5 Skills to Look for When Hiring a Content Manager

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Learning and understanding the task of hiring a content marketer can be a daunting task…

While blogging has been around for over 20 years now, businesses are just starting to realize the power that it yields in terms of marketing efforts and connecting with potential customers. 

Content marketing is, in fact, currently one of the most effective methods for generating new leads for business as well as turning those leads into conversion. 

Content Marketing Institute asserts that 40% of B2B marketing efforts are spent on content marketing; this stat comes from 2018, which means the number now could be even higher with the expansion of blogging for marketing and profit. 

content marketer infographic

With so many more content marketing efforts out there, there is plenty of competition and market saturation. Social media has played a pivotal role in driving more traffic to content and expanding reach to target readers. 

There’s no doubt that content marketing is going to be around for a while, so with this comes the burning question: how can I hire a content marketer that knows what they’re doing and will be able to drive results? 

What are the necessary skills that a content marketer needs to master in order to provide something of value and getting a ROI? 

This is something that has been widely discussed, and we’ve narrowed it down to five of the top skills you should look for when seeking to hire a content marketer. 

In this article, we’ll discuss: 

  • What a content marketer is
  • Top 5 skills for hiring a content marketer
  • Bonus skill: coding and HTML 

After reading our guide, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions on what kind of content marketer will actually provide the quality and skill set you’re looking for to turn your content from words on a page into leads and conversion. 

Let’s get started! 

What is a Content Marketer? 

In order to understand what you should really look for when hiring a content marketer, we should understand what exactly a content marketer is. 

A content marketer is someone who has excellent writing skills that can create compelling and engaging content that entices readers and makes them feel a connection to your brand, product, or service. 

Organizations feel that this is a top challenge that they are up against, and finding and/or training a true content marketing professional is also a difficult endeavor that takes a lot of work and consideration. 

Content marketers also don’t come cheap— some of the top content marketers can cost upwards of hundreds of dollars an hour, making it more and more important to choose the right one. 

What’s more, a high price tag doesn’t even guarantee that you’re going to see the results you need. Because content marketers are often freelancers, they can charge however much they see fit, putting you at their mercy, of sorts. 

When looking for a skilled content marketer, there are five key areas that you should judge your candidate against before making the decision to bring them on. With so much at stake and a large portion of your marketing budget on the line, it’s an important decision. 

We are going to help make your decision much easier; as you read the following five skills, keep your unique organization and needs in mind so that you can tailor them to fit the person you’re looking to bring onto the team. 

What to Look for When Hiring A Content Manager

Below are the five skills that you should be on the hunt for when hiring a content marketer. As each organization or business is unique, there may be some additional, specific needs that you have. 

Think about those needs in terms of these skills and where they might be able to fit so that you can gage your content marketing candidates in a measurable way before deciding on which one is right for you. 

Superior Research Skills 

Journalists have been increasingly cast in roles as content marketers, and it’s not by accident. 

With outstanding research skills and the ability to find claims and back them up, journalists are able to create content that is authentic and verified by facts. 

One of the best examples of this is Buzzfeed. They are a website that folks typically associate with entertainment and bizarre internet quizzes, but they are much more than that. 

Buzfeed now implements content that provides real and verifiable information through investigative journalism that readers find credible, informative, and engaging. 

There are other sites out there as well that do the same, including Forbes, Business Insider, HubSpot, TED, and more. 

hubspot content marketer blog

Content marketers need to research their topics in depth so they can provide accurate, informative content to their audience. This is a key element of content marketing. 

If you’re not convinced, here are some of the reasons why research is a vital skill when you are hiring a content marketer: 

  • They must understand and research information about your customer or audience: interests, problems, demographics, and more. 
  • Content marketers should be able to identify competitors, where their brand stands, as well as gaps or areas for opportunity through content. 
  • Content marketers should also have a deep understanding about your company, its products, what makes you unique, and how to reflect that within the content. 

You want your content to have a level of credibility and authority, so for that reason, having a content marketer with superior research skills is vital. 

There isn’t one single way for a content marketer to gather and organize their research, but they may do a variety of different things that you can listen for when interviewing one. 

Some use direct interview methods, some use Google search, forums, or use tools like BuzzSumo

buzzsumo screenshot

Any content marketer worth their salt knows the importance of research and how to use it effectively to enhance the content they provide. 

Ability to Create Grammatically Correct Writing that Captivates an Audience 

This should come as no surprise considering the fact that we’ve all probably seen a facepalm moment with failed grammar in ads and publications. 

If you want to see some really hilarious examples, check out this compilation of the worst errors and spelling mistakes documented by HubSpot. If anything, it’ll give you a good laugh for the day. 

As you can imagine, content writers must have a keen understanding of writing and its technical aspects and conventions. Perhaps it's so painstakingly obvious that many businesses assume that everyone can do it without issue. 

Not only that, with the emergence of online textual communication such as Twitter, Facebook, and more, the need for long form writing has somewhat decreased and hindered people’s capacity for attention to detail in the way of grammar and spelling. 

Alright? All right? Little mistakes can make a big impact on those who have a sharp eye for things like that, and you don’t want your company to end up on the next faux pas list from HubSpot. 

twitter fail

In order to be taken seriously, you must have your language fundamentals in order. Spelling and grammar mistakes can make a joke of your brand and hurt your reputation for a long time to come. 

In a recent Grammarly review of LinkedIn, fewer grammar errors had a correlation with a higher number of promotions; in fact, those with less promotions made 45% more grammar errors than those with roughly 6-9 promotions over a 10 year period. 

In addition, a survey from a London-based agency indicated that 42% would be negatively influenced by mistakes in spelling or grammar. 

So, that said, what is the right strategy to assess your potential content marketer’s grammar and sentence structure? 

It’s key that you take a look at available writing samples— you should look quickly at any previously published work, application, cover letter, as well as their resume. 

If you don’t want to do this manually, you can plug the document into Grammarly for a quick scan. If you see obvious mistakes in terms of spelling or word usage (for example, your and you’re), don’t go further with the hiring process. 

grammarly app

Some technical grammar mistakes, such as ending a sentence with a preposition, have become widely accepted and may have been intentionally used by the writer for a particular tone; these types of errors may be overlooked. 

Grammar and technical accuracy is an important element of writing proficiency, but is it the end of the line? The only thing that matters? 

No. Content marketing specialists must also be “word wizards” of sorts in the sense that they must make content compelling and accessible to a wide range of readers. If there is no personality, emotion, or connection, it will fall flat. 

It’s essential that content writers make intentional choices related to word choice, tone, and how it will relate to their particular target audience. 

The cream rises to the top, so here are a few things you can look for in making your decision: 

  • Reader-directed language: in order to make a direct connection with the person reading, using words like ‘you’ and ‘your’ are extremely powerful and helps the reader to see themselves in the piece. This helps to build trust and a relationship with the reader so that they can relate to the content matter and identify with it. 
  • Enticing title, subheadings, and CTAs: knowing that 80% of readers don’t even read on past the title, it’s important for content writers to put their best foot forward and hook readers in. CTAs are also vital in persuading the audience to perform whatever action the content is directing them to. 
  • Choosing the best subject or angle: it’s not enough to have good grammar and some good stories; content marketers have to understand how to attract readers through new and interesting angles while implementing things that work and drive traffic— keyword research and content-based research. 
headline infographic

Make sure that your content marketing candidate can check all of these boxes and do so with good content production rates; one article every month isn’t going to cut it. 

You want a writer to meet deadlines and be passionate and engaged with the work that they do in addition to high proficiency in grammar and content writing. 

Stays on Track with Publishing Schedule and Project Management 

Successful and professional content marketers know the value of a plan and understand that adherence to the plan is what makes the overall content marketing strategy successful. 

Deadlines are of the utmost importance in content marketing and even missing just one can wreak havoc on the business. Good content marketers know how to plan out content and stick to the schedule. 

There are plenty of tools that can help content marketers to stay organized, one of the most popular and effective being Trello

content marketer management

In addition, you have to have clearly defined and measurable goals that can be discussed with other collaborators that have a vested interest in the content marketing strategy. 

The best framework to make this happen is the SMART framework for goal setting and time management. Using the SMART framework can help clarify the content marketing plan and keep things on a measurable path that delivers results. 

smart goal breakdown

Knows how to Use Numbers Strategically 

Posts that include data and numbers often perform better and get more shares on social media, which is why it’s indispensable to have a content writer that understands how to integrate relevant data and stats into their content. 

It’s also valuable for content writers to generate their own data through research and analysis which helps put out new and insightful information that readers won’t find anywhere else. 

Not only that, a content writer has to understand what type of content is statistically performing well so that they can follow the numbers in that direction. 

If you are producing a bunch of content that is of no interest to your target audience, you’re basically wasting your time and money, not likely to get any ROI from content marketing efforts. KPIs have to be analyzed as well.

kpi breakdown

Where can you find these numbers? There are useful reports generated by Google Analytics that can help you spot them and understand what direction you should be headed in. This is excellent because then you can create fewer content pieces and promote the ones that are heavy-hitters. 

In fact, a popular theory claims that 80% of your traffic will be driven by only 20% of your content offerings.

Your content marketer must be concerned with the content that is being put out but from an ROI-based perspective. At the end of the day, it’s not just content, it’s content marketing. 

A highly qualified content marketer will know how to use tools like Google Analytics, Excel, A/B testing tools, among others. If your company uses any in particular, you can discuss that with your candidate(s). 

Focused on and Understands Value 

Last but not least a good content marketer will understand the importance of value. Quality makes a difference and your content marketer must be able to tell a good piece from one that isn’t going to help you much. 

Professional content marketers know how to put themselves in the shoes of the reader and not only identify their pain points, but empathize with them. 

While it seems that the content marketer is in charge of the overall content marketing strategy, they are not— it is the audience that controls it. A content marketer needs to be receptive enough to see that and move with the needs and desires of the audience. 

This means that content marketers need to evaluate how well their content is really meeting the desires of their target audience; is this content making a connection to my audience and will it keep them coming back for more? 

quora

The idea of custom content for consumers has shown popularity, with 90% of consumers saying that they enjoy custom content provided to them by brands and businesses. 

You have to have a content marketer that can reach people through valuable, informative, and relevant content that strikes a chord with the reader.

Added Skill: Familiar with Design and/or Basic Code

Content marketing isn’t simply words on a page; it also comes down to including graphics and relevant images to keep readers engaged. 

In fact, posts with images can increase engagement up to 650% over text-only content. This concept is important, and marketers know it. 

Your content marketer would ideally understand this and implement images into the content; if you have a designer, this can be easy to achieve, but on occasion, you may need your content writer to fill that role. 

Luckily, if an image needs to be designed, there are go-to tools such as Canva that can make the process simple. 

canva

In addition, a basic understanding of coding is also valuable in content marketers since it can make all of the difference when it comes to the look and feel of your content. You may have someone that takes care of this aspect, though, so that your content marketer can focus on content creation. 

You may even need your content marketing professional to write about technical subjects like SEO, HTML, or other topics that require in-depth knowledge. 

If you have a very skilled writer that doesn’t have the knowledge base for these types of technical topics, don’t let them go— this kind of thing can be learned. 

There are plenty of online courses that offer detailed courses on many different topics; these can be found on sites like Udemy, or even on YouTube tutorials. 

Conclusion: How to Hire a Skilled Content Marketer 

All in all, there’s no denying that content marketing is a valuable and ever-expanding component of marketing in today’s business landscape. It has become the focal point of many organizations and will continue to develop. 

For this reason, understanding the skill set that a professional content marketer should have can help you when hiring a content marketer that will deliver results and ROI. 

Content marketers are more than just writers— they are well-rounded professionals that understand how to reach a target audience, how to tailor content according to the numbers, and a plethora of other things. 

Do a needs assessment of your company’s content requirements and then gage those against these 5 skills; you’ll no doubt be able to find an effective content marketer that will check all of your boxes. 

Have you ever hired a content marketer? What led you to the final hiring decision? Is there anything else you look for when you hire a content marketer? Let us know in the comments!

By Nicole

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By Nicole

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