Copywriting Game Plan, Team Management and Selection
Managing a copywriting team is a tricky business; each copywriter is an individual, has their own specific needs, nuances and their own style.
It is your job as their manager to understand them fully, know what their strengths and weaknesses are, and know what they will excel at and where there is room for improvement. Most of all get to know them.
You have now selected your new copywriters from the trials and they just as much as you are eager to get started. So what do you do? Do you ask them how many articles they want and pay them that amount? After all they are as eager as a beaver and why not get the most out of this fresh talent.
You couldn’t be more wrong! This from my experience is the worst possible thing to do. You have yet to build up a relationship with them, you still have an existing team who have been very loyal to you and should in my opinion get more of the articles.
A smart game plan
will ensure that you keep your existing first team well supplied and managed, and at the same time be able to provide for the first initial month 1-2 articles a week for your newer copywriter(s).
Code of Conduct
The lucky new members to your team have been selected, your keen and they’re keen, but hold your horses! When you started working at your current company, didn’t you have to learn your companies best working practices. Every group, organization club has their own style of working, training and code of conduct. What you may frown upon, someone else may think is a great way of working. You need to ensure that you and your team of writers are on the same page all working together with the same goal. If you haven’t done this I suggest you get this in place immediately.
To get you started these are some of the things we have included:
Plagiarism: Basic but you will be surprised how often your writers can slip up. Let them know you will be checking your articles and encourage them to invest in a plagiarism checking tool as well, so that they can check their articles over before they send them in-sparing blushes all round. Do make sure all your team do check their content still. Things still slip through the net!
Deadlines: Your copywriters are human, remember that and like the rest of us they will from time to time be prone to illnesses and even quite severe personal problems. As long as this isn’t a regular event and they give you enough notice; I have set this as the morning before the due date as this will give you enough time to move deadlines. Help them out after all they are an employee of yours.
Authorship: Due to the nature of our industry we don’t give our copywriters authorship rights on articles we have published for them to use in their portfolios. This can be for many reasons and primarily client discretion is a big one. You need to make this absolutely clear from the offset. We do however ensure they get a reference from us for their portfolio. What is included in the reference is up to you, but if you are happy to allow them to claim authorship my suggestion to you would be to set up a supplier contract between you and the writer.
Disciplinary Action: A myriad of problems from lateness, non-communication for long periods of time, poor quality work and consistent personal problems have troubled this writer since you employed them. What do you do? As soon as you see the things happening even in the earliest of stages, be nice ask them if you can help them by decreasing their workload for a while, ask them if they are struggling with certain subjects. If this still continues remind them of the code of conduct that they were given at the beginning of their employment with you. That should make them sit up and pay attention. If it doesn’t go well then wish them all the best, give them a reference and say au revoir.
If this ever happens-it shouldn’t though because you would have picked the best writers initially, but humans being human it could. I guess you better go and get that Will Monitor pile back out.
At the same time when you have handed over your articles, let’s call the newbie copywriters reserves and your existing squad of copywriters the first team; you must stay in contact with them regularly even when they do not have any articles.
I speak to my team of writers’ everyday; this is to deal with day to day issues, articles being sent through, queries or even a quick hello.
I also employ a more formal approach by emailing them every other day when they are writing for us first thing in the morning and ask the following:
a) How they are
b) Are there any issues with the articles they are working on?
c) What article are they working on currently?
d) Are they on track to get the articles in on time?
This is something I discussed with my writers first as I didn’t know whether they had other freelancing work or whether they were also in full time employment.
It is also advisable to get as much contact information from writers; this can include things like Skype, another email address, twitter, linked in and the good old telephone number. This means if you don’t hear from them you have another means of contact if the articles have not arrived.
Match Day Selection
Each writer in the team has their own skills set and specialisms, much like a premier league manager selecting his team for Saturday’s derby; he isn’t going to play a striker in goal and a central defender in the position of a forward.
It is great to try and push the writers, but you need to ensure that they are played to their strengths in order to reduce frustration on both parts. You can try to introduce new subject areas or heavy research pieces to your writers but if you do this remember you must expect mistakes, help them do not lambast them, this will result in you losing a copywriter. Bear in mind that although you know how to find a replacement, you want them to remain loyal and build up a strengthened squad who are the best. How will that happen if you don’t put some effort in on your part.
This also applies to your new copywriters; you need to spend some time easing them in as you want to make sure their writing is consistent and they do not do a Houdini.
I hope after reading this that you feel refreshed and positive towards your copywriters and managing them. They key things that I hope you have taken away from this article are to remember what your goals are, select your copywriters with that in mind, introduce your new writers slowly, nurture and develop not only your new writers but also your existing team; you need to keep things fresh like any relationship otherwise boredom sets in and things become uninspired.
If you stick to this and keep your goals in focus you will have a team of writers who not only produce great content but actually want to for you!
So this was the third and final instalment to my “How to Manage an Awesome Copywriting Team” series. I hope you enjoyed and thanks to everyone for all the love they have shown and the comments. Massive thanks to my copywriting team for being, well awesome. I would name them but I don’t want you guys trying to poach them!
If you would like to read the parts one and two they can be found here:
How to Manage an Awesome Copywriting Team (Part One)
How to Manage an Awesome Copywriting Team (Part Two)