5 Easy Steps to Building a Team of Writers

Outsourcing Content Creation

A constant stream of fresh and value-driven content is one of the core pillars of business success in the digital age. I believe in it. I swear by it. I’ve built my career based on it. And yet, for all the documented benefits that scalable content has to offer, it’s not uncommon for me to receive this response when consulting with new clients:

But Vin, scalable content is easy! I can just publish a blog post or two every week!

Allow me to be frank – this is wrong

If my 10+ years of experience as a content marketer and business owner have taught me anything, it’s that producing high-quality content at scale is easier said than done. Not because business owners and executives lack the knowledge and resources, but because they don’t have enough of the most essential resource for any business owner – time.

Let’s be honest, churning out scalable, high-quality content isn’t something you can do part-time or on the side. It takes a considerable time commitment. And, if your life is anything like mine – family, hobbies, social life, etc. – I’d bet your hours are limited. So, if that’s the case, here’s a question to ponder:

Why not outsource your content creation?

Today, I’ll talk about the advantages of outsourcing content creation and walk you through the steps on how to assemble a killer content writing team.

The Advantages of Outsourcing Content Creation

Although about 7 out of every 10 companies are invested in content marketing, not everyone has the time or ability to produce conversion-focused content. By choosing to outsource your content creation, you’re positioning your organization to take advantage of a number of amazing financial and project management benefits. 

Here are some of the top reasons why your organization should consider outsourcing your content creation.

1. Consistency in Content Production

According to a report by Zazzle Media, 60% of companies are struggling with consistency in content production. Sure, you can post low-impact 500-word blog posts every now and then, but they will not do your marketing efforts any favors.

You can only truly reap the rewards of content marketing by producing value-driven content like blog posts, white papers, case studies, and guest posts (i.e., not shallow content).

One of the hallmark qualities of a successful content marketing campaign is consistency. In my experience,  companies that publish blog content between 3-5 times per week typically generate more traffic and brand awareness than less consistent companies – a rate that falls more or less in line with some recent HubSpot data on the topic. 

Suppose you want to boost the consistency of your publication efforts without jeopardizing quality. In that case, you either need a well-organized team of in-house writers, editors, and marketers or a reputable agency that offers content services.

2. Access to New and Exciting Content Types

For many people, content creation revolves around the idea of blogging. But of course, blogging is just one element of a robust content marketing strategy. When you go the outsourcing route, you can create many different types of content – from social media posts to infographics to micro-content.

With its high engagement rates, social shareability, and immense share of web traffic (very soon to be 80% according to Cisco) video content should be an immediate focus for all business owners. A solid team of outsourced content creators can get you started with video production and help you determine which content types provide your organization with the best results.

3. New Ideas and Diverse Points of View

When you’re running out of ideas, introducing some fresh talent into your organization can break you out of a creativity rut and take your content marketing efforts to the next level. A diverse team composed of various content creators with unique backgrounds will provide you with on-demand access to fresh concepts and creativity.

A steady stream of fresh ideas is a prerequisite to building an effective and scalable content creation workflow. Serious professionals will not only have years of valuable experience (i.e., 5+ years), but most will have developed content for a wide range of customers. This is in addition to the fact that most will also have a great understanding of digital marketing best practices. 

4. More Hours to Run Your Business and Live Your Life

It’s important to recall that content creation doesn’t stop at publication. Given the necessities of distribution and optimization (i.e., both for SEO and to keep your content up-to-date), the hard truth is that content creation is a full-time job. 

Between managing your business and having a social life, do you really have the time to research, draft, distribute, and optimize all of your content? If the answer is no (and I imagine it is), outsourcing with an organization that provides top-notch content writing services will help ensure that you focus your skills and attention where they matter most.

Step 1 – Develop Workflows

Before outsourcing content creation and building your writing team, you need to have an effective plan in place that team members can follow. Here are some quick and easy steps that you can execute before sourcing your content team.

  • First things first focus on goals. Conduct in-depth research to determine your target audience, including their preferences, problems, and interests. This information will give you an idea of which content types will be most effective.
  • Develop the internal policies that will guide your writers with respect to writing style, tone of voice, grammar, and formattings.
  • There’s no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to content. Once you’ve done your research concerning your target visitors and their preferred type of content, you’ll be in a position to define the content types that will power your organic visibility efforts  (i.e., blog posts, guides, link bait, videos, infographics, etc.).
  • With your content types in hand, create an SEO content brief or template for each. These templates will be vital for promoting a sense of structure and consistency for your writers.
  • Develop workflow guidelines that define all the steps and processes that your content team must follow. A well-developed workflow should be easy to understand and should break down the steps of each content type into manageable tasks.

Step 2 – Define Roles and Responsibilities

For the sake of consistency and efficiency, each team member should have a clearly defined role. The last thing you want is a chaotic work environment, and identifying each role and its specific responsibilities will help avoid confusion. 

Here are the main roles that you should incorporate into your team, separated by category (i.e., primary roles and secondary roles).

Primary Roles

  • Content operations manager – The content op manager is in charge of the behind-the-scenes work of managing content activities such as assigning content, supporting writers, and project management. This individual will also collaborate with the CEO or business owner to create and maintain project documents.
  • Content creator – Produces content drafts according to the content plan and internal guidelines. Other responsibilities include researching industry-related topics, recommending new topics, and identifying customer needs.
  • Proofreader – This individual is responsible for proofreading content and engaging in quality assurance. He or she may also handle the tasks of formatting and publishing content.
  • Editor – This role involves copy and line editing tasks, managing the final steps in your content production workflow prior to publication. The responsibilities of this role may also include generating ideas for content briefs, developing guidelines, and tracking web traffic figures.

Secondary Roles

  • Team leader – As a person who sits between the op manager and content creators in terms of hierarchy, a team leader manages a small group of writers. For communications purposes, the content operations manager only corresponds with team leaders.
  • Human resources – This individual (or individuals) is only responsible for hiring and training. He or she also maintains organizational ties with talent sources.

Step 3 – Implement SOPs and Training Programs

A well-designed training program starts with documented procedures that empower team members to accomplish their tasks, minimize the risk of errors, and prevent redundancy (i.e., take this step seriously!).

Having training documents that detail everything your writers need to know (including each step of the content creation process) will ensure an efficient and consistent team. Here are some examples of process documentation for your content team:

  • Research
  • Buyer personas (i.e., search intent, demographics, preferences, etc.)
  • Content style and formatting
  • CTAs
  • Project management 
  • On-page optimization rules

Keep your process documentation simple and succinct. Your SOPs and training program must be accessible to everyone on your team, whether they’re new to the company or have been working with you for years.

Remember, the goal is to remove the need for judgment calls with respect to your writers. In this way, your team becomes a well-oiled machine, and your campaigns avoid the content bottlenecks that tend to happen when doubts arise. 

Step 4 – Source Content Creators

After wrapping up your SOPs and training program, it’s time to source and hire the writers who will fill your content team’s ranks.

Long before you post a job listing, you will need to know exactly what you want from a writer. Look for candidates that possess the following qualities:

  • Objective-oriented – Sounds cliché, but you want candidates who are go-getters and keen on helping your clients reach their goals. Sadly, many freelance writers are only looking for a quick payday. Avoid these candidates.
  • Grammar and spelling-savvy – This is a non-negotiable trait when it comes to sourcing and hiring writers. To screen applicants better, request prepared writing samples and conduct writing exercises as part of the interview process.
  • Experience in content marketing – Look for applicants with ample experience in content creation and marketing under their belt. Experienced applicants can help you save a lot of time since they’re easier to train and get up-to-date with your project workflows.
  • Target date-driven – Consistency is the key to successful content marketing, and there’s no room for delays. Thus, look for writers who can handle tight deadlines and quick turnaround times.
  • Experience in SEO – Not all writers are created equal. An SEO-savvy writer isn’t a generalist; he’s a master in his field and has a very specific job to do. SEO content writers understand the nuances of search-optimized content and the proper target keyword usage and will go a long way in improving your organic visibility.

You should also think critically with respect to where you will be posting your job listings when outsourcing content creation. 

While hiring a writer has never been easier (a quick Google search reveals a number of freelancing platforms to choose from), websites like Upwork often leave much to be desired. My advice? Keep your options open, and if you require a specialized skill set, consider outsourcing with an organization that stands behind and can vouch for the quality of their writers.

Step 5 – Hire and Onboard Your Team

When posting your job listing, screen for detail-oriented applicants by setting a number of specific application requirements. For example, you can make them use specific keywords in their cover letter, send writing samples, or draft a test article.

Besides top-notch writing skills, look for candidates that are:

  • Engaging
  • Have a love of learning
  • Self-disciplined
  • Good listeners
  • Confident

To set apart candidates who lack enthusiasm or interest, force them to commit to the application process fully. For instance, you can direct them to use a particular topic for test articles and/or follow precise rules with strict deadlines. Be absolutely clear when laying down your expectations.

Also, I highly encourage imposing a 90-day trial period to figure out your new hires’ positive and negative attributes. You want to avoid hiring writers that are only putting their best effort forward in the interim, but instead, look for team members that can offer long-term reliability.

Although there’s no such thing as a perfect content writing team, it’s important to evaluate your team on a regular basis and trim any excess fat. At WordAgents, we conduct quarterly audits and look to replace the worst performers with new talent (i.e., a turnover rate of around 10-20%).

Regular team audits can help your content department run more efficiently and make your strategies more effective.

A Strong Team = Scalable Content

Outsourcing content creation while assembling a content team from the ground up is a tremendous challenge. And yet, once in place, your team will pay immense dividends in the long run. 

Remember, you don’t need a million-dollar budget and hundreds of employees to scale your content efforts. A strong and process-driven foundation + experienced candidates should be all you need to guarantee lasting success.

About the author:

Vin D’Eletto is the founder and CEO of WordAgents.com. WordAgents create content that ranks really well on search engines for customers. Vin is deeply involved with the SEO community; maintaining a portfolio of successful, profitable affiliate websites. You can find him playing guitar, drinking scotch, and hanging out with his German Shorthaired Pointer when he’s not working!

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