Thinking about building or restructuring your marketing team to focus on content strategy, development and creation? The 2019 Content Marketing B2B report shows that the second most common area where marketers have increased their spending is on content marketing staff.
Whether you’re already executing a content strategy or need to create one, these three tactics for building a team will jumpstart your content marketing efforts and drive results for your business.
1. Build an internal team
You might hire a sole marketer to own all facets of the content marketing process or enough content creators to form a softball team. Regardless of the number, hiring internal content marketers means they will have more time and attention to understand your brand and the people that you need to reach on a deeper level.
Who to hire
These are the most crucial roles when building a content creation team. If you’re in a highly technical or complex industry, it may be difficult to find specialized experts who have a background in creating content for your field.
But when dedicated to internal marketing, this person will be immersed in your brand and industry, and over time, will develop a strong expertise on the subject matter. Journalists often transition to branded content creation because their writing and research skills make them a strong candidate to create any type of content.
Some journalists write on a single topic or industry, making them experts in certain fields. These specialized media sources are a great place to find journalists to recruit who already have a deep understanding of your field.
If the budget doesn’t allow you to hire a new team member, but you want someone with deep knowledge of your company, hiring internally is a great option. This gives your company the opportunity to prove its dedication to career growth and allows employees to pursue their interests. However, making this transition will require the company to invest in training and educational resources.
Consider the investment
Adding bodies to your team is a big investment. According to Content Strategy for the Web, you will want to ask: Can we support this position with an attractive salary and benefits, and have the ability to invest in employee development?
If your organization does not have the budget or resources to support training or development, then working with freelancers or an agency will be a better option.
2. Recruit freelancers
Recruiting a database of freelancers to execute your content (writers and designers) is an inexpensive option to bring in a fresh, outside perspective on your current content initiatives.
Create a content strategy first
Before starting your search for freelancers, you need to know what content projects you’ll assign to them. Without a solid, documented content strategy, that will be nearly impossible. How will you know if the content you assign a freelancer will produce results for your business? Is it the right content to generate quality leads? Is there a plan to promote the content?
A freelancer could help create the strategy, but it’s not a one-and-done process. A strategy is a constant work in progress as your business evolves. The keywords you target might need to change, you’ll need to conduct competitor research and add new topics to your editorial calendar every month.
A freelancer won’t always have the availability to manage and drive that strategy. This function may be a better fit for a full-time strategist or an agency partner. But freelancers can help with content creation.
Find experts in your industry
While many freelancers dabble in all sorts of industries, others have a specialized focus in one industry or type of content creation. It’s especially important for YMYL (Your Money Your Life) brands such as those in the finance or healthcare industries to publish credible and trustworthy information. Finding freelancers who specialize in these areas can boost the authority of your entire content marketing program.
Know where to look
Again, you can look at industry publications and websites to find experts in your field. Sometimes author bios will state if a writer is available for freelance work. But it’s important to note that writers who are published in respected industry-specific sources may require a higher payment.
You can also search for freelancers on LinkedIn and view shared connections, so you can get a recommendation before contacting the candidate. There are also many content mills, agencies and freelance marketplace websites where you can search.
Whatever your strategy for finding freelancers, document the skills and expertise you are looking for to efficiently evaluate candidates. Keep your budget top-of-mind and make that part of your first conversation with a freelancer because their rates will vary.
Room for flexibility
Freelancers are pros at adapting to changing workloads, so you can give them as much or as little work as needed. However, because of this flexibility, freelancers often move to other opportunities to maintain a stream of income.
It won’t be guaranteed that your favorite person to work with will be available in two months when you have a new project. Be prepared by securing a list of your top freelancers that you can contact in case one is busy.
More to manage
Though hiring freelancers is an inexpensive way to execute content, it takes time to train and manage them. When working with a freelancer for the first time, they won’t be familiar with your brand’s products, voice, main messaging points and overall style.
An in-depth style guide and product catalog will help freelancers become familiar with your brand and start on projects with more confidence. It’ll also save you time from conducting extensive training.
But it’s not always that easy. You may experience more back-and-forth editing so the content meets your brand standards. And if working with multiple freelancers, there will be more logistics to manage such as who is working on what project, and how/when each freelancer is getting paid (freelancers charge differently — some charge per word or per hour, and some prefer advance payment).
3. Entrust an agency
With a whole team on your side instead of just one or two freelancers, you gain an agency’s collective years of experience in working with a diverse range of clients.
Agencies often offer multiple services, so you can maintain just one contact to help with ALL THE THINGS, from your content strategy to creation to promotion.
You could spend hours trying to fix your car’s oil leak on your own or you could bring it to a veteran mechanic who can pinpoint the issue in a matter of minutes and fix it with his eyes closed.
Some jobs are better left to the experts, and with an outside perspective, content marketing agencies can more easily identify holes in your content strategy and recommend opportunities to improve.
Agencies often have a team of specialists who can provide expert recommendations depending on the areas where your business is struggling most. For example, you may want to tap the knowledge of an SEO specialist, paid media manager or analytics guru.
Solid processes and workflow
When you work with a great agency, you can trust that they will put in the work and return results for your business without needing management from you. Because they have solid processes and workflows in place, agencies can get the job done in a timely manner. Some agencies also offer proprietary tools to make it easier for them and their clients to communicate.
Some agencies also use third-party tools to help their clients, so you would get to benefit from the insights of those tools without purchasing them yourself. In the case of Brandpoint, our clients benefit from our 20+ year relationship with top news publication networks. Our content distribution solutions give clients an opportunity to expand their audience and get their content in front of millions of viewers.
These types of differentiators are worth exploring when shopping for a content marketing agency.
Creating a hybrid of an internal and external team is also an effective strategy. If you’re in an established marketing department with a dedication to improving the business through content marketing, partnering with an agency will give you the tools and expertise to make it happen.
You need content. And you need people to plan, create, promote and measure the success of your organization’s content marketing efforts. Whether adding a full-time member, outsourcing a freelancer or agency, or even using a combination of the three, restructuring your content creation team is an invaluable way to continue growing your business.
Brandpoint combines over 20 years of content distribution expertise with creative content strategies for powerful results. Learn more about how your business can benefit from Brandpoint’s content marketing solutions.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2017 and has been updated for relevancy and comprehensiveness.