content marketing teams

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Tips on Managing and Building Effective Content Marketing Teams with Michele Linn

When it comes to building content marketing teams, there’s a lot involved in selecting the right people and working together successfully. But if you need help building a team of your very own, you’re in luck because that’s what we talked about in this week’s #ContentWritingChat.

You’ll learn the essential traits a great team member should have, the roles that should be filled, and how to combat some of the common roadblocks that content marketing teams face. Ready to learn more? Keep reading for the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Tips on Managing and Building Effective Content Marketing Teams with Michele Linn

Our guest host this week was Michele Linn. Michele is the VP of Content for Content Marketing Institute. Being a member of the CMI team, she definitely knows a thing or two about building a team and ensuring everyone works well together. She had some great advice to share during the chat, which you won’t want to miss!

Q1: When building a team, what are some essential traits members should have?

When selecting people for content marketing teams, there are some key traits you may want those people to have. Here’s what you should look for in a potential team member:

Michele feels that the people within a team need to fit together in three ways: culture, content marketing mindset, and skills. She said she also hires people based on their can—do attitude and their willingness to figure out answers to questions and problems.

It’s crucial that the people on your team are able to work well with others. As Sarah said, everyone needs to get along if you want to work together efficiently.

Gaby feels a commitment to the team’s larger purpose and goal is essential. She also said it’s important to collaborate with one another and to have a strong work ethic.

For any kind of team, being able to work together is a must. As Jason mentioned, if there’s any kind of animosity within a team, everything will suffer.

Lexie knows that communication skills are a must. A team needs to be able to easily reach out to one another and connect.

For Julia, she looks for someone who has a growth hacking mindset, creativity, and expertise. She also wants a team member who is self-disciplined and driven.

Being able to communicate and listen is always essential for any kind of team.

It’s so important that team members hear each other out, which is why listening is such an important skill.

Q2: How do you go about finding and selecting the right person for your content marketing team?

Once you know what you’re looking for in a great team member, how do you find that person? Here’s some advice to help you while you’re on the hunt:

Michele suggests first finding the gaps you have in your process. You need to determine where you need the most help before moving forward with hiring. She also said you should consider hybrid marketers, which are those who have skills in a variety of areas.

Julia crafts a detailed description of whatever job she’s hiring for. She outlines what she’s looking for and that person’s ideal traits. A description of the job, any perks, and the pay is important as well.

Lexie suggests doing a trial run before committing someone to your team. This allows you to see how this person will work with everyone else. You’ll know right away whether or not that person will be a good fit.

Carla said she likes to ask for referrals from people. This is a great way to get recommendations since they’re coming from someone you know and trust.

Another great tip is to check out someone online before hiring them. You can learn a lot about a person by checking out their social media presence.

As Tony said, you need to make it clear what you’re looking for in a new team member. He also suggests creating a test, which will help you weed out candidates that aren’t a good fit.

Q3: What kind of roles does a great content marketing team need to have?

There are a number of roles you may want to fill when building content marketing teams. These are a few positions you may want to consider hiring for:

Michele said that every team needs to have a leader and every project should have an owner. These are important roles you’ll want to add as you build your content marketing teams.

For new teams, Michele recommends finding someone to help with strategy, editorial planning, writing, design, and distribution. If your team is more mature, you’ll want something who knows a lot about email, SEO, and social media.

Julia’s advice is to get a project manager, an SEO and content marketing expert, and an industry expert writer.

Sarah said the types of roles you need to fill will really depend on your business and your team. Keep that in mind and focus on hiring the roles you genuinely need.

Tony suggests having someone who creates the visuals, links, schedules, edits, writes, copy, etc.

A passionate writer, an email expert, an SEO strategies, a social media manager, and a leader are all essential roles.

A leader, as well as a team of writers, SEO analysts, and designers makes all the difference.

Bill suggests looking for skills and experience in strategically producing, publishing, and promoting content.

Q4: How can you ensure your team is effective and productive? What about remote teams?

Need some help boosting productivity within your team? Whether you’re working together or you’re all remote, here’s some great advice to help you out:

Michele feels every team needs to have a shared vision and strategy.

Having a strategy and a roadmap that outlines responsibilities is key.

Be sure to set up goals and guidelines. Make sure you also have a clear channels for communication so everyone can stay in touch.

Sarah recommends having regular check-ins with your team members. Make sure you’re flexible so you can meet your team’s needs.

Having a central communication tool is great advice. Jade suggests using something like Slack to keep in touch with everyone.

Kyle recommends Slack or Basecamp for staying updated with your team.

Haley’s advice is to set goals, use an online task manager, and have conference calls.

You can read all about our remote team here at Express Writers in this post Julia shared.

Q5: What are some common roadblocks team members face when working together?

There’s no denying that content marketing teams are going to encounter issues from time to time. It helps to be aware of some of those common problems so you can help avoid them. Here are a few struggles teams often face:

Michele knows that having shared priority is key when working together.

Communication is definitely something many teams struggle with.

Kyle said groupthink is a common roadblock for content marketing teams.

Miscommunication, clashing personalities, and poor leadership are just a few issues Brandie pointed out.

Carla knows that many teams have a hard time with communication, as well as resolving conflict.

Q6: How can you combat those roadblocks and keep them from popping up?

To help you avoid those roadblocks, keep this advice in mind:

Shared understanding of the strategy is key, according to Michele. This ensures everyone is working towards the same mission.

Gaby’s advice is check-in with team members periodically. She said you should encourage, listen to, and support one another.

Make sure everyone is on the same page with project goals and strategy. If there are any concerns, encourage your team to speak up.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Let your team know that you’ll all there to support each other.

Communication is a must! Make sure the team knows the top priorities for the projects you’re tackling.

It’s important to have a culture where your team feels comfortable speaking up about roadblocks.

Q7: Which tools do you rely on to keep your team running smoothly?

Luckily, there are a plethora of tools out there that can help you out when managing a team. Check out these suggestions:

Michele relies on a variety of tools, including Trello and Airtable.

Slack, Google Drive, and Dropbox are all essentials!

Don’t forget a good old fashioned phone call can always do the trick.

No matter which tool you use, make sure it’s something the whole team is part of. Everyone can stay updated with what’s going on.

Q8: Any final advice on managing and building effective content marketing teams?

To close out the chat, we asked everyone to share their final pieces of advice to take away from the day’s chat. Here are a few of the responses:

Michele suggests considering the personality of your team members and customize communication when possible. She also advises you to make your team feel valued. This helps keep everyone happy!

Be open to your team, their needs, their productivity patterns, and improvement requests. Julia also said to communicate with your team often. You can schedule meetings and have video calls if you’re remote.

Be flexible because everyone communicates and interacts differently.

Make sure the ideas of your team are heard. Allow everyone the opportunity to speak up.

Mallorie suggests looking for those who will help you stand out. You want someone with a creative mindset.

Cheval’s advice is to lead by example and set the tone for your team.

Want to join the next #ContentWritingChat? Come hang out with us every Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time! Just be sure to follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat so you don’t miss anything!

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express writers

What’s New at Express Writers for February: Storytelling Images & Custom Blog Headers, Social Media, Editing (Copy and Developmental), Project Management & More

This February, we’ve added some seriously powerful content services to our Content Shop repertoire.

All of our continual changes and updates are based on specific needs from our clients, and a strict adherence we personally have to always maintain the edge of the curve in our industry.

Here’s a shortlist / TL;DR of February’s new updates (scroll down to read about each):

  • Storytelling Images & Custom Blog Headers. Our design team has been creating these for our own brand with great results in more brand awareness and content traction, so we decided it was time to launch custom image solutions, including beautiful storytelling variations and custom blog images, for our clients!
  • Social Media Plans Update: Revamped social media plans to new standards, including content curation using BuzzSumo.
  • Editing (Copy and Developmental). At both copy editing levels.
  • Professional Interviewing. In this service, based on one simple interview fee, we now have staff Project Managers who are experts at interviewing subjects and obtaining key information that leads to a wonderful interview.
  • Project Management. This new service takes care of a lot of “monkey work” that goes into organizing and maintaining content marketing.
  • Client 101s. These are completely free for our clients, and are being written and designed as we speak! The first one, a Process/Content Order Lifecycle 101, is live! We’re working on a Meet the Team 101 next, where we explain how everyone’s staff role fits into an order and how clients can contact each of us, a Writing Levels 101, and several others.

new at express writers

What’s New at Express Writers for February: Everything You Needed to Know on 5 New/Revamped Products & a New, Free Client Resource

1. New Custom Images: Storytelling Imagery, Blog Header Sets, & More

Ever thought to yourself…

  • “I wish I had a REALLY cool branded header for my blog and a variation to share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…”
  • “I wish I could visualize a step in my customer journey/buying process with a cool, engaging illustration…”
  • “It would be awesome to boost engagement with a cartoon strip for this industry controversial blog…”

We’ve got you covered on all of those visual needs in our re-launched Custom Imagery service, live in the Content Shop.

Clients can choose from a custom, beautiful, blog image set put together by our design team in Adobe InDesign, complete with a full-sized header and an inset to share on social media, or a storytelling graphic that would fit nicely in a process for your customers to visualize their journey/how it works page (example: our process).

Want to see how cool these get (read: how amazing our design team is)?

Here are a few:

Killer, right??

We’ve literally designed thousands of these images for our own brand by now – the samples above are a brief preview of what we can do – and we thought it was high time to allow clients to buy it as a product.

With custom imagery, we’ve seen massive results…

  • We a huge CTR boost with a cartoon strip on our SEO post – a 25% boost in actual reads.
  • Influencers picked up our content and shared it on Twitter WITH the image attached, boosting views to our content by another 25%.

Never leave your images last on your to-do list again.

Let us help you create better-than-average custom imagery to accompany your content!

2. Social Media Plans

During this month, we also did some heavy updates and restructuring, much-needed, to our social media plans.

I sat down and created new guidelines for our Social Media Experts, which condenses down to these three key, important changes:

  • We now create and post 3/images per week at the minimum level (3 IG posts) instead of 1. Images, and Instagram, are hot! You can’t miss out on either, so we’ve increasing the volume at all levels on all plans.
  • Our SMEs are now trained on how to use BuzzSumo to curate industry influencer content, and position your brand as an authority by sharing content that your fans will love and identify with.
  • Choose whichever social media platform you’d like us to manage, now straight from the product itself!

social media plans update

Our Social Media Plans have also been renamed to Level 1, 2, and 3 instead of Basic/Guru/Enterprise.

3. Copy Editing

Our revamped Copy Editing service in the Content Shop now includes two levels to cover every need, developmental and copy editing services, starting at one hour (up to 3,000 words). We have senior, expert editors at both levels ready to take orders!

See a guide to knowing the two differences of copy vs. developmental editing from our Content Development Specialist, Tara, on the Write Blog.

4. Professional Interviewing

For one simple interview fee you can now have an incredible interview organized and done (check that off your list!) by our professional interviewing team. We now have staff Project Managers who have background expertise in interviewing and journalism, and have seen amazing results from the interviews done so far.

See a post co-created by our Project Manager Hannah and Content Development Specialist, Hannah, on why interviews matter to content marketing.

5. Project Management

Just launched last week, our new project management service offers a wonderful solution for a lot of our marketer clients who are continually overwhelmed, swamped, and lost beneath the work they have to do on their content marketing get-done list.

Did you know that only 30% of marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing? An actual decrease of 8% from the previous year.(source: Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarks) Even less have a strong, documented content marketing strategy.

Yet budgets, goals, and creation itself in content marketing actually increased by a large percentage during the same year.

Our solution in offering project management is to help a real need we see that our clients have. Project management is a serious drain on them, yet a vastly crucial part of content marketing not to be overlooked.

Scenarios Where Project Management Fits In

Just a few of the problems our clients have given us that we can now solve with our project management service include:

  • “We’re thinking about hiring a part-time staff member to handle all of these content needs and work with you, but it may not be in the budget, or we don’t know if we have enough to give that person X hours per week.”
  • “I wear a lot of hats. I just don’t have time to manage all of the content, but if I had time, we’d hire you to produce a lot of things.”
  • “I’m completely disorganized and I really need help getting my ideas onto paper, and picking the right product.”
  • “I have people I want to have interviewed on our blog. Employees, industry names, that kind of thing. I just don’t have time to do it myself and it’s a long list.”
  • “I have lots of different personal and professional projects going on. I wish I could stay on task.”
  • “I have no idea about what I need but I do have an established business. I just want to pay a deposit/retainer and have you figure this out for me.”
  • “I need you to be in touch with my entire team on this project. Maybe you should even function as part of the team – as the managing editor.”
  • “I’m an agency and we want to basically up-sell your product to our clients. Each of our clients has a different need.”

What Project Management Includes

Our project management is designed into several categories:

  • A la carte hourly
  • Blocks where we manage 50 – 500 monthly projects in a spreadsheet every month.

Project management includes having us manage and create a spreadsheet, and maintain or organize a vast amount of ongoing content projects, starting at 50 and going to 500+ per month. We can enable a simple file uploader on your account, and will include weekly organization and phone support for you and your team by a dedicated project manager. You can also have a dedicated project editor in our new PM service.

6. New Resource (FREE): Client 101s

Last but not least, we’re writing and designing in-house several client 101s that will channel some of the biggest questions our clients have!

We’ll be doing more of these! Email our team: julia (a) if you have any 101s you’d like to see.


At Express Writers, we strive hard to be at the forefront of trends, content marketing, and the best writing team out there.

(Just see our Values page if you aren’t sure about that promise.)

Hence comes this lineup of new products and resources at Express Writers, all in one month.

You can trust our commitment to stay ahead of the game when it comes to great content creation. It’s our passion!

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