Tips for managing writers so that you publish great content without micro-managing
Have you ever tried to make a meal alongside a spouse, sister, parent, or friend? How did it work out? Did you constantly bump into each other or work harmoniously in each other’s stride? Try adding three or four more cooks to your home’s kitchen. How do you think those results will turn out? If you’re lucky enough to have a staff of writers creating content for your company’s blog, you’ll need someone to play the role of head chef in the kitchen. If you’re reading this, that person is probably you.
Managing writers is a both a tough and rewarding job. Take it from me, I’ve done it for years. It’s tough because you’re working with creative people who have different schedules, ideas, and processes than yourself. It’s rewarding, because you can learn so much working alongside of creative individuals, and it will better your writing, even if you are the person managing them.
If you’re going to be managing writers, consider these tips when working with your team.
Productivity may come in waves
Remember that not all writers adhere to the same type of writing schedule or guidelines. While one may work best in the mornings, another may do their best writing in the evenings. You might hire a writer who writes an entire week’s worth of blog posts on Monday, yet spends Tuesday through Friday editing her work. A different employee may write only one article a day, and edit it immediately after finishing it.
The point here is simple: all writers have different levels and schedules of productivity. The standard of productivity should be set, for example, do you expect ten articles a week, or five? However it’s not in the best interest of your content to decide when that productivity occurs. As long as deadlines are met, should you even care? As a manager, your responsibility is to set staff up for success, not to micromanage their output. Does it matter how they generate the content? Probably not, as long as they are turning in quality work on time.
Edit for clarity, not for personal preference
If you’re lucky to have multiple blog writers, there’s a good chance you’ll also have different blog voices for your blog. A natural change in voice will be welcomed by your readers. Keep this in mind when editing assignments. A good editor changes content issues for clarity, or for something simple such as grammar or spelling. Don’t fall into the trap of tweaking your content writer’s words just because you’d say something a bit differently.
I know, we’d all like to believe that we’d never do that, but it’s human nature to stick with what’s comfortable to you, as your writing choices would be. It’s too often that I hear dissatisfied writers complain about how their work is edited, yet they are too afraid to speak up to their superiors for fear of repercussions, such as losing future assignments.
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Consider creating a style guide for your writing team that all writers use as a standard. If your writers can follow the same consistent guidelines, you won’t have to worry too much about their content. The editing will simply be to check grammar and be sure the message aligns with your brand.
At the same time, if you’ve hired ego-free writers, they should understand that they’re writing for your business, and that’s not the same as writing creatively for a newspaper, magazine or journal.
Be firm with deadlines
If your employees are aware that deadlines are firm, chances are they’ll turn their work in on time. If you aren’t firm with deadlines, it’s likely you’ll be managing writers who don’t appreciate your time and take advantage of the deadlines. To be sure you’ll get the best work on time from your writers, make the deadlines clear.
Here in the BuzzFarmers office, we plan our editorial calendars out a whole month in advance. They are then approved by our clients so the expectations on what content we are writing will always be clear. To take it a step further, we also make sure to write all of our blog posts a week in advance. This gives us the chance to co-edit each others’ work and schedule it so that we’ll never miss a post deadline.
Realistically, things are bound to happen. Cars break down, children get sick, internet connections fizzle, and computer chargers get lost. If you are working with a staff member who you know is already excellent at maintaining deadlines, you’ll have the option to flexible when actual last-minute situations arise.
Be respectful with assignments
Just as you want your writers to turn in their assignments on time, you should also be respectful with how and when you assign them work. If you assign work weekly – let’s say on Fridays for the following week – don’t assign an additional post on Wednesday morning. If you can respect your employees time by following a consistent assignment schedule, they’ll be more enthusiastic to volunteer for any breaking stories or last minute writing you might need help with.
What other tips do you have for managing writers? Let us know in the comments below!