onboard external writers

Best Practices for Successfully Onboarding an External Writer

You’ve successfully hired a new writer or content writing service to create content for your business. However, before they can dive in, an external writer needs to understand your company’s goals and audience to write impactful content. That’s where writer onboarding comes in. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to onboard external writers in a way that ensures the long-term success of your content strategy.

The Importance of Proper Onboarding

Successful onboarding is needed for a new employee to understand how their work fits into your company’s objectives. There are numerous benefits of successful onboarding, including increased productivity, quicker turnarounds, and reduced editing time. When you onboard external writers, you want to ensure they can jump in and support marketing right away, particularly when you’re scaling content creation.

5 Steps to Onboard External Writers Strategically

When you onboard external writers, consider how you can set them up for success from day one. This entails communicating effectively, sharing strategies, and providing tools and resources. Successfully introducing external writers to your content strategy, procedures, and policies is critical for creating impactful content. Let’s explore our top recommendations for setting up your new team member for success.

1. Select the Right Tools for the Job

Since this new writer will be remote, you’ll want to give them the tools to answer any questions they have. These tools may include anything from a digital version of the style guide (more on that later) to links to content examples. If your product is software, you could provide them with their own account. An introduction video can also be valuable to set the tone for your company’s content and help the new writer feel welcome while giving you a chance to explain the resources you’re providing.

If you work with a content writing service, such as ContentWriters, you may have access to certain templates and resources to support this step.

2. Choose the Most Effective Sharing and Communication Channels

In addition to an overview of your company, consider the best way to communicate. Email is a tried and true method, but if you have an ongoing partnership with multiple pieces of content, you may want to add your external writer to your internal communication channels, such as Slack or your project board. Content writing platforms like ContentWriters typically have built-in writer communication channels and may have established file-sharing protocols to help make this seamless.

3. Create a Writer-Focused Version of Your Content Strategy

Your writers must understand your content marketing strategy to meet your objectives and align their writing to your goals. While your internal content strategy may include a wide variety of content types, marketing initiatives, and big-picture goals, the version you share externally can be pared down. Consider including:

  • A brief company description to provide context
  • A description of your target audience
  • An explanation of your brand’s voice and tone
  • Examples of types of content you like (and don’t like)
  • Your on-page SEO guidelines

4. Share (or Create) a Company Style Guide

A comprehensive style guide is a must for any creative team. For external writers, they can be a quick crash course on anything from your company’s writing tone to explanations of abbreviations or industry terms. Similar to your content strategy, you’ll want to tailor your style guide to the most essential information an external writer could need, such as:

  • Your preferred stylebook
  • Punctuation preferences
  • Product naming conventions
  • Accepted sources and how to cite them
  • Any rules unique to your company (for example, do you prefer to use “preventive” or “preventative”?)

5. Define and Capture Processes

As Harvard Business Review (HBR) describes, company culture and “how work gets done” must be clearly defined to ensure your external writers become part of your team. By setting clear expectations, HBR says, a new team member can prioritize the most critical pieces, setting up momentum for completion.

Ensure you capture and systemize your content processes to make creation efficient and repeatable by anticipating any questions your writers may have. Consider including the following:

  • An editorial calendar to maximize scalability and track progress
  • A breakdown of submission and review steps to keep tasks on track
  • SEO content briefs or outlines for writers to understand what the content should cover

How to Approach the First Assignments When You Onboard External Writers

The onboarding process doesn’t end when you assign the first pieces of work. Instead, it can help to view those first assignments as a calibration period within the onboarding cycle. During this period, you and your team should build in time for feedback, extend expectations for turnaround times, and be prepared to give lots of feedback. When you onboard external writers with this level of care, your efforts are an investment into the long-term success of your content writing partnership.

Build in a Ramp-Up Period

Build a ramp-up period into your content processes to allow for reviews and feedback. This will help your writers understand what you’re looking for in their pieces and familiarize themselves with your methods. The feedback should be objective and constructive so the writer can edit and make changes effectively. A ramp-up period also ensures that the writer has ample time to ask questions or get clarification, setting up that first piece – and the ones that follow – for success.

Communicate Throughout

Often, a writer won’t have a question until they’ve started to dive into the work. Give your writers ample avenues and opportunities to ask questions or share feedback on the onboarding materials. Consider building in periodic check-ins, including a touch-base after you review the first deliverables. These meetings should be more frequent initially and can taper off as your writer grows their confidence.

Ready to Onboard External Writers and Create Strategic Content?

Hiring external writers is a convenient and effective way to elevate your content strategy with a focus on scalability. However, you must onboard external writers strategically, providing them with tools and information to expand their insider knowledge. By sharing key information during the onboarding process, your external writers can hit the ground running to meet and exceed your business goals.

Looking for access to a specialized network of freelancer writers with a Managed Services team ready to help you ensure your onboarding is a success? Contact us today!

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