Anyone with a thriving blog or needs to publish content consistently knows the challenges of managing writers.
There’s always a trade off between over-relying on a dependable workhorse – where you’re limited by how much can be done – versus wanting to grow faster and taking the risk to juggle multiple freelance writers.
Note: the assumption is that you don’t have a team of reliable writers at hand to outsource to. Most blog owners and content managers are always having to test projects with writers who they’ve never worked with before. This is the risky and often time consuming challenge faced by publishers who need to balance quantity with quality.
To help you decide on what may be suitable for your project(s), here are 9 key things to bear in mind when choosing between a solo writer and multiple contributors for your blog:
#1 Both can work equally well
It totally depends on the project requirements, who you’re already working with, and your experience in hiring freelancers, among a whole range of other factors.
Your available budget plays a big role too. If you’re paying an in-house writer who is churning out low quality articles at an effective rate of 20 cents a word (or more), then you’ve got plenty of promising alternatives when looking for freelancers.
But if you’re getting poorly written stuff from a content mill at 2 cents per word – and you’re limited to that rate – it may be tough to find a decent writer.
Overall, the guiding focus should be on quality first. Don’t let the team or hiring issues distract you from the goal of producing great content for your audience. Don’t accept mediocre work for the sake of speed or convenience.
#2 Have a competent editor & work with multiple writers
There’s one thing you should strive for when managing a blog – to have someone with in-depth knowledge of the subject who is capable of refining content submitted by writers.
This person may be the blogger, a dedicated blog editor or a project manager. They must be able to write well and understand what the audience wants in order to provide editorial leadership.
With someone competent in charge, it makes it more feasible to work with multiple writers, be it one after another or at the same time.
#3 Editor should be committed to the publication’s success
If you can’t be the editor, you need to find someone who can, as soon as possible.
This is the person who will be responsible for the editorial integrity and direction. He or she will understand the reader, brief writers, nurture them and ensure the blog’s product quality is kept to a high standard.
Instead of worrying about freelance writers and having a hard time managing them, focus on finding an experienced writer/editor who can be a project partner. Someone with a vested interest in making the blog successful.
#4 Quality writers more important than the structure
Just as content produced must be first class, the quality of each team member should be as good as you can find. Starting with the editor and then flowing down to the writers.
Instead of concerning yourself about whether it’s better to have in-house writers or freelancers, just be flexible. You’ll stand a better chance of hiring the right people.
You may have a preconceived idea of what’s best, but it may not necessarily turn out the way you imagined. A freelancer with lots of clients may end up being far more reliable than someone you employ full time.
#5 Pros and Cons of fixed in-house writers
If you can find competent writers who are passionate about your blog’s topic and fun to work with, they would be ideal permanent team members. As employees, they should be more aligned with the blog’s longer term interests and be rewarded for success achieved together.
The disadvantage of staff writers is that you’ve got fixed overheads, employee benefits, problems if they don’t perform, and it’s harder to let them go if there are unsolvable issues.
There’s also the issue of managing people – dealing with dramas, complacency, motivation, workplace politics and so on. Unless you’re an experienced leader, don’t take hiring a full time team for granted.
#6 Benefits/Issues of depending on freelance writers
The great thing about freelancers is you can scale up or down quickly according to project requirements.
You may have to spend more time searching for them, coordinating the whole process, doing quality control and dealing with those that don’t perform. But you have the flexibility to fire just as fast as you hire, and can go through many writers to find ones who are suitable.
With plenty of choices, you can get fresh perspectives, different styles of writing, and change as you see fit.
Sure there’ll be lots of let-downs, where people disappear after you invest time in them, or submit work that’s way off the mark. But that’s just part of what to expect when hiring freelancers. So, factor that in beforehand so it doesn’t overly disappoint you.
#7 Make sure you have good people skills to find, retain and motivate great team members
Not only do you need to know how to spot them, you have to know how to keep good writers when you finally find them.
Just like you, writers who know what they’re doing want to work with pleasant clients (or employers) who are reasonable, communicate well and have interesting projects that pay accordingly.
In the quest to track down the right writers, make sure you’re bringing something attractive to the table too. Top talents need to be lured and enticed. They’ve got lots of options, and you need to make yours attractive to get them onboard.
#8 Managing one person is easier than a team of 3 to 5
It goes without saying that dealing with only one colleague or employee takes less effort than juggling a few. But that person has to be the right one. Because dealing with one difficult individual may be a lot harder than 3 easy going ones.
Assuming they have a similar profile, it’s certainly more efficient to just communicate with one team member. However, with only one writer, you’ll be limited in how much can be achieved.
That’s why the optimal solution is to have an editor who you interact with, and they will then coordinate with the writing team.
#9 Ultimately depends on your abilities, editorial timeline & budget
As you can see, there are various possibilities and it largely depends on your circumstances.
If you’re just starting out, it will be a valuable learning experience to try working with many different writers. It will be time consuming, potentially frustrating and possibly disappointing, but it will be eye opening.
As a blog owner or editor, you must know the ins and outs of the trade. And there’s no substitute for getting directly involved to get a feel for it yourself.