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How to Incorporate Collaboration and Feedback into Your Writing

How to Incorporate Collaboration and Feedback into Your Writing

To help writers improve productivity and quality through collaboration and feedback, we've gathered seventeen unique perspectives from professionals across the industry, including business owners and editors. From insisting on collaboration and setting expectations to hosting speed dating for content ideas, discover the best practices these experts recommend for incorporating collaboration and feedback into your writing process.

  • Insist on Collaboration and Set Expectations

  • Boost Confidence with Constructive Feedback

  • Embrace Constructive Criticism for Growth

  • Collaborate from the Planning Phase

  • Form a Writing Group for Support

  • Track Changes and Maintain Version Control

  • Limit Collaborators and Define Roles

  • Be Open to All Feedback

  • Ask Specific Questions for Feedback

  • Implement Early Peer Review

  • Focus on Common Feedback Points

  • Invite Team Collaboration on Drafts

  • Use Feedback for Skill Improvement

  • Differentiate Between Collaboration and Feedback

  • Pre-Review Your Content Before Sharing

  • Adopt a Pair Review Process

  • Host Speed Dating for Content Ideas

Insist on Collaboration and Set Expectations

I work as a book ghostwriter and content marketing specialist. If collaboration is not baked into the process already, insist on it. I had a content marketing client who wanted me to deliver pristine copy ready to click "publish," but they didn't want to be a part of the editorial process, and didn't want to pay my editor besides me. What? More than one set of eyes on a project is always a good thing. Collaboration and feedback are essential to good writing.

I do my best work in collaboration, whether I'm getting attribution, ghostwriting, or working on a group project. Clarify expectations ahead of time. Some clients want to get into the weeds with you; others want to do a light edit before final approval.

There will probably be more feedback in the early days with a client. Once you get in tune with how to reflect their brand and/or their voice, there will be less feedback and more fluid collaboration.

Boost Confidence with Constructive Feedback

As an editor, I try to give constructive feedback in a diplomatic, positive way. I want to build writers’ confidence levels up, since it’s such a competitive business. I also try to give my writers manageable assignments, based on their skill levels.

Embrace Constructive Criticism for Growth

In my experience, collaboration and honest feedback are essential for creating thorough, compelling, and effective copy. One tip I have for encouraging a collaborative environment is to be open to constructive criticism.

As a creative, it's easy to get overly attached to my work. I believe that if the intent of my writing isn't clear to my team, it won't be clear to my audience either. Being open to my colleagues' feedback not only results in a piece almost guaranteed to land with my target audience, but it has also helped me sharpen my pen and become a more strategic, well-rounded writer.

Constructive criticism isn't a bash fest meant to hurt your feelings; it's a learning opportunity and a chance to grow in your profession.

Collaborate from the Planning Phase

Writing is about constant revision and taking feedback to improve drafts. Collaboration and feedback can be testy if personalities clash. I have found that collaborating from the planning phase of the writing process makes it more productive.

This means that we have a meeting to discuss a content strategy, and we share our live drafts with each other and add comments on each other's documents. We refer to the brief we developed from the strategy, so there is less room for disagreement.

When there is disagreement, we write both versions of the issue and then compare it to the content strategy. This takes ten minutes and allows us to make an objective decision.

It becomes much more productive if we have a clear idea of the type of content we need to deliver. This is the best way to make feedback and collaboration effective.

Dr Shruthi Shridhar, Content Lead, Inito

Form a Writing Group for Support

Several years ago, I started a small writer's group in my community. Initially, we met once a month, with each member sharing ten minutes of their work for critique. Over the years, we've grown to just over a hundred members and have evolved into a trusted resource for a wide range of writing-related matters.

From recommendations on editors and illustrators to insights on self-publishing versus traditional routes and the intricacies of advertising for authors, we serve as a comprehensive support network. We collaborate on book launches, exchange valuable media leads, and endorse fellow members for book clubs and speaking engagements.

If you're not already part of a writing group, I highly recommend either joining one or initiating your own—it will undoubtedly prove invaluable on your creative journey.

Amy Lyle, Author, Magazine Contributor, Podcaster, TEDx Speaker

Track Changes and Maintain Version Control

This may seem like a really simple answer, but the best way to improve productivity and quality in the collaboration and feedback process is to make sure the whole team is well-versed in how to track changes using Microsoft Word and uses a consistent process for naming sequential versions of a document. It's so important to know that everyone on the team's voices have been documented and reviewed.

Jackie Alpers, Author of the Unofficial Yellowstone Cookbook, Jackie Alpers Official Website

Limit Collaborators and Define Roles

Writing can easily suffer because you have too many cooks in the kitchen. Collaboration is important because you get to hear perspectives you weren't aware of, but it can also lead to a watered-down draft that won't resonate with your intended target. If you want to improve quality, focus on finding the right collaborator or collaborators. If possible, focus on one or two extra sets of eyes.

Also, give those collaborators the right amount of information so their feedback is limited in scope and helpful. For example, "I want help with spelling and grammar," or "I need you to ensure this content meets our tone of voice standards." If your collaborators know your needs, you'll get the most from that experience and avoid unnecessary changes or feedback.

Amanda Cross, Content Marketing Manager, Nectar

Be Open to All Feedback

I accept all writing feedback, both positively and productively. I work closely with a virtual assistant across my sites, and she always provides valuable suggestions or catches things that I wouldn't notice otherwise. She unquestionably enhances my content, as do my readers. Always leave room for improvement and be open to changing your writing approach!

Kristen Wood, Food Writer, Photographer, Cookbook Author, Recipe Developer, MOON and spoon and yum

Ask Specific Questions for Feedback

As a writer for a food blog, I incorporate collaboration by simply asking specific questions. I have found that people are less likely to share their opinion if you ask open-ended questions like, "Let me know your thoughts." However, when they are asked specifics like, "Do you think this paragraph explains the process clearly?" or "Were you able to follow my process using the photos?" It's easier for people to share feedback and collaborate.

Implement Early Peer Review

Incorporating collaboration and feedback into the writing process is essential. A top practice is "Early Peer Review." Share drafts with peers, mentors, or writing groups before becoming too attached. This identifies structural and conceptual issues upfront, saving time and improving quality. Embrace constructive criticism and actively seek feedback for continuous growth.

Focus on Common Feedback Points

For feedback, when two or more people point out the same issue, then that's something worth paying attention to. On the other hand, if only one person brings up a specific point, and no one else does, we can see it as a matter of personal taste. So, make sure to get multiple opinions from various sources, and focus on the commonalities first!

Neil Chase, Writer and Filmmaker, Neil Chase Film

Invite Team Collaboration on Drafts

I invite my team to collaborate on written projects by asking, "Can I borrow your brain? I want to let the Ridiculously Happy Wife students know how they can get private coaching. I'd love your input on these emails." That lets them know my desires and that I value their contribution.

Then, I send them the link to the draft where, through the magic of Google Docs, they can comment in the margins, respond to other comments, or make suggested changes directly to the text, so integrating their feedback is a breeze!

I stay open to the suggestions by assuming I'm going to agree with all of them. Sometimes, I even accept suggestions without reading them first (worst case, I can always go back). That way, any changes I make come from a strong conviction, not just the inertia of feeling that my way is the best. This practice has helped me make the NY Times bestseller list and build a multi-million-dollar relationship coaching company.

Laura Doyle, Relationship Coach and New York Times Bestselling Author, Laura Doyle Connect

Use Feedback for Skill Improvement

Check your ego at the door. Collaboration and feedback are meant to make a piece of content the best it can be. They aren't a personal attack on you or your skills. If you aren't willing to make changes to your work, you'll have a hard time growing as a writer.

This means asking questions and having conversations about any suggestions you don't like or don't understand, instead of immediately rejecting them. It also means having the knowledge and experience to explain when a change someone wants you to make won't work, either from a technical or substantive perspective.

By using feedback and collaboration as an opportunity to improve your skills, learn new things, and build better relationships, you'll be able to take your content game to the next level.

Brittany Foster, Freelance Writer, Editor, and SEO Expert, bfostercreative

Differentiate Between Collaboration and Feedback

Understanding the difference between collaboration and feedback is imperative for effective communication.

In a collaboration, it's a combination of my view and yours. I would deliver the written material in a manner that encompasses both views by finding the "bridges of commonality," so to speak. These are the points that we either share initially or come to an agreement on through vetting the issues.

Feedback is simply me sharing my view on what you have offered. This is done in a direct, constructive, and respectful manner. Feedback should always be positive and beneficial for the receiving party. If it's not genuine and relative to the issue(s), then it's not feedback; it's an attack!

Whether it's collaboration or feedback, the communication should always be done with the focus on creating an "impact" relative to the receiving party's view.

Ed McManus, Author, Relationship Media

Pre-Review Your Content Before Sharing

This is a topic near and dear to my heart, given the nature of my business. However, if I had to pick one best practice, it would be to put on your editor glasses first before you hand it off to someone else to have a look. I don't mean look for typos, though naturally, you should do that too. I mean you should break your content down into its key parts and highlight where you want the most attention and most support versus where you just want another set of eyes.

Unless you're working with someone as close to the content as you are, this method allows you to get the most value as it gives the other party context and a framework for their edits. This is significantly more effective than giving them the document and asking what they think.

Adopt a Pair Review Process

At my marketing and copywriting agency, we use a process of pair review, overseen by our resident Editor-in-Chief. That means before any copy makes it to a client, it goes through a rigorous quality control process where writers review one another's work.

Then, there is a final "chef at the pass" moment where content is checked against the client's requirements and our own standards. This ensures multiple steps of editing and proofing take place before a client then gives feedback. We measure the rates of client revisions and when copy is approved, and set targets around fewer rounds of revision and first-time approval.

Our goal is, of course, to get it right the first time, and though this doesn't always happen, we aim to improve as we continue the engagement.

Host Speed Dating for Content Ideas

Unconventional and fun collaboration methods tend to work best for high-quality content ideas. Host a "speed dating" session with your copywriters and content marketers. Each person presents a unique idea for a writing project relevant to your business topic in a limited amount of time, and the group provides quick feedback and suggestions.

This greatly helps the distributed team discover fresh angles and creative approaches for the company's content calendar.

Aimie Ye, Director of Content Marketing, Centime


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