How to Manage a Team of Freelance Writers and Not Lose Your Mind

March 19, 2021
Adela Belin

With the increasing involvement of brands in executing content marketing strategies, freelance writers have become an indispensable part of the digital world.

Small businesses and startups often outsource content requirements to freelancer writers on a contract basis, which helps them cut down on overhead costs and get quality work done.

However, managing a team of writers can get challenging. Managing deadlines, editing the content, avoiding turnover, and ensuring the work done is of quality can become overwhelming.

But, with the right strategies, you can overcome all of this. In this article, we’re going to do a rundown on some managing tips to help you run a freelance writing team without getting stressed.

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7 tips for managing a team of freelance writers effectively

Content management takes a lot of planning. If you want your content marketing strategy to bring the results you desire, the quality of content needs to be top-notch. You can hire the best freelance writers, but it won’t make a difference if you can’t manage them efficiently.

Here are seven tips to manage a team of freelance writers.

1. Develop a style guide

Be it blogs, eBooks, infographics, emails, or ads — your brand needs to have a consistent writing style. Any discrepancy can confuse the customer’s perception of your brand.

While working with multiple writers, you must create a common style guide that everyone can refer to and follow. This should include basic information about your brand and what needs to be kept in mind while creating content. Here are some pointers to include in your style guide:

  • Target audience description and buyer persona
  • Tone of voice
  • Goals
  • Keyword research or editing processes
  • Specific directions for linking, images, or any references

These can be general guidelines for content, or you can create separate guidelines for different content formats.

2. Manage expectations at the beginning

Not every freelancer will know what you expect from them because different clients have different requirements. You need to be transparent with yours to avoid any misunderstandings and save time.

Here are some things you may want to set straight from the beginning:

  • Your purpose of hiring freelancers
  • What you expect from the collaboration
  • How you want the content process to work out
  • How other freelancers work in the brand
  • What tools, research, or writing processes they need to follow.

Don’t just tell them your expectations — encourage questions and listen to them as well. The clearer you are with your communication, the better they will work with you.

A freelancer-client relationship is a strategic one, so make sure you’re working ‘with’ each other to develop the best results.

While you’re communicating and clearing out expectations, be open to suggestions. You never know, a freelancer may have better alternatives for working efficiently because they’ve worked with other brands and clients.

This should ideally happen before giving them the first assignment to set the right tone for working together and start on the same page.

3. Create an effective workflow

Having a workflow that works for you and your brand is one of the most useful things you can do for your content marketing efforts. Once you set a system in place, you can put your workflow on auto-pilot and make sure things happen on time by creating a timeline.

Before you assign tasks to your writers, create a fail-proof content strategy framework that won’t fall apart even if the submissions are a few days late or the work doesn’t go according to the plan.

An article may need revisions, a freelancer may have an emergency, or you may have to attend to another important task. This is why it’s important to keep some buffer time. The best way to do that is by creating a workflow.

Here are some best practices for creating one with your writers:

  • Create an editorial calendar for easy tracking
  • Create a separate folder for each writer and keep track of your content with a spreadsheet
  • Ensure you get edit access for every piece of content, and they all come in the same format
  • Assign deadlines well in advance of the actual submission date
  • Use a filter system or a tool like Trello to keep track of progress
  • Keep some time apart for editing

The idea of a workflow is to ensure things happen smoothly and you’re not running behind on deadlines. It also gives the freelancers a process to follow, ensuring no essential steps get missed out.

4. Use digital tools to assign and manage tasks

Project management is one of the biggest challenges of managing a freelance writing team. If you can manage that with the right set of digital tools, the process will get quite efficient for both you and the writers.

Using tools can help streamline processes, assign tasks, track progress, and collaborate easily. Here are some tools you can use to work with your freelance writing team:

  • Trello: A project management tool that can be used to manage an editorial calendar with your entire team, assign tasks, comment on them, and provide feedback.
Trello

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  • Slack: A team communication and collaboration tool to instantly get in touch with your team and coordinate or discuss things.
Slack

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  • Time Doctor: A time tracking tool that can be used to track and log in your freelancer’s work hours, especially if you’re paying them per hour.
TimeDoctor

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  • Notion: A team workspace tool that can be used to brainstorm content ideas, pitch in topics, or maintain a to-do list.
Notion

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  • Zoom: Even if you have a remote team of freelancers, you need to communicate with them on a one-to-one basis to track progress and evaluate performance. For this, Zoom is a great video communication and presentation tool.
Zoom

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Investing in these basic tools can help you organize your workflow much better and make it a smooth process. Apart from these, consider investing in writing tools like Grammarly for proofreading.

5. Schedule regular check-ins

If you want to collaborate and produce beneficial results, you need to communicate regularly. Nurturing a client-freelancer relationship is essential to build trust because the more openly you share, the better time you’ll have working with each other.

So, schedule time to check in with your freelance writers regularly. Here are some best practices to do this:

  • Schedule a weekly or bi-weekly zoom call to connect.
  • Share ongoing feedback
  • Provide educational resources so that they can improve their skills
  • Make time for small talk to strengthen your bond

Communication is key to understand any problems they’re facing or if you have any suggestions for improvement.

6. Be honest about feedback and edits

Providing unfiltered feedback is important to set a benchmark for quality and push your writing team to do better.

If you follow a certain process for editing, let the writers know about the approach. This is important because if you edit the article and it has many changes compared to the original one, the writer may feel bad about it. So, ensure you’re communicating your editing process beforehand for transparency.

Similarly, follow a process for giving feedback to your writers. Maintain a healthy balance where you point out the good parts and those which could use improvement. This way, they will feel appreciated and take note of essential pointers from the next time.

Remember to provide ongoing feedback. This will ensure that they’re implementing changes on the go to provide you with a better piece of content.

7. Give incentives for excellent work

At last, it’s important to appreciate your writers and acknowledge their work. Provide incentives or bonuses to the top performer of the month to motivate others to work harder and award the deserving one.

By doing this, you put the writers in a position of appreciation where they know what they should keep doing and where they need to improve. Once you create a rewarding working culture, writers will work harder to receive that special mention and bonus.

It’s a great way to show that you value your writers and award excellence.

Conclusion

Content marketing stands at the center of the digital playfield in 2021. Thus, there’s a high demand for freelance writers to provide quality content that can align with the brand’s goals and speak directly to their audience.

Hiring freelance writers is one thing, but managing a team of diverse writers requires effective strategies. To maximize the productivity of your writers and push them to produce better results, you should automate management. Create a strategy using these tips, which works for both, you and the freelancers and helps structure processes better.

These best practices will help you ace your management skills and set your freelancing team in the right direction to create impactful content- the greatest return on investment you can get.

Adela Belin
Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people's lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About the Author

Adela Belin
Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people's lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.