Onboarding new writers – the key to great content in the long run?
Onboarding writers is a crucial step towards creating great content. Even excellent writing talent cannot help if you don’t guide it. The lazier your instructions, the harder your edits will be.
The good news is you can save hours of editing if you just work on your writer onboarding process.
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Onboarding new writers is all about being specific
Even a 1% miscommunication can turn something outstanding into something not quite right.
You must ensure your writer understands what is you want of them. If you have specific requirements of what you want, you must communicate them. Regardless if you are working with copywriters, SEO writers, or content writers, there are a few universal golden rules to follow.
Just don’t take anything for granted. It’s normal for your vision of a good article and someone else’s to be different. Think about onboarding as aligning your writer to be on the same page as you.
Examples of specific writing requirements:
- Reference points of what you consider good content.
- Resources of inspiration (Direct or Indirect competitors, Learning Sources)
- Writing points (Article Structure/ Outline)
- Language style and complexity (British vs American English, formal vs informal)
- Specific words or phrases to use in headers, subheaders and as anchor texts.
- Formatting (Font, Font Size, Spacing, Indentations)
Create a content brief for your writers.
If you find yourself explaining the same things repeatedly, create a brief to do the talking for you. Although it might seem like a chore, it’s there to assist you in the future. Plus, once you set up your first one, you can augment it for your future needs.
A content brief is a document designed to instruct your writers. It can be as specific as you want, and there are no strict rules on how to do it as long as you get your point across. Feel free to use the writing requirements from the last section as an inspiration.
5 more reasons to use Content Briefs
- They save time and money.
- They reduce revisions and rewrites.
- They ensure all the critical information is included.
- They help the internal organization by providing a single source of reference.
- They increase consistency.
Onboarding new writers is about helping them learn the ropes
Sometimes you have to slow down to pick up the pace later. However, in the modern, fast-paced writing landscape of one-and-done projects, taking the time to teach might seem counterintuitive, primarily if you work with many writers.
Use Video Briefs
Teaching isn’t time lost, mainly if you record yourself. Some conversations are always the same, like explaining your brand’s tone of voice or the purpose of your organization.
You can also make a video about evergreen examples of good content to provide explicit references as to what you expect.
Share data that helps them make decisions
Share performance data with your writers. If you already know what’s working and what’s not, you can take away a lot of the guesswork for them and enable them to create killer content. In addition, sharing data puts instructions into a story and makes them much easier to remember.
Edit with your writers in real-time
Real-time revisions can be time-consuming but are great for writers who already show potential to be on your roster for the long term.
Reading the text out loud is a neat editing trick that will help you uncover inaccuracies and weak spots in the text. Doing so in the presence of your writer is a golden opportunity for them to see how you react to the text line by line.
You get to voice your concerns, and they get to explain their reasoning. At the end of the revision session, you should be ideally aligned regarding expectations and execution.
Onboarding new writers is about helping them integrate into your team
Ensuring collaboration with the team is a mandatory step for any writer you wish to keep full-time. Content isn’t created in a vacuum. Instead, it is a multi-layered process that involves different specialists. You need to ensure your content writer understands how to do the work. Also, they should get to know all the people that have anything to do with their work. Even if it seems relatively straightforward, having good team communication is a must. Especially when you crank up the volume and have to neatly deal with articles in the dozens and hundreds.
How to ensure good team collaboration?
Communication. Make sure to introduce the team members to each other and schedule meetings for them that happen independently of you. The goal is to make teammates exchange experience about the working process and find out what practices work the best. Actively plan for these meetings and exchanges, as they are unlikely to happen on their own.
Final Words on Developing New Writers
Onboarding writers can seem daunting at first, but you need to do most of the work just once if you are smart about it. It is a crucial activity that ensures a smooth working process in the long run. Even if you work with writers on short notice you shouldn\’t skip the onboarding process. It\’s your best bet to protect yourself from poor results!