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Friday, January 06, 2006

Deadlines and outsourcing content jobs...

I think I have a unique perspective from which to address the issue of outsourcing content. Not only am I a freelance writer, I also occasionally outsource some content jobs to other writers. So, I have experience both as a provider and as a buyer.

One lesson I have learned that has been underlined for me today is the need to set appropriate deadlines for any outsourced content jobs.

I have a project underway that required the assembly of a small team of writers. I could have tried to find one or two reliable writers to tackle the whole job. Instead, though, I put together a crew for this job as a means of finding a few solid providers I might be able to use in the future. That being said, I broke the overall project into relatively small pieces and gave each writer more than ample time to get things done.

The deadline for their work was last night at 8:00 p.m. I made that entirely clear upon hiring each party and also reminded all writers of the deadline as the project progressed.

All but one writer had their work in on time. One content writer, however, has yet to provide me with a thing and has not yet contacted me despite communicative efforts on my end.

If this project absolutely had to be completed today, I would be in a load of trouble. I would either have to find another writer on very short notice or would have to write that provider's portion of the project myself. Luckily, I built in a little extra time when I hired the content writers. I left myself enough of a buffer to get it done without causing a disaster.

To be honest, I cut this one a little closer than I probably should have, but I did so knowing my current schedule and my personal willingness top pick up the slack if one or two content writers didn't get the job done. At this point, it looks as though I will have to work late one night or get up Sunday a.m. to do some writing in order for everything to work out. It will be a hassle, but won't be insurmountable.

Too often, people hire out content writing jobs and set a deadline for the last possible moment. This is just a recipe for ruin, as a small delay can really ruin a project. Even the world's most reliable writers may occasionally encounter unforeseen circumstances that result in a slight delay. Even the most savvy content buyer might end up with an unreliable writer. Anything can happen. A deadline that don't supply an adequate buffer leaves a buyer too vulnerable.

If you are outsourcing a writing job to a freelance content writer, you should never work without a net. Set your deadline under the assumption the writer will fail to meet it. That way if something unfortunate occurs you still have time to get things worked out. If everything works smoothly (which, if you have chosen your freelance content writer wisely, it should) you will actually be ahead of schedule.

Personally, I have learned that consistently meeting client deadlines has earned me a great deal of repeat business. I have also found that if you choose your freelance content writers carefully you can usually count on deadlines being met. However, you can never be too safe. Set your deadlines in a way that won't leave you in a difficult situation should something happen.