“We wrote our first blog post before we wrote our first line of code.”
- Jon Miller, founder, Marketo

Blogging is important for every business. So we don’t just offer ghostwriting services for others. We blog for ourselves. Why? To discuss big issues such as content strategy, commissioning and ROI, as well as tactics for effective copy creation or editing, not to mention news about Collective Content.

Remember, over a third of marketers say blogs are the most valuable content type. Let us know what you’d like to read about here.

Content marketing

11 essential content marketing links from Q1 19

  1. What CMOs should tell board members (and what boards should be asking)

Let’s kick off with some C-suite advice. Trust us, it gets more tactical and advisory from here…

 

  1. 3 creative habits that’ll make you more inspired and prolific all year

Ringfencing mindspace so that any team can be creative is so important (we referred to this as one goal of our way of working).

 

  1. How to turn a single blog post into a month’s worth of content marketing

We talk a lot about how every piece of content is really several pieces of content. It’s even in our writing and editing training course. Here are some useful pointers.

 

  1. 12 content marketing trends that can help your brand stand out

Juicy trends listicle – say no more.

 

  1. Multiply your traffic: 3 powerful ways to give your old content a second life

This is a key tactic for getting more out of your best historic content. But get this wrong and you come across as a low-rent SEOer.

 

  1. How to use LinkedIn as a brand publishing platform

Since we’ve been doing these quarterly lists, we like to feature something with a social angle – and in the early days of Collective Content, we’d often help executives with their LinkedIn profiles and engagement. But LI is about more than profiles.

 

  1. 3 rules for building a better content calendar

Some simple, solid advice about the kind of content planning every organisation should be doing.

 

  1. Copy-wise: Beware of too many, too few or misplaced commas

As well as our love of all things grammar and style (being copy-wise)… we love to drop in one of our own posts 😉

 

  1. Infographic: How to use infographics for lead generation

Not our first Contently link, but as well as loving the right kind of info, we love this riff on “a coffee table book about coffee tables”.

 

  1. Insourcing, offshoring and creative re-alignment: 10 things I learned about the future of B2B agencies

We don’t often get too inward-looking in these lists but this is a great insight into the kind of agencies you might end up working with – and when to decide you don’t need them.

 

  1. ‘You don’t get it. You aren’t the point.’

And lastly, some advice for any of us: It’s not about us – it’s about those we’re trying to connect with, however we try to do that. Remember.

 

Why 11 links for once? 11 is the best times table, no question.

 

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

 

Read Further

How this editor weighs up freelance enquiries

Photo by amtec_photos on Photopin

What happens when we get approached by a freelance writer?

First, the set-up: I usually get an email direct to me (because we post my address on our website and say we’re open to enquiries), and that usually contains a brief note and CV/resumé. Within that, I usually see career history, links to work samples, and social media accounts.

So here’s what I do:

  1. If the freelancer’s Twitter handle is offered, I usually cut and paste that into Tweetdeck. The picture is telling (selection, more than quality, says a lot about the type of person). But more important, I see what they’ve been tweeting about and who they follow. Some people are professional all the way – only interested in topics that they cover as a writer; other people are up for jokes, politics, you name it. I don’t mind the latter – I’d be a hypocrite to not be OK with people who are broad in how they use a social channel – and it gives me an insight into who someone really is.
  2. I usually then look at career history. This can be both within the CV/resumé or on LinkedIn. I like the latter as it’s usually easier to click through to pages of past employers. I’m looking for publications or brands that I know, and links to other people this freelancer might have worked with. It also gives me a good idea of subject matter expertise. And I like to know how long someone has been freelancing, as well as any other roles they have outside of content or do in parallel to their main gig(s).
  3. Also, don’t think we’re not interested in things like their listed softer skills, languages, qualifications or awards. All could be useful when we work out who’s best for certain projects.
  4. Lastly, I look at examples of work. Why isn’t that a priority, if that’s what we’re going to ask someone to do? As we’ve blogged about before, work samples and portfolios are useful for showing output and areas of expertise, but they’re no guarantee of someone’s ability. Content is a team sport, and any good writer has benefitted from a good editor, a good sub/copy editor, probably a good designer and so on. I’ve been known to contact these people (if I can work out who they are) to ask their opinion on someone we’re interviewing.

I’m not the first to write about this, but possibly the hardest thing to know about hiring someone is just what they’re like as a person. Values, approaches to work and complementing (though not being the same as) the existing team are at least as important as the things that recruiters and HR departments typically screen for.

For a freelancer, the risk is slightly less. But I can’t think of a project or piece of content where we have any leeway for someone to be a bad fit. Everything is important.

And you never know for sure what someone is like until that first day, and until v1.0 of that first assignment.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

Read Further

Global, distributed, connected – this is how our team works

Photo by Charles Koh on Unsplash

Last time, as part of our ‘Why do we have staff around the world?’ post (spoiler: it’s to access the best people), I said I’d divulge a little more about how our collective successfully works when everyone is in a different location.

I should say that we have no official headquarters. For a while, we had desk space at one of our main client’s offices. But we gave that up three years ago and haven’t looked back.

I should also say that there’s a big difference between our core team – on the payroll, full-time and with IT support from the company – and the freelancers who make up the wider collective, some of whom are solo, some moonlighting with a day job, and some at partner agencies.

So here are some tips on the how:

Think about your people
Be really careful – really care – about how everyone works. We’ve touched before on terms such as ‘remote working’, ‘working from home / WFH’, and ‘distributed working’. We prefer the latter. The way you speak about people has an impact.

Stay in touch and informed
The last point is particularly the case if some people are distributed around the world while others aren’t. Corinne Purtill at Quartz talks about FOMO – the fear of missing out that some distributed staff can have when they know a large part of a company is all together at a head office. In our case, there isn’t that risk, but keeping everyone aware of projects, updates, client wins, etc. is still important, whether through infrequent in-person meetings or online updates or regular calls.

Know what works best for you
How do we do that? Let’s talk tools (although they’re too often the focus for articles like this). Whatever your teleconferencing choice, and whether you use Slack, MS Teams or something else – in fact those platforms and voice conferencing are increasingly merging – be warned that there’s a big difference between what you want to use and what clients insist you use. So be open to their choices but also know what works best for you internally. While we use tools like Trello and Google Sheets for project management, for messaging we’ve settled on WhatsApp, given its simplicity and new hires’ familiarity.

Meet face-to-face occasionally
While you might work from different locations most of the time, make sure you still see each other in the flesh. For the Collective Content team who are in the UK, that’s often when we’re meeting to see clients or going to events. More widely, we have offsites that are a chance for everyone to spend time together and take a more strategic look at what’s going on. These are also an opportunity to get in other (paid) advisors.

Provide a range of support services
As well as IT support, don’t forget other key functions you’d tend to expect in offices. These can be around helping individuals with their working set-up, or around HR issues such as tax advice, insurance and training. We tend to try to combine training with in-person meet-ups, and use services such as LinkedIn’s Lynda.com.

The last thing I’d mention is to realise that no one has all the answers. You have to figure out what works for individuals and the organisation they work for. (Must be both.) There is no right way to do this. Don’t let someone tell you a platform isn’t right if it’s right for you. Don’t think that someone who lives in the middle of nowhere might not be a key member of your team.

This trend is global and it’s only going to continue. Changes in technology and attitudes have made it possible. The results show it means happier clients and happier workers.

At a content agency, maybe my number-one job is to give the team time and space to be creative. For us, distributed working means we can do that, without limiting our talent pool. I can’t imagine us working any other way.

Follow us on Twitter – @ColContent

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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

Twitter:  @ColContent

Facebook: facebook.com/CollectiveContent

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/collective-content

Phone:  0800 292 2826