Overcoming the Challenges of Managing a Writer Community



August 24, 2012 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

frustrated person sitting at desk with tools for blogging

A year and half ago I was given the opportunity to join the CopyPress Family and manage a team of writers. Fresh out of college, with my ‘I Can Conquer the World’ attitude, I was determined to not only do my best but to BE the best. Only problem was, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or what I was doing. Given nothing but a desk, computer, and few office supplies, I was immediately thrown into the most challenging, yet rewarding position I have ever had.

The content writing industry is extremely multi-faceted, and very few people realize that it’s way more than just writing. There’s an entire community of people producing the content we have grown to be so unappreciative of in today’s ‘I want it now!’ world.

From communication to organization and project management, managing this community of freelance writers can be a huge undertaking. However, if approached correctly, the experience will far surpass the challenges it presents. With these simple tips you’ll find that your community will be a well-oiled machine that will lead to much success in your company and in your professional career.

Employ the 3 B’s

Build the relationship to Build the business, by Being the expert.

Build the Relationship

As a former freelancer, I related to all of my writers because I understood the struggles they faced every day. It’s an endless chase for stability. While writers write because they love it, most freelance writers do so to sustain themselves financially, meanwhile building towards something bigger. As the manager of my community, I respected that and knew that gaining the community’s respect meant relating to them on a personal level, all the while maintaining my professionalism.

You need to get to know your writers. Where are they from? What are their unique experiences? What led them here? Realizing that your writers are not disposable and are all individuals will build their loyalty to you and your company. Happy writers breed happy writing, which in turn enhances your business.

My team consisted of over 300 members, which made getting to know them rather difficult, to say the least. But I soon realized that investing in my communication with my writers also built trust and consistency in all of our projects.

Build the Business

At the end of the day everyone involved in your community, including yourself, are all part of the bigger picture of running a business. With outrageous client requests, tight deadlines, and very little time, the organization plays a major factor in the way your team operates. Being the lead, it was my job to develop a production process that was conducive to my both my client’s and my writers’ needs.

Create a clear and concise writing process that will allow you to do as little back and forth communicating as possible. For me, this entailed learning to manage my emails, writing simple and straightforward style guides, being clear about my expectations and being willing to step in and help whenever or wherever I could.

This is not to say that you will not be tested. Like any other management role, you will always be faced with making tough decisions but for most situations, especially involving a large community, adopting a ‘greater good for the greatest number’ mentality will help you to streamline your team and chip away the bad apples.

Being the Expert

Having strong rapport with my writing community, I exuded a sense of expertise in management because my writers trusted my judgment enough to know that I would not lead them astray.

Spread assignments evenly throughout your community. By giving writers the chance to build on their skills and experience in a variety of writing, you’re allowing yourself choices when it comes to high-pressured times when you’ll need an assortment of writers.

Build your team’s relationships with one another. I found that utilizing a variety of communication mediums such as Facebook groups for ongoing projects, Skype, and Gmail, are all great verticals in breaking down the barriers between your writers. This is also helpful because writers learn to manage themselves and become less dependent on you.

Expect the Best, but Prepare For the Worst

Things happen and sometimes there’s nothing you can do to change that but be prepared for when it happens. You may have random changes made by your client that may shift your entire production process right in the midst of an assignment. Being prepared to handle these issues ahead of hand will save you a lot of stress.

Realize that you’re working in a virtual environment and be prepared to have many excuses from writers when you’re down to the wire and expectations are high. Trust me, I’ve heard it all! You can’t control the excuses but you can control what happens next.

Sincerely LOVE What You Do

Writing is something very near and dear to my heart, and it’s the foundation of my passion. I’ve enjoyed being part of something big and making a difference to a business. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you cannot be successful at managing your community. Even while being in a virtual setting, your community will know what you’re feeling. Positivity is essential to being a strong leader.

Looking back at the last year and half, I feel like my writers have actually taught me more than I taught them. From long nights and weekends of Skype calls and rush projects, to dealing with really difficult clients, my writers made coming to work every day feel like a new adventure. No two days are ever the same. I can never thank each of our writers enough for teaching me what it really means to be a manager. Success is knowing and understanding your purpose in life; taking advantage of every opportunity will bring you one step closer to that realization.

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