6 strategies for keeping content creators motivated
Get your content team firing on all cylinders with positive metrics, managed risk-taking and more.
Writing and content creation are dream jobs, right? We wouldn’t argue, but life at the content coalface isn’t all Simpsons GIFs and free ice cream. Ask a pro and they’ll tell you that making content can be a mentally and emotionally draining task.
Conjuring up new ideas and turning them into compelling stories is tough. You’re in constant competition with the huge volume of content published every day, fighting for unique angles that will grab attention. And when you’ve found that magic angle, you have to go away and craft a piece of work that delivers on it.
So while most content creators wouldn’t dream of doing anything else, they can easily lose motivation. If content performs badly, doesn’t reach enough people, doesn’t trigger enough responses or just falls short of their original vision, it’s easy to get downhearted – and when you’re downhearted, you don’t do your best work.
If you’re running a content team, this is something you need to be prepared for. You’ve probably put weeks of work into your content strategy and calendar, but how much thought have you put into line management and team culture?
To help you get around this common blind spot for content teams, here are six strategies for keeping your content creators happy, motivated and buzzing with new ideas…
Share feedback and results
Naturally, you’re always monitoring the performance of content against business metrics (and if you aren’t doing it, you should be). But don’t just use those metrics to look for problem content and underperforming writers. Use them to highlight and celebrate success. Pride is a big motivator for content creators – when we see our work do well its spurs us on to produce another winner.
The key decision here is whether to give one-to-one positive feedback, or put results in front of the whole team to foster a culture of (friendly) competition. Both can work; it’s a question of what culture you prefer, and what drives the individuals you’ve hired. In other words: read the room!
Encourage collaboration and dialogue
There’s no better way to formulate and refine ideas than to simply bounce them off the person next to you. If there are any blocks on collaboration or free brainstorming in your content team, do what you can to remove them. Intensive shift work can be a killer – if that’s what your business needs demand, make sure you put some ‘idea space’ into the daily timetable, even if it’s just 15 minutes over a cuppa first thing in the morning.
Similarly, if content performs badly, keep an open dialogue with your team to work out why the content wasn’t effective. Together, you can find ways to improve and keep making content better, and keep each other motivated at the same time.
Keep content varied
Writing in the same format and on the same subject day in, day out can leave a content creator feeling stale and uninspired. While you can’t leave your writers to do whatever they fancy, do try to vary briefs – mix up text posts with image-heavy posts, or look for new topics to branch out into. Your audience will thank you too; repetitive content is as bad for the reader as it is for the writer.
You rarely get great content from people who are tied to a desk from nine to five. Writers often get their best ideas when they have the freedom to let their minds wander and explore new concepts. Allow your content team the flexibility to meet inspiring people, attend interesting events and work in a new place from time to time. Any writer will tell you that when you’re not in the ‘zone’, it can help to stop and do something else. Find a balance between allowing that and (of course) hitting deadlines.
Allow them to take risks
You don’t get great rewards if you aren’t prepared to take risks – and that means allowing your team to take risks too. Give your content creators a chance to be daring. Encourage them to try new technologies and techniques. They need to know they have the freedom to pursue quirky ideas and that these will be heard, not quashed. It doesn’t pay to be too controlling.
Put it all in perspective
We don’t mean taking writers to one side and whispering “Don’t worry, it’s only content.” We mean being clear about wider goals and deadlines. A long-term calendar and a strategic plan help content creators think ahead and contextualise what they’re doing. If all you give them to work with is a content hole and a shovel, they’ll quickly start to feel aimless and demoralised. When you’re doing it right, content isn’t window-dressing but a crucial part of your business strategy. Make sure your content team knows it!
Put these measures in place and you’re on your way to an energised, productive band of creators. Not built your team yet? Check out our guide to essential skills and roles for a content team.