I’m peeling back the curtain. If you’ve ever wondered how prolific freelancers operate behind the scenes, the truth is this: we work in teams. The concept of teamlancing isn’t new — contract workers have done it for ages — but understanding how this arrangement can benefit you as a gig-thirsty creative or as a marketing director with a dusty content calendar might be. You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to content creation. I sure don’t.
“Teamlancing is the practice of collaborating with a networked team (or networked teams) of freelancers to achieve a common goal, whether for a client or as a remote extension of a branded entity.” — ClearVoice
Psychologist Keith Sawyer has dedicated his career to studying the magic behind group creativity. Here’s a video of him speaking about the creative power of improvisational collaboration in the arts, which he says, “…ideas emerge that no one person would have been able to think of alone.”
In marketing, we do this via brainstorming, creating and revising as a team. Yes, those goofy Zoom gatherings do have purpose! They nurture our creativity.
Here’s how I’m a team player
Hey, I’m Angela. I left my last newspaper job (and collaborative newsroom environment) in 2009 to become a self-employed content marketing writer. I first traveled that rocky road solo, taking on writing projects for small businesses offering little marketing structure or content creation oversight. I quickly discovered I craved documented processes and like-minded camaraderie to both boost my productivity and genuinely enjoy my new career path. Hello, teamlancing.
When I started collaborating with production teams at digital marketing and advertising agencies, I discovered I thrive when joining creative forces with content strategists, editors, designers and marketing directors. Bouncing ideas off one another was not only career-building, it also made me feel integral to the full content creation process, not just the copywriting segment of the workflow.
Over the years I’ve crafted copy for infographics, video scripts on YouTube, a bazillion how-to blog posts, ghostwriting projects and many more word-based content needs. But, here’s the secret — I rarely worked alone. My successes are built on the foundational brilliance of teams that dig deep into audience analysis to offer detailed buyer personas, research SEO to share a list of poignant keyword phrases and wield sharp grammar skills to pare those paragraphs until they shine.
3 ways teamlancing furthers your freelance writing career
Over the last 11 years, I’ve worked directly with content-needing business owners and with content marketing teams. Hands down, I prefer the latter. Overall, the workflow process is smoother and more calculated, making time at my desk more efficient and enjoyable, which in turn makes me happier in my career and day-to-day task completion. Here are the specifics.
1. A team environment generates more writing jobs
As a freelancer, you’re always sniffing out your next project, even when the calendar is full. When you work in a teamlancing environment, you’re automatically on the roster of several marketing creatives, who are likely to reach out to you again next time they need assistance with content.
If you’re a cost-benefit analysis nerd, you already know it’s more economical to work with an established contractor repeatedly instead of going through the onboarding processing of training a new recruit. A Business Insider report explains that a tiny 2 percent increase in customer (that’s you, freelancer) retention reduces costs (to the hiring brand) by 10 percent.
The BI article goes on to explain that if you want to get hired again and again:
- Deliver specifically what the client asks for and needs. Go above and beyond, if possible.
- Meet your deadlines throughout the content process, including drafts and revisions.
- Communicate effectively. Respond to emails in a timely manner and show up for video chats.
- Be accessible and follow-up as a team player.
A job well-done puts you at the top of the list next time a teamlancing roster is being built for a creative project.
2. Working on a team is more structured and predictable
When a client knows multiple people outside their organization need to understand the company’s strategy and content plan, they document it. Ahref explains that once a freelancer has been onboarded, the client should provide information regarding business goals, company core values, editorial guides, information about the target audience and how to access your communication and collaborative work tools, such as Slack or a CRM. It’s so much easier to perform a job for a paying client when you know how they expect you to work.
Every time I’ve been involved in a teamlancing structure, I’ve been provided with ample information regarding the workflow process, from campaign calendars with highlighted deadlines to editorial guidelines that spell out exactly what the client needs. Now, when I come across a client who wants to work solo, and doesn’t have any structure in place, I decline their proposal.
3. Teamlancing is a secret career cheerleader
I’m having flashbacks to sixth-grade gym class. I was never good at team sports, but when I heard the crack of the softball hitting the bat and I took off to round those bases, I knew I was doing well thanks to the cheers of my classmates. Go, Angie, Go! they’d holler. When I’d play in the backyard at home with a ball and bat on my own, there was no cheering crowd. The difference between playing ball alone, or as part of a team, is encouragement.
Since prioritizing teamlancing collaborations, my confidence as a writer and knowledge of content marketing has steadily increased. It’s the tiny daily challenges, nuggets of insight and words of wisdom each day from your colleagues that accumulate over time to make you realize, dang, freelancing is a pretty amazing career. That positive mindset goes a long way to stave off creative fatigue, writer’s block and freelancer burnout.
3 ways teamlancing helps freelance businesses get projects done
Along with those injections of career-pumping positivity, I get ample feedback from my clients. Some that I have worked with for years feel comfortable telling me the ups and downs of our collaborations. I appreciate this, because then we can workshop the issues together and find solutions so we both have a better experience.
1. Teamlancing moves your business goals forward
Raise your hand if you have a content project that’s been in the conceptual phase for… hmmm… months, or maybe even years. You’re not alone. More times than I can count I’ve been asked to finally take actionable steps on a project that a client has wanted to tackle for a long time. By hiring a team, project management becomes a focus and goals are met more readily.
Here in farm country, we have a saying: Many hands make light work. It often refers to putting up the hay crop or mending fences. The same is true when maneuvering a marketing campaign with a complex funnel and multiple content assets. The workload can initially appear daunting until you realize you have many creatives to parse and process the tasks. The scheduling pros at Asana share a few workload management and team coordination tips that teamlancers can use:
- Attach a time element to each task. Should this take an hour and one person? Or, three days and the whole team? This helps your colleagues budget their time effectively.
- Break tasks into small chunks. Can they be outsourced to people witch specific expertise? For example, instead of one person tackling a presentation in its entirety, collaborate with a freelance graphic designer for the art and a freelance writer or copy editor to finesse the copy.
- Label tasks based on urgency and where they fit in the workflow. You may know it’s a top priority, but the others on the team have no clue. Loop them in and get those tasks checked off the to-do list ASAP.
- Have regular check-ins with your team. Ask how the project is going. Do the team members feel excited, overloaded or like they are spinning their wheels? Make adjustments if needed and move forward!
2. Teamlancers can supplement your internal team
OK, here’s the cool thing about collaborations outside the walls of your organization: You can instantly expand your team virtually. Most businesses don’t have the budget or time to onboard new specialized employees for a one-off marketing campaign. And, not many job hunters want temporary placement. So, why not leverage creative professionals who work on contract? Hello, that’s teamlancing.
If you need to sway HR and accounting, share this tidbit with them. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a survey in 2016 that discovered it takes an average of 42 days to fill a position and $4,129 to hire the candidate. Or, you can lean into the vetted creatives at ClearVoice, start one-on-one conversations today and have the best matches for your project review your proposal this week. Yes, onboarding can really be that fast. I’ve been contacted by a marketing client, read through their assignment brief and submitted polished copy all within a two-week turnaround.
3. Your business can try new content assets
Finally, if you want to move forward, and stay on-trend, you have to be willing to try new things. What was hot on social media two years ago doesn’t work today. Heck, some of the content marketing clients I work with do a full website redesign every two years or so, simply to look fresh and explore new content types. If you’re discussing revamping your marketing mix to accelerate your growth (whether that’s visibility or profits), it’s likely time for a refresh.
The Alexa blog defines this mix as seven key P’s: product, price, promotion, place, people, process and physical evidence. Let’s say your marketing has been hyper-focused on your process and physical evidence that it works via white papers and blog posts. Maybe it’s time to teamlance a crew to launch a visually enticing campaign that focuses on the people and products behind the scenes of all that social proof you’ve been dishing out for so long. Perhaps you start posting professional environmental portraits (thanks to freelance photographers) of satisfied customers and explainer videos (hello, freelance videographers) to show your product in action.
These new content assets tell your marketing story from a fresh perspective, capturing even more eyes and ears, and sales! I love these examples from OptinMonster if you want to kickstart an ideation session.
Are you ready to join a team? Whether you’re a writer looking for more direction and support, or in charge of marketing for your organization, strategic teamlancing propels you forward in your content creation efforts. Browse ClearVoice today to learn more.