Ask Me Anything: Organizing Teams

Julie Rains asks,

How to organize teams with social media and technical expertise?

As freelancers, we often work on teams. It’s not out of the question that we’ll wind up putting together and leading our own teams. As a writer, it’s not uncommon to have a client bring you a project that may need some technical expertise (like adding new content to an existing website) or other skills (like promoting content in social media. There are a variety of different ways to handle these situations, but I break the process down into three parts: recruitment, management and execution.

I find that having the right team is especially crucial. I have very specific people I go to for different skill sets: I try to avoid asking another freelancer to take on projects that are outside of his or her key skill sets. I want to work with pros who can go in and get their part of the project done. I also try to avoid bringing in team members as a favor or because I personally know they need some work. It just never works out.

Management is the next key to organizing a team. There needs to be a central location (a project management tool, wiki or somewhere else) where every team member can see what he or she is responsible for, as well as deadlines. As long as you’re working with professionals, the more information you can provide, the better they’ll be able to handle the project. (If you’re working with someone who isn’t actually comfortable with the task you’re asking them to handle, too much information can actually be a big problem.) Say the project involves submitting links to a social news site: each member of the team should be able to see what has been already submitted.

Once you’ve got your team executing their tasks, as the team leader, you need to have a way to check that the task has been accomplished. Continuing with the social news submission example, you need your social media helpers to provide you with the link that shows an article has been submitted. While it’s important to have a team that you trust to get their work done without a lot of supervision, especially if you’re working on a contract, you have an obligation to keep track of what has gotten done.

Got a question about the business side of freelance writing? Submit it in the comments and I’ll answer it next week.

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