Having a cup that overflows can be nice when you write for a living. Yay—money! But if you’re a freelance writer, it can be very beneficial to have a source for help when the overflow turns into a flood or for when life gets hectic. This can help you in a number of ways:

  • If you get offered a project you don’t have expertise on, you can opt to sub it to someone who could do a great job.
  • If your workload gets overwhelming, you won’t necessarily have to turn clients away (or make them wait).
  • If an emergency comes up, you’re covered.
  • If you just want to take a holiday or the odd day off..you can.
  • It can help you boost your writing income.
  • One of the aspects of freelancing that people often complain about is the fact that they have no one to cover for them. But if you build a little network, this doesn’t have to be true.

Hi, my name’s Val Nielsen I have been doing web writing since early 2006 and have run a small online writing team since 2007. At times it has been larger and at times it’s myself and just a few trusted individuals. Having writers who take my overflow and who help me with bulk projects has been fantastic. In some cases, I allocate specific clients to specific team members who have expressed an interest in a topic or who have done enough research through previous assignments that it makes sense to keep sending them those projects. And in other situations I recruit help when I’ve got a big project to manage or send out a round robin to offer up something I don’t have time (or desire) for.

Here’s how I went about putting my overflow team together:

  • I posted an ad on a writing forum. I had interested people PM (private message) me to express interest and those that had an interest sent me their contact details for an off-forum discussion.
  • I talked to writers I knew. I have developed a network of writing friends over the past few years (networking with other writers helped me get my start!) and some of them wanted another source of work or knew people who might be a good fit.
  • I posted on several writing job boards and weeded through applications.
  • I posted on my blog, optimizing for the sorts of words and phrases freelancers who wanted writing work would look for. I also bookmarked that post on social media tools.
  • Of those I wanted to try out, I looked them up, checked their samples, and had them do a trial assignment.

Sometimes I work with new writers who are looking to get a start and sometimes I work with veterans who want to work with me because it saves them marketing and dealing with clients or because they need to fill a financial gap. I always start off someone new with a small project (with lots of time for rewrites) and always check it very carefully. It can take time to figure out who you’re dealing with in terms of quality and reliability. I’ve had times where I’ve repeated those efforts during peaks or when team members have moved on. Not every scenario has gone smoothly but overall it has been really helpful to build up a network of trusted team members. It doesn’t always work out well (I could share stories!) but whether you plan to start a small writing agency or just want to build a network of trusted writers for “just in case”, I recommend it to those who do freelance writing to earn their income. In fact, if you’re new to being self-employed, I recommend that you come up with a disaster recovery plan and this could be one aspect that helps you with business continuity.

Tips:

It’s a good idea to take the time to find some help before you’re in a pinch, if at all possible, and do be sure to develop a screening process. I also have a set of terms I have people agree to and I make my terms crystal clear.

Without a network of writers to go to, I wouldn’t have as many clients as I do today, I wouldn’t earn the writing income I’ve been able to climb to, I might not have the freedom I currently have that lets me be choosy about the projects I want to work on, and I wouldn’t have such a great network of people who can relate to the writing life –which has been helpful for advice and commiseration. Do you ever subcontract work? Feel free to share your tips.