The super-condensed explanation first: freelance content production is hard to manage because it’s particularly hard to find a good “fit” between brands and freelance producers.

Three types of factors have to sync between brand and freelancer, and good luck getting all three at the same time:

Subject Matter Expertise 🤓 The content producer has some amount of education, experience, or working familiarity with the topics covered in brand content. What counts as “sufficient expertise” will vary by brand and context.

Clarity & Quality 🔍 The content producer understands what the brand wants, and the producer’s finished work meets or exceeds the brand’s quality standards (with only minimal tweaking required).

Reliability ⏰ The content producer delivers what they promise, when they promise it, and they do so consistently. Likewise, the brand provides what’s needed for their part (including prompt payment).

Again, it’s rare for these things to line up between brands and content producers. The chance of a blind-luck connection, where brand and freelancer just “get” one another right away, is slim to none.

Otherwise, you’ll have to invest your own effort to close the gap between Delivered Freelance Content and Published Brand Content, and that extra effort will almost certainly take one of two forms:

Doing Things Yourself 💪 According to the data at the link, revisions are the biggest drain on brands’ content time. (The link has a bunch more specifics and, helpfully, they provide survey data from both perspectives.) In the worst cases, you spend more time editing the freelancer’s work than you’d have needed to do the work from scratch.

Coaching the Contractor 👯‍♀️ On one hand, it’s smart to coach teammates wherever the coaching saves you more time than it costs; call this “pays-for-itself logic.” But on the other hand, the idea of coaching the contractor is fraught on its face; contractors (by their nature) aren’t usually sticking around, and they don’t have vested interests in evolving with an employer.

Where does that leave us?

Just one big piece of summary advice…

If you find a freelancer who “clicks” with you, treat them well and keep them going. Don’t quibble over prices unless you absolutely must, pay them quickly, treat them with respect, and (in general) give them reasons to want to work more with you.

Just as important: keep the working connection as active as you can. Try to establish a rhythm for repeat business so they stay familiar with your brand and get comfortable doing the work (and try to avoid putting them on the back burner, even if you have to invent projects for them sometimes).

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