How to unify a dispersed team of content writers

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Consistently developing high quality content can be expensive if you aren’t careful, which is why many businesses are turning to freelance writers as a cost-effective solution. But hiring independent contractors to handle your content needs doesn’t come without issues. Namely, you have to deal with a dispersed team of remote writers. This makes it challenging to develop unity and achieve the results you want. Understanding the challenges you face and creating a plan for overcoming them will help you thrive.

Why remote writers are preferred

Remote working is on the rise and we’re seeing a surge in popularity of hiring remote employees even in the most traditional of roles. But there’s arguably no industry where remote working and freelancing is more popular than in content marketing. Here are some specific reasons why remote writers are preferred to in-house employees:

  • Conducive to remote working. Content writing is quite conducive to remote working. All the writer needs is a computer and an internet connection and they can develop content from anywhere. There’s really no need to hire in-house writers unless they have other roles and responsibilities.
  • Access to more talent. When you’re willing to hire remote writers, you suddenly gain access to talent outside of your local area. This gives you an opportunity to find someone who fits your organization (as opposed to someone who just happens to be convenient).
  • Cheaper for the business. As you’re well aware, it’s much cheaper to work with a contractor than it is to hire a full-time employee. You don’t have to worry about taxes, benefits, office space, or equipment. That can be worth tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the working relationship.
  • Cost-effective for the writer. You aren’t the only one saving money in this relationship. According to a survey conducted by ConnectSolutions, remote workers report saving as much as $5,240 per year in expenses. That’s a pretty enticing figure.
  • Healthier team. Did you know that remote workers are actually healthier, and therefore more productive? According to a study from Staples, individuals who work from home experience 25 percent less stress, eat healthier, and get sick less. This obviously leads to more output and better reliability on your end.

As you can see, there are many distinct benefits to working with remote content writers. If you haven’t yet considered this option, now’s the perfect time to reevaluate your current setup.

How to unify your content team

But managing a team of remote content writers isn’t a perfect solution. You also have to deal with the fact that you have people dispersed all over the map. This means it’s often a struggle to unify your team and build a sense of company culture that is reflected in the way your writers craft content.

As you attempt to unify your content team, here are some things to think about.

1. Culture has nothing to do with location

There’s a common misconception in the business world that location and physical attributes determine culture. This is a mistake that many flashy tech startups make, assuming that an investment in an onsite arcade, ping-pong tables, or free catered meals creates an identity.

The reality is that culture has to do with how you work. When your writers know what to expect and understand what makes the business tick, that’s when they’re able to feel like they belong to a culture.

2. Hire the right people (self-starters)

There are some things you don’t have any control over from a talent management standpoint, but you can control who’s hired. Writing quality is great – and you need to hire people who have the ability to craft compelling copy – but it’s not the end-all-be-all. The best remote workers are self-starters. They don’t need to be micro-managed and can get things done on their own. As a rule of thumb, only consider hiring writers who have worked remotely in the past. This will help you avoid any sort of learning curve.

3. Establish rules for communication

Communication – and specifically how your team will communicate – is something that needs to be discussed early and often. As Insightly notes, “Some projects require daily updates. Others have longer timelines, which means a daily meeting is overkill. Based on your project, set clear expectations for meeting frequency and format. Does a conference call make sense? Or could a group chat get the job done?” Figuring out how and when your team will communicate about certain issues can smooth out points of friction.

4. Encourage non-business interactions

If your writers are only communicating with you (and each other, for that matter) in a business-related manner, then it’s hard to really forge any sort of meaningful connections. Encourage non-business interactions and see how this transforms your relationships with one another.

5. Try an occasional in-person meetup

This tip isn’t mandatory, but it would certainly help to get your remote team together for an in-person meetup once or twice a year. Even if the team is together for just 36-48 hours, a lot of relational equity can be built.

“We get the whole gang together twice per year for a company retreat,” explains Wade Foster of Zapier, a company that largely operates remotely. “During the retreat we do things that help foster our culture. Things like pairing up to cook team dinners and hiking as a group have helped us learn more about each other and our families—it’s knowledge we wouldn’t have gained in a normal week.”

Putting it all together

At the end of the day, you don’t want to hire remote writers at the expense of producing low-quality content that fails to resonate with your target audience. But the good news is that you don’t have to compromise. All it takes is an understanding of how to hire and manage the right individuals in a manner that makes sense for all parties involved.

Begin with the tips referenced in this article and see if they make a positive difference.

And if you’d like to know how you can start blogging consistently in 30 minutes a day or less, read our eBook!

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About the Author

Anna Johansson
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, iMediaConnection.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends.
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