Every startup founder is thinking about their next hire or series of hires. So when you start to invest in content marketing, it makes sense that hiring a full-time content writer would be on the brain.
While 62 percent of companies are content (no pun intended) to rely on agencies and other vendors for their content creation and marketing, an in-house content writer gives you value that you won’t get from outsourcing:
- They can create more authentic and organic content because of their proximity to the business
- They can be more agile and adaptive to changes in your priorities because your startup is their sole client
- They (likely) can create content faster because they’re an integrated part of the marketing team and in the loop as to the goings on of the business
- They will be more collaborative with you and the rest of your team for the same reason mentioned above
Sounds great, right? Of course, this requires that you bring on someone at the time when your startup is best positioned to take advantage of them. Too early, and you probably won’t take full advantage of their skills and value. Too late, and you’ll miss opportunities to grow your brand authority and bring in leads and customers.
Here are five signs that it’s time to hire a full-time content writer.
1. You have a marketing and sales infrastructure
Content writers don’t work in a vacuum. All other things being equal, your writer should function as an integrated component of your overall marketing strategy.
Even though content writers have general marketing expertise, they’re still creative specialists. The surrounding team will need to help them deploy the content, analyze its performance, or direct the overall content creation effort against the business’ overarching strategy.
If you don’t have this team in place already, you’re not going to be able to take advantage of the content writer’s specialized skills in the most impactful way:
- Excellently executed content isn’t helpful if it isn’t contributing to the overall business goals
- Carefully crafted content won’t do any good if it’s not promoted and, thus, no one sees it
- Lead-generating content won’t contribute to the bottom line if there isn’t a sales team to follow through on those leads
Any activity you engage in as a startup should have its own return on investment, whether in the short or long term. That includes content marketing. Without a team to capitalize on the benefits they bring, hiring a full-time content marketer won’t generate the return you’re hoping for.
2. You have a well-defined marketing strategy
Content marketing is a tool, not a strategy.
Your content writer can create content around anything and everything that is of potential value to your business. But before they do, they will need answers to some key strategic questions:
- To discover what to talk about, they need to know how you want your startup to be perceived, who you your ideal customer is and, by extension, what topics they might be interested in.
- To discover how frequently to publish content, they need to know how many internal resources you’re directing toward content to develop a reasonable plan of execution.
- To discover what positions to take on controversial topics, they need to know how your startup is positioned among competitors and other players in the industry.
- To discover how well the content is performing, they need to know your objectives for success so they can pick the right metrics to measure.
If you don’t have answers to these questions, your content writer will be working in the dark. They won’t maximize success, and could end up hurting the business by saying the wrong thing. Plus, they (and you) won’t know whether it’s “working” or not, simply because no one has established or communicated what success looks like.
So in addition to having a marketing and sales infrastructure in place, that leadership should also have a well-defined strategy so the marketer can execute against it.
3. You have the tools to ensure success
Content marketing expands beyond more than simply creating the content. In fact, the job really begins after the content has been made.
Having all the best content in the world isn’t helpful unless there’s a clear plan of delivery for it, a goal that the content works toward, and a system to measure performance
Your content writer doesn’t just need a word processor and a video camera. They need a variety of other tools and technologies to aid in content promotion, analysis, and strategy:
- Content Management System (CMS). This is where it all starts: a place to house your content and drive your audience toward.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Once you start collecting leads and contacts, you should track their engagement with the content in a single system, letting their level of engagement tell you when they’re ready to talk to sales.
- Google Analytics & Search Console. This is the bread-and-butter for organic web content growth. Use analytics to give you insight into how your audience responds to the content, and the search console to show you how you’re being viewed in search engines.
- Marketing analytics & reporting software. In addition to Google Analytics, you should have software that tracks audience engagement from impression to conversion to close, integrating with your CMS, CRM, and all other technologies to provide you a solid picture of the data.
- Social media management software. Social media is without a doubt the best way to build an online community around your content and your business at a low cost. But you can’t be online all the time, you and your team have work to do. So this kind of software can help you schedule and plan ahead so your audience never wonders where you are.
- Video marketing software. Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines. Any piece of content your writer creates should have an integrated video component to it. There are plenty of video marketing options out there that integrate with your CRM, letting you analyze overall as well as individual engagement with the clips.
Even if your writer doesn’t use these tools directly, you will need someone to use these tools to make sure the hard work ends up paying off.
4. You have a contractor or agency who can continue working with your team
Often when considering hiring a full-time content writer versus an external vendor, the choice is presented as mutually exclusive. To be fair, if you have a limited budget, then you do have to make a choice.
However, if you’ve just finished a round of funding or have the available resources, consider that this could be not an “either-or” but a “both-and” situation.
If you’ve already built a relationship with an external content marketing vendor and they’re already integrated into your team, and you have the financial means to keep them both on the team, there are some significant advantages to keeping them on board, even if you hire someone full-time.
The first is that your vendor or agency has already built a foundation for your content marketing. You want your new hire to build on that foundation, not start over. Even if it’s a short-term, transitory period of six months to a year where your vendor works in tandem with your content writer, you could end up with a powerful duo.
Second, your content writer has mastered a single skill set. While they could probably dabble in video, audio, or design, keeping your agency on board to fill in those gaps could ensure that your content marketing machine continues to be holistic and high quality.
The final reason stems from my own personal experience. I’ve worked at two companies where I’m the sole person responsible for content marketing. It gets lonely. Really fast.
Even if your content writer is surrounded by other marketers, the nuances of creating and evaluating content quality and performance is a specialized skill, and while having external opinions is great, sometimes you need someone who has those specific skills and can offer those specific perspectives.
These are three advantages that a specialized content marketing vendor or agency can help out with. If you put in the work to maintain the new evolution in the relationship, your agency and full-time hire can work together to exponentially increase your success.
5. Your business is on semi-stable financial footing
Content marketing is a long-term game. No matter how focused your content marketer is on creating an ROI-based strategy and producing ROI-driving content, it takes time to start generating results.
It’s not until you’re out of the initial survival mode and ready to make some long-term investments in the business or brand that you should hire an in-house creative. The breathing room that comes from having some margin in the balance sheets generates patience, which is critical for a successful content marketing operation.
We all know the mad dash that happens at startups when sales goals are low for the month. All of a sudden, people storm the marketing offices and want them to put discounts and sales asks and all sorts of things on social media that interrupt the process of educating first, and converting later.
Putting too much pressure on content to “talk about our products” or “generate more leads” can actually do more harm than good in the long run, as it will give people a negative taste toward your brand.
Plus, a quality content writer isn’t going to be a cheap hire. You need to make sure that you can afford that person, and that you can commit to them being able to stay at the company over the (semi) long haul.
That way, they can focus on the long-term content strategies that are going to contribute to the success of your business.
Based on this article, do you think you’re ready to hire a content writer? Why don’t you check out our content outsourcing options to see if we’re a better fit for this stage in your business? Click here to see what we have to offer.