The 7-step process to build a stellar content team
A recent study revealed that 67% of customers feel that branded content is valuable and use it when making purchasing decisions. If you don’t already have a content team in place, building one can create more sales, meet conversion goals, and build brand recognition. Regardless of your official title, you may have been tasked with planning, assembling, and deploying a content dream team. Here are proven steps to getting it done.
1. Set Goals
It’s not enough to create viral content. While buzzworthy cat videos are adorable, it’s worthless if it doesn’t bring prospects one step closer to becoming buyers. Goal setting, therefore, should be a team project between the marketing and editorial teams. Content consumption should be measured, as well as what visitors do after they have consumed it. Are they helping you overcome obstacles in your marketing plan? Common goals for custom content include working to:
- Grow the email marketing list
- Rank higher in Google search
- Improve bounce rate
- Establish expert status in your industry
After you have clearly laid out your most pressing needs and goals, it’s time to decide how the content will meet them.
2. Define Your Methods
Content is so versatile these days. While it’s tempting to want to do all things, and for all people, your strategy should focus on one or two areas that you can do well. They should also be a natural fit for your stated goals.
Do you want to keep visitors on your website longer? Video may be a good fit.
Are you hoping to get signups to your newsletter? Free premium content gifts might be the best choice.
Researching what other companies have done successfully may help inspire your choices. You will also need to be very honest about your company’s mission. Do not use content strategies that seem outside of your brand; this may alienate your most loyal customers.
3. Find Your Team
Excellent freelance content creators are everywhere, but you may need to scout out many places online to find them. Ideally, you want a good mix of seasoned professionals and inspired thinkers who are also early-adopters of technology and marketing techniques. Go where freelance writers and content creators hang out. Places to look include:
- Online freelance writing job boards
- Facebook communities
- New media and marketing conferences
- Freelance meetups and local events
Don’t forget referrals! Ask your best in-house talent who they would recommend. Allow them to hear your content vision and spread the word that you are hiring.
4. Fill Your Roles
By this point, you should already know what kind of content you are creating, which will drive the exact type of freelance creator you hire. Some common freelance creator roles that you’ll likely consider filling include the following:
If you aren’t a fan of stock photos and want to make your content truly stand out, hiring a photographer is a good investment. Most photographers are freelancers, and they are used to meeting the needs of busy content teams. They can also add valuable insight into design elements and photo editing.
No matter your content goals, freelance writers are the bread and butter of your team. They should be able to do well-researched journalistic articles, snappy dailies, as well as marketing copy. While it’s not likely to find freelancers who have years of extensive work in all of these areas, the good writers can quickly adapt and be brought up to speed on the voice and style of your brand’s message. It’s best to hire one or two writers more than what you think you’ll need. Good writers can fill in the gaps and schedules of each other to keep your content calendar happening year-round, in all situations.
Some photographers can also do video capture, which is good news if you are unsure you need to hire both. Remember that not all photographers have experience with video and sound editing and production, however. Your videographer should be able to handle interviews, ad work, Facebook live feeds, and another other video marketing materials you may use down the road.
Freelance Social Media Managers
Your marketing team may already be using social media extensively, but it may be necessary to expand your social marketing team to include a freelancer or two with a focus on promotion, curation, and engagement. With a rapidly expanding content team in place, your content output will double or even triple. Having at least one experienced professional on the team to make sure it is best promoted on social medial will play a big role in the success of your new content strategy.
If your content is well-received, you’ll have fans (and detractors.) A qualified freelance community manager can handle comments, answer questions, moderate spam and develop online community events. Community managers can work in tandem with the writers and the social media managers to make sure that calls to action from content is followed up with in a timely manner. They are the face of your company and should be friendly, polished, and available to respond at a moment’s notice.
Who will put new skilled freelancers to work in a cohesive manner? Your new managing editor, of course! He or she should have an eye for talent, the ability to teach new hires, a desire to communicate, and excellent organizational skills. Your managing editor is someone who can take your new content plan and run with it after a month or so.
(You may also find some talented individuals who can do more than one of these jobs effectively.)
5. Managing Your Team
While the managing editor will be handling the day-to-day of making sure content is produced and shared, it’s wise to stay involved through the onboarding and training process. Your newly hired content editor should have resources available to help them in the development of new talent, including style guides and marketing goals. They may even be the one to write these.
Your editor should have all the tools needed to assign content, make changes, publish finished work, and measure success. Many experienced managing editors have favorites that they feel comfortable using. Be open to trying new types of software or team tools like a Freelance Management System.
6. Measuring Success
It will take some time to get the bugs out, but you should start seeing well-developed, engaging content happening on a regular basis within a couple of weeks of launch. Building a content team is hard work, but maintaining one can be even more difficult. Make sure your managing editor knows how success will be measured. These benchmarks should be tied into the goals you set at the beginning of your plan and relevant to your sales goals. Don’t get caught up in metrics that are buzzworthy but not integral to your success.
If after a month, you find that your content is missing the mark, it’s OK to adjust. Be sure to bring in your managing editor to understand why changes are being made. They are the one on the front lines of writers and content creators. Their buy-in will be very important when it comes to communicating potentially burdensome changes to your already established creation team.