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13 Experts Share Their Best Tips on How to Build a Well-Run Content Team

expert-tips-well-run-content-teamContent marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing yet produces almost three times as many leads. It’s easy to see why 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing as part of their strategies.

However, executing an effective content marketing program is no simple task. It requires a skilled team and a well-run process. To help you build and operate an elite team of editors, strategists, writers, videographers, and designers, follow these tips curated from 13 marketing experts.

Your #contentmarketing strategy is the genetic code to build the best team, says @IamAaronAgius. Share on X

1. Create a content marketing strategy

“Before you start looking for writers, you need to create an effective content strategy that will help you decide on the type and number of writers you need to hire. The strategy will also help you stay focused on your long-term goals and not just on producing content.” – Jill Phillips, Buildfire

Before you start looking for writers, you need an effective #content strategy, says @jillphlps. Share on X

Creating a content marketing strategy isn’t a superfluous exercise to kill time. Your strategy is the DNA for how your brand communicates with the outside world. It’s also the genetic code necessary to build the best team to execute the strategy.

2. Structure your team effectively

“The way you structure your team sends a strong message about what your team is currently prioritizing and deprioritizing.” – Kipp Bodnar, HubSpot

The way you structure your team sends a strong message about what your team is prioritizing, says @kippbodnar. Share on X

To function efficiently, it’s important to have clearly defined job roles and a formal structure for your team. Without this, responsibilities get blurred and chaos usually ensues.
With a team of editors, designers, and writers, you need a leader. This is typically your managing editor or content strategist, who is responsible for keeping the team in alignment with the growth goals of the organization.

3. Choose your managing editor wisely

“The managing editor is the actual day-to-day storyteller for the organization. The managing editor makes the content compelling.” – Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

The managing editor is the actual day-to-day storyteller for the organization, says @joepulizzi. Share on X

Your editor is the linchpin of your content marketing operation – you want to choose him or her carefully.

Find someone who pays meticulous attention to detail, is highly organized, can work to a deadline, and is a good copywriter – so the editor can improve upon (rather than destroy) the work of your other writers. Large egos and editing don’t go together well. Ensure that your editor can look at things objectively and provide criticism without tearing down the work of other writers.

Large egos and editing don’t go together well, says @IAmAaronAgius. Share on X

4. Hire a content marketing strategist

“Content strategists need strong communication skills to handle the frequently conflicting demands of editorial and marketing leaders.”Erin Nelson, Contently

#Content strategists need strong communication skills to handle conflicting demands, says @erincnelson. Share on X

Content creation can become an insular process. When you spend all of your time researching topics, writing informative articles, and promoting content, it’s easy to lose track of the bigger picture of how content marketing is moving the company forward.

When hiring a strategist, look for someone who understands good content and pays attention to detail but who has a strong vision for the future and is prepared to go the extra mile to ensure that your goals become a reality.

Hire a strategist who understands how good content can move the company forward, says @IamAaronAgius. Share on X

5. Hire a skilled designer

“Strong visual communicators are invaluable for content marketing. Sure, you can create graphics using a variety of free tools. However, they are not a replacement for a skilled graphic designer.” – Kristi Hines, CoSchedule

Strong visual communicators are invaluable for #contentmarketing, says @kikolani. Share on X

While writers may be the most fundamental members of your content team, remember 65% of people are visual learners. Don’t neglect the importance of visual content creators. Facebook posts with images generate 2.3 times more engagement than those without, while tweets with images generate 150% more retweets than those without. It’s crucial that your team is able to create high quality images that resonate with two-thirds of your audience.

6. Seek writers with journalistic backgrounds

“Journalists know how to get the point across with fewer words. They’re not prone to marketing jargon, and they’re natural storytellers.” – Kyle Lacy, Lessonly

Journalists are not prone to marketing jargon, and they’re natural storytellers, says @kyleplacy. Share on X

When hiring a writer, the quality of the person’s work should be more important than their background or qualifications. That said, journalists usually have an innate ability to investigate an issue from all perspectives and write in a way that communicates rather than simply expresses. For this reason, a journalistic background is a great asset for a writer on your content marketing team.

7. Search proactively for writers

“The simplest way to find a great blogger is to scour marketing blogs. Although your business may not be about marketing, it doesn’t matter in this particular case. A great blogger can write on any topic due to the fact that anything can be researched on the web.” – Neil Patel, Quicksprout

The simplest way to find a great blogger is to scour marketing blogs, says @neilpatel. Share on X

Often, a skilled writer is more valuable than one who is knowledgeable about a particular subject. That’s why you can actively look for writer candidates from all types of content places. Unless you’re producing content which is extremely technical or requires deep domain knowledge, judge potential hires on the quality of their portfolio rather than what topics they’ve written about.

8. Leverage the power of video

“Don’t be afraid to start small. If video is a talent you or your team has, it’s incredibly powerful for connecting with people in a way that raw text and images simply cannot.” – Rand Fishkin, Moz

Video is incredibly powerful for connecting w/ people in a way that raw text & images cannot. @randish Share on X

Cisco estimates video will make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. If you can regularly produce high quality video content without breaking your marketing budget, you’ll benefit greatly.

You don’t need to hire a full-time videographer or animator. You can start with the help of freelance animators, script writers, designers, voice actors, and spokespersons thanks to resources like Fiverr and Upwork.

You don’t need to hire a full-time videographer thanks to resources like @fiverr & @upwork. @IamAaronAgius Share on X

9. Search for diverse talents

“The advantages of building out a team of freelancers are that you get a wide range of voices, types of content, and that this model is infinitely scalable.” – Benji Hyam, Grow and Convert

Build out a team of freelancers so you get a wide range of voices & types of content, says @benjihyam. Share on X

Writers are not equal in their strengths and weaknesses. Some writers are great at turning out highly technical blog posts, but struggle at scripting humorous animated explainer videos.

Likewise, reaching out to influencers and arranging expert influencers comes naturally for some content marketing team members, while others prefer to stick to content.

The key is to have a diverse set of skills on your team so you can handle the full spectrum of content marketing activities. In my experience, it can be helpful to hire freelancers for individual projects rather than hire full-time staff — that makes it easier to match the right skill set to the right project.

10. Convey a path to promotion

“Top talent knows their worth and are motivated to continually develop their skills – if they see your agency as a dead end, you’ll miss out on the best people for your content marketing team.” – Jessica Kandler, Map&Compass

Top talent knows their worth & are motivated to continually develop their skills, says @JessicaKandler. Share on X

No one wants to work for a company where their skills aren’t valued. In your job description, be sure to emphasize that you’re looking for someone who can grow with the organization. Promoting internally is less expensive and creates excellent organizational loyalty. If you’re prepared to invest in team members’ growth, they are more likely to want to stay with you for the long term.

11. Promote those who document processes

“More often than not, if you create a culture of documentation, your promotions will be internal. As a process is created and the company grows, an employee will replace themselves and ascend the ladder to a higher position.” Ryan Deiss, Digital Marketer

If you create a culture of documentation, your employee promotions will be internal, says @ryandeiss. Share on X

Without solid documentation, attempts to scale your content marketing will result in mayhem.

Experienced content team members are the best people to document working processes. As they ascend to senior positions, they’ll be available to clarify the documents and answer questions when new members join the team.

12. Create a style guide

“The purpose of a comprehensive style guide is to create consistency across all content, and it also gives writers something to refer to if they have questions.” – Kyra Kuik, Planday

The purpose of a comprehensive style guide is to create consistency across all content, says @KyraKuik. Share on X

Nothing is worse than a disjointed tone of voice that varies from one platform to the next. When you’re scaling a content team and bringing on new writers, it’s essential to have a style guide.

A documented tone of voice, vocabulary list, and communication style enables every content creator on your team to represent the brand with integrity.

13. Teach using osmosis

“Surround yourself with your team as often as you can, talk to people one on one, make sure they know your values. You won’t be sorry.” – Gary Vaynerchuk, Vaynermedia

Talk to people on your team one on one, & make sure they know your values, says @garyvee. Share on X

It’s useful to document your style guide and work processes, but it’s also important for new hires to learn through real-time communication.

Gary isn’t a fan of remote working arrangements and likes to inculcate employees into his culture via face-to-face interactions. However, even if your content team is composed of freelancers scattered around the world (like mine is), videoconferencing can allow for regular face-to-face communication. You get to know someone far better when you can hear their voice and see their face.

Can you think of any other tips for building a content team? Please let me know in the comments.

Help your content marketing team improve their skills and stay on top of the latest opportunities. Encourage them to subscribe to CMI’s free daily or weekly digest newsletter.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Please note:  All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team.  No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).