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Asking with Finesse

Approaching a freelancer with revisions can be a sensitive subject. But if you know how to do it right, the rewards are worth the effort. By nature, writers are attached to their work and may get a little defensive when asked to make changes. However, most freelancers have learned to rein in their ego for the sake of a better story. Always remember: freelancers don’t necessarily like making revisions, but in the end the changes create stronger content.

A dose of finesse can help you approach a freelancer about revisions. We asked Miranda Marquit, a freelance writer, to offer editors some advice on how to approach freelancers with changes. Here’s a list of best practices to help you ensure high quality content and a lasting editor-freelancer relationship.

Miranda Marquit

Miranda Marquit


Start With The Positives

Ease into the conversation by highlighting the strengths of a piece. Talk about what works and what you liked—that’s less about stroking a writer’s ego than letting them know what about their writing or work you want to see again in the future. When you are ready to talk revisions,  use a transition sentence like, “While the article has a lot of strong points, there are a few changes I’d like to suggest.”


Get Specific

Once you read through the article several times, create an itemized list of the things you want changed, Marquit says. Revisions are all about giving clear direction. The more specific you are about what you want, the easier it is for freelancers to make the changes and avoid the same problem in the future.

“Try to make it as easy as possible for the freelancer to make all the changes in one sitting,” Marquit says. “By itemizing all the changes necessary, the freelancer isn’t constantly being presented with new changes.”

The list keeps the relationship on a professional level and keeps the article from getting lost in revision purgatory.


Don’t Ask For More Than You’re Paying For

Freelancers expect revisions; it’s part of the job. However, sometimes these changes are taken to an extreme, Marquit says. She remembers a client who paid for 500-word articles, but consistently requested revisions that tacked on another 500 words.

“Don’t ask for revisions that basically amount to an expansion of the article if you aren’t paying for it,” Marquit says. “It’s sneaky, and it annoys freelancers.”

While this isn’t the norm for editors, it happens. Just make sure that when you ask a freelancer to expand or provide more detail on a subject your request is within the scope of the project you both agreed to at the outset.


Listen To Your Freelancer

If your freelancer offers a reason not to make a revision, hear him or her out. Both the editor and the freelancer should have an open mind. Revisions should be completed through discussion rather than directives. Remember, the whole point of working together is to create superior content.


Plan For Revision Time

If you need an article to go live at 1:00pm Friday, set the deadline a few days ahead of schedule to allow for revisions. If a freelancer turns the article in two days before it’s set to appear, there is still time to polish the work. As an editor, it’s your job to review the article as soon as you have it so the freelancer has ample time to make revisions.

Editors, the takeaway message is this: give direction that encourages communication in a timely and polite fashion. You’ll build stronger relationships with your freelancers, cut down on the need for future revisions, and most importantly, produce the best content possible.