What Should You Look For When Building Your Content Creation Team?

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By Jason Swenk. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

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.

Where 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 will set the stage for future success. For starters, you want someone who really owns the manager/editor role. This will be a linchpin of the team structure.

Usually, someone on the director level will have to work 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 that everyone’s on schedule and the lights stay on. 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 that will focus on strategy but are not willing to roll up their sleeves. What you need is a managing editor that can write content, develop a process, and then manage people under them.

Why Your Should Develop a Process Early

Something that Ryan kept hearing is that having a process is critical to ensuring that, whatever strategy you’re pursuing, you’ll find success. The process will allow you to generate content from a lot of different sources. If done right, you’ll set up a process that will be repeatable and will generate 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 different. When it comes to where agencies are getting their content, the hybrid model is apparently very common. For every agency that is producing its content in-house, there are multiple that outsource 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 the 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 kept coming up and no definitive answer is yet available. 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? For Ryan, if you’re running a content team then yes, you should be reading everything.

However, he does agree that a content manager should only be reading pieces that are mostly finished. This is because:

  1. He wants to show his team that he trusts them, and
  2. He loves the creativity that comes out when he’s not constantly reminding his team of the content strategy.
Asking the Right Questions to Find the Right Talent

When you’re hiring people for your in-house content team it’s all about asking the right questions. Ryan likes to open the interview asking about the best piece of content they’ve ever written, followed by how did they know 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, they would ideally talk about ways of measuring content success that are more conversion-centered than Google analytics.

For 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, that problem is magnified because every client is in a different world and you need to find writers that can manage all those different verticals. The ability to vet a freelancer often comes down to that and the brief; a good follow-up question would be “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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