Here’s why hiring a content marketer is so hard:
For content marketing to be effective for a company, a content marketer needs to get a lot of things right. They need to be able to produce articles on topics that will attract your target customer, they need to be able to drive the right traffic to the content your produce, and they need to be able to convert that traffic into customers.
On top of that, you need someone who understands SEO and how to drive long term organic traffic, someone who can look inside analytics and make sense of what’s going on, report results to your management team, and manage a team of writers.
So at the end of the day, you’re essentially looking for a unicorn.
There are very few content marketers that have all of these skills AND have past experience growing a blog and generating revenue from it.
In this article, I’m going to share my learnings from growing three content marketing operations (Vistage, ThinkApps and Everwise) as well as growing a content marketing agency from the ground up in terms of who to hire, what skills your content marketer needs to have, I’ll share a sample content marketing job description, I’ll share how much you should budget for your hire, and what to expect in terms of additional investment as your content marketing operation grows.
Where most companies go wrong when hiring their first content marketer
The number one mistake we see companies make in hiring for this role is: hiring a writer to run their content marketing efforts.
They typically do this because it solves the immediate problem with content: they need to start publishing articles.
Second it often stems from an overly simplistic view of what content marketing is: writing. That is the hiring manager’s fault — whether that be a founder, manager, CMO or whomever.
If you think content marketing is just writing, you are setting yourself up for failure. Getting content written is only one of the challenges to solve, and in my opinion, it’s the least challenging.
(Note: Of course hiring good writers is important. If you’re trying to solve the writing challenge we wrote a multipart guide on hiring blog writers.)
The bigger challenges to solve are knowing who you’re writing for (user research), knowing what to write that will actually resonate with your customers (content strategy), figuring out how to drive traffic to those articles (content promotion) and then figuring out how to turn that traffic into customers (conversion strategy).
These are the skills that a marketer has, not that a writer has.
What skills are important for a content marketer to have?
As I mentioned above, it’s going to be tough to find a content marketer that has all of the skills necessary to execute on content marketing – because typically the skills span both the creative and analytical side.
For example, for our agency Grow and Convert, I’m the “grow” and my co-founder Devesh is “convert”.
My skills as it pertains to content marketing are:
- User/customer research – creating survey questions, talking to customers in-person and over the phone to figure out what their pain points are
- Content strategy/ ideation- Turning that research into content ideas that will attract the right customers
- Content promotion – Driving traffic to content that we’ve produced through communities and through reaching out to influencers
- Analytics – Pulling insights from Google Analytics and making informed decisions on how to move forward (however, I know nothing about setting up analytics)
Then Devesh’s skill set is:
- Customer research- he’s done a lot of customer research online through surveys and services like Hotjar
- Operations – He’s great at project management, streamlining our operations, managing the team, etc.
- Editing – He’s great at turning ideas into a compelling narrative, he’s also obsessed with blog intros.
- Conversion optimization – Figuring out the best way to drive leads from content
- Analytics- Figuring out the right software to track conversions, setting up goals, tracking and measuring traffic and conversions from content
If you’re hiring your first content marketer, I’d say the “grow” skills are the most important, not because it’s my skill set, but because those are the core skills you need to start gaining traction with content marketing..
Devesh’s skills come in really handy when you’re trying to scale your content marketing operation, but in the early days of investing in content marketing– you need someone who can get content created and promoted to have a chance at converting anyone.
Note that writing is not on the list. You of course need to have taste, that is, you need to know good content from bad, but you don’t need to be a writer. In fact, it may be better that you’re not a writer so that you obsess and excel at marketing, and not writing. You get around this by simply hiring writers and managing them.
Content Marketing Manager Job Description
If you’re looking to hire your first content marketing manager, I put together this job description that shares the responsibilities, skills and experience that are necessary to land someone great.
- You’ll be responsible for all content marketing initiatives which includes: identifying customers to target, producing content, driving traffic and leads from content marketing.
- Identify and hire freelance writers to produce content that we can publish on our blog.
- Analyze current customer base to figure out who we should target from content marketing and talk to customers to figure out pain points, questions and topics to write content about
- Identify promotion channels that we should use and proactively share content in those places
- Understand which content will target customers at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel
- Optimize blog posts around high impact keywords
- Manage the content calendar
- Measure content performance and report on traffic, conversions, SEO, etc.
- 1-3 years experience managing a blog, editorial team, and/or website
- Case studies or data showing proven growth of traffic and business metrics from content
- Need to have working knowledge of WordPress, *or other CMS*
- Need to have working knowledge of Google Analytics and be able to report on a blog
- Ability to make decisions off of data
Content Marketer Hiring Questionnaire/Exercise
When trying to hire for content marketing roles, I’ve found that it can be really helpful to use a questionnaire to filter out candidates.
It’s really hard to tell if someone has the skills and experience you need just from a resume, so what I do for every role is I create a Google Form that has questions that are pertinent to the role and helps me filter out candidates quickly.
Here are some of the questions and exercises that I think are important to ask:
- Have you ever built or managed a team of freelance writers before?
- Please 3 share links to articles that you’ve produced that are most similar to what we ask for above (ideally involve interviewing a(n) expert(s) or subject(s) and turning it into a story). Feel free to say why you like them/are proud of them:
- What 3 companies do you think are the best at content marketing and why?
- What’s the biggest site you’ve grown?
- Here’s an article (link to an article) – please share 5 places you think would be a good fit to promote this piece of content.
Here’s a link to a content marketing hiring questionnaire that you can copy:
How much should you pay a content marketer? Here are some content marketing salaries ranges.
Here are some ranges that you should expect to pay a content marketing manager based on how much experience they have and how much value they can add to your company.
Content Marketing Manager (1-2 years of experience): $50k-$60k per year
Content Marketing Manager (3-5 years of experience): $60-$90k per year
Content Marketing Manager (6+ years of experience): $90-$120k+ per year
Obviously usual caveats apply about location, company, industry, and more but this is what I’ve seen.
If you’re curious if this is worth it for your business, consider reading our article on Content Marketing ROI.
Where to find great content marketing hires
If you’re in tech or have a startup, then I’ve found AngelList to have some of the best talent. The reason is because candidates that are on of their platform tend to be more “in the know” than candidates on Indeed or LinkedIn.
LinkedIn and Indeed are both older platforms with a ton of candidates on them, but AngelList I’ve found to have fewer, quality candidates and the talent skews more towards tech marketers.
Another great way to find candidates is to look to companies that are known for their content marketing, reach out to the people in the role you’re hiring for and ask if the person knows of anyone great. Chances are, if the person is looking to make a move, they’ll respond and let you know, or if they’re not, they likely know a lot of great other people that might be a good fit for your company.
You can also find great content marketers in Slack groups. There are a lot of freelancers who go off to start their own businesses and aren’t able to grow their clientele. They tend to hang out in Slack groups for networking purposes and to try to get more clients. They have the skills and ability to execute on content marketing and do the work, however struggle growing their own business. If they’ve exhausted their marketing efforts, chances are you can get these marketers to come and work for you if you reach out to them at the right time.
Here’s a list of Slack communities to look into for marketers: 11 Slack Communities for SEOs and Digital Marketers
Marketers tend to know other great marketers. If you know of some talented marketers, I’d send your job posting to them and ask them if they know of anyone who’d be a good fit for the role, chances are they’ll know of a few people that are great. You can even sweeten the deal by offering some sort of referral bonus if they refer you to the right candidate (the referral bonus will be a lot cheaper than hiring a recruiter).
How to Manage a Content Marketer? What Metrics Should They Be Held Accountable For?
If it’s your first time managing a content marketer, here’s some things that you should know.
In terms of expectations, the first measure of success will be an increase in qualified traffic to your blog (here’s a way to measure qualified traffic), the second measure of success should be signups or leads driven from the blog.
“What is good traffic growth?”
That’s a subjective question. Don’t compare your traffic growth to other businesses because your business is unique and the amount of traffic that you can drive really depends on the industry you’re in.
Instead what you should do is compete against yourself. If you previously had 5,000 visitors to your blog, can your content marketing hire get 1000 or 2000 visitors within the first couple of months? 5000 within 3 months, etc.
The first 1-3 months should be spent talking to customers and doing customer research, building the writing team (hiring writers and testing them out), starting to produce content and testing out promotion channels. A good goal to set for each article that’s more top or middle of the funnel would be 1000 visitors per post. Bottom of the funnel content might be harder to promote initially but should be able to gain traffic longer term if it starts to rank for keywords.
Content marketing is a long-term play that can have short term wins. Your content marketing hire should be able to start producing signups within the first 3-6 months, however don’t expect there to be a ton of volume. Volume builds overtime as traffic compounds and SEO traffic starts to build.
In terms of reporting, the metrics that they should measure are as follows:
- # of unique visitors to the blog on a monthly basis
- # of unique visitors coming from organic traffic
- Amount of leads/signups coming from the blog
- Which blog posts are producing the leads/signups
At the end of the first year, if your hire isn’t producing measurable signups or leads from your blog, you should really start to question whether they’re the right person for the job.
Content Marketer Hiring Questionnaire
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