6 tips for managing a freelance writing team remotely

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Freelance writers are a boon to many businesses looking to ramp up their content marketing efforts. But managing a team of writers remotely is no small feat. You need to make sure your writers deliver on their commitments and deliver work that matches your vision, while avoiding scammers and wasting time. Unsurprisingly, these challenges only become more pronounced as your writing team grows.

Luckily, my time supervising over 350 freelancers at WordAgents taught me a thing or two about how to effectively manage a team of remote writers. Here are the main lessons I learned:

1. Take advantage of technology

Using remote work tools and online platforms is a no-brainer when it comes to coordinating a team of geographically dispersed writers. Of course, given the abundance of options available, it can be difficult to assemble an easy-to-use tech stack that maximizes productivity.

In my experience, the following tools work well to effectively manage our editorial team’s workflow and maintain consistent, high-quality output:

  • MarketMuse for content briefing

  • Grammar for proofreading

  • Copyscape to eliminate plagiarism

  • ClickUp for Project Management

  • Google Workspace for document organization

  • Slack for instant or asynchronous communication

  • Zoom for live meetings

  • Loom for video messages and presentations

  • Payment Management Cart

  • BambooHR for Team Data Management

Related: 5 tips for managing a virtual team

2. Install Standard Operating Procedures

A common hurdle when hiring freelance writers is educating them about how your business works and clarifying what you expect of them. The best way to acclimate new writers to your business quickly is to develop a well-defined onboarding program that conveys your standard operating procedures in black and white.

To achieve this, I recommend that you create a “writer’s operations playbook” to distribute to all new freelancers. This starter resource should contain everything your writers need to know about working with your team, including the standards you expect from their work, your billing/payment process, and instructions on how to access tools or training that can help in their drafting.

It’s also worth setting up an online hub where writers can easily access information, such as their performance metrics, customer feedback (if available), and payment history.

3. Refine your recruiting funnel

Creating an optimized recruiting funnel is key to reducing the risk of hiring unsuitable candidates. The sooner you can filter out low-quality writers, the less headaches you’ll have down the road.

The trick is to discourage bad candidates from applying in the first place. To narrow our candidate pool at WordAgents, we require all candidates to write a short test, complete a short online course, and attend a video call before deciding to hire them. (I should note that we only share test assignments completed by our candidates within our team. We never deliver candidate work to clients.)

If a candidate is successful, we will place them on a short probationary period during which we will monitor their ability to perform the work we set out for them. Sometimes new writers overestimate the amount of work they can take on and forget that “writer fatigue” exists. For this reason, we try to limit the workload for new writers to no more than 2,500 words per week.

Related: How to hire top freelance writers for your content business

4. Push for accountability

When you’re managing a large-scale remote writing team, breaking standards can lead to big problems, as you spend more and more time chasing writers who deviate from the rules. It is therefore imperative to reinforce your standards clearly and often. After all, the less time you spend analyzing “outliers” and the fewer review requests you receive, the better your return on investment will be.

Be sure to establish a standardized feedback procedure where writers receive regular, honest feedback on the quality and quantity of their work. You can also encourage writers to meet the standards by implementing an ongoing training program. Your best and worst performers should attend these coaching sessions regularly to foster a culture of collaboration and mutual support within your team.

5. Focus on results rather than activity

Micromanaging is an inefficient and impractical strategy when dealing with a large team of writers. As a result, you should place much more emphasis on the quantity and quality of your writers’ output rather than the minute details of their day-to-day activities.

This means setting clear goals for your writers, but also trusting that their talent and training will lead them to deliver high-quality, on-time work.

Whether producing an SEO essay, an ebook, or a landing page, different writers will approach different assignments with their own unique blueprint. Letting them tackle the project in the way that best suits them will give them a greater sense of ownership of their work.
Related: Micromanagement is Murder: So Stop Killing Your Employees

6. Put a concerted focus on over-communication

My philosophy is that there is no over-communication when working in a remote work environment.

I’ve already mentioned the importance of regularly reinforcing standards and communicating your standard operating procedures to your editorial team. The same goes for updating your team on new developments within your company or organization.

You will need to develop a communication strategy for your team to ensure the right messages reach the right people at the right time. without creating information overload. For example, your communication strategy should define the frequency of team meetings and include standardized meeting templates to ensure their productivity.

Related:

Today’s digital economy makes it easier than ever for organizations to achieve their marketing KPIs with the help of freelance writers. But the benefits of outsourcing work to freelancers also introduce a new set of challenges for marketers.

I hope this article has reassured you that these challenges are perfectly surmountable. The key to managing a team of remote freelance writers at scale is to develop well-communicated, repeatable systems that are easy to follow.

Scott R. Banks