Are you a new content manager feeling a bit out of your depth? You’re not alone. Stepping into this role can be daunting, with the weight of your company’s buyer education and content marketing resting on your shoulders. But here’s a truth you should embrace: you’re perfectly equipped for this challenge, and by the end of this article, you’re going to see that too.
It’s normal to feel a mix of excitement and uncertainty, but remember, you’re more than just a content creator.
You’re a pivotal player in your company’s journey.
As such, you’ll need to make sure you step it up and bring your best to the role.
In this guide, you’ll find a straightforward, step-by-step approach to mastering content management. From understanding your multifaceted role to managing a sustainable content production process, this guide is your ultimate roadmap if you’re just getting started (or if you want a bit of a refresher).
Your Role and Responsibilities
A Content Manager is a person who owns the means of creation, direction, and distribution of all content marketing initiatives across multiple platforms and formats.
The main goal of your role is to drive traffic to your website, get more conversions, and help your salespeople turn more of these conversions into sales.
As a content manager, your role extends far beyond just creating content.
It’s a multifaceted position that requires a blend of creativity, strategy, and analytics. Here are the problems you’ll help your company solve as a Content Manager:
- Contributing to revenue
- Driving organic traffic
- Creating conversion opportunities
- Nurturing leads
- Enabling sales team
- Shortening sales cycle
- Defining brand voice
- Proving the value of content marketing
So, what do your roles and responsibilities look like? Here’s a breakdown of what this means for you:
- Working with the sales team: More than just writing, your role involves strategic planning of what content to produce. It’s about crafting articles that directly answer your audience’s queries, aiming for at least three per week to establish authority in your field. And who better to advise on what content to produce than the sales team, who are on the frontline with real prospects every day? The best way to work with the sales team is by holding brainstorming sessions with your sales team
- Creating an editorial calendar: Organize your content strategy with an editorial calendar. This tool is essential for planning, tracking, and ensuring consistent content output. It helps in maintaining a steady flow of content and aligning it with key business events and dates.
- Premium Content Development: Once you get into a flow, you’ll then focus on creating premium content like eBooks, webinars and Buyer Guides. This type of content is pivotal in capturing leads and nurturing them through the buyer’s journey. Check out our guide on How to Convert More Leads Using a Buyer’s Guide
- Content Promotion: You’ll want to actively promote your content across various channels to maximise reach and engagement. This includes social media, email newsletters, and other platforms where your audience spends their time. Here’s a guide on how we distribute over 65 pieces of content every single week
- Repurposing and Refreshing Content: Look for opportunities to repurpose content into different formats and refresh older content to keep it relevant. This approach maximises the lifespan and value of your content. As a Content Manager, you’ll need to be proactive and look out for these opportunities
- An Obsession with the Analytics: Understanding how your content performs is key to refining your strategy. You’ll look at revenue metrics, search engine metrics, engagement metrics and more
- Proving Content ROI: One of the core parts of your role will be demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) of your content marketing efforts. This involves linking your content strategy to tangible business outcomes, like revenue generated. Here’s a guide on some of the best HubSpot reports you can use to prove content ROI
- Innovation and Continuous Improvement: Being a great Content Manager is about constantly seeking ways to innovate in your content creation and strategy. You’ll need to keep up with industry trends, experiment with new ideas, and always aim for improvement
- Having a Growth Mindset & Being Welcoming Feedback: If you want to be a great Content Manager, you need to have a growth mindset. That means always looking and asking yourself, “what’s that next step I need to take to improve?” On top of that, you need to be okay with feedback. Think of it as a tool that will help you grow, as opposed to criticism of your writing skills. Taking and implementing feedback (which you’re going to get a lot of) without having an ego is a big part of being a great Content Manager
- Leading the Content Charge: If your company wanted someone to produce and distribute content, chances are, they wouldn’t have hired you. Being a Content Manager is more than just producing content. It’s about being the leader of your company’s content output. It’s your vision that will shape the company’s voice and content direction
By embracing these responsibilities, you’re setting yourself up for success as a content manager.
Think about when in your week you can do each (or some) of these things. If you look at it like that, you’ll be able to better take charge of your responsibilities as a Content Manager.
8 Steps of Content Marketing Production
One of the key components of your role is producing three blog articles per week. So, how can you do this successfully?
You need to make sure:
- Your blog article is written following the ‘They Ask, You Answer’ writing framework
- You are using AI like ChatGPT to help speed up your workflow (this will help you make time for some of the other responsibilities on the list)
- You are using tools like SEMrush to conduct keyword research
- You are humanising your content (especially if you’re using AI)
With that in mind, here are the 8 steps to content production:
- Brainstorm the idea and conduct keyword research
- Creating a Content Compass & Conducting an Interview
- Write your introduction
- Write your first draft
- Edit what you wrote
- Get approval
- Review the review
- Publish your content
Note: If you are a client working with a RedPandas They Ask, You Answer Content Coach, then factor in two review stages into your content production timeline. One review from your Coach, and one review from your in-house subject matter expert (SME).
1. Brainstorm the idea and conduct keyword research
Every great article begins with a spark of an idea. But where can you go to get your ideas?
Thinking about how many blog articles you have to produce every week, every month, every quarter and every year can be daunting.
But don’t worry, as a Content Manager myself, I can tell you that brainstorming is one of the easiest parts of the content production process.
Once you start, the snowball rolls. And oh, it rolls.
Your ideas can come from a variety of sources, including:
- Content Brainstorm Sessions: The best way to get ideas for articles is to hold brainstorming sessions with your sales team. Here’s how you can hold an effective brainstorming session
- Customer Facing Teams Input: The best ideas come directly from the teams that are customer facing. They’re in constant touch with customers and can provide insights into the questions and challenges they receive daily. Sometimes the customer facing team won’t have time for a brainstorming session. This is where using a communication channel and encouraging your fellow departments to send their ideas or customer questions as they come up in that channel comes in handy
- Keyword Research: Use a tool like SEMrush to find article ideas based on how many people are searching for a particular term. What we like to do is search for a term using the Magic Keyword Tool, say ‘Content Marketing’ for example, and then click on the ‘Questions’ tab to see a list of questions users are asking in relation to that keyword. Each of those questions becomes a potential blog article
- Spontaneous Ideas: Keep an ear open for those random, half-formed ideas from yourself or colleagues. They can evolve into engaging content. For example, just yesterday a colleague of mine made a comment in relation to AI, and now, it’s on my production calendar to be written as an article at some point in the future
- Customer Conversations: Direct feedback or queries from customers can be a goldmine for content ideas. Usually, the customer service team is best for these queries. You can regularly ask your team if anything has come up, or you can encourage them to share their ideas on the go like the sales team
- Leadership or Product Team Inputs: Especially useful when launching new products or services. They can provide a strategic direction for your content
- AI Brainstorming Tools: Utilise AI tools for a fresh perspective or to build upon your existing ideas. In this guide, we cover how to brainstorm 12 months’ worth of content using ChatGPT, among other things
The key is to always be in collection mode for content ideas. While some may not pan out, many will hold potential.
When collecting an idea, delve deeper with follow-up questions to capture the full scope of what you’ll be writing about.
For example, ask questions related to:
- Target Audience: Identify who wants to know about the topic. Is it small business owners, tech enthusiasts, or DIY hobbyists? The target audience determines your tone and focus
- Audience Needs: What does your audience really want to know? Think about the natural follow-up questions they might have. What’s the key takeaway for them?
This approach ensures your ideas are well-rounded and targeted. Instead of a vague topic like “metal roofs,” you end up with a more focused and valuable one like “Cost comparison: Metal roofs vs. shingle roofs.”
This specificity is what will make your content stand out.
2. Creating a Content Compass & Conducting an Interview
The second step in your content marketing journey involves conducting thorough research or interviews. The outcome of research or an interview is to have a completed Content Compass plus any subject-matter related information required for the article.
What is a Content Compass?
A Content Compass is a strategic tool used to plan and align your content with your audience’s needs and expectations.
It answers key questions regarding who your audience is, what they need, and why your content is relevant to them.
Essentially, it acts as a roadmap, ensuring that your content addresses the core concerns and interests of your audience.
Your Content Compass should include:
- WHO: Details about your target audience – their behaviours, preferences, and pain points
- WHAT: Key questions your audience has and the type of information they seek
- WHY: The value your content offers and why it’s relevant and helpful to your audience
- WHEN: When is your buyer asking this question in the buyer’s journey? For example, are they asking it when they’re just starting to research a topic, or when they are ready to buy?
- TABLE OF CONTENTS: The outline of your article in addressing all of the above
Creating a Content Compass
You can use one of three methods to create a Content Compass:
- Interview with a Subject Matter Expert (SME): One of the most effective ways to create a Content Compass is by interviewing an SME. During the interview, focus on extracting insights about the audience’s problems, needs, and questions. Ask probing questions that delve into the pain points, aspirations, and curiosities of your target audience. An SME interview isn’t just about getting information about the topic you’re writing on, but also about the audience you’re writing for
- Using ChatGPT: You can also leverage AI tools like ChatGPT to draft your Content Compass. Provide ChatGPT with information about what a Content Compass is and what it should look like. Then, you can ask it to create a Content Compass for you. Here’s a guide on how to create prompts in ChatGPT so that you can do this yourself
- DIY Approach: If you prefer a hands-on approach, you can create the Content Compass yourself. Start by identifying your audience’s key characteristics, their main challenges or questions related to your topic, and the unique angle your content will offer
By investing time in creating a Content Compass, you ensure that your content is not just informative but also empathetic and aligned with your audience’s needs. This step is crucial in developing content that not only attracts attention but also fosters engagement and loyalty.
3. Write your introduction
Crafting an engaging introduction is crucial as it sets the tone for your article and determines whether readers will stay engaged.
Here are various introduction styles you can use, each with a unique way of hooking your audience:
- Compelling Statistic: Begin with a relevant and striking statistic to create context and urgency. Ensure it directly ties into the main point of your article
- Thought-Provoking Question: Pose a question that resonates with your audience’s concerns or curiosity. This style works best when the question is relatable and leads smoothly into the core content
- Narrative or Storytelling: Start with a brief, relatable story or scenario. This approach is great for establishing an emotional connection and illustrating your point vividly
- Personal Anecdote: Use a short, relevant personal story. This approach builds trust by showing your shared experiences or challenges with the readers
- Controversial Opinion or Bold Statement: Open with a bold or controversial viewpoint. This can be a powerful attention-grabber but ensure to back it up with facts and avoid personal attacks
- Direct Solution or ‘How to’: Begin by stating a clear solution or method. Ideal for content focused on solving a specific problem or providing a direct guide
Each style can be effective depending on the context of your article and the preferences of your target audience.
The key is to match the style with the content’s purpose and the readers’ expectations, ensuring a smooth transition into the main body of your article.
On top of that, we recommend using the “PEP” method for writing introductions.
- Problem: Identify and articulate the problem your readers are facing. Make it clear that you understand the stakes involved in their challenge
- Expertise: Establish your credibility with a subtle but effective mention of your expertise. For instance, “At River Pools, we’ve had over 100 sales appointments yearly, discussing fiberglass pool installations”
- Promise/Preview: Give a brief overview of what the article will cover. Let your readers know what they will learn and how it will benefit them by the end of the article
After setting up your introduction with the problem, your expertise, and a preview of the content, delve into the main topic.
4. Write your first draft
Once you’ve written your introduction, it’s time to start writing your first draft for the body and conclusion of your article.
Your writing must convey two critical values – empathy and authority.
Empathy in Your Writing
Understand that readers are seeking your content because they need help.
They could be grappling with anything from personal issues like choosing a pool for their home to professional challenges like choosing the right project management software.
Your content must show that you understand and empathise with their situation. It’s about connecting with them on a human level, and acknowledging their challenges and feelings.
Empathy alone isn’t enough. You must also establish your authority.
Your readers need to feel why they should listen to you and trust your advice.
This is where your experience and expertise come into play. Whether it’s the hundreds of clients you’ve assisted or the impressive success rate of your solutions, these are the credentials that validate your authority.
As long as you keep these two points in mind, as a Content Manager, the writing should flow naturally. Remember, as a content manager, you were chosen for your strong writing abilities. Trust your instincts here.
Your goal is not to fill pages but to provide valuable, concise information. Place the straightforward answers up front, followed by more detailed explanations for those who seek them.
Still want more tips on how to write your blog article? Check out our guide on how to write a great blog article here.
5. Edit what you wrote
After completing your first draft, the next crucial step is editing. It’s important to remember that your first draft is just the beginning, and it’s unlikely to be the version you’ll want to publish.
Firstly, if you’re editing your own work, it’s beneficial to take a break from the piece for a day or two. This short break will give you fresh eyes and a new perspective when you return to it.
The Editing Process
When you’re ready to edit, read your draft closely and, if possible, out loud. This practice can help you catch errors or awkward phrasing that you might miss when reading silently.
Editing is not just about correcting typos; it’s about refining your message and making sure it flows well.
- Tinker and Polish: Adjust sentences, improve word choices, and ensure that each paragraph smoothly leads into the next
- Check for Clarity: Ensure that your content is clear, concise, and delivers your intended message effectively
Once you’ve checked for flow and word choice, make sure you’ve used correct grammar and spelling. To do this, use a tool like Grammarly. This can be invaluable in catching grammatical errors, passive voice, and overly complex sentences.
Remember, the goal of editing is not just to correct mistakes but to elevate your content to its highest potential. It’s about ensuring that when your colleagues review it, they are focusing on the content’s substance rather than being distracted by minor errors or inconsistencies.
Good editing makes good writing great, so invest the necessary time and effort into this critical stage.
6. Get approval
Once your draft has been polished through editing, the next step is to seek approval. The approval process is essential to ensure that your content is accurate, authentic, and aligns with your company’s standards.
This process can vary, but it may include:
- SME Review: Have a subject matter expert (SME) review the content. This is crucial to ensure that your writing accurately reflects the expertise and authenticity of the subject
- Content Coach Review: If your organisation has a Content Coach, they will likely be the one to review your work
- Management Review: In most cases, your direct leader will be the one to review your article
Using a task management tool like Trello can be incredibly helpful in tracking your content through the approval process. We use Kanban Boards on Teamwork to do this, but you can get the same outcome from a tool like Trello.
This not only helps in organising but also in setting and managing timelines for each approval step.
Here’s what our process looks like:
If you use a process like this, you won’t need to manually send a message every time your article is ready for approval and review, but can instead put your article task in the relevant column and ping your colleague through the platform you’re using (such as the comment section on Teamwork, for example).
Keep in mind that after this stage, you might not move directly to publishing. Based on the feedback you receive, you may need to return to editing to refine or adjust your content.
This iterative process is a normal part of producing high-quality content and ensures the final product meets all necessary standards and expectations. As such, if there’s a lot of feedback, don’t see that as you not doing a good job. Instead, it’s the normal process involved in producing high quality content.
Remember, getting approval is not just a formality; it’s a crucial step in ensuring your content is ready for its audience. Patience and clear communication during this phase are key to a smooth and successful content approval process.
7. Review the review
After receiving approval and feedback on your content, the next crucial step is to review the review.
This stage involves carefully evaluating the edits and suggestions made by your approvers:
- Assess Edits and Suggestions: Look at the changes and recommendations provided by your reviewers. It’s important to understand the reasoning behind each edit or suggestion, don’t just accept edits for the sake of it
- Open Dialogue: If there are suggestions or edits you’re unsure about, don’t hesitate to initiate a dialogue with the reviewer. Clarifying their perspective can often lead to a better understanding of the changes and how they enhance your content. Or in some cases, you might decide to revert back to the original version
- Refining the Content: After reviewing all the feedback, make the necessary revisions to your draft. This might include rephrasing sentences, adjusting the structure, or even adding new sections as suggested by the reviewers
- Final Review: Once you’ve made all the necessary changes, review the content one last time. This final review is your opportunity to catch any overlooked errors and ensure that the content is polished and ready for publication
Remember, reviewing the review is a crucial step in refining your content. It’s not just about accepting changes but understanding them, ensuring they contribute positively to your content, and maintaining the integrity of your original message.
This step is about collaboration and precision, aiming to produce content that meets both your standards and those of your approvers.
8. Publish your content
You’ve crafted, edited, and refined your content. Now, it’s time for the final and crucial stage: publishing.
This isn’t just about uploading text; it involves a comprehensive process of staging your content on your website’s blog or publishing platform.
Here are some things to keep in mind when doing this:
- Optimising Images: Ensure all images are around 100 Kb for optimal loading times. Use tools like Bulk Resize Photos for resizing. Add alt-text to each image for accessibility, and cite sources if necessary
- Embedding Multimedia: If your content includes videos or other multimedia elements, embed them directly into the post. This allows readers to engage with them without leaving the page. For example, rather than adding a link to a YouTube video, embed the video instead so that viewers can stay on the blog page while watching the video
- Formatting the Text: Break up large paragraphs to enhance readability. Use headings (H2s and H3s) to organise your content and make it easy to scan
- Tags & Categories: Include relevant tags or category identifiers to help organise your content on your website
- Internal and External Links: Add links where appropriate, ensuring they are clearly labelled. Ideally, this would have already been approved during the review stage
- Meta Description: Write a compelling meta description that captures the essence of your article. This is crucial for SEO and attracting readers from search results
- Use of Formatting Tools: Apply bold text and italics judiciously to highlight key points and draw attention without overwhelming the reader. Again, this is something that should have already been finalised during the approval stage
- Scheduling: Once your content is perfectly staged, decide on the optimal time for publishing. This might be based on your audience’s online behaviour or your editorial calendar
- Publishing: With everything set, schedule your article for publication or publish it immediately, depending on your strategy
Remember, the staging and publishing process is as critical as the writing process. It’s about ensuring that the final product is not only informative and engaging but also visually appealing and easy to navigate.
Take the time to get this stage right, as it significantly influences how your audience interacts with and perceives your content.
Once done, you’re ready to share your well-crafted content with the world.
So, what’s next?
As you reach the end of this guide, you’re now equipped with the comprehensive steps to create, refine, and publish compelling content.
Remember, the journey of a content manager is a blend of creativity, strategy, and meticulous execution.
Each step, from brainstorming ideas to publishing your content, plays a crucial role in the success of your content marketing efforts.
As you move forward in your role as a content manager, trust in your abilities and the skills you’ve honed. The path ahead may be challenging, but it’s also filled with opportunities to make a significant impact through your content.
Use this guide as a roadmap, but don’t hesitate to add your own insights and creativity to the mix. Your unique perspective and approach are what will make your content stand out.
Remember, your content is more than just words on a page; it’s a powerful tool that can educate, inspire, and drive action. With every piece you publish, you’re not just contributing to your company’s success; you’re shaping the way your audience perceives and interacts with your brand.
In learning to be a rockstar Content Manager, it’s also worth understanding what your boss is looking for. Check out this guide: “I Just Hired a Content Manager: How Can I Tell They’re Doing the Right Things?”