How to Manage a Freelance Content Writing Team Effectively

Sep 25, 2015


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Content is a king. Marketers have been hearing this phrase for years, but in 2015 it has taken on new meaning. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 80% of marketers use content marketing to develop their online presence. Marketers should, at this point, understand that content marketing is not about writing and publishing text only. Content marketing strategy includes many different elements, such as content creation, distribution, optimization, analytics, and management.

Keeping up with the demands of content marketing is not a one-man job. For many, the solution is to outsource the creation of high-quality content for websites, blogs, communities, social media, and beyond.

Hiring an agency may seem like the easiest solution, but it isn't right for every marketer. He or she should think about developing a team of trusted freelancers. But if you don't already have a team of trusted freelancers you may have some questions.

You need to start by understanding what you need from content creators. Some writers may specialize in telling great stories, while others are best at content optimization and distribution. Be sure to find a content creator with the knowledge and skills that meet your needs and expectations.

You can find writers through freelancer websites, professional networking sites like LinkedIn, or even through word of mouth. But there are also platforms popping up to help companies and freelancers connect--such as Contently, Scripted, Bid4Papers, Upwork, or Witmart.

The first step to finding the freelancer who is right for you says Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich, is seeing their writing samples. "If someone isn't writing a lot, then they don't yet have the skills required to create top-level content," Dietrich says. "They also have to read a lot."

That said, giving a new-to-you freelancer a writing assignment can be a wise decision, says Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc. "Even if they show you a portfolio with great content, you have no idea what it took to get it that way," she insists. "I want to know if they can follow directions, write to a persona, and can show me solid structure." Outsourcing your content creation needs won't be helpful if you have to spend hours revising their work.

Marketers need to make sure they give a writer clear instructions, and he or she clearly understands what a client wants from them. So, ask specific questions. Do you have experience writing content for websites? Do you understand what makes the B2B content different from B2C content?

That's the reason why Andy Crestodina, principal and strategic director of Orbit Media, looks at search and social hacks while choosing and hiring writers for his projects. "I want to see how they craft content that drives traffic. Do they understand emotions, visuals, and collaboration? Do they understand keywords and rankings?"

If you have international content needs you have even more considerations to add to your hiring process. Sunil Rajaraman, co-founder and CEO of Scripted, says, "Writers are vetted through our custom English proficiency test, which includes word scrambles, idioms, and multiple choice questions."

Once you find your writers, you should help them understand their goals and roles in the team. It's important to think about a communication model between team members. How will you develop content ideas? How will you work the production process? How will you measure success?

What conversation about hiring freelancers would be complete without a discussion of price. Remember that cheaper isn't always better. Surely marketers will keep their budgets in mind, and try to save money where possible, but when it comes to content, quality is king. If you're lucky enough to find a great writer in the bargain bin, good for you, but don't skimp when it matters.

To sum up, here is what marketers need to do to efficiently manage a team of freelancers:

  • hire the right content creators for the job
  • give clear instructions
  • don't look for the cheapest deal
  • make sure every freelancer understands the task clearly and is able to complete it
  • know the strengths and weaknesses of every member of the team and assign tasks accordingly
  • build an efficient communication model among the team

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)