March 7, 2014 at 1:29 pm #24822
As you know, I specialize in the landscape/lawn care industries with my writing services. However, my business has boomed over the past few months where I’m thinking that I may need to take on another writer. I absolutely don’t want ANY employees. So, how do I form writing partnerships–and train them about the nuances of the green industry? Do I even want to bother with this potential headache?
If I’d forward any work to other writers, I’d want them to deliver the same level of excellence and green knowledge that I do for my clients. Should I write a training manual?
I also have partnered with an internet agency near my home. I’ve met and vetted my partner before agreeing to forward prospects to him for internet marketing services. The deal is that when green industry folks sign up with him for their internet marketing needs, I write all of their web content & blogs. Yay for me if I had 12 – 15 hours a day to write. Needless to say, I’m hitting my saturation point with more calls coming in. Any suggestions?Wendy S. Komancheck Freelance Business Writer for the Landscape, Lawn Care, and Garden Center Industries Phone: 717-405-9873 email@example.com www.landscapewriter.com www.wendykomancheckswriting.comMarch 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm #24823
You have a couple of options, so let me try to address them separately:
Referring Work to Colleagues
This is when you can’t take on the project, so you refer the client to another writer. You don’t get a cut of the deal, but it’s still nice to do because the more referrals you give, the more you tend to get.
You mention wanting certain quality controls if you do this.
When you refer work, you don’t get any say. It’s between the other writer and the client. You can’t send the other writer a training manual. And doing so would actually be rather insulting. So I’d avoid that.
Taking on Writers to Help With Your Client Load
The other option is to take on the gigs from the clients, and hire subcontractors to help you complete the writing.
In this case you have more control in that you can review the work and make edit requests before anything is delivered to the end client. What you really can’t do is have full control. Again, the other writer is still a business owner in their own right. If you try to exercise too much control, you run the risk of being deemed an employer if they ever report the situation to the IRS. Not worth it.
However, in this case, you probably could get away with having a training manual. Just keep it within reason. For example, you might have a simple style guide for them to follow. But any kind of extensive training risks crossing into employer territory, because technically only employers have control over the details of how work is done. Clients generally have say over the end results, but not nearly as much control over the process. A style guide would simply be a part of project requirements. Issuing them formal training manuals or making them go through some kind of training process with you is a riskier thing to pursue. So if you have to train them from scratch to do the job, I’d be much more hesitant personally. But of course, that’s a complicated topic.
I would just stick to referrals and keep my hands out of it. But if you prefer the idea of subcontractors, I would recommend sticking with contractors who already have experience in the niche. Even without the employer-client confusion, having to train someone from scratch would probably take a fair bit of extra time, and that’s extra time you aren’t being paid for.
Just my $.02.March 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm #24824
I agree with you–the less I’m involved the better. So, I think you’re right. How do you find similar writers in your niche? I don’t want to make an advertisement on Linked In because I don’t want to alert prospects that I’m too busy.
Any suggestions finding these folks? I have one option: TOCA–Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Any other ideas? Thanks!Wendy S. Komancheck Freelance Business Writer for the Landscape, Lawn Care, and Garden Center Industries Phone: 717-405-9873 firstname.lastname@example.org www.landscapewriter.com www.wendykomancheckswriting.comMarch 7, 2014 at 7:25 pm #24829
Normally I don’t go looking for people to refer gigs to. I either know someone who is a good fit (and who I know well enough to trust), or I don’t (in which case I often point prospects to the writer’s directory on this site — under the Jobs link — so they can look for qualified writers themselves).
I would say to just focus on building your network a bit more, and wait until you feel comfortable with some industry connections before you start handing out referrals. Or refer projects to writers you trust who might not specialize in the industry. Some writers specialize in writing styles instead, and they’re usually quite capable of covering different industries. This is very common with business writing — brochures, mailers, etc. — things that your target clients might be looking for.March 8, 2014 at 9:26 am #24850
Thank you, Jennifer. I had to sleep on some of this last night. Actually, the industry I specialize in needs more organized business development folks. I’ve been fortunate to team up with an internet marketing agency near my home that has proven results and who wants to work with me in the industry. I’m also connected with two gentlemen who are teaming up too–one’s a business consultant and another one is a sales person. So, I’m trying to gather all of these folks together to form a team–so I can stay a humble content writer for the landscape, lawn care, & outdoor living industries.
I was just starting to feel panicked because I felt that I was getting hit all at once this week with industry people who needed my help and more. Yikes! I’m enjoying the ride, but it can be overwhelming at times!
Thank you again for your help. I consider you to be my mentor of sorts.
Wendy KomancheckWendy S. Komancheck Freelance Business Writer for the Landscape, Lawn Care, and Garden Center Industries Phone: 717-405-9873 email@example.com www.landscapewriter.com www.wendykomancheckswriting.comMarch 8, 2014 at 10:22 pm #24868
No problem Wendy. I’m always happy to help if I can.
Don’t panic though. I know we’re getting into your industry’s busy season. Take on as much as you can within the limits you set for billable hours. Think of anything extra as a chance to build your network, build a waiting list, or just be choosier about the projects you take on. That’s the ultimate sign that you’re appreciated for what you do — more people want to work with you than you could possibly squeeze in.
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