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10 Tips to Help You Catch and Keep Writers for Your Website Using Non-Monetary Motivation

Updated on June 30, 2016
Draw in writers and keep them happy and productive by following these steps.
Draw in writers and keep them happy and productive by following these steps. | Source

Tips for Attracting and Retaining Writing Talent for Your Website from a Writer Wishing to be Caught

For many folks in the business world, particularly online, money is the only go-to motivator. This is so even though study after study has proven that lots of other things are more important to people than money once people have everything they need to survive. The truth is that there are a lot of things that motivate writers that have nothing to do with dollars and cents. Non-monetary rewards can produce amazing results.

If you'd like to learn some free ways to improve your website's reputation with writers and encourage writers to be more productive and loyal to your platform or website, you've come to the right place.

If all you spend is money, you'll get what you pay for. If you understand what motivates people, you can get much better results without opening your checkbook.

10. Recognize Achievement

When a writer brings exceptional traffic to your website or writes something you think is valuable and interesting, acknowledge it. It's as simple as a message saying, "Well done. Thanks for adding to the value of our site."

It nurtures confidence in the writer and builds up his or her positive feelings about the website. People will work harder to get such acknowledgement, to feel like contributors to a community rather than just users of a website.

Being a writer without getting such feedback from the people you are sharing your effort with is a bit like being a baker of fabulous cakes whose customers rave about his creations but whose boss never says, "Hey, great job. Thank you!"

9. Recognize Effort

When a writer produces a large volume of well-written content, acknowledge it. A message saying something like, "Your efforts and contributions are appreciated" would be enough to increase motivation in many. It can be difficult to remain confident and productive if there's no human feedback to be seen after one puts in a great deal of effort.

I think there is little in this world more discouraging than putting a great deal of effort into something with the intent to share the fruits of those efforts with someone who never so much as acknowledges you've done anything.

Would you rather hold a conversation sitting in a chair full of trash or in a clean, sanitary place?
Would you rather hold a conversation sitting in a chair full of trash or in a clean, sanitary place? | Source

8. Promote Quality Writing By Literally Promoting Quality Writing

Most writers aren't keen on seeing junk, spam, and spun content displayed next to writing that represents their best efforts. Most writers are pleased by seeing their content displayed next to writing they can tell represents the best efforts of others.

A site full of best efforts and free of spam, junk, and spun content attracts more people than a site that's a potluck of trash, plagiarism, and barely intelligible junk peppered with occasional good articles. Since most writers wish to be heard, they'd rather write somewhere that gets good traffic due to a good reputation.

The way to show writers who may be considering writing on your site that you respect the abilities of your writers is to prominently display high quality writing. By promoting only quality material everywhere on your site, you let writers know you expect, promote, and appreciate professional-level efforts.

In my opinion, people are more likely to continue writing for a site they can proudly show to friends and family than for a site they are a bit embarrassed to be associated with. Improving your website's reputation will improve your chances of attracting both readers and writers.

7. Say Please and Thank You

A strange and disturbing thing tends to happen in some online businesses. Those who run them sometimes seem to forget that there are people on the other ends of their screens. So they sometimes forget to use common, socially accepted modes of behavior when communicating. They may even forget to communicate in a professional manner. I used to write for such a website. They circled the drain for about two years after forgetting how business professionals should communicate until they sold the tattered remains of their website to a more professional website.

Writers who are treated as one treats other business contacts will be less likely to feel like unappreciated cogs in a vast and faceless machine and more likely to feel like people working together as a team.

6. Take a Strong Stance on Plagiarism

Most writers don't like plagiarists. That's a little like saying athletes don't like groin pulls.

Plagiarists are parasites who have decided to make a living stealing from people who already often earn very little for their efforts. They steal our very words and voices and try to pass them off as their own.

Believe it or not, writing is work. Allowing plagiarists to use your website to post their stolen words is a little like inviting television thieves into your television factory. It's guaranteed to upset the honest people who are in there making products, especially when the thieves start stealing what the workers and their colleagues are making and doing it in plain sight.

In my opinion, most writers can stomach poor quality junk sharing their space with fewer hard feelings than they'd have about seeing their goods displayed with stolen merchandise. I used to write for a website that allowed plagiarism to rank highly on their website, even after it had been reported many times. Many writers on the site were angered by the site's support of plagiarists. The site is now gone.

Show your writers you understand that what they do has value by taking a strong stance on plagiarism.

Plagiarists are like scavenging raccoons with their dirty paws all over other peoples' property.
Plagiarists are like scavenging raccoons with their dirty paws all over other peoples' property. | Source

Writers, Do You Like Sharing Space with Plagiarists?

Do websites that allow plagiarists to publish stolen words seem like places you'd like to write?

See results

5. Keep Their Online Work Space Running Efficiently

Imagine a writer typing away diligently then sighing with satisfaction when finishing an article of wit, depth, and stunning insight about the Hierarchy of Bras and Women's Underwear in MS Word. It's been researched, sourced, edited for grammar, rewritten and edited again for brevity. It's been tweaked, read aloud, and graced with stunning, perfectly credited photographs everyone will want to touch.

Now imagine that writer opening the working dashboard on your website. What does she encounter? Is it clear where the text goes, how the photos are to be formatted and credited? Does the edit function of every element work quickly and always on the first try? Do her changes save automatically?

There are hundreds of other questions you could ask yourself, but it would be better if you asked your writers instead. The important thing to remember is that no one likes to mess around using inefficient and bug-filled interfaces and there are plenty of other places they could go if they get fed up with one.

I have to give HubPages the highest grade on this point out of any website I've written for. Bugs are addressed promptly and they don't rest on their laurels, but continue to improve the interface.

4. Communicate Clearly

Clear communication is a proven means of increasing productivity, reducing errors, increasing compliance with rules, and creating feelings of trust and respect. People who know exactly what they are supposed to be doing and why they are supposed to be doing it are more likely to meet and exceed expectations than those uncertain as to how they should proceed or to whom the rules seem arbitrary.

Clear communication on a website begins with clear and logical rules and terms of use. If the reason for a rule can't be logically deduced from its wording by an average native English speaker, it needs to be rewritten until it can.

I used to write for a website that did things like changing how the user interface worked, changing the terms of service, and changing rules without bothering to inform the writers. They also had a FAQ which included vaguely worded sections even staff couldn't explain adequately when asked. They're gone now.

Writers, Is Clear Communication Important to You?

Is it important to you that websites you publish on have clear and easy to find rules and terms of service?

See results

3. Listen

I can think of nothing that lets a person know you respect them quite so much as listening to what they have to say. You're also quite likely to find listening useful for reasons beyond increasing productivity and increasing writer retention; if enough people have the same suggestion or complaint there's a pretty good chance your website can be improved by considering what they have to say.

Many websites ignored writer concerns about overly promotional material and poorly written ad copy masquerading as informational content prior to Google's panda and penguin search engine algorithm improvements. Most of the websites that decided to ignore those concerns are gone now.

2. Respond

Responding to your writers' concerns and ideas is not only the primary way they'll know they've been heard, it also builds a stronger business relationship. Responsiveness reassures websites users that human beings are monitoring the site and looking out for its well-being rather than leaving it to run itself with automated processes.

HubPages is one website that is very responsive. Staff members often answer questions and concerns within hours or days.

Treat online business contacts just like you'd treat people in person and reap the rewards of courtesy.
Treat online business contacts just like you'd treat people in person and reap the rewards of courtesy. | Source

1. Treat Writers like They Are People Rather Than Interchangeable and Disposable Commodities

Rather than thinking of writers as resources to be cultivated and harvested from like trees in an orchard, think of them first and foremost as people. Think of them as people who are willing to share their talent and labor with you, because that's exactly what they are. Once you stop thinking about controlling their behavior and start thinking about how you can use whatever they do best to best advantage for everyone you can start moving forward. When you think of people as resources instead of as contributors you create your own stumbling blocks and you fail to attract writers or fail to keep them much, much more than you should.

Young writers don't fantasize about one day selling themselves as a commodity for less than sweat shop earnings. They fantasize about having their voices heard, being respected for what they do, and being valued equally as a person. You can have the enthusiasm and loyalty of the average writer by making him or her feel respected, heard, and valued.

Writers, Please Weigh in with Your Opinions

Writers, which of these actions would most motivate you to write for a website?

See results

Why Worry About Non-Monetary Motivators When There Are Always People Who Are so Desperate They'll Write for Peanuts?

If all you spend is money, you'll get what you pay for. If you understand what motivates people, you can get much better results without opening your checkbook.

If you want to attract readers to look at the ads you sell on your users' content, you'll earn much more if the content is written more by people desperate to be heard rather than by people who are just desperate to survive. Readers are moved by passion and attracted by skill and expertise. Those things are much easier to earn than they are to buy.

Or you could think of it as a free product upgrade you get for acting like a courteous professional.

Implementing the advice on this page should improve your reputation with writers, drawing in new talent and encouraging current contributors to stay.

What Gives Me the Expertise to Write on this Subject?

I'm a writer; I communicate for a living. I also network with hundreds of other writers. Let me tell you, writers are not a close-mouthed bunch when it comes to voicing their concerns and expressing things that make them happy or unhappy. Any writer who uses online platforms and pays attention could have written this piece.

I've written for or investigated about a dozen writing platforms and I've noticed the fairly obvious things they weren't doing but could be doing at no cost or very little cost that would increase the quality and number of works published by their users. It seems to me that these obvious ideas aren't at all obvious to many people who own online writing platforms. Because everyone benefits from the implementation of these ideas, I figured someone ought to write about them.


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