This article is by Rebecca Livermore. Rebecca is the content manager here at PatrickBetDavid.com and the author of The Blogger’s Quick Guide to Working with a Team. She invites you to connect with her on LinkedIn.
If you don't already use content to build your business, you should. But if you're trying to do it on your own, you're setting yourself up for failure. In this article I get into how to build a content marketing team, without breaking the bank.
In the introduction to this article I stated that if you're not using content to build your business, that you should. So before I get into the rest of the points, I want to give reasons why that's the case. There are many reasons for this. For example, content helps people find you in search. It also helps to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. And finally, it also helps to build trust. But one thing that can't be ignored is that the content you create helps to tell your story. People resonate with story. They either love you, or hate you, based on your story. Even the hate is a good thing, because it repels people that are wrong for your business. This article published on Entrepreneur.com gives the following benefits of using content to tell stories:
#1: Everyone reacts to a good story.
A great point made here is that,
While it is an established fact that humans have a short reading span online, almost everyone will slow down for a beautifully told story or other creative content.
#2: Everyone likes a storyteller.
Whether it's going to grandma's house when you were a kid, or getting hooked into a podcast like Serial, we're all drawn to people that know how to tell stories. Content makes that possible.
#3: Great storytellers can put you before the right audience.
The example given in this article is that if you consistently tell great dog stories, you'll get a lot of dog lovers listening. The same is true in your industry. Use your content to tell stories that relate to your industry, and you'll grow a following.
#4: A great story is cheaper than a news article
You can spend a lot less money on content than you would on traditional branding and advertising.
#5: Everyone can get hooked into a great storyteller.
A super great point here is,
When customers grow attached to brands, they aren’t becoming attached to a logo -- they’re becoming attached to the people behind that logo.
An Example of Great Storytelling
Storytelling can take on many forms, and they don't all have to start with "once upon a time." Here's an example of a video and article published here on PatrickBetDavid.com on the 12 mistakes Patrick made his first year as an entrepreneur. These mistakes are all part of his story, and people really resonated with it.
Why You Need a Content Marketing Team
So maybe you're convinced that you need to use content to tell stories. Great. But if you try to do it completely on your own, you'll either make very slow progress, or die trying to gain momentum.
If you're not consistent in the content you create, it won't do much good. While a hands off approach to content marketing doesn't work, having a team can help you be more consistent. For one thing, you don't have to to everything yourself, so your efforts can be amplified with the help of others. As this article on Entrepreneur.com states,
Promoting inconsistencies will kill your content-marketing efforts. Whether you’re generating leads or practicing your lead-nurturing activities, it's imperative that your brand stay top-of-mind for audience members.
One of the most helpful exercises that I've seen when it comes to figuring out what to outsource is the 3 Lists to Freedom exercise by my friend, Chris Ducker. You can read all about it here, and I'll also give you the short version below. #1: Grab a pen and paper and draw two lines down the middle of the paper, dividing the paper into three columns. #2: In column number one, write down all of the content marketing related tasks that you hate doing. #3: In column number two, write down all of the content marketing related tasks that you can't do or can't do well. For me this would be things like the extremely technical aspects of websites, creating graphics, etc. #4: In column number three, write down all of the things you like to do and are good at, but should be doing. For me, this includes things like uploading my content to my WordPress site and formatting it. I outsource those tasks to my assistant. Each of these three lists are very important, because they contain a large list of items for you to outsource.
It's Okay to Start Small
A lot of entrepreneurs avoid building a content marketing team due to cost. And that's a fair concern, especially in the early days, when money's tight. If money is your biggest hangup, then start small, with the task that is either hardest for you, or that you like the least. For instance, maybe you're comfortable writing a blog post or making a video using nothing more than your smartphone, but you hate creating images for your blog posts. In that case, hire someone on Fiverr to create images for you. Or maybe you create the content, but never seem to get around to uploading and formatting it. You can hire a virtual assistant for just a few hours a week that will handle that type of thing for you. The point is, you don't have to hire full-time employees to make it work, and you don't need to spend a fortune. The important thing is to start, even if the work you outsource is very small. Doing so can take the one thing you hate most off your plate, and it can also help you adjust to having other people handle aspects of your content marketing for you. Little by little you can add more team members.
While it's perfectly acceptable and great even to start small and use contractors occasionally, as your business and budget grows, upgrade to having dedicated team members. Again, these people don't have to be employees, and they don't have to be full time. But they should be people you can depend on consistently. And by the way, your dedicated team can be as small as a single person. In the long run, dedicated team members save you time because once they understand your needs and preferences, they shouldn't require a lot of hand holding. With dedicated team members, even if you're busy and not as engaged as you should be, as long as they have the basics that they need and are conscientious, they'll get the work done. A dedicated team usually also results in higher-quality and more effective content. The team members will have a better understanding of your overall mission and be better able to help you accomplish it through the content they create.
The High Cost of Doing Everything Yourself
Here is an excerpt from my book, Blogger's Quick Guide to Working with a Team that explains why it cost a lot to do everything yourself.
When a 15-Minute Task Becomes an All-Day Event
Have you ever spent all day (or at the very least, a couple of hours) trying to figure something out yourself? I have! In fact, sometimes in the quest to save a few bucks, I’ve spent all day watching tutorials on Lynda.com. After trying and failing to get the desired results, I’ve given up and reached out to a professional. To my chagrin, the pro turned around the completion of the task quicker than I could prepare and eat lunch. Not only did I waste a lot of time trying to get the darn thing done, in the end I ended up hiring someone to do it. And since the pro was incredibly skilled in the task and was able to complete it quickly, it didn’t even cost me that much. What did cost me was the fact that I let my desire to save money derail me from the tasks that I am skilled in, not to mention tasks that help to move my business forward. If I had only hired someone right off rather than trying to do it myself, I would have saved myself a lot of time and frustration. I also would have avoided the next problem, the extra expense associated with someone else having to fix what I did.
Clean Up on Aisle 9
Not only can you waste a lot of time trying to do something outside of your skillset, in the long run, it can cost you more than if you hired a professional in the first place. For example, let’s say that you decided to “tweak” your website yourself. It was just a little tweak, and you wanted it done right away, not to mention that you preferred not to spend money paying your web person to do it. But somehow, when you were working on it, something went terribly wrong. And your website no longer looks, well, like your website. In a panic, you do what you should have done right from the start: reached out to your web developer. Since your site is now officially messed up, you need help, and you need it fast. If you’re anything like me, you may not know exactly what you did to mess things up. If that’s the case, your web developer will have to figure out where things went wrong. Not only will this take more time than if you had just had her do the work in the first place, you might also have to pay a rush fee. The emergency you created can be expensive, and it could have been avoided had you just called a professional rather than trying to do it yourself.
How Much is Your Time Really Worth?
What’s your time worth? The answer to this question is different for everyone, and it’s an incredibly important one to answer. If you provide services and charge an hourly rate, it’s an easy question to answer. If you don’t charge an hourly rate, you’ll have to give this your best shot. Take a minute to think about it, before you read on.
Got it? Now consider this:
Every time you’re tempted to do something yourself, consider whether or not someone can do it cheaper than you can. For example, let's say you have a service-based business. If your hourly rate is $100, and you can hire someone for a lower hourly rate, then you should do so. In this scenario, keep in mind the extra time it will take you to do something, compared to the professional you may hire. Using $100 an hour as an example, you may avoid asking your web developer, who charges $200 per hour for help. But if it would take her thirty minutes, and it would take you three hours to figure the thing out, it would cost you $100 to hire it out compared to $300 to do it yourself. The math works even better if the person you hire is not only an expert at something but charges less than you do. For instance, again using your rate of $100 an hour as an example, why should you ever do something that you can pay a virtual assistant $25 an hour (or perhaps even less) to do? The key thing to remember is that while it may seem that you save money by doing things yourself, you must consider the cost of your time. Sometimes the best way to increase your bottom line is to pay someone else to do the work for you.
Should You Hire a Content Marketing Team Even if You Have a Boring Niche?
Let's face it. There are some industries that are sexy, and others that are. . . boring. People often feel that they shouldn't create content if they happen to be in one of those boring industries. This article published on Small Business Trends provides some great ideas for the types of content you can create if you have what many consider to be a boring industry. Here are a few of the ideas:
- Imagine that you're at a conference for your industry. Surely you'd have some interesting conversations with people there. What would you talk about in those conversations?
- Is there information you can share that would help prevent loss or some other negative outcome for the people that consume the information?
- What have your products or services done to help solve people's problems? Tell some of those stories.
A great bit of advice in this article is,
Yours may be a solo profession, but if you work with a team, consider getting them involved with your content marketing project. Others who work to serve your customer base may have different perspectives to bring to the storytelling effort. It’s possible, for instance, that your customers have shared something about your value to them with one of your subordinates that they haven’t told you. That information could help your writer develop another interesting angle.
Don't Expect Results Overnight
Another great point that this article makes is that it's important not to expect results overnight. I'd say this is even more important when working with a content marketing team. It can be tempting to look at what you pay your team and feel discouraged by it when you don't see results. But it's important to remember that results take time. So be sure to go into your content marketing efforts with a commitment to being in it for the long haul. It that respect, it's the same as any other aspect of building a business. The ones that have success are the ones that don't quit. And a content marketing team can keep you going when you'd rather give up, The value of that is priceless.