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7 Steps for Successfully Onboarding Content Writers

Incompatible values, unclear expectations, and unrealistic timeframes lead to project delays—or, worse, the wrong clients being onboarded.

Onboarding new clients is a critical component of running a freelance business. 75% of full-time freelancers chose the profession because they wanted the freedom to choose their projects. A good onboarding process allows you to select the best client for your company.  

However, as writer Ashley R. Cummings points out, “It can be difficult to know how to manage freelance clients and efficiently produce compelling content.”

This guide includes a step-by-step process for onboarding new clients and six bonus tips. If you get the process right, you’ll save time and effort while building a professional reputation

An onboarding process is more than just checking off a list of tasks. It’s important to highlight your company’s culture and corporate values. A warm, welcoming, and timely onboarding experience welcomes new hires, giving them a taste of how you treat employees immediately.  Here’s how to go about it. 

Onboarding Content Writers
Steps  Onboarding Content Writers

 Identifying Content Writers

Uncovering the ideal content authors for your undertaking is essential to its accomplishment. To ensure you hire skilled and experienced professionals, follow these steps:

Assessing Skills and Experience

Begin by evaluating a writer’s skills and experience through their portfolio or published work samples. Look for quality content demonstrating excellent grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary usage, and an engaging writing style.

  • Expertise in Your Niche: A writer with prior industry experience will better understand the subject matter and can create more compelling content.
  • SEO Knowledge: Ensure they are familiar with SEO best practices such as keyword research, optimizing headings & meta tags, and internal linking strategies, which help improve search engine rankings.
  • Social Media Savvy: Understanding social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn is essential since it helps them craft shareable posts that drive engagement from your target audience.

Conducting Interviews or Tests

To further assess a candidate’s suitability for the role, consider conducting interviews via phone or video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype. You can ask specific questions about their expertise and past experiences related to content creation tasks. 

Alternatively (or additionally), assign test assignments that require candidates to produce original written pieces on topics relevant to your niche within specified deadlines; this will give you insights into their ability to deliver quality work under pressure.

Seeking Recommendations

Ask your professional network or industry peers for recommendations of content writers they have worked with in the past. This can help you find reliable and experienced professionals already vetted by people you trust. 

You can also use platforms like LinkedIn to search for potential candidates based on their skills, experience, and endorsements from other professionals in your field.

Utilizing Freelance Platforms & Job Boards

Explore popular freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or niche-specific job boards like ProBlogger Jobs Board. These websites allow you to post job listings specifying your requirements and attract a pool of talented content writers worldwide.

Training Content Writers

Once you have identified potential content authors, it is essential to equip them with the relevant education so that they comprehend your organization’s principles and anticipations. This section will discuss the essential topics that should be covered during their training process.

Understanding Your Brand Voice and Style

The first step in training content writers is teaching them about your brand voice and style. They should be instructed on creating content that conveys your company’s character, principles, and intended audience. Please provide them with guidelines on tone, language usage, preferred writing styles (e.g., formal or informal), and any specific terminology or phrases unique to your niche.

SEO Best Practices

In today’s digital landscape, understanding SEO best practices is essential for producing high-quality content that ranks well on search engines like Google. Train your content writers on keyword research techniques, proper keyword placement within articles, meta tags optimization (title tags & meta descriptions), internal linking strategies, and other important aspects of SEO writing.

Research Skills & Fact-Checking

An effective content writer must possess strong research skills to gather accurate information from reliable sources while avoiding plagiarism. Plagiarism-checking tools can help detect duplicate content before publishing an article online.

  • Evaluating Sources: Teach them how to evaluate the credibility of sources by checking factors such as domain authority, author expertise, and publication date.
  • Fact-Checking: Emphasize the importance of verifying facts before including them in their content to maintain your brand’s reputation for providing accurate information.

Formatting & Readability

To ensure your content is engaging and easy to read, train your writers on proper formatting techniques such as using headings (H1, H2), bullet points or numbered lists, bolding important text elements, and maintaining a consistent font style throughout the article. 

Additionally, introduce them to readability tools like Hemingway App, which can help analyze their writing for clarity and simplicity.

Adhering to Company Guidelines & Deadlines

Last but not least, ensure your content writers understand any specific company guidelines regarding topics they should avoid or sensitive issues they must handle with care. Also, set clear expectations about deadlines so that they know how much time they have to complete assignments without compromising quality.

Onboarding Content Writers

Recruiting content authors is critical to ensure they are well-prepared to generate material that corresponds with your brand’s tone and objectives. This stage involves completing the necessary paperwork, establishing communication channels, and providing access to essential resources.

Paperwork and Contracts

Before content writers can officially begin working for you, it’s important to have them sign the appropriate contracts or agreements outlining their role within the company. 

These documents may include the following:

  • A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) protects your company’s confidential information by prohibiting the writer from sharing sensitive data with third parties.
  • An independent contractor agreement clarifies that the writer is not an employee of your company but rather a freelancer who will be paid per project or on a retainer basis.
  • A copyright assignment agreement ensures that all written content produced by the writer becomes your company’s property upon submission.

Setting Up Communication Channels

Establish clear communication channels early in the onboarding process to facilitate seamless collaboration between you and your new content writers. Some popular tools used for team communication include:

  • Slack
  • Microsoft TeamsZoom
  • Email threads are organized by topic or project.

Providing Access to Essential Resources

To ensure your content writers have everything they need to produce high-quality work, provide them with access to essential resources such as:

  • Your company’s style guide – this document outlines the preferred writing style, tone, formatting guidelines, and any other specific requirements for your brand.
  • Google Docs or another collaborative writing platform – these tools allow multiple team members to work on a single document simultaneously while also tracking changes and leaving comments.
  • A project management tool like Asana, Trello, or Basecamp – these platforms help keep track of assignments, deadlines, and progress updates in an organized manner.

Following these steps during the onboarding process for content writers at mindflowmarketing will set up your new hires and your business for success.

Setting Expectations

Establishing clear expectations for content writers is crucial to ensure the production of high-quality work that aligns with your brand’s voice and goals. This section will detail various aspects you should consider when setting expectations, such as deadlines, quality standards, and communication protocols.

Deadlines

Content writers need to be aware of the deadlines associated with their tasks. Make sure they understand how important it is to submit their work on time by clearly communicating the due dates for each assignment. 

You can use project management tools like Trello or Asana to help keep track of assignments and deadlines.

Quality Standards

Maintaining consistent quality in your content is essential for building trust among your audience and improving search engine rankings. Ensure that content writers are familiar with your company’s style guide, which should include guidelines on tone, formatting, grammar usage, and more. 

Examples of well-written articles from your website can also be useful references for new hires.

  • Tone: Specify whether you prefer a formal or informal writing style based on your target audience.
  • Formatting: Instruct them about preferred heading structures (H1-H6), bullet points usage, etc., so that the article remains visually appealing & easy-to-read.

Edit Requests & Revisions Policy

To maintain high-quality standards across all published content pieces, ensure an understanding between both parties regarding edit requests & revisions policy beforehand. 

For instance: – Number Of Revision Rounds Allowed – Time Frame For Submitting Revisions – Process For Submitting Edit Requests.

Communication Protocols

Effective communication is key to a successful working relationship with content writers. Establish clear protocols for how and when they should communicate with you or other team members, such as:

  • Emails: Set guidelines on response times and email etiquette.
  • Meetings: Schedule regular check-ins or meetings to discuss progress, address concerns, and provide feedback.
  • Messaging Apps: Utilize tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc., for quick queries & real-time collaboration.

Establishing clear objectives at the start of the onboarding process will help guarantee that your content creators can generate high-grade material that meets your organization’s standards.

Managing Content Writers

Effectively managing content writers is crucial for maintaining a high level of productivity and ensuring the consistent delivery of quality work. This section will cover essential aspects of managing content writers, such as providing feedback, setting goals, and fostering a positive working environment.

Providing Feedback

Regularly providing constructive feedback to your content writers is vital in helping them improve their skills and meet the company’s expectations. Schedule periodic check-ins or meetings to discuss their performance, address any concerns they may have, and offer guidance on how they can enhance their writing abilities.

  • Create a clear communication channel for discussing progress and addressing issues promptly.
  • Praise good work while offering specific suggestions for improvement when necessary.
  • Encourage open dialogue by asking questions about their experiences or challenges during projects.

Setting Goals & Deadlines

Setting realistic goals and deadlines helps keep your team motivated while ensuring that projects are completed on time. Work with each writer individually to establish short-term objectives (such as completing an article within a specified timeframe) and long-term goals (like improving research skills).

  • Determine appropriate timelines based on project complexity, writer experience levels, and available resources.
  • Maintain flexibility in adjusting deadlines if unforeseen circumstances arise.
  • Monitor progress and provide support or additional resources to help writers meet their goals.

Fostering a Positive Working Environment

A supportive, collaborative working environment is essential for content writers to thrive and produce their best work. Encourage teamwork by promoting open communication, offering opportunities for professional development, and recognizing achievements.

  • Organize regular team meetings or workshops where writers can share ideas, discuss challenges, and learn from one another’s experiences.
  • Promote a learning culture by providing access to relevant training materials or courses to help your team grow professionally.
  • Show appreciation for hard work through verbal recognition or tangible rewards such as bonuses or promotions.

Managing content creators is vital to any successful content plan, necessitating suitable procedures. Measuring performance should be a priority to achieve success with your content marketing strategy.

Share Examples Of Content You Define As Great 

If you want writers to create great content, show them a sample of what that content might look like. Please find links to content with the tone, style, and depth you want and share them with your writers. To set clear expectations for your writers, make sure you also explain what makes this content great.

Measuring Performance

To ensure that your content writers meet expectations and produce high-quality work, measuring their performance regularly is essential. This section will discuss various methods for evaluating the effectiveness of your content writers and how these metrics can be used to improve overall productivity.

Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Establishing clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is a crucial step in measuring the success of your content writers. KPIs should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Examples of KPIs for content writers may include:

  • The number of articles or blog posts written per week/month
  • Average word count per article or post
  • The percentage of deadlines met on time
  • The number of social media shares or engagements generated by their content
  • Traffic growth from organic search results due to their articles/posts

Regularly Reviewing Analytics Data

Analyzing data from tools like Google Analytics can provide valuable insights into how well your content performs online. Metrics such as page views, bounce rate, average session duration, and conversion rates can help you gauge the effectiveness of each writer’s work.

Collecting Feedback From Readers And Clients

Feedback from your audience is a valuable resource for measuring the performance of content writers. Encourage readers to leave comments on blog posts or articles, and monitor social media channels for mentions and shares of your content. 

Additionally, if you are creating content for clients, request regular feedback on the quality and effectiveness of each writer’s work.

Conducting Performance Reviews

Regular performance reviews help identify areas where individual writers may need improvement or additional training. During these reviews, discuss their KPIs, analytics data, reader/client feedback, and any other relevant information that will provide insight into their overall performance.

Regular assessments of your authors can guarantee the quality and consistency of their output are up to both business criteria and viewer requirements.

Rewarding Performance

To maintain a motivated and productive team of content writers, it’s essential to recognize their hard work and dedication by rewarding performance. This boosts morale and encourages writers to continue producing high-quality content for your brand or niche.

Acknowledging Achievements

One way to reward performance is by acknowledging the achievements of your content writers. Regularly provide positive feedback on well-written articles or projects that have exceeded expectations. You can do this through emails, meetings, or even public recognition, such as sharing their accomplishments on social media platforms.

Bonuses and Incentives

Offering monetary rewards in the form of bonuses or incentives can effectively motivate content writers. Set clear goals and targets for them to achieve to qualify for these rewards. 

For example, you could offer a bonus if they consistently meet deadlines over a certain period or produce exceptional engagement metrics like shares, comments, and page views.

  • Performance-based bonuses: Offer additional compensation based on individual writers’ performance metrics such as meeting deadlines, quality standards, etc.
  • Incentive programs: Create incentive programs with multiple objectives (such as increased website traffic), with rewards given upon successful completion.
  • Tiered commission structure: Implement a tiered commission structure where higher earnings are possible based on achieving specific milestones or targets.

Professional Development Opportunities

Another way to reward content writers is by providing them with professional growth and development opportunities. Providing content writers with access to educational opportunities such as online courses, workshops, conferences, or individual coaching sessions from industry leaders can help boost their skills and knowledge while demonstrating appreciation for their work and improving the quality of their output. 

By investing in their skills and knowledge, you show appreciation for their work and help improve the overall quality of your content output.

Promotions and Increased Responsibilities

If a writer consistently delivers high-quality work and demonstrates a strong commitment to your brand’s success, consider offering promotions or increased responsibilities within the company. This could involve taking on a leadership role in managing other writers or overseeing specific projects that align with their interests and expertise.

In conclusion, rewarding performance is crucial for maintaining a motivated team of content writers dedicated to producing exceptional results for your brand. 

Essential Tips for Writer Onboarding and Brand Alignment

So you’ve done the difficult part: you’ve identified the best freelance writers who have adapted to your agency’s brand voice and demonstrated their ability to create quality content for your clients. However, onboarding a freelancer is different from onboarding an employee. For one thing, there’s a lot less paperwork. However, agencies frequently need help with bottlenecks in the onboarding process, which can result in costly delays. Here’s how to ensure a smooth onboarding process.

  • Pre-screen writers to get what you’re looking for.

Even if a writer is an expert in one field, they will translate to something other than the asset type you require. They may lack experience with the industry or audience to which your client caters. Test them with samples (for which they will be compensated).

  • Cut right to the point with what you need from the freelancer.

You don’t need to know everything your freelancer has done with their lives since the Bush administration or where they see themselves in five years to ensure they’ll fit in. They, too, are optional to read lengthy manuals. Even if you plan to use freelancers regularly, they are problem solvers who come and go.

  • Create a style guide in advance.

Depending on the volume and type of clients you work with, each agency has different style requirements. Style can be more uniform or tailored to the individual client. 

Alternatively, if the writer impressed you with their samples and portfolio, you’ll trust their style judgment. However, if you have specific stylistic standards in mind and the writer needs to be given direction on how you want a copy to look and read from the start, it will make onboarding more difficult.

  • Get your writers familiar with your clients’ networks to deliver the most value for them.

Sites and content networks you create for your clients can grow enormously with the assistance of content writers. New writers you’re bringing on may need to be made aware of who owns which domains and aren’t mind readers. Keep them updated on network expansion plans and places to avoid linking to, using the style guide and other documentation.

FAQs About Onboarding Content Writers

The four phases of onboarding are: 

  • Pre-employment preparation, where you gather necessary documents and prepare resources; 
  • Orientation, introducing new hires to company policies, procedures, and culture; 
  • Training & development, teaching skills needed for success in their role; 
  • Ongoing support through regular check-ins or performance reviews.

Content writing remains a promising career choice in 2023 as businesses prioritize digital marketing strategies that rely heavily on high-quality written content creation for websites, blogs, social media platforms, etc., making skilled writers valuable assets within organizations.

Employers typically seek strong research abilities and excellent grammar skills when hiring content writers who can produce engaging material tailored to target audiences while adhering to style guidelines and brand voice requirements.

Additionally, knowledge of SEO practices, familiarity with various content management systems CMSs considered assets

Conclusion

Having a team of content writers is essential to any successful business. Onboarding content writers require identifying and selecting talented individuals, training them in your specific requirements, setting expectations for their work, managing their performance, measuring results, and rewarding excellence. 

Executing the onboarding process of content writers properly can be a good approach to creating material that draws in customers with your brand or topic.

Do you need help with onboarding content writers? Let mindflowmarketing show you how to leverage your online presence and build a following around your brand or niche. Get started today!

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