In a perfect world, your organization will have a B2B marketing dream team that includes a fully-stacked convoy of content marketers.
Some B2B organizations aren’t so lucky — they have one, lone content ranger running the entire show. (And if you’re reading this blog post, I’m willing to bet you’re one of them — way to go, you!)
Scaling your one-person content team is no easy task, but it is possible. As someone who recently operated as a one-person “team” for two months and managed to get through the year-end marketing madness, I thought I’d share some of the productivity and performance tips that I learned as I managed and executed our entire content marketing strategy.
Check out my tips below, and don’t forget to add your tips to the comments!
Between executing and optimizing our own content according to our editorial calendar, as well as helping out with the odd demand generation or performance marketing project, we content marketers have a lot on our plates.
Prioritization is a key skill to develop, regardless of whether you’re a marketer or not; however, it’s especially key for one-person content teams because you’re one human resource tasked to cover a wide multitude of projects and tasks — like “butter stretched over too much bread,” to quote Bilbo Baggins.
Assuming your content marketing goals for the month, quarter, or year have been established, you need to map out how each piece of content is working to achieve that goal. At Uberflip, we use a blueprint that looks roughly like this:
Bear in mind that your goals for each type of content and each stage of the funnel are going to be different.
Once you’ve mapped them out, prioritize your content projects based on the key assets that will help you crush your goals. Set clear timelines and set aside the time you need to prepare these assets (or coordinate with the freelancers who will be working on them — more on that below).
2. Plan way ahead
There’s no silver bullet for guaranteeing a one-person content marketer’s performance, but I do know for sure that the ultimate downfall of one-person content teams is short-sighted thinking.
Sure, taking things one day at a time is often a good life philosophy for reducing anxiety and avoiding stress. I’ll argue that for the one-person team, however, taking everything one day at a time will almost certainly be the cause of a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Short-sighted thinking and going one day at a time is harmful because the pressure to get results can cause one-person teams to reach for low-hanging fruit. The danger of easy wins is that it can distract from putting plans in action that will ultimately lead to that 10x growth that you’re looking for.
Pro Tip: I highly recommend using Trello for your content calendar. Not only does it have a “calendar view” option to keep you thinking ahead, it also integrates with Google Calendar, Sunshine Calendar, and a number of other tools to work with your current personal productivity stack. Set the appropriate amount of reminders you need to get started on projects well before they’re due.
3. Build and rely on a network of guest bloggers
When you’re a one-person content show, guest bloggers and freelancers are your best friends.
If you have a blog with relatively good reach, guest bloggers and freelancers will often come to you. (Believe me, they will find you. And they will pitch you.) Being approached by guest bloggers is great; however, be wary of the quality of their work. The time you save on outreach to quality writers will almost certainly be spent editing and reworking a sub-par blog post. I’d recommend spending your time on the outreach over the editing.
When building and reaching out to guest bloggers and freelancers:
- Record your guest blogging guidelines. You can do this in a PDF, or perhaps a hidden blog post in your resource center — whatever system works best for you, as long as it’s easily accessible. This will not only save you from re-explaining them to everyone, but also from having to waste time making small editing tweaks.
- Create guest blog invitation email templates. Templates = timesavers. Include a link to your blog guidelines, why you think the writer would be a good fit for your audience, timelines, and next steps. (Read more about guest blog invitation email templates here.)
- Provide a short onboarding process. Every organization has its own views and nuances. Again, you’ll save time up front if you explain these to those who are writing for your company. Offer to provide (or record and send) a session that provides a product demo or overview, explains your competitors, and anything especially relevant about your style guide.
Freelancers and guest bloggers are key for one-person content marketing performance, but they’ll only be effective if you have steps in place that will set them up for success.
4. Refine your editing process
One of the challenges of operating as a one-person content team is falling victim to fuzzy eye syndrome. You know — when you’ve emerged from the depths of content writing land and wind up staring at your screen for so long that you turn bleary-eyed.
First, as a general health tip, it’s important to take frequent breaks from staring at your screen. (Use one of these apps to set a reminder to do so!)
Second, assign another set of eyes for all of your content. No matter how much one person tries to avoid it, spelling errors, double and/or missed words, and other common spelling or grammatical errors always slip through simply because you’ve been staring at the same thing for too long. Ask a group of coworkers (preferably those who are attentive to detail) to be part of a rotation to give your piece of content the final “thumbs up” before it’s scheduled to go live.
You can also rely on the robots — arm yourself with the proper tools for better and faster editing. A few editing tools we like to use at Uberflip:
- Grammarly: a browser extension that checks grammar and spelling in every single text box on the web.
- Hemingway App: Don’t overcomplicate what you’re trying to say. Hemingway App identifies complex sentences and helps turn them into simple prose.
- Headline Analyzer: Don’t neglect your headlines! This tool from CoSchedule will help you write more effective headlines for your blog posts.
Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the power of good editing.
Repetitive tasks are a waste of time, especially in the new marketing technology world where there are so many tools to help you automate tasks and increase productivity.
Automation is any-sized marketing team’s best bud, but it can make miracles happen for the one-person teams. Of course, I’m hoping you have a demand gen team on your side to help out with running your marketing automation tool to set up landing pages, send emails, and so on.
If you plan far enough ahead that you can finish your content assets in advance, there are a number of tools you can use to get the ball rolling on effective publishing and promotion (so you have more time to move on to the next thing!).
- IFTTT (If This, Then That): The best way I can describe this kickass tool is that it allows you to connect different tools and apps in your stack and create “recipes” to GSD. For instance, you can connect your blog’s RSS feed to automatically be shared on Slack, or on social media. Or, you can set up notifications from your Google Calendar to Slack. Or, you can set up email notifications for breaking news in your industry. You get the idea.
- Buffer: Buffer is, in my opinion, the best social scheduling tool out there. Not only does it allow you to easily schedule your social media updates, it also automatically tags your content URLs for easy tracking.
- Scheduled Tasks: This is feature is unique to Uberflip, but it’s so good, the world must know about it. With Scheduled Tasks, you can schedule your content and CTAs to be shown or hidden, or featured and un-featured, which not only makes it way easier to operate your content marketing ship as a whole, but also to schedule the content strategy surrounding specific upcoming campaigns.
Even if you have the “I can do it all!” personality type, let the robots help you out from time to time.
6. Efficiently measure effectiveness
One of the best performance hacks a one-person content team can do is do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
You’ve prioritized your marketing efforts based on your marketing goals, so it only makes sense to ensure that the pieces you’ve identified to meet your goals are actually working. Of course, it’s important for thorough reporting, but one-person content teams simply don’t have time to analyze metrics in depth every day.
The key is using a more “at-a-glance” systems to quickly check the temperature of your content’s performance so you can easily distinguish your top and tail performers (and use this information to fuel your content strategy).
Content Marketing Institute offers a great template for measuring your content’s effectiveness and ability to meet your marketing goals. First, set your KPIs. Then, set up a report (like the example below) to measure them.
To ensure you’re checking up on your content performance every day, you can generate a daily report from Google Analytics to be emailed directly to your inbox. (And yes, you can customize the message. A little positive reinforcement never hurts!)
Or, if you’re an Uberflip user, you can check your Content Score, which provides a real-time score out of 100 that indicates how well your content is performing (individually and overall).
To all the one-person content teams out there…
I salute you.
Operating as a one-person content show is NOT easy. Until you get to build out your team, try some of the strategies I suggested above. They worked for me, and I’m sure they can work for you!