5 Ways to Prevent Your Content Writer from Missing a Deadline
It's important to set realistic deadlines in order to receive completed work in a timely fashion.
As a content strategist or marketer, it can be frustrating to have to delay certain projects or announcements because of a missed deadline (see also: Six Ways to Never Miss a Deadline Again). So what can you do to prevent this from happening? Set expectations right away with your content writer. Freelance writers are sometimes managing multiple projects making it easier for some tasks to slip through the cracks. However, this can be avoided if you communicate clearly and take diligent steps to stay on top of a project's progress, in addition to a few other best practices to make sure you're in a good spot.
1. Be Prepared With a Pre-Deadline
In order to ensure that work gets turned in on time, clearly communicate your deadlines and expectations to your content writer. It's also good practice to set a due date in advance of the date you actually need the work -- we call this a "pre-deadline." This will give you wiggle room if a writer misses a deadline.
2. Establish Terms & Conditions
Deadlines should have terms attached. Let writers know if you don't receive the work by a certain date, there will be consequences -- whatever you think is appropriate. Alternatively, you can be transparent with them about what will happen to you if the articles aren't delivered by the due date. That will make sure the writer has added incentive to complete the work on time. Sometimes there's good reason for work to be late, though. Encourage writers to notify you if a piece requires extra work or research.
Consider creating rewards for early completion. That way, not only does the writer work for the standard payment, but there is also the bonus of getting a little bit extra if the work is turned in early. This doesn't have to be monetary compensation, either. A reward could mean giving extra "points" to writers for turning in work early that gives them early access to subsequent projects.
4. Determine Reason For Missed Deadline
What should you do in the event that a writer does miss a deadline? The first thing to do is find out why the deadline was missed. If there is a legitimate reason (emergency, illness, etc.), then you may choose to excuse the tardiness. But if it your gut tells you it's not a good reason, communicate that to your writer. It's helpful to think of these situations in advance to give as examples to your writer prior to hiring. This way, a writer will know what's an acceptable and unacceptable excuse.
Another thing to consider is the writer's history of making or missing deadlines. If it's the first missed deadline, it was probably due to an extenuating circumstance -- you can reasonably expect that it won't happen again. However, if missed deadlines are a recurring problem, these habits aren't likely to change.
The bottom line is to create an effective line of communication. A writer should know your exact deadlines and expectations and have the ability to communicate with you about progress and any potential setbacks they are experiencing. The more information you have in advance, the better your chances are of being able to manage delays and missed deadlines. Remember to reward writers who consistently meet deadlines, too, even if it's just a simple thank you. That will encourage them to continue doing their best work for you.
What do you think about missed deadlines? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.