15 Ways to Improve Your Content Team’s Writing Process

15 Ways to Improve Your Content Team’s Writing Process

Content has been pinpointed in the last two years as the number one channel to focus on.

This has increased the number of site owners and companies relying on multi-authored websites. Before this era, managing content teams was done mainly by news websites.

Today, many small to large companies need to manage multiple bloggers for their content marketing. Managing several writers, either freelance or employed, is a complex process, especially for a business whose main product is not content related.

We’ve created this guide to help you deal with the most common problems facing multi-author site owners:

  • Manage Writers’ content quality.
  • Manage the writers.
  • Manage content marketing.

We tried to make it as actionable as possible, so you can read and implement it right away for your own writing team.

Manage content quality.

It’s important to maintain consistent and professional content quality for every blog post published on your site. Even one badly written blog post can damage the entire website’s credibility in the eyes of its readers.

This problem poses a conundrum. Other than filtering the quality of the writers in the recruitment stage, how are you to influence the quality of your writer’s posts? There are 6 easy to implement actions you can take to make sure the content published on your site fits your quality standards.

1. Use a Pre-publish checklist.

Create a checklist that your writers need to check off before publishing and post. Don’t worry, there’s a plugin for that! It’s called, unsurprisingly, Pre-Post Publish Checklist. This tool can help not only your writers, but you as well, as it makes sure you do all the steps you set as necessary before publishing.

I would also like to recommend the Require Featured Image plugin, by the founder of WPShout. This plugin simply doesn’t allow you to publish a post without setting a featured image first.

2. Create a Proofreading process.

Even the greatest writers make mistakes. I write my posts in Google Docs, and have one of our team proofread it for spelling or other mistakes. This is also the way I make sure the post isn’t a complete collection of rubbish before I publish it to the rest of the world. Instigating a set process for proofreading is important in order to streamline the publishing process.

3. Share a reading list.

The conversation around the office, or within team collaboration tools like slack, is a great way to generate content ideas for your team. To improve the conversation level between team members, I suggest you create a shared reading list that your team will be updated with. It shouldn’t be long, because most likely your team members already have their own preferred blogs.

get more comprehensive content, but means writers will spend much more time creating each post.

4. Give feedback early on.

Recent trends have put the focus on long form posts. I have noticed this trend has made an actual change on content marketing, as articles I read today on almost any subject tend to be much longer than they used to be a few years ago. The long form trend is great for readers, who

In order to make sure your writers don’t spend days on the wrong content, I recommend starting the feedback process early on, as early as the outline stage. This serves two purposes: it helps the writer get more insights and ideas for the post, and also makes sure the direction the post is taking is the right one.

5. Tackle weak points.

Different Writers have different weak points in their writing skills. As you read more and more of your team’s content, it will become easier for you to find out each of your team member’s writing weak points. It might be that they tend to write to vaguely, or that they fail to summarize their point.

The previous recommendations I mentioned, proofreading and giving feedback, can be your best chance to improve the weak points of the writer. Pay extra attention to the writers’ specific weak points, and assist them to improve on the specific area where they are weaker.

It’s not always easy to critique and comment on someone’s weak points, but it’s a great way to improve the overall quality of your writing team.

6. Improve their skills.

There are many ways to teach your team and improve their skill. The one method I suggest is to create a session where you go over a post made by one of your writers. This can be done for a relatively successful post, or for a post that didn’t perform. By analyzing successful and unsuccessful content, you can help your team understand what works without overwhelming them with theoretical material. You can also set these sessions to teach specific skills like:

  • How to make sure the content you are pasting from docs to WordPress is clean?
  • Why is it important to include images and rich media in posts?

You can get suggestions for questions to answer during team sessions from the team members. This way you make sure you answer their most pressing questions.

Manage Writers

So, we’ve improved the quality of the content, but there’s much more do be done.

Managing a team of writers poses a challenge, and we’re going to describe 4 things you can do to manage them better.

7. Content calendar.

In order to prevent getting a sporadic and fragmented blog, one that doesn’t have a clear direction or focus, it’s important to create a content calendar that outlines the general plan of content on a yearly, monthly and weekly basis. I love buffer’s post on this subject. If we consider content marketing as the strategy, then the content calendar can be seen as the plan of action. A great tool for creating a content calendar is CoSchedule. It offers much more than a content calendar, and is a useful tool for managing the entire publishing process.

8. Weekly meeting.

Some people, like this TED lecturer, are strong opposers to meetings. The meeting, however, is still the best way to get everyone on the same page. A content team shouldn’t strictly follow the content calendar, and meetings give the opportunity to realign the team around the week’s publishing schedule.

If you are about to launch a product, for example, the launch might change the posts you’ll want to publish for that week. It’s important to make sure the meetings you have with your writers have actionable tasks and takeaways, to make sure the time spent on these meetings don’t go to waste.

9. Monitor publishing.

You, as the head of your writing team, should be the first one to read posts as they are published. Instead of having your team update you on each post, use the activity log to get an email for every post published. This is a lightweight plugin we’ve written, that can help you monitor every action your writers do on the site.

10. Monitor to do list.

Publishing a new content piece does not only involve writing text. It can require completing other tasks such as:

You can monitor all of these micro-tasks by using a tool like Trello, and having your writers break down each content piece to it’s related tasks. This is a great way for you to monitor the most time consuming tasks, and perhaps intervene and try to assist in completing them.

11. Monitor success and share them.

How do you track if a published posts reaches success? Monitoring and sharing wins, such as a mention by an important blog, or a top rank on Google search results, can be a great sign your team’s efforts are paying off. Sharing successes across the team can help each member feel appreciated and motivate others to perform as well.

12. Decide on writer specializations.

A great blog has a variety of content: interviews, expert roundups, industry news, product updates, etc. It is recommended to assign different types of content to different team members, so for example one team member will be responsible for doing all of the expert interviews. This creates specializations within your team, and makes each team member more proficient in a specific content type.

Manage marketing efforts

Writers shouldn’t  focus only on writing.

In a multi-author website, every contributor should to be knowledgeable as to what the marketing goals are and how they can be achieved through content.

While this should be an ongoing effort on your part, there are specific things you can do that can help get each team on board your marketing strategy.

13. Encourage your team to do outreach.

The most important marketing action, other than creating great content, is networking with influencers and other bloggers. This doesn’t mean your writers need to become best friends with bloggers, but rather they need to understand how to form a mutually beneficial relationship with them. Sharing posts, commenting. There are numerous ways these relationships can operate, and we will publish a complete post about it in the near future.

14. Get everyone on board your marketing strategy.

It’s important that your team gets a bird’s-eye view of your marketing strategy, so they can understand how each of their post contribution relates to the overall marketing efforts. This is a topic that has to be restated in meetings and communications with the team.

15. SEO.

Search Engine Optimization should be something that is integrated in the workflow and not done from outside. SEO is a broad subject, but there are four skills you can make sure your team has, that will boost their post’s SEO:

Keyword research. I consider doing keyword research by using tools like keyword.io and Google Keyword Planner as not only meant to rank better. It is also a very useful tool to understand what my audience is interested in. I can use Google’s autosuggest and type for example “WordPress theme for” to find out that people are searching for “WordPress theme for swimming pool”. I can then formulate my content according to what people are actually searching for.

Image optimization. Posting images correctly is so easy, yet so many writing teams fail to do it correctly. This is almost certainly a managerial problem of not setting the right guideline for writers. Here are a few:

  • Image sizes and proportions. Create a document of image size guildelines and share it with your team.
  • Image weight. Make sure images are optimized and reduced before uploaded by using a tool like Tinypng.
  • Image name. Very often bloggers will upload images with names like “1.png”. The image filename has an influence on SEO. If it’s a picture of a black bird, the name should be “black-bird.jpg”.
  • Alt tag. Everyone knows alt tags are important, but you have to stress this to your writers if you are to have them put the effort to add this tag to their content.

Internal links. As written in MOZ, “Internal links are most useful for establishing site architecture and spreading link juice”. Have your bloggers link to posts written by other team members as well, not just to their own content.

Testing headlines. Upworthy’s 25 headline rule has been repeated so many times now. My 2 cents on the subject is that for each post, you should organize a 25 headline poll between your staff to determine the best headline. This can be done with a tool like Surveymonkey, or more easily by creating a private Facebook group for your team and posting a poll.

Social media. OK, it’s pretty obvious that the first people to share the content your team publishes will be the team members themselves.

How do you go past the 6 likes and shares your blog is getting? This comes down to utilizing what we previously mentioned: getting the team to outreach.

Given that the team is continuously making connections with other relevant influencers and bloggers, it is more than logical that they use these connections to promote not only their own posts, but the teams as well. This increases the likelihood the post gets shared by as many team members you have.

Conclusion

We’ve touched on three major aspects of managing a content team: creating great content, managing the team and managing marketing efforts. All three aspects have a common goal: they are all focused on getting the team to work like a well oiled machine. If you have any more tips that helped your writing team, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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