things further. Don't just make an edit without explanation. So we use a lot of comments and a lot of suggestion mode in all of our documents when working with contractors or employees. We give a lot of feedback because isn't it annoying when you do something—and remember if you're the boss now, remember your employee days—you would do something, and somebody on the team would just change it with no explanation? And you're like, “Oh, great. No idea why you changed that or what I could do better next time, but thanks for nothing.” So don't just make an edit without an explanation, because in the long run, this really weakens the ability for your contractor to shine. So you've got to give feedback.
So, like, for example, if there are some punctuation edits, make the edits as a suggestion, and then give them a comment as a gentle reminder that this is the type of punctuation we use. Like, here's one. I've got a team full of women, and we are exclamation-mark crazy. And so I, for many years, I would get into the document, I would highlight the three exclamation marks, and say, “We only need one here.” Or I would take the exclamation mark, turn it into a period, and say, “We sound like we are high school cheerleaders. We need to tone down the exclamation marks. Let's just put in some periods here.” Like, I would leave these comments everywhere.
Also, I leave a lot of comments for my team. This is going to sound weird, but sometimes my team will write some scripts for me, and they'll say things like, “I am super excited to be here.” Now, I know that I say that. Like, when I'm on a podcast and I'm riffing, I might be like, “I'm super excited to tell you da, da, da.” But I don't want to say that everywhere. And I don't like the word super written in all of my scripts, but my team tends to include it because when I'm just riffing, I guess I say it a lot. But I don't want to say it a lot. I think it kind of dilutes sometimes the conversation and kind of makes me sound a little bit fluffy, little bit more fluffy than I'd like. And so if I'm reading a script, let's not include it, because I won't naturally just say it because I'm not riffing, like, a video script or a sales script, that my team I'm like, “Make me sound smarter. Let's take out some of this fluffy stuff that I tend to do when I riff.” And so this is just some feedback that I've given them over the years, and now they never put that word in my script, which I love. So you got to communicate these things.
Here's another really silly one. I hate the word pick. Like, “Go ahead and pick option one or two.” It reminds me of picking your nose, and I like the word choose. “Go ahead and choose option one or two.” So I've communicated this to my team. It's silly. It’s my own little quirk, But this is my content, and I do get to have it written the way I want, so I just tell my team, “Let's try not to use the word pick. I don't like it.” And they don't.
So you can also get a little bit, kind of, sometimes it feels ridiculous, but at the same time, you're the boss, you're running this, and they're writing in your voice. So anything you do not like, you have to communicate. And just tell them why. I mean, saying, “It sounds like picking your nose,” is kind of a silly reason, but I just tell them, and then they remember that. They're like, “Oh, yeah. Amy doesn't like this word.” That's all.
Okay. So also, let's say that you have to rework the structure of a podcast script or podcast outline or a blog. I want you to give them your edits via suggestions and comments, and maybe you even make a short Loom video explaining why. So this is going the extra mile. I have made so many Looms, it's not even funny. So I think it used to be called—I used to use something called Snagit, but now I use Loom.
I did this just this morning. So I was reviewing an outline for an event I have coming up. And in the outline, I felt like we were missing a lot of stories. And so I would add in the comments, “Add a story here. Add a story here. Let's give an example from a student here.” And then afterwards, I made a quick Loom video. And I wasn't even on the video. It was just a video of the document I was working in. And I said, “Hey, I want to tell you why I think stories are necessary here,” and I give a little bit more context so they could hear from me personally and really kind of hit home the point I was making and why these stories matter to me. And so it was, like, two minutes long. It wasn't anything big. But I love following up. Sometimes if I have a lot of edits, I like following up with a Loom video. So I do this all the time.
Another thing, this actually just happened with a script my senior content-marketing manager was working on. She just felt like the flow wasn't quite right the first time through, so she offered suggestions for reworking and arranging it. And then, she made a Loom video to really walk through what the flow could look like, and the script turned out great. So I think adding that Loom video when necessary is so smart.
Now, you'll get to a point where there isn't much you need to rework in suggestion mode, and you can, then, move to just comments. So I want to be clear: suggestion mode and comment mode are different. So for example, you could add a comment with something like, “I like how you've laid this out. I wonder if we could add a little something more about x, y, z.” That's a comment. And then sometimes, if you don't like how something's written, you can use the suggestion mode to rewrite it. So do you get what I'm saying? I didn't explain that clear earlier on. Suggestion mode is you're actually reworking it, but you're showing them how you reworked it. Comment is like, “Hey, this is good. Can you find some more stories here?” So those are very, very different. I don't ever use suggestion mode anymore. That's how much I've worked with my team. I only use comments now. But they tend to still use suggestion mode for each other, which I think is really smart.
So the more you can empower them to run with these suggestions or these ideas, the quicker they'll learn and feel more confident delivering an almost complete and perfect piece of content. I was reviewing stuff this morning for, like I said, an event that I have coming up, and I literally wrote in Asana, back to the person who assigned the review to me, and I said, “I have no changes. This is incredibly written.” And so you'll get to that point where there's just, like, tiny little tweaks that maybe when you're QCing their work, there are tiny little changes. But it does take time to get there, so be patient.
And the goal is to get to the point where there's very few changes. So to support and empower your contractors to the point where they can really run with what you give them and deliver something amazing, slow down in the beginning; give them that feedback over and over again. I promise you it gets easier. But it doesn't happen overnight, so have patience and enjoy offering them guidance along the way.
Now, there's one last piece of advice that I think would be beneficial to share with you, and that's giving you a little insight into how we set up our project tasks to best support our contractors and make sure that they have all they need right away to minimize back and forth and having to request this or that. Remember, taking the time to get them everything they need—and I mean everything they need—up front will save you time in the long run. I personally love this piece of the episode. I know, I know. What a big surprise, right? I love the planning part of it.
So at this point, you'll definitely have your contractor set up in your project-management system. For us, you all know that's Asana. A-S-A-N-A. So that's what we use for all of our projects. And when you're ready to assign a project or task to them—because I've got to stop here. If you use a project-management tool, and you should—even if you're a solopreneur doing this alone, and you don't even have contractors yet; or if you do have contractors, and you do have a team—every one of us should be using a project-management tool. And if you have a contractor, one of the things they agree to from the get-go is they will use your project-management tool.
So any time we bring someone on, even our PR team, we’ll say, “Are you willing to work inside of Asana?” And they have to say yes for us to work with them. So that's really important. And I'm going to tell you—this is a little side note—but sometimes it's really frustrating where the contractor won't use it like we want them to. And not everyone—like, we're pretty crazy good about using our project-management tool. So we need to remember not everyone's going to be as efficient in it or as diligent in it, but even if they show up 70 percent how we want them to with a tool they're not necessarily used to using, we feel like it's a win. So don't look for perfection here. You've got to have a little grace with them.
But when you're ready to assign a project or a task to them, you can start with the most important detail, and that is, when is it due? So you can do this a couple of ways. First of all, you can have a note. This is what we do. You can have a note at the very top of the task saying, “Draft due date,” or something along those lines. And this is a hard date for them to get you the first draft. Remember that when you're selecting this date, you want to make sure there's plenty of time before this piece of content goes out to your audience for you to give suggestions and then for your contractor to make edits. So you're kind of backing out these dates, right? The newer they are, the more buffer you're going to want to give them. So this will get smaller and smaller, the more polished they become at your voice and creating content for your brand. So I like to give at least two or three days before I need to move forward with a piece of content, whether the next step be to send it off to be designed or whatever.
So another option is to lay out all the dates for the project. So for example, in the task you can write, like, “Draft due date,” then insert the date; “Manager review,” then insert the date you'll be reviewing it; “Final edits due date,” then insert the date; and then, “Final review,” then insert the final date. Like, you could do that as well. I mean, I'm sure the contractor would really appreciate it if you're like, “Here are all the dates.” So something like that would really set you up for success. But you need to take the time to figure out all those dates, and I know sometimes that's a little overkill, but dang, it does work well.
Now, next, I like to include all the support docs they'll need to make this content piece come to life. And when I say, “Go above and beyond,” I mean it. Don't expect them to be able to hunt and peck all over your Dropbox or all over your website or whatever to find content that they need. Give it to them. In the beginning, you're going to need to spoon feed a little.
So for example, are there any resources you already have in your content arsenal they can use? Like, I would go and say, “Okay, in Digital Course Academy, go into module five, lesson two. Watch that video. That's exactly what you're going to need to write this article.” Like, I send them right where they need. Or “In podcast number 152, you're going to hear me tell this story. Go grab that story, and you can include it.” So I try to be as specific as possible because if you're really thinking about it, you and only you know your content that well, so I think it's important that you are pulling the content in the beginning. If you have any content at all that they can pull from or reuse, make sure to offer it to them. And this is a great way of supporting them and keeping your content consistent throughout your company as well as messaging, because you don't want them kind of going rogue either. So if they can reuse something you've already done, so there's consistency, I'm all about it.
Also, make sure that they have access to any of the docs you share. How annoying is it when you sit down to a project and you can't get in the dang Google Doc because you don't have permission? Ugh, I hate it, and I hate when I do that to people as well. Like, when I keep them out of the Doc, and then they have to wait all night till I'm up in the next morning to see that they're locked out. So be careful with that.
And then, next, create any of the docs you want them to write in. So you don't want them creating these on their Google Drive. This is important. If you're multitasking, come back to me. You do not want a contractor, who is not a full-time employee, to be creating documents on their Google Drive or whatever they use, or sending you a Word doc or whatever, Pages. You want full access and ownership to everything. Plus, this is one less thing that they need to do. So I will literally go into the correct folder in Google Docs, and then create the file, and actually give them permission to it, and say, “Please use this document,” for whatever they're creating, because I own it, and I have full access, and I can take access away from them if I ever need to. So I think that's really important.
Now, if you've created a company email for them, then just let them know, “Hey, if you're going to create any documents, make sure you're using your company email to access our Google Drive, and you're creating them in here.” But I still would rather keep it organized and create it for them.
I also like to add a little typed-out section with any other notes that might be applicable to this specific task they're working on. So, for example, in our podcast pitch meetings, my team and I ping pong ideas for each topic, but our content-support contractor doesn't attend that. So we make sure to share any of those ideas with Hollis in the task. And one of the reasons she doesn't attend is, one, we can communicate what we need, but also, I'd be paying her for another hour versus just communicating what we need after the meeting. So something to think about.
And then, here's the cherry on top. If you want—and this is totally optional, but super helpful—is to create a quick video, again like Loom, or if you're in Asana, you can actually do it right in there, but you create a video just walking them through everything you've shared in the task. So let's say it's their first project, and you add a bunch of resources, and you give them some detail. Make a video and just say, “Okay, so I'm so excited for your first project. Let me show you what I've set up here just to support you. Let me make sure that you know where everything is. I'm going to walk you through it real quick, and then you're off to the races.” I think that they would really appreciate that. I'm telling you, the more you do up front, the less you have to worry in the long run.
So I would, like, walk them through the due date, and then, I'd kind of work down through all the links I've supplied with them, and then, any notes that I've shared with them, just so they know where to find everything. I know this is like beating a dead horse, but the over communication can go a long way.
For us to create this episode for you, I talked to a lot of my content creators just to kind of get a feel for what they needed and what they like that we do. And so a lot of this is firsthand knowledge from content coordinators and contractors, so let me tell you, it's good stuff.
All right. Let's wrap this up.
Ooh, I know that was a lot, but it was kind of fun, right? You can use these tips that I give you for any hire you do. But I had so much fun putting this episode together because I truly believe that magic can happen when you pass the baton and say yes to the support you need, especially when it comes to content creation.
So here are your action steps. If you're thinking you're ready to take a contractor on to help you in the content department, start at the top. And that's getting clear on how many hours you need for them and the budget you have for them. From there, begin your search. Find your person. On board them using all the things I've shared here, and you'll be off to the races.
Also, be sure to check out the free resource, where I'm going to give you three project test runs. So once you find someone you like, if you want to give them a project test run, you can steal one of mine. So go grab it at amyporterfield.com/552. And even if you don't plan to hire this role soon but you do plan to hire another role, go see how I do my project test runs so maybe you can take one of those for another role that you plan to hire in the future.
So, I hope you found this episode valuable, and when the time comes, I hope you put it into good practice so you can find the support you need, because, my sweet friend, you deserve to get all the support you need to build the business that you love.
Thanks for joining me for another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.