Like most content marketers, you came bouncing into 2020 with big goals and shiny pigtails. Then the year morphed into the “new normal.” Eh, let’s be real and call 2020 a snafu.

Everything you thought you knew about marketing changed. You had to figure out how to adapt to survive during these radical times. To hold our hands (figuratively speaking), Bynder came out with the COVID-19 edition of The State of Branding Report.

There are several insights worth meditating on, including these top collaboration challenges for 300 remote marketing and branding teams:

  • Loss of passive knowledge sharing and informational collaboration. (28%)
  • Getting all the work done with fewer people and resources. (26%)
  • Not going live with content and campaigns quickly enough. (18%)

You didn’t stop marketing during the snafu that is 2020, but you were certainly forced to pivot your content strategy. You’re expected to work your magic with less of everything — budgets and collaboration. You can’t work like you did before, making it the perfect time to bring on teamlancing support.

Teamlancing means you collaborate with a networked team of freelancers on content marketing projects. It’s the next frontier of outsourcing and freelancing, except that teamlancing has already been happening for quite some time.

When you work with teamlancers, you work with a powerhouse of experts who have various specialties and skills. Teamlancing is a flexible and game-changing way for brands to tackle large-scale content projects successfully, as long as you understand how to work with teamlancers.

Working With Teamlancers: 6 Etiquette Tips for a Successful Collaboration

Teamlancing engagements are unique

Be gone “outsourcing” and “freelancing,” because these terms do not do teamlancing justice. And if you treat the engagement like outsourcing or freelancing, you’re in for a few surprises.

Teamlancers operate with an entrepreneurial mindset. Because they run their own businesses and they don’t have a steady paycheck, they’re bona fide risk-takers. Teamlancers are driven by producing high-quality work that matters to them and taking care of the clients they enjoy and prefer working with.

It may seem like teamlancers are motivated by budget numbers. It’s natural to think that, being that teamlancing businesses need ongoing and lucrative projects to survive.

I can’t speak for all teamlancers. But with myself and all of the teamlancers I know in my inner and outer circles, it is very much about the people when we pursue projects with brands. This is one of the biggest differences with teamlancing engagements, hence the word “team” in “teamlancing.”

Teamlancers understand that having a solid team is crucial for any project. That team includes you and your team as well. We all need to work together to make the project successful. You can’t do it on your own and neither can we. All entities must be respectful, collaborative, and completely bought-in for a teamlancing engagement to work.

6 teamlancing etiquette don’ts

By now you’re on board with the whole teamlancing idea or you realized you’ve already worked with teamlancers unknowingly. Because teamlancing on content marketing projects is so incredibly unique, it can be difficult to get the teamlancing etiquette down.

To help you out, here are a couple — okay, six — teamlancing etiquette rules to follow if you truly want your next collaborative content endeavor to be a success. Think of this as a cautionary tale of how not to work with teamlancers.

Don’t DIY to save budget.

1. Don’t DIY to save budget.

Rather than paying your teamlancers to run the project from end-to-end, you may try to do things yourself that you don’t have the bandwidth to do.

The cost of time is very often overlooked since salaried internal marketing teams don’t typically track their time. Teamlancers almost always track their time because their margins depend on completing projects efficiently.

To paint you a quick picture of the cost of time with content creation… I’ve been writing blogs since 2012. A single blog post takes me anywhere from 3-6 hours to write, depending on the word count. What if your team is trying to write five blog posts a week? It adds up. If you lean more heavily on teamlancers, your team can save time (aka resource costs) and focus on other priorities.

2. Don’t overmanage when teamlancers self-manage.

Teamlancers run their own businesses, so they have a strong work ethic. Think of them as entrepreneurs rather than freelancers. You might even hear some teamlancers call themselves “CMOs for hire” as a way to clarify their high-level abilities and commitment and avoid any confusion that they are moonlighting.

Leverage the prowess of your teamlance — what you don’t want to do is overmanage during a project since teamlancers are aces at self-management.

If you overmanage, you will disrupt the teamlancers’ process, which has been honed over the years for maximum efficiency. Overmanagement causes inefficiencies, scope creep, and frustration.

Teamlancing etiquette: Don’t make last-minute requests all the time.

3. Don’t make last-minute requests all the time.

The best teamlancers make you feel like you are their only client. They knock content projects out of the park, even when each milestone of that project required 458 tedious steps. But, you are not their only client. Teamlancers are giving the same attention to multiple projects on multiple accounts at once.

What this means is that their time is carefully allocated to every task for every client. When you rush timelines or make last-minute requests, it causes complete pandemonium behind the backstage teamlancing curtain. Teamlancers will very often bend over backward to overdeliver and ensure client satisfaction, but you don’t want to abuse these privileges either.

Dropping everything constantly to squeeze in deliverables unexpectedly is not a good process. Especially when producing content where quality is so key.

Here’s a quick etiquette lesson from Ralph Waldo Emerson to keep in mind. “Manners require time, and nothing is more vulgar than haste.”

4. Don’t play with our financial emotions.

With so many people and businesses feeling the financial impact of COVID, finances are a sensitive subject in 2020, for sure. It may be tempting to ask for freebies and discounts — but do carefully consider your actions with teamlancers before you:

  • Play hardball (i.e. negotiating them down to a number that makes you feel like you’ve won)
  • Dangle carrots (i.e. promising future projects that may or may not happen so you can get a discount)

When teamlancers come up with a quote, they don’t just chuck random numbers into the proposal. They look at the hours they have tracked on previous projects, then try to guesstimate what the scope will look like for your project. With teamlancers, you are paying for an entire team. Even if you are paying one main point of contact, that person is paying other people.

Payments are another sore subject, paying late or not at all. Going back to the previous point…you’re not just paying one person, you’re paying many. If you don’t pay your main teamlancing point of contact, chances are that this teamlancer will come out-of-pocket to pay fellow teamlancers because they will not be OK with not taking care of their partners.

If you take care of your teamlancers, they will take care of you. Looking back at No. 3 with the last-minute requests. If you pay well and on-time, your teamlancers will be more willing to help you out when you’re in a bind.

Teamlancing etiquette: Don’t go rogue on projects.

5. Don’t go rogue on projects.

It’s great when your internal team is enthusiastic about contributing content. Don’t keep your teamlancers in the dark though, with various team members writing blogs at midnight and publishing them the next morning without telling anybody.

Communicate if you’re spontaneously taking on some of the workload and ask your teamlancers for recommendations on how best to work together.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with disjointed content production, like several blog posts releasing in one day when they could have been distributed appropriately on the editorial calendar. As a result of going rogue, your brand presence will be disjointed as well. Going rogue is the opposite of collaboration and it will affect your content vision.

6. Don’t forget about synergy.

The best way to describe this situation is to think about several different marketing agencies working together on a single project. You hire a branding agency, a website development agency, and a content marketing agency to build a new website.

These people work for different companies and suddenly they have to work together. That’s a big ask when you are building a cohesive content marketing product like a website.

With all of the teamlancers out there today, it’s highly likely that you can find one teamlancing entity to handle everything. Your existing teamlancers might have the capabilities to do more for you as well. Remember they can source talent as needed for projects, so just ask if they can be your end-to-end partner for a particular project.

Synergy is arguably the cheesiest business jargon term in existence and I’m embarrassed to be using it right now. But when it comes to teamlancing, you’ve gotta have synergy.

You want your project to be successful and so do teamlancers like yours truly. It takes collaboration and cooperation to make a content project successful. If we treat each other respectfully and see every project as a partnership opportunity, all of the elements will come together to make a bigger impact.