Your Ultimate Guide to Managing a Team of Freelance Writers & Editors
In today’s B2B marketing climate, the content you deliver must be not only varied but also interesting, informative, and well written.
One of the best ways to achieve this level of quality is to manage a large team of writers and editors who constantly produce top-tier content. And, thanks to the digital world we live in, where your writers and editors do their job doesn’t matter much. Remote workers are people who contribute to your company without having to actually be at your company–they work from wherever they want.
Directing a group of remote workers is beneficial for productivity and coverage because it allows you to find the best people for the job, regardless of where they do that job.
This gives you the freedom to structure your team like you want it, which ultimately allows you to develop your content to fit the exact needs of your niche.
But what happens after you get all those great writers and editors together? How do you get the ball rolling without going insane from the number of projects that will inevitably be going on at the same time?
5 Tips to Managing Your Remote Editorial Team
Managing your team is the most important step to developing excellent content. Without proper management, meeting deadlines, maintaining valuable content, and controlling quality become not only difficult but even impossible at times.
With the need for management in mind, take a look at some valuable steps for turning your group of writers and editors into a well-oiled machine of content creation and B2B champions.
1. Know What Traits to Look For
Without great writers and editors on your team, your job gets much more difficult—and let’s face it, you have too much on your plate to worry about the never ending debate surrounding the Oxford comma or the various uses of the semicolon.
But how do you find, select, and hire great talent for your writing team?
First, make sure to evaluate everyone’s basic writing skills before moving forward with anything. It doesn’t matter what someone’s resume or CV looks like; if they can’t write, you definitely don’t want them on the team.
A writing test can be as simple as looking at past content they’ve written or as involved as a short article written to your specifications. By testing authors before contracting them, you’ll be sure to select people who fit your style and quality goals.
Another important benefit of a writing test before hiring is that you can select a diverse range of writing styles. This will add depth and valuable breadth to your team, ultimately resulting in more successful copy.
Finally, make sure that your terms are clear before entering into any type of contract with your writers. This will ensure that you’re protected and that the writers understand exactly what is expected of them.
2. Create Good Relationships
This step will hopefully come naturally, but there is always something that comes up and throws a wrench in the system by creating tension in the group.
Fostering an environment of open communication is an incredibly important aspect of healthy business relationships. Using tools like Google Docs will assure that everyone stays informed and that every member of the team stays in the loop with all other members.
Crucial to maintaining a good relationship—with not just remote folks but everyone you manage—is setting your team up for success. In terms of your content team, keep in mind that their success often depends on your direction. Are you giving them topics that they don’t understand, leading to poorly written articles because they had to spend all their time researching? Hopefully not. Stick with topics that are within their wheelhouse, but allow for growth and learning. This will lend itself to a better relationship naturally.
Another way to foster good relationships between everyone on your writing team is by using positive reinforcement and kindness rather than tearing anything they write to shreds. Make sure to constantly provide writers with kind, helpful feedback about their content. This will assure that all members of the team are always doing their best and maintaining their quality.
This one, again, hopefully comes naturally. If anyone on your team resorts to negativity to drive other people to success, take them aside and express the values you want to encourage. Make sure that the whole team understands that positive reinforcement and kind correction are the most effective methods of achieving desired results.
3. Enforce Your Style Guide—But Don’t Stop There
You may think that choosing good writers will solve all of your problems and that everything they produce will be golden and just like you want it.
Coming from a writer, this is not true. Trust me.
Writing well and writing exactly how a manager wants it are two completely different things.
Help your writers by providing them with clear style, grammar, and formatting expectations. If you do this, every article will be much closer to the way you want it—without having to revise it 43 times. This is a major advantage as far as production is concerned.
It’s also important, however, to understand that all writers have different styles. Trying to force all writers to produce identical content will make it worse, not better. A style guide should allow for personal touches and flavor. This helps keep the content interesting and varied.
Do everyone on your team a favor and let them know what’s expected of them. It’ll make life easier for you and for them.
4. Know Which Deadlines Are Hard and Soft
Nobody likes deadlines because they mean time is up—for editing, revising, and rewriting. They are, however, the most basic rule of maintaining a well-organized team of writers and editors. If everyone meets their deadlines consistently, the whole team produces more, better, and faster.
When people miss their deadlines, it can quickly become a serious problem. When the writer misses his deadline, the editor has less time and is more likely to miss hers. When both miss their deadlines, the writing doesn’t reach its destination on time, which is the most basic goal of the team in the first place.
Save yourself the headache by strictly enforcing deadlines and cracking down on people who miss them. This doesn’t mean firing someone the first time it happens, but it does mean making sure that everyone knows that missing deadlines is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.
Being relaxed is nice. Missing deadlines is not. Find the balance and you win the prize: creating excellent content and delivering it on time.
5. Create Consistent, Repeatable Workflows
This is a simple step, but also one that’s easy to overlook.
Why is it so easy to overlook such an essential step? Because every article is different so it’s tempting to play each one by ear and see where it goes.
By creating a clearly defined workflow, you will make sure that all pieces are published on time and meet quality standards every single time.
Creating a workflow means creating a system that each piece of writing will follow before reaching its final destination. This could be from ideation to the outline, from the outline to the writer, from the writer to the editor, from the editor back to the writer, and from the writer to the final destination. A simple flow creates a structure that makes your life and your job of managing so much easier.
Finally, keep clear tabs on where each article is in the process. This is a great time to use those other tools I mentioned earlier.
Ultimately, your writing team’s success will depend on its management, organization, and talent. By providing effective management and organization to talented writers, you’re sure to hit a home run with every piece that you produce.
Just remember that your writing quality should always be getting better. Nobody on your team—no, not even you—is perfect. Ever. That means you should always be striving for improvement.