How can a solo blogger build a content marketing team blog of editors and authors? Who do you need, and how do you get them? That's a question one of our readers asked us, and we thought it was a great question. Let's approach this by talking about what your blogging team will want and need to work properly, and then how to go about finding people to fill your blogging team.
What Your Team Blog Needs
When you have more than one or two writers, content marketing gets a bit more complicated. There are more moving parts to manage, and content marketing teams tend to be spread out geographically. That means you have team members in different locations, time zones-rarely do you have everyone sitting in an office orderly planning things.
Before you start adding people to your team, you should understand some of the requirements and duties a team will often have.
1. Centralized Tools For The Team
Team blogs won't work unless everyone on the team is using the same tools. You're going to want tools that will help with:
- Team communication and workflow. Find the workflow that actually works for your team. Your tools should make that workflow easier, not more difficult. They should make communication easier, and it should happen where you already work.
- Idea generation and planning. Use tools that help your team plan blog ideas, whether through brainstorming or working through ideas they've been assigned.
- Content creation process. This could be anything from where your team writes and creates to the ability to set permissions so that team members are restricted in what they can and can't do.
One of the main reasons we created CoSchedule was to help team blogs (our own, included) centralize their content planning and creation and make writing a great blog much easier. The main goal with whichever tools you use is to have your whole team in there, using them the same way, all the time.
2. A Team Blog Style Guide And Plan
We talk a lot about the need for planning your content on this blog. We make an editorial calendar-we're big fans of planning! Whether you use CoSchedule or not, your team will need a plan to follow, especially if they are spread out geographically. Your plan should include:
- A yearly editorial calendar. Plan out your broad content themes to cover the year.
- A monthly editorial calendar. Plan out your weekly posts by headline, blog category, and assigned writer.
- An overall inbound marketing strategy. Plan how you will integrate blog and social media content.
A style guide for your blog is also nice to have, especially when it comes to the editing process. A style guide gives your editing team a standard to hold all content to. It keeps your content looking and sounding the same. When you start adding team members, a style guide is what keeps your content cohesive. If your content doesn't have the same style, it confuses your audience.
3. Fill The Key Team Blog Positions
There are a few key positions that your team blog will need. You may need to double up someone on these positions if you don't have a team member for each position.
The content planner is the person who sets up your editorial calendar, guiding the overall direction of your content. They will:
- Choose content themes for the upcoming year.
- Handle the content planning meetings.
- Work with both social media content planning and blog planning.
- Communicate with the team so that everyone understands the direction and goal of the content.
- Assign topics, headlines, keywords, and additional suggestions to help make sure the content is created to fit the plan.
- Make certain that side content, such as graphics or videos, fit the larger plan.
- Watch traffic and analytics and see how content is performing, making adjustments to the plan as needed.
The Content Planner works closely with the Editor.
Being an Editor is no easy thing. They are responsible for the overall tenor of the content on a blog, translating the themes and direction that the Content Planner has given them and making sure that what the writers turn in ultimately fits that goal.
An Editor will often rewrite large chunks of text, remove, rearrange, and in general make sure that the content flows and reads well. They might correct typo and tiny errors that they come across, but that isn't their main goal. Instead, the focus is on the meat of the content, making sure that:
- The content fits the theme or assignment.
- There are facts to back up assertions.
- The content flows logically and smoothly.
- The content reads well, and is improved if needed.
- There is clarity to the content.
- The individual writer's voice is still retained.
- Content is sent back to the writer if necessary for a rework.
- Graphics fit the content and help the reader understand better.
In other words, the Editor watches over the "sound" of the content and how the complete package affects the reader. They turn mediocre or good writing into great writing.
When the Editor is done with the content, it is turned over to the Proofreader.
A Proofreader is there to catch typos and errors. They are handed content that is done with editing, and will:
- Correct spelling errors.
- Correct typos.
- Correct grammar errors.
- Correct punctuation errors.
Sometimes, a proofreader will use paper to do the proofing, and use those familiar proofing marks. However, with a blog, most will hop right into the post and make the changes there. Some blogs use alternative proofreader resources in a pinch, but this does change the workflow significantly.
When the Proofreader is done, the content is handed off to the Copy Editor.
In some countries, copyediting is called "sub-editing"; the Copy Editor is the final set of eyes on a piece of content, making sure that:
- The style guides are followed.
- The proofreader didn't miss anything.
- Any additional cleanup and additions are in place.
The goal of the copy editor is to make sure that the content fits style guidelines. Each blog has its own styles, templates, and rules. The Copy Editor gets that final post into place and ready to publish.
The Writer is given the topics and themes on which to write. They may have ideas of their own, which they bring to the content planning meetings, or submit to the Content Planner. The Writer's job is to:
- Write content as directed.
- Research the topic and not plagiarize content.
- Meet deadlines.
- Make any corrections as needed.
The Writer will work with the Content Planner and the Editor in creating the copy. They will also work with the Designer to help clarify what kinds of graphics are needed.
The Designer is responsible for creating the graphics that accompany the content, whether on social media or on blog posts. They are tasked with:
- Creating charts and infographics that help illustrate the difficult points of a post.
- Interpreting the content and making it visual.
- Creating the main images for content so that it is more attractive and shareable on social media.
- Working with the writing and editing team so the visuals are cohesive.
The Designer should be able to read the completed copy, the notes, or whatever else is provided and create initial drafts for writing and editing team members to go from. The Designer should also be familiar with image sizes for different social media networks. They work closely with the Social Media Manager, too, for content that isn't connected to the blog but is meant purely for social media campaigns.
Social Media Manager:
Your content marketing team isn't just about outbound content. You need someone to handle the inbound responses, too. The Social Media Manager will:
- Respond to all conversation on your social networks.
- Create content and campaigns for your social networks.
- Help plan and execute the social aspects of your content marketing plan, publishing content to networks.
- Work closely with the Content Planner to keep social content in line with topics and themes found on the blog.
Yet another reason we created CoSchedule was to make it easier to publish our content onto the major social media networks. If you have a small team, handling the social aspects of your content marketing is time consuming and where most people admit to dropping the ball. Find a tool that makes this easier.
Writers aren't always interested in SEO and keywords. They want to write. While it's possible (and likely) that writers can handle their own SEO in their copy, having a dedicated person to help is wonderful. They should be able to:
- Interpret data, statistics, and analytics.
- Understand of how search engines work, staying on top of the latest changes.
- Understand how individual social network data and analytics function.
- Know how to run A/B tests and other research based on your own data.
You would need to find a place for them in the workflow when dealing with specific posts, perhaps after the Editor is done with the writer's copy. This person is integral to have on your planning team when it comes to determining which topics are working for your content and which ones you should scrap.
You will need someone on your team who doesn't panic when faced with the WordPress White Screen of Death. They should be able to:
- Install plugins, tools, and maintain your WordPress install.
- Understand necessary security requirements to keep your blog secure.
- Manage things like dead permalinks and custom features on a web site.
In other words, all of the things the team needs to make sure their content gets out there and that the content is never held back by a slow or badly performing site. A lot of bad plugins are installed in WordPress blogs simply because people don't know how else to solve a problem or make something happen. Having someone on your team who can handle technical issues and maintenance will save you money and headache in the long run.
Build Your Content Marketing Team Blog
Now that you know what the tools and jobs your content marketing team will need to have, you'll need to fill them. This is the tricky part, and probably what our reader was wanting to know all along. How do you find the right people to be on your content marketing team?
1. Determine What Kind Of Team Blog You Have
There are four kinds of content marketing team blogs. You must know which you have before building it.
- Internal Teams are self-contained teams that handle the blogging process from top to bottom. These teams often write blogs for the message, but not to make money directly off of the blog.
- External Teams are primarily composed of an internal editing staff with many external writers. These teams often write blogs for profit.
- Agency Teams fall somewhere in-between the internal and external team. They usually contain a small group of internal writers and editors, but adds the external component of client review and editing.
- Solo Teams are usually comprised of one or two people with a less structured process. They might be in it for profit, for branding, or for platform-building.
2. Understand The Best Personalities For The Job
If you have the luxury of being selective when choosing team members, here are some qualities that make for a good fit:
- Proofreaders/Copy Editors should be detail oriented, patient, and have an excellent understanding of spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- Editors should be organized and well-read so that they have an innate understanding of story and how readers function. A bit of understanding about psychology is helpful, too, both for prepping copy for readers and for working with the rest of the team. They may suggest hard edits and sometimes creative writers don't like that.
- Writers should have the ability to write well, not necessarily in perfect grammar, but in pulling together ideas and research in a way that is unique and not a rehash of what others are doing. They must also be able to write on topics they may or may not be interested in, and still do a great job while meeting deadlines.
- Designers should have good reading comprehension so that they can read copy and reinterpret it visually for graphics. A thick skin doesn't hurt, either, as they are often asked to make changes. They should also be great designers, of course.
- Social Media Managers should enjoy talking to and connecting to people. They need a thick skin (not everyone is nice on social media), great organizational skills, and excellent knowledge of how to use your social networks.
Not everyone fits the bill perfectly. Just match people up the best you can. Above all, the qualities you want to see the most are honesty, creativity, respect for others, and a good work ethic. Those are the kinds of people you want on your team above all else.
3. Find Your Weak Spots
Team blogs are often in flux, unfortunately, particularly external teams. Team members come, team members go. Guest writers want to create content for you. Proofreaders offer their services. There is always a state of shifting interest as the popularity and content on your team blog grows and changes from one week to the next. You always need to re-evaluate your team and determine if there are areas where one of the jobs hasn't been filled.
For example, your content marketing team may have five fantastic writers; what you really need next is not another writer. You need an editor or proofreader or someone to make graphics that go along with the great copy that's flowing in.
Periodically assess your team and determine where your strengths are and where your weaknesses are, and make changes as you are able. Sometimes, over time, you'll see one team member's strengths more clearly and realize they may need to have a shift in their duties.
4. Consider Combining Jobs On Your Team
Wouldn't it be nice if you had one (or more) people for all of those individual jobs?
For most of us, however, that isn't what happens. Most teams have members that have two or more jobs on the team. For example, you'll often see a whole team where everyone writes. The same person may be the editor/proofreader/copy editor. The designer may also double as the technical person and maintain the look of the site.
As long as your team members can handle doing everything you're asking them to, combining jobs is perfectly fine.
A Note About Combining Jobs
While it is common for blogging teams to double up the editor, proofreader, and copy editor into one position (we do that here), consider splitting it if possible. This is because of the danger of familiarity; once you've read the copy several times and become familiar with it, it is more likely that you will miss seeing typos.
I'll be the first to admit that I don't catch every single typo because I spend so much time going over all copy repeatedly, wearing the hats of writer, editor, proofreader, and copy editor. If possible, you can make it easier on a writer/proofreader by having someone proofread their work, and by not exposing them to the other writing they are going to go through for typos. Peer review can help; the more eyes that are looking for typos and changes, the better.
Although I've developed a kind of hodge-podge of techniques that I use to combine all of these into one job and make quick edits to content, there is value to separating the positions if possible.
5. Finding Team Blog Members
We've found a few good outside writers by letting people know we were interested in having them write for us. Some even approached us before that, cold-pitching their guest blog post. We've had users of CoSchedule become super fans and end up joining our team and helping us out with social media. In other words, as your blog grows and more people read your content, you may have some people approach you on their own.
But what if they don't? What if you want to find people so that your blog can grow? Where do you find people to create a team blog? This gets to the heart of our reader's question to us.
- Fans. Find fans on social media whose work you admire, or who seem genuinely interested in what you are doing.
- Freelancers. Use freelancing sites to locate writers, proofreaders, etc. If you have most of a team assembled but are missing key team members, don't be afraid to hire someone. Your goal is to grow your team blog. Fill the positions.
- Favorite writers. Contact writers who are writing on your favorite blogs, and see if they'd be interested in writing or helping with proofreading.
- Network. Connect at a local level through networking groups. Find people who might be looking to help out or supplement their income or portfolio. When you connect locally, you have the added bonus of avoiding the hassles that can come with long-distance teams members.
- Meetups. Join Meetups that focus on blogging or the niche topic you will be creating content about.
- Advertise. Advertise on your site and on social media. Let people know what you are looking for.
How do you get people to join your team blog? You offer an incentive to be on your team.
There are lots of great writers and proofreaders who are trying to make a living. If you want the best work, be willing to pay for it, or offer writers affiliate income that comes from their posts if you are using affiliate marketing on your blog.
If you do not have ability to pay for content, at least be willing to promote them heavily on social media and in your emails, and help them establish a name for themselves. Give them credit for their content (if they are writers), or mention them on a team page so that they can get credit for how they are helping you.