How to Build a Remote Content Marketing Team That Produces Results
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If you want to build a kick-ass, remote content marketing team that produces results for your company or agency, this article is for you.
Managing an in-house, content marketing team is hard — building a team scattered all over the world is even more difficult.
I asked marketing experts in the SaaS industry how they built and scaled their remote content team. Their responses — as well as my experience working with two remote content marketing teams in the past three years — are presented in this article as five, simple steps you can follow to build a team of content marketing rockstars.
This article is a guide; bookmark it, so you can quickly come back to it anytime.
At any point, feel free to jump to any section that interests you.
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Alright, enough chit-chat. Let's dive in!
Provide Your Content Strategy and Other Documentation
The first step in building your remote content marketing team is putting all resources in place for your team. This will help to produce content right off the bat.
The most important of these resources is your content strategy.
Your content strategy helps you define why you’re creating content, who you’re creating it for, what type of content you’ll be creating, and what your content marketing goals are.
Before you start looking for writers, you need to create an effective content strategy that will help you decide on the type and number of writers you need to hire. The strategy will also help you stay focused on your long-term goals, and not just on producing content. – Jill Phillips, Buildfire
In addition to your content strategy, here are other crucial resources for your content marketing team:
- Style guides
- Writing guidelines
- Content checklists
- SEO checklists
- Process checklists
Put These Resources Together First
Consider these resources as your battle plan and your team members as the soldiers. You’ll want to get all your tools, plans, maps, and strategies in place before your soldiers march.
These documents will:
- Help your team crank up high-quality and relevant content like clockwork.
- Ensure your content effort is directed towards achieving your company’s overall marketing and business goals.
- Confirm content is created in a consistent manner across all team members.
How to Create These Resources for Your Team
This CoSchedule’s complete guide to building and executing your own content marketing strategy is a great place to start.
Hire Your Content Team
You’ll need talent and humans to achieve your content marketing goals.
The success of your remote content marketing team depends on who you hire, and hiring is not a stroll through the park. It takes a lot of investment in time and resources.
According to Glassdoor’s report, the average company in America spends up to $4,000 to hire a new employee, and take an average of 52 days to fill a position.
That’s so much money and time spent to get an employee into your team, which makes getting the best on your team crucial from the get-go.
Who Are the Must-have Team Members?
I asked Kevin Indig, VP of Content and SEO at G2, who the must-have team members of any content marketing team are.
It depends on the company's business model and market, but very broadly, I would say the editor. Editors have a huge impact on the tone of voice, content quality, and often SEO. I've seen editors taking on SEO reviews many times. They are like a bottleneck for quality, in a good sense. – Kevin Indig, G2
In addition to an editor, here are other must-have members for any successful content marketing team.
- Content strategists
- Copywriters/content writers
- Graphic designers
- SEO experts
- Content promoters
How many people you hire depends on your budget and content strategy.
Sara Pion, Brand Content Manager at Alyce, gives this crucial advice to anyone building a remote content marketing team.
I think content marketing teams shouldn't just have writers. Content marketing comes in the form of video, audio, design, AND written words, as well as the post-creation distribution. But you shouldn't start with every single one of those forms of content. Then you'll bite off way more than you can chew. Find one or two channels to start in that you can master and hire people who can make those channels best-in-class.
If you’re just starting with your team, I’ll recommend you start with hiring freelancers. Hiring full-time employees right away eliminates the flexibility you need to determine the skills your team demands. Hiring freelancers will help you scale up/down based on your needs.
How to Hire for Your Remote Team
It’s not just enough to know you need experts on your team; you need to know who your team needs at the moment.
Who do you hire for your team?
Follow these simple steps to determine who to hire.
- List out the skills you need to create the kind of content you want to create from your content strategy.
- List out the job roles that provide these skills.
Those are the persons to hire.
For example, from your content strategy, you could come up with the following skills as needed for your remote content marketing team.
- Visual design
For the above skills, an SEO copywriter, an editor, and a graphic designer are the people you need. Do this for your team based on your content strategy, and follow the steps in the next section to start hiring.
Here are some tools to help you recruit for your remote content marketing team.
- Career page
- Job posts and ads on social media
- Hiring from third-party marketplaces (e.g. Upwork and Fiverr)
- Outsourcing to job posting platforms (e.g. Glassdoor or LinkedIn)
- Hiring directly from your LinkedIn connection
Warning: do not fall for the temptation to hire cheap labor. Always seek the best that your budget allows.
Carry Out Effective Onboarding
Hiring the best is not enough; the success of your remote content marketing team depends on the effectiveness of your onboarding process. For your new employees to function productively, you need an effective onboarding structure/process.
Effective onboarding helps you get the new team members up to speed with your marketing goals and strategy, their job responsibilities, tools, and how you go about creating content.
Why is Effective Onboarding Important?
A well structured and executed onboarding process helps:
- New employees quickly integrate with your team.
- Reduce anxiety in new employees.
- Increase team member retention.
- Make your team more productive.
How to Carry Out Effective Onboarding
Darren Murph, of GitLab, gives two crucial points for an effective onboarding process.
- Establish an onboarding, buddy system.
- Empower your new hires to grab ten coffee chats with people across the company.
Just like when you first joined your organization, every new employee’s first nightmare is making the first acquaintance in the team.
This new acquaintance will be the employee’s go-to person for help and mentorship until they can stand on their feet. This first acquaintance will also become the employee’s link to meet and connect with every other member of the team.
An onboarding, buddy system puts the employee one step ahead on this by assigning a mentor/buddy to the employee the moments all the recruitment interviews and processes is complete.
More onboarding tips to get your new employees standing in no time.
- Get on a video call to establish a face-to-face relationship with new employees.
- Take the new employee through a tour of your company/team.
- Introduce them to the tools you use and give them access, so they can start getting familiar.
- Share all the documentation and resources from Step One with your new employees.
- Introduce them to the team as early as possible.
- Get the employee started immediately with their first task.
The last point is crucial to get the ball rolling. Giving them a high-value task could help build a sense of value and belonging fast.
For example, when onboarding a web copywriter, you could assign them to your content strategist as an onboarding buddy. Your content strategist will be responsible for mentoring the copywriter and providing all that is needed to start working with the team effectively.
Tools to Help You Onboard Effectively
Onboarding does not need to be all manual. An onboarding checklist could help make the process smooth and consistent.
There are also software tools that help automate onboarding processes. Here are our top picks.
Set Up Team Management Structures
Practical team management helps ensure tasks are not delayed, deadlines are met, and goals are achieved.
Doing this for a traditional in-house team is demanding, but more demanding for a remote team.
Why Effective Team Management is Important
Your remote team will consist of members from different cultures, time zones, expertise, and backgrounds. You must get all of them to work together to achieve your goals.
For a remote content marketing team, the following scenarios are common.
- Violated deadlines
- Incomplete task
- Low-quality work
This leads to a decline in the results your team produces, and a waste of your marketing budgets.
Manage Your Remote Team Effectively
The first step to managing your team is having a well organized and laid out sequence of tasks on all the projects your team will be working on for a period of time.
This involves proper scheduling, assigning, tracking, and reporting.
Here is how you can do this.
- Plan all your tasks at least one month ahead.
- Assign each task to the responsible team member.
- Provide all the information and resources to get the job done.
- Provide clear performance measurement criteria for each team member.
- Keep track of progress on each task to ensure quality and timeline are on track.
- Give and pull for feedback on tasks to ensure all roadblocks are removed, and the work is completed.
- Keep an open line of communication with your team members.
For example, based on the content plans for the next quarter and month, all the tasks involved in writing a pillar page will be laid out from research to clicking the publish button.
The tasks may include research (keyword, competitor, and topic research), first draft, editing, search engine optimization, cross-linking with topic clusters, creating media assets, editing, and publishing.
These tasks will then be assigned to the responsible team members with timelines and the required result. At every step of the way, work progress is tracked and communication maintained.
With this, every task will be completed on time, progress will not be stalled, and every content project will be completed.
Best Team Management Tools
There are a lot of tools available to help you manage your team, but it is not enough to pick up any software tool you find.
Here are things to look out for when choosing a team management tool for your organization.
The tool must help you:
- Add your team members
- Schedule tasks
- Assign tasks to different team members
- Track work progress and timeline
- Give and obtain feedback seamlessly while working on the project
Easily and conveniently.
One collaboration tool that helps you do all of this, is CoSchedule. CoSchedule lets you manage and organize team tasks from one place, so you can get more done with your team.
Develop a Culture of Documentation
Documenting all your work processes and flow is a great way to harmonize work in a remote team, build consistency, and increase the quality of work produced.
Proper documentation also helps to ensure nobody becomes an information bottleneck in your team.
For your team members and new employees, a host of resources to fall back to when is a delight. Document all processes in your team to create a knowledge base, and invite your team members to add to the knowledge base.
Effectively Document in Your Remote Content Marketing Team
- Start with instilling the importance of documentation on each of your team members.
- Get them to see why documenting their processes will help the team produce results, fast.
- You can take a cue from this post by Deep Core Data article on the topic.
- Create a structure or template that your team members can just copy and use anytime.
- Store this documentation online for quick and easy access.
- You can use Google Drive or Dropbox for this. Create a folder for documentation, and invite your team members to contribute.
- Add documentation to the daily task of your team members.
For example, your SEO specialist can document how she goes about SEO audits and site optimization. The processes documented here will be specific to your team and better than any general information or guide you’ll find online.
With this, any new SEO expert who joins your content marketing team can quickly understand how it is done in your company, the tools that you prefer to use, and the steps you take.
Build and Enable Effective Communication
Effective communication is one of the challenges remote teams face. Things can quickly go south, if your team members do not stay in touch.
There isn't an office to stop by or water-cooler chats for a remote team. For your remote team to succeed, you must figure out a way to communicate like you’re in a physical office just down the road.
Poor communication leads to:
- Low-quality work
- Low employee satisfaction
- The feeling of not belonging
This can cause substantial business damages, if not curtailed.
Boost Communication in Your Remote Team
Here are some tips you can use to set communication on track for your business:
- Organize team meetings at least once a week. These are called "standup meetings" in the tech world. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss work, progress challenges, and the way forward. While doing this, be sure to consider the timezone for every team member.
- Establish a clear line of communication and reporting. Everyone must know who to report to and how.
- Encourage team members to reach out to one another — just to hangout. This is the fastest way to bond.
- Once a month or every quarter, organize a team hangout where all you do is talk about one another (no work).
- If the funds are available, organize a physical meeting once in a year.
- Invest in communication tools.
Tools for Effective Communication
There are a ton of tools that can help keep your team in touch. Of all the tools, Slack is the best I’ve seen.
Slack comes with text, audio, and video chat features. There is also the channel feature that allows you to create subgroups for team- and project-based conversations.
Here are some tips to help you use Slack more effectively:
- Create channels for each team.
- Create channels for each project.
- Integrate all your work tools (like CoSchedule, Google docs, etc.) on Slack, so you can work and communicate from one place.
- Conversations should be made on threads to streamline engagement.
- Spice up your Slack with some fun integrations, like the Icebreakers Integration.
Other team communication tools you can use include:
Some Content Optimization Tools
A lot of your content will be text-based. They may be blog posts, pillar pages, emails, ebooks, webinar scripts, video scripts, etc.
Here are some handy tools to help with content creation.
- CoSchedule Headline and Email Subject Line Analyzer, for writing converting headlines and email subject lines.
- Hemingway app, to check for content readability.
- Grammarly, for proofreading and error checking.
- Yoast SEO analyzer (on-page SEO optimization)
- SEMRush, for keyword and topic research.
Team Security Best Practices
Your team will be 100% online.
Here are some tips to help your build and run a secure virtual workspace:
- Create corporate emails for every team member, so you can restrict access to your domain.
- Login to sensitive data via a VPS.
- Change all shared passwords when any team member leaves.
- Use a SaaS management tool, like Blissfully and Torii, to streamline and manage your online tool usage.
Content Marketing Team Management Best Practices
There is no one-size-fits-all guide to managing remote teams; your team is unique, and so is how you’ll handle them.
Here are some team management best practices:
- Do not micromanage your team. Give everyone the space to work in their own pace and style, while ensuring deadlines and quality are not violated.
- Take documentation seriously.
- Ensure communication is a core culture
- Reward good work and learn to understand you team members
A quick recap of what we discussed.
- Start with putting your resources together and setting team goals.
- Hire and onboard, like team’s success depends on it.
- Manage your team with tools, like CoSchedule.
- Keep the channel of communication open.
There you have it. Follow the steps listed above, and let us know if you have any questions in the comments.
October 1, 2020