How to Manage an Awesome Copywriting Team (Part Two)

Let the Trials Begin!

You know the saying “Try before you buy” – Well this applies to copywriters too! You want to make sure they can walk the walk not just talk the talk. You may find it useful to read the first post How to Manage an Awesome Copywriting Team (Part One).

So what is a Trial?

A trial at SEOgadget consists of writing a test article, in a set time and when we receive it we will read and decide whether they will get signed up or turned away.

Test Article Tips:

This should be an article that you would like to publish (this way the exercise has been cost effective). Do not use anything that is business critical. Content that is required by link builders immediately, or for clients who require a sign off or content for a new site, company press releases, articles for your news site and anything else that is important to your business on a critical level. If this writer turns out to be a complete Juan Sebastian Veron (a massive flop), you are now left with a dilemma of either:

a)      An angry Link builder

b)      Not Impressed Client

c)       Behind on deadlines

d)      Annoyed contact (awaiting an article that will now need a re-write)

e)      An angry Manager

f)       Delayed Website launch

g)      Out of Date News article

h)      Or worse still all of the above

My key tips for a successful trial are:

Relay Baton

Initial Contact

Check availability with them to do the trial (test piece). You may find they now have a full time job, left on holiday, or have decided not to take part.

The email doesn’t have to be anything fancy just a quick hello, are they still interested and what’s their availability. Ensure they realise that they were selected from a whole host of other candidates (inflate their ego), and that you liked their profile/submission (more on why this is important later).

The Trial email:

This email should be set in the same manner as you do with your existing starting 11 (or however many you have) copywriters. Ensuring you keep things structured and simple means your writers will feel much more confident working with you.

At SEOgadget I have a way in which I manage the content from receiving the ideas from the team to how it then goes out to the copywriters.

I have a very basic set up in EXCEL where I have set up a table that looks like this:

Content Production Excel Sheet

I have further columns to the right in which I have the link builders name and the copywriter who this is assigned to. Simple filtering of the table, a quick copy and then paste into an email-that’s all you need to do. All the information is there for the copywriter in a nice clear layout.  The reason we ensure we give as much information for each article is to limit the need for rewrites, writers asking for extensions as they don’t understand or just ending up with something completely off topic!

Once you have put your email together ensure that you tell your potential new team member that you are really looking forward to reading their article!

The Results Are In!

Racing Flag

Its judgement day and a few things can happen:

1. You wait all day and nothing; you then give them the benefit of the doubt and think if it comes tomorrow its fine.

2. it’s in your inbox on the date agreed – now that’s what I’m talking about.

Missed Deadline

If a person is late with their article and hasn’t told you a reason or notified you, read their article and no matter how good it is due to lateness let them know that you will not be taking them on board at present.

Poor Work

Well what can I say, other than make sure you mark them off your database and make a note as if in future someone else on the team is looking for copywriters they know who to avoid!

Try to give them feedback on why you think they are not suitable for your company, do not tell them they are rubbish and should never bother writing again! You never know they could go onto be the most influential blogger ever, the greatest writer or could be unhinged and may decide to do some mud-slinging via the internet to your lovely brand and personal name.

Excellent!!

Gold Medal Winner

This writer not only got the article in on time, they followed instructions and asked questions where needed and have produced a stunning piece of writing that has got you under the collar.

Before you email them back telling them how awesome they are you need to check their work over and over; after all this could be a special report, a how to guide or even a piece content for link building that will be going on your site or somewhere else. It will not be good for your reputation to be associated with poor spelling and grammar and overall poor quality. If you need to get someone else to check-that could be fellow team member, friend or partner.

Always make sure the content is unique!

Well that is easy, there are plenty of great tools out there and one of our favourites is Copyscape. But here are some others for you:

Thanks for reading Part two of “How to Manage an Awesome Copywriting Team”, part three will be out in  a couple of days and will cover how to integrate your new writers with your existing Copywriters, and what to do if there are any problems.

Thanks for reading this post and I would love to know what everyone thinks of the first two parts so far.



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8 thoughts on “How to Manage an Awesome Copywriting Team (Part Two)

  1. Richard says:

    The writer trial system has been pretty bullet proof for us, thankfully :-) – great post Ally!

  2. I agree with you, Ally. It is very much important to check if the content is unique. After all, it’s what we are paying for and what people will come back. One thing I learned before I became a bestselling author and long before Inc Magazine voted my company as one of the fastest growing companies is that having the right team of people onboard is one of the biggest challenges and it needs a lot of effort to build one.

  3. James Carson says:

    Great post – I’ve got a similar process, but a little guide on how to use Facebook for recruitment too:

    http://www.jamescarson.co.uk/socialsearch/2011/11/01/how-to-form-an-affordable-oxbridge-writing-team-using-facebook/

  4. Drew Allen says:

    This looks to be a great series, I am excited to read part three. I actually have a related question.

    I’m directing efforts for a few businesses, and I just got clearance to hire a full time writer. We’ve had mixed results with freelancers, so we wanted to get a full time person in house. Problem is, on writer, 4 (different) company blogs. Questions coming to my mind?

    Have writer specialize on 1-2 companies and then farm out the rest to freelancers? Have writer rotate through all 4 companies, and each can post something new every couple of days? (as opposed to every day — assuming this content is better than the daily stuff we’ve been doing.) Or other things like not hire a writer at all, or have writer get familiar with industries and manage the load him/herself between writing them and/or farming them out to freelancers.

    Any thoughts on this? I would greatly appreciate them.

  5. allybiring says:

    Hi Drew,

    I am glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for taking the time to respond.

    I had a look at your problem and my initial thoughts were that it is great you have clearance to sign a writer on full-time, this gives you some security and guarantee of content for each of the sites. The problem I can see here is that although the copywriter you will hire no doubt will be very skilled and have knowledge of the four different subject areas your four blogs cover; will they be skilled in those areas to the same level. You could end up with two blogs that have excellent content and then two that have mediocre content and you have to remember they will be a full-time employee.

    I personally would if you are struggling with your freelancers hire two writers on a part-time basis. Ensuring that they get assigned the two blogs that best suit their skills. This also means if there is a problem with one of the writers, only two of your blogs would suffer slightly whilst you looked for a replacement. I also understand that you are having some worries with the free-lancing system you have in place. Perhaps before hiring your full-time/ or two part-time writers, why not work on the freelancing system get 4 or 5 writers working for you, for the next two-three months but select them all with the idea that if they perform well you will hire them full/part time. Perhaps Even make them aware of this when you are sourcing them.

    From my experience, when hiring a freelancer, you should do it in the same way you would if it was an in-house team member. Set them guidelines and make it clear what is expected.

    I hope this helps and I would love to know what you decided to do.

  6. Drew Allen says:

    Thanks for the help, I’m gonna see what I can do. Really good advice though.

  7. Pneu says:

    Thank you for these really good advice, very interesting, thank you for sharing.

  8. Thanks for both of these articles. Our company is growing and we’ve definitely had to think long and hard about how we increase resource but dont lose control of the output of our marketing activity. At least we’re not alone in the issues of managing an in house or outsourced team.

    Good stuff. Thanks.

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