When it comes to managing a content marketing team, you must have patience and an appreciation of different writing styles. While the job might seem easy on paper, it takes great skill to bring the best out of your staff, so here’s how to lead and guide a team of writers in an effective way. As owner of Charli Says and director at the Contentworks Agency I know the challenges only too well!
Understand how long it takes to craft good content
Heading up a content marketing team? Then you must understand how long it takes to craft engaging content that’s tailored to a specific audience. The writing process is typically made up of three stages – each of which needs to be considered when delegating work.
Research – in order to produce interesting and factually correct content, writers must carry out significant research. The amount of time it takes to gather essential statistics and information will vary from project-to-project, but verifying and cross-checking sources needs to be accounted for.
Writing – turning research into well-structured sentences and paragraphs takes considerably skill. While the final draft of a 1000-word blog may look effortless, you can be sure that the writer put significant thought into each and every word.
Editing – no self-respecting writer would complete an assignment without some level of editing. Sure, you may have an in-house editor to hand, but professionals still check their work as they go to eliminate embarrassing errors.
Give clear direction
You might know what you mean but does your content marketing team? If you want your writers to get on with a specific job, be sure to provide them with as much information as possible. Clarity is of paramount importance, so here are some things you should include when a brief:
- Assignment type – be it an article, press release, email etc…
- Number of words
- Name of client – with a link to their site or a specific product URL
- Points to consider
- Purpose of the piece
- Structure of the piece
- Target audience
- Links to potential competitors
- A list of keywords needed in the copy (in order of relevance)
- Any subheadings required
Set sensible deadlines
While it may be possible to knock out a mediocre blog post in 30-minutes, don’t expect a 2500-word whitepaper to be completed in an hour. As the manager of a content marketing team, it’s your job to set sensible deadlines based on what’s required and to discuss time scales with clients who may not fully understand what is required to produce informative and highly-engaging material. It’s always better to give yourself slightly more time than to be continuously clock watching.
If you find work is constantly backing up and writers are struggling to meet deadlines, it’s essential to refocus and rethink the turnaround time of each piece. Of course, the world of content marketing is naturally fast-paced but it’s all about finding the balance.
Hold meaningful meetings
Wait- I said meaningful! Writers have a tendency to put their heads down and get on with what they’ve got to do. This is all well and good, but be sure to hold regular meetings to find out how everyone’s feeling and to address any issues that may arise. Promoting an open and honest company culture will ensure you can iron out small niggles before they become larger problems.
Moreover, by gathering your team you can fill them in on the latest company news and provide details of any exciting projects on the horizon. The more they’re involved in the planning process, the more they’ll look forward to engaging with new clients. You could even use each meeting to brainstorm new ideas or to discuss content marketing predictions for 2018 and beyond.
Provide constructive and encouraging feedback
No two writers are the same. Everyone has a slightly different technique, so it’s really important to be aware of individual writing styles and to delegate work appropriately. If someone loves fashion and is interested in how the beauty industry uses influencers, for instance, they may be the ideal writer for cosmetic and clothing brands. If you’ve hired a car enthusiast on the other hand, perhaps they can tackle articles for the automotive industry?
Whatever the case, always provide constructive and encouraging feedback as repetitive criticism can seriously damage a writer’s confidence. If you have an issue with a particular piece of work – talk to the writer who produced it in a calm and clear way. They may have simply misunderstood the brief or might be better off writing for a different client.
Allow writers to put their personal spin on work
While some briefs are very strict and allow for limited creativity, others are far more flexible. If you’re given a free reign to produce fun and engaging content, don’t be afraid to let writers put their own personal spin on an assignment. Of course, all work should have a clear purpose and be carefully edited, but sometimes top-quality writing comes when a professional is let off the leash.
Create a set of easy-to-follow brand guidelines
If you are working in house for a specific company, creating a set of easy-to-follow brand guidelines will ensure all content marketing is streamlined and consistent. Similarly, if you’re working for clients who don’t have a specific style guide – create your own and submit it to them for approval.
Things to consider include:
- The format of numbers – will your write numbers as words or digits?
- The format of dates – 8 September 2019 or 8/09/2019?
- UK English or American English?
- Bullet points or no bullet points?
- Dashes or no dashes?
This might seem like a time-consuming process to start with, but it’s much better than having to make a series of edits down the line. Also, clients will respect your professionalism and put more faith in your managerial skills from the start.
Managing a content team is not a walk in the park but it is a role that allows for optimum creativity. If you need assistance with any part of your content management strategy, contact me for assistance.