Build & manage a Content Marketing Engine of Freelancers


6 years ago, I created a system to manage and evaluate writers at scale. It works so well a local content agency who I’d hired as a contractor ended up paying me $15k to train their team in how to implement it. I’ve built and scaled this to teams of 3 to 40 writers in the past, with some variations of tools used.

I offer it here to you for free.

You’ll need 15+ topics that you want written, a project management tool, and a chat client like Slack to make this work.

Here’s the process:

  1. Find writers. I’ve had good luck with ProBloggerContently, and Textbroker more than the usual Fiverr or Upwork
  2. Anyone who’s somewhat on point with their writing gets added to your project management tool and gets sent a welcome doc. Here’s a copy of an old Trello board I used to manage a writing team back in the day. Crucially, here’s the welcome doc, which lays out the entire flow for your writers.
    NOTE: Right away, this structured writing process will probably bounce out 50% or 60% of the writers who you’ve selected. That’s expected; you only want writers who can conform to your system anyway.
  3. Collect writing on your topic and edit it with track changes on. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be able to estimate how much effort was needed to clean up the copy from a given writer. This matters because you pay your writers more for a copy that requires less edits. This quickly filters out bad writers because they either get paid nothing at all because you aren’t using the article or they get paid a bad rate because it was so much time to rewrite.
  4. You will tend to experience a relatively high churn of your freelance writers at first, but the best ones will tend to stick around for many months. Usually from a crop of 10 writers who enter the freelance funnel, 3 will submit useable work and 1 will stay with you for more than 3 articles. This is the cost of doing business, and your stable of freelance writers won’t actually be less work than doing it yourself for at least 2 months. Stay strong–once you have a team of 2- 5 talented writers, your content engine can really take off!

This freelancer writer management system is easy enough for anyone to manage–you can assign a lot of the upfront work to a VA or a junior employee–but editing and providing feedback to your writers is crucial to the long-term success of building content engine. Even a very talented writer takes a few revisions before she or he is able to copy your voice and tone accurately. What do you think? Have you done something similar yourself? Let me know below. 😄

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  1. @Trevor, this is brilliant. Thank you for sharing the docs.

    One question: How do you deal with content promotion? I’d imagine it could be bolted on to this process, or separate.

  2. @harvey

    It’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax. Usually you want this engine in place so you can write guest posts and create other content, then you find a few websites with similar interests where you can guest post at, do podcast interviews, and generally get the word out organically.

    Once you get a smidgen of traffic, do two things:
    1. Start optimizing for SEO on at least 1 article out of 4
    2. Build your newsletter list. 🙂

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