How to Build a Digital Agency Content Creation Team
Does your agency develop content for clients? Do you have an in-house content team or outsource? What issues have you run into building your content team? The key to amazing content is building an amazing team. However, a common struggle for agency owners is not knowing the right structure or managing style. Today’s guest will share some insight on what to look for when putting together your content team and the right questions to ask to ensure you’re getting the best talent.
Ryan Sargent is the Director of Content Marketing at Verblio, the world’s friendliest content creation platform. Verblio builds content marketing for other marketers at scale by pairing specialized, niche writers with advertising agencies and marketing professionals. Ryan has been on the podcast before talking about Verblio’s agencies are using content marketing.
As content director, he knows his share of building and managing a content creation team. Recently, and thanks to Verblio’s new podcast, he has had the opportunity to talk to other team managers from different agencies and learn that they all pretty much share the same issues, which he will explore in this interview.
In this episode, we’ll discuss:
- Where to start when building your content creation team.
- Asking the right questions to ensure you’re hiring the right person.
- The best way to manage your content creation team.
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Sponsors and Resources
Verblio: Today’s episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by Verblio. Check out Verblio.com/smartagency and get 50% off your first month of content creation. Our team loves using Verblio because of the ease in their process and their large pool of crowd-sourced writers.
How to Start Building Your Content Creation Team
When it comes to building your team, structure is very important and the order you make your hires sets the stage for future success. For starters, you want someone who owns the manager/editor role. This will be a linchpin of the team structure.
Usually, someone on the director level works a lot on strategy. This is particularly true for in-house teams. The team manager must know the type of content the team is creating and why they’re creating that content. Management may not be the most attractive part of the job, but ultimately someone has to make sure projects stay on schedule. If you can fill that seat with someone who specializes in project management, you’re off to a great start.
A lot of times, people bring in a CMO person who focuses on strategy but is not willing to roll up their sleeves. What you need is a managing editor that can write content, develop a process, and manage people under them.
Developing a Process for Content Success
Something Ryan keeps hearing is having a process is critical to ensuring success for your content strategy. The process allows you to generate content from a lot of different sources. If done right, your process is repeatable and generates efficiency all on its own.
Creating the Content In-House or Outsourcing?
Ryan was surprised to learn that when it comes to content, everyone’s doing it a bit differently. It seems most common for agencies to have a hybrid model for creating content. For every agency producing content in-house, there are multiple outsourcing at least part of it.
The same is true for in-house teams. This is a place where agencies and in-house marketing teams are operating in exactly the same way. Everyone’s mixing and matching, often depending on the type of content and industry.
Should the Content Manager Read Every Piece of Content?
Not all agency owners are equipped for managing teams. Some prefer to make the right hires from the start, give them direction, and let them manage. People management is hard and can be tough to juggle with all the responsibilities that come with being an agency owner.
Because of this, some of the same issues keep coming up with no definitive answer. For instance, as a content manager should you be reading every single article produced by your team? Furthermore, once they’re producing dozens of articles a week, does your answer change? Ryan says yes – if you’re running a content team, you should be reading everything.
However, he does agree that a content manager should only be reading finished pieces. This is because:
- It shows trust because the team does not feel micro-managed.
- This results in more creativity when the team is not constantly reminded of the content strategy.
How to Find and Vet the Right Content Talent
When you’re hiring people for your in-house content team it’s all about asking the right questions. Ryan likes opening an interview by asking about the best piece of content they’ve ever written. Next, he asks how they knew it was their best piece of content.
Both answers are important. This way, he hopes to hear about something that isn’t a standard piece of content. Also, the ideal candidate talks about ways of measuring content success that is more conversion-centered than Google analytics.
For niche writing freelancers, his go-to question is “how did you become an expert in this topic?” The hardest part of outsourcing content is getting a writer that really knows the industry. For agencies, the problem can be magnified if every client is in a different world. It can be difficult to find writers and manage all those different verticals.
The ability to vet a freelancer often comes down to being an industry expert and the brief. A good follow-up question is “what are the most important things you need in a brief?” If they talk about industry knowledge, sources to get started, content strategy, and most importantly, the purpose of this article, then you have a great candidate. If you get questions more directed at a style guide and less about coming up with the knowledge required to come up with the article, it’s probably not a right fit.
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