When I started out, I handled all my own content. Still, despite managing various enterprises, I write content for blogs, publications and guest posts when I can. That's because I enjoy writing.
However, I know many of my colleagues do not like it or aren't sure how to approach it. We all need relevant and engaging content, though, which means we have to bite the bullet and admit we might need some content experts to help us out.
The great thing about the growing freelance economy is the availability of so many incredibly talented and creative content writers. As business owners, the least challenging part is finding content writers to help us achieve our content marketing strategies.
Yet despite this relatively easy part, putting together a stellar content team requires considerable more effort and thought. The following are tips I have learned over the years as I have built out a dream team of content experts.
1. Enlist other content writers as recruiters.
It's good to use online marketplaces for talent, especially if you are just hiring your first writer. But I prefer to start my search with the help of other content writers I know and trust: those who have already been writing for me know my work style, tone and other technical expectations for the content I assign.
These trusted content creators have a circle of fellow writers or are in private writing groups on social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn. Here, they can interact and select some potential candidates to join the team. Because my team can also share what it's like to work with me, they can get an idea in advance if it's something for them or not.
Try having a specific role description to share with writers, including workload and pay rate, so they can quickly share this job opening with their peers.
2. Pay for a writing sample.
While I'm a business owner and am very cautious with the funds I have available, I don't think that is an excuse to not pay a talented writer for a sample of their work. After all, if it works out with them, then I have a blog post or article ready to use.
You may lose interest from some good content writers if you expect them to write a 500- to 1,000-word post for free—especially after they have provided links to their work or a portfolio that illustrates their style, strengths and areas of expertise. When you pay for a writing sample, it illustrates you value their time and talent.
Consider creating a list of three or four topics and ask them to pick one. Be sure to also give them specifics on any preferred length, the timeframe for delivery and formatting.
3. Interview the potential content creator.
Even with recommendations from my team and a sample, I still like to take the time to do an interview.
Since writers are oftentimes remote, I do this by phone as some are not comfortable or set up to do video calls. We learn more about each other and it lets them know there is potential to grow with me rather than simply churning out a specific number of articles or posts each week.
In order to build the team that works for me, I have to work for them, too. This interview gives them a chance to ask questions, learn more about what I'm like and share their expectations.
Consider preparing questions that relate directly to remote working relationships and the specific content position.
4. Take your time when onboarding them.
I operate at top speed, so I have a tendency to rush through many things. However, when it comes to bringing content writers in, I slow down and take time to get them set up with what they will be doing, the overall process and my expectations.
I do a phone or video call to provide them with a small and big picture of what is involved in working with me. I have also prepared a formal process for onboarding that helps me be consistent when bringing in people. It includes an overview, roles and responsibilities, technology we use and team member introductions.
5. Be available and accessible.
Even the best content writers who work independently and remotely need direction and regular communication.
As soon as a content writer joins my team, I include them in our Slack channel and provide direct ways to reach me. It's important that they can reach me with questions. I also like to check in with them to gauge how they are doing and what's on their mind.
While I don't set a schedule for calls and leave it open-ended, you may want to establish a regular check-in schedule or weekly meeting to see if your writers need anything or have questions. Be sure to share regular updates about the direction of the company so they feel included.
6. Provide the option for them to take on more.
As I've grown my businesses, there are have been key people from my content team who I've offered other types of roles that go beyond just writing. They may be working on social media updates, content planning and client management. Others have even expanded their technical skills after joining my team. This has helped immensely and solidified our relationship. When this talent sees more opportunities, they will tend to stick with you.
Know what you need done and be specific when asking your team members if they would like to try new tasks. If not, it's OK. Move onto the next team member. If so, you can start training them.
7. Reward and raise regularly.
Never take this talent for granted. When you do, someone else will grab them. With verbal appreciation, personalized gifts and regular raises, let these writers know how much you appreciate them. I have an amazing crew and so can you!
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