If you’re a content manager or creative director in charge or sourcing creative talent for work in your brand, you’re familiar with the complicated process of finding the right artist for the job. It can be hard! But it’s not impossible. And best of all, it doesn’t have to cost a lot.
Through many years of doing just this, I have developed some tried and true methods of getting the most out of your artist shopping to ensure that you’re able to pair the right artist with the right job.
Finding the right creative talent for brand work
When it comes to finding talent, there are several ways you can do this, whether you’re a business owner or a content manager:
Network with local creators. Artists and writers are everywhere if you know where to look! You may be able to find freelancers working in shared workspaces or working for other content managers, website designers, and marketing professionals. (Networking isn’t for everyone, but if you are a social person, this is a great start!)
Online networking via LinkedIn. Putting out a call for artists and creative talent on LinkedIn can be a good starting point if you’ve already networked with other professionals in your field. These connections will see your request and be able to put you into contact with others. If you’ve been a creative yourself, you may also have met writers and creatives in other business ventures who may be interested in working for you, or at the very least, connecting you with other contacts in their field.
Work with an agency. My personal favorite method of finding creatives is working with an agency. Most cities have creative agencies that pre-vet their creatives, have dedicated teams trained to help you find the appropriate talent, and offer simple methods of billing that make it a lot easier for your accounting team to keep track of payment. This method will also be your best bet if you’re a small business owner and want to leave the management of the creatives themselves up to someone else.
Some people choose to find creative talent via online gig sites, but this is not my preference. Gig sites (think Fiverr, Freelancer, and Upwork) make it difficult to develop relationships with creatives, strategically underpay them, and take large cuts of the funds for themselves. I’ve also gotten really terrible work out of Fiverr and Freelancer, probably because of the poor pay. I would rather spend $300 on an article written by a professional and have it be good enough to put live after a quick read-through than spend $100 on an article through Fiverr and have to rewrite the whole thing in order to put it on my site. (The truth is, I stopped working with Fiverr after this happened to me several times. I was working harder than I had been before because the articles I was receiving were of such low quality!)
Personally, I appreciate working with professionals who I can communicate with directly, who are appropriately compensated for their work, and who are willing to develop a relationship with my brand. I find that better work comes from creatives that feel appreciated, and the key to that is communication and compensation!
Hire for a single small job first
When I hire new creative talent, I seldom sign them for more than a single small project to begin. This is a matter of self-preservation as a content manager, because I can never be sure whether the new creative will work well with me and my team, whether they’ll fully understand the brand, or whether the rest of the team will like their work. This makes it a lot easier to part ways with an artist after the first project, if it doesn’t go well, without having to have any complicated “you’re fired” conversations. As a non-confrontational person, I prefer to avoid those at all costs! (Working with an agency also makes this easier as you can convey the message via your rep and allow them to handle the difficult conversations.)
To begin, I present each new hire with educational materials during a get-to-know-you meeting. Most often, these are conducted via phone call as the benefit of working with offsite freelancers is that they may be located anywhere. (This is especially helpful if you want New York or Los Angeles talent but you’re located in the Midwest, for example.) During these phone calls, I give a brief presentation (pre-written to avoid stumbling or stage fright!) about the brand and the project that I’ve hired them for, and then I allow them the opportunity to ask me questions. Open communication is the best way to get good content from a freelancer as they need to learn about your brand in order to present accurate information in an appropriate voice for your customer base.
In addition to a phone call, it’s important to provide your new hire with all of the detailed information they will need to understand your brand and the assignment.
How have you sourced talent for your creative projects in the past?
Have you tried the single project method? How has that worked for you?