How to Organize Your Editorial Team

How to Organize Your Editorial Team

So you’ve got your concept, and you’ve got the drive to start a publication. You’ve managed to recruit similarly passionate and driven individuals, and you’re rearing to get started. But how do you organize your editorial team? How do you make sure each person is reaching their full potential in the framework of your publication? Here are some of our tips.

The Classic Model

If you have literally no idea how to organize your team, the classic newspaper organizational model is a good place to start. You’ve got your Editor-in-Chief at the top, who steers the publication’s overarching creative vision. Below you have your Managing Editor(s), Creative Director, and any Business Managers. Of course, the specific titles will change depending on your needs as a publication, but these are the ones who oversee the different departments within your publication. Below your Managing Editor you have Section Editors, who commandeer the writing staff (staff or freelance). Similarly, your Creative Director manages your Visuals, Layout, Photo, etc. editors, who then manage staff photographers/designers/editors/etc. 

You might have noticed that this is all very vague and freeform. That’s because there’s no secret sauce to organizing an editorial team — the best way to organize is whichever way works for you. That being said, there are strategies you can employ to best divvy up the work. 

Divide and Conquer

First and foremost, find what needs to happen. Are you dividing your publication into different sections? Then put someone in charge of those sections. Are you planning on launching a website? Social media? Find out what tasks are large enough for a person to take on, and then find people to fill those roles.

If the work on those different sections builds up, see if they need to be staffed further. Add people accordingly. What’s important is to stay perceptive of what your publication needs and in what capacity. 

Tips for working as a small team

Have A Chain of Command

It’s important to know where the buck stops. Not only is it important for someone to be leading the creative charge, but it’s also important for that same person to be accountable for all the content that is published. So it doesn’t matter if it’s one person or two, what’s important is that everyone agrees on it. 

Beyond that, it’s important to have a clear idea of who’s doing what. Part of organizing your editorial team is making sure boundaries are established. Defining roles is important not only so that your team doesn’t step on each other’s responsibilities, but also in order to cooperate effectively. 

Play To Strengths

Find out what your team members are good at, and give them the opportunity to flourish. If there isn’t a job suited for a certain team member, create it! The best content is going to come from writers, designers, and managers that enjoy what they’re doing. 

To make delegating easier, make a style guide

The easiest way to avoid micromanaging and to delegate more freely is to establish a brand-wide style guide. By noting down all of your stylistic rules, you not only cement your brand’s look and sound for posterity, but you magically redirect all questions that would normally come your way to a document with all the answers. 

Related: How to develop a content marketing strategy

Be ready to wear all the hats

To explain the necessity of being flexible in a publication, let’s invoke a soccer analogy. There’s a Dutch soccer strategy called totaalvoetbal (total football) which essentially states that any outfield player can assume any outfield position, making the team dynamic and dangerous. Everyone is always ready to play striker and defender. And on a small editorial team, the same principle applies. It’s important to be ready to take on any position. The managing editor might have to take over social media, or the copy editor might have to write up some expense reports. The editor-in-chief is especially not immune to the work of editing, reporting, or writing. 

Not only does this maximize productivity and make putting out fires easier, it also builds a sense of cooperation and teamwork within your publication. And when you’re starting something from nothing, the importance of having a good team cannot be overstated.

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