If you’re a business, you want to grow your business. If your goal is growth, you’re going to investigate the Internet sooner or later. While you’re investigating the Internet, chances are good you’ll see some of the most common advice; start a blog. A blog has a wide range of benefits, from building an audience to answering questions and bringing in traffic. Obviously, it’s the right choice to make one.
Creating a blog, setting it up and getting it off the ground isn’t a problem. You can hire a designer to do that for you, or you can do it in-house. You can even write the first few dozen blog posts yourself. Uploading a handful when you release your blog, to start off with a selection of content, is simple enough. Posting some of your backlog each week, 2-4 times per week, is easy enough as well. Soon, though, you find that you need to write more content.
At some point in the life of every business owner, the tipping point is reached. Sometimes it’s a blog that does it. Sometimes it’s other tasks. The critical point is the same, regardless. You reach a point where it’s more beneficial to spend money hiring someone to perform a task for you than it is to do it yourself. Your time is valuable, and you can do more with your time than write blog posts and moderate comments. Even if it only takes an hour to write a post and a couple hours each day to moderate comments, it’s a significant investment in time. There’s so much more you could be doing, and you can easily outsource your blog management.
Blog managers are professionals. It’s no different than hiring an HVAC specialist to fix and maintain your furnace. Hiring a blog manager means paying money to access the skills and experience of the person or company you’re hiring. On the Internet, you truly do get what you pay for.
Blog managers are perfectly capable of producing all of the content for your blog on their own. That doesn’t mean, however, that they completely lock you out. If you have content you would specifically like to publish, you can work with them to incorporate it into your ongoing blog campaign. Or, if you prefer a hands-off approach, you can leave it entirely to them.
Blog managers answer to you. You give them administrative control and creative freedom with your blog, but you still guide and control the overall direction. You’re the master, they’re the worker; if they step out of line, you are free to break your contract and find a replacement.
Blog managers are consistent. When you’re handling creation and publication of content yourself, it’s easy to slowly let your blog slip in priority until you miss scheduled posts or go a long time without posting due to a lack of inspiration. Blog managers do not have this problem; if you contract them to publish five articles each week, you will get five articles each week.
Blog managers understand the call to action. They know you’re a business and your end goal is to convert readers into paying customers. This means they know how and when to include a call to action in your content. More importantly, they know when to let a piece stand on its own.
Blog managers take the onus of writing content out of your hands. They may have an in-house staff of writers, or they may have a network of contracted freelancers of their own. The result is the same; you will have content when you need content, focused to your niche.
Blog managers are experienced with the tools of the trade. They know the ins and outs of the common blogging platforms, from Blogger to WordPress to custom solutions. They know how to set up, maintain and update a blog on any platform. Furthermore, they know how to customize a blog’s theme and functionality with plugins.
Blog managers are also experienced with the tools necessary to run a campaign and monitor its success. This means analytics software, heat maps, keyword research tools, competitive analysis, split testing and all the rest.
Blog managers don’t just learn your niche; they study your competition. They identify the weak points in your competition’s blog campaign and exploit them for your own gain.
Blog managers are experienced with web writing and SEO. They know how to include keywords and links for maximum benefit. They know to prioritize content value over SEO value, to avoid Google penalties. They know how to set up your site breadcrumbs, site map and other aspects for maximum SEO benefit.
Blog managers provide more than just the written word; they provide the graphics, often through a graphic designer of their own, to go with your content. They know how to stay within the legality of copyright law while still providing unique graphics for your blog.
Blog managers can work with your staff to provide support and additional services, or they can take control completely. Flexibility is the name of the game; if you want a certain level of control, you can have it.
There are a few basic types of blog managers to choose from on your search. There are no perfect definitions, no lines in the sand, but you can use these categories as guidelines.
• The basic blogger is primarily a writer who specializes in producing content for web publication. They are distinct from freelance writers in that they are experienced in using blog publication tools. A writer will produce content for you; a basic blog manager will handle the publication, monitoring, updating and policing of content once it’s published.
• The mid-tier blog manager does everything the basic blogger does, but they take it another step further. They manage the tech end of running your blog as well, moderating and responding to comments, updating software and installing valuable plugins. They also know how to craft an overall campaign with ongoing goals and analytics to study how those goals are progressing.
• The high-tier blog manager does everything the mid-tier does, but they often also include detailed analytics and marketing as well. They can create, launch, tweak and push ad campaigns to drive traffic to your blog content.
• The total communications manager does all of the above, but you can safely set them loose with your social media profiles as well. Consider them outsourcing your public face entirely; little more than customer service will be left for your in-house staff.
Remember, as responsibilities rise, so do prices. If you want your blog manager to run your social media as well, you’re going to have to pay for it. If you find a company or individual charging far less than the going rate for certain services, you should be wary; they may not know what they’re doing and overestimate their capabilities. It’s always possible they’re new and looking for experience, but do you really want to be the company they experiment with as they learn?
Step 1: Determine the type of manager you want to hire.
• If all you need is a basic blogger, consider looking for talented freelance writers through content mills, freelance job boards or your own job posting. You might also find someone who fits your requirements in your own company.
• If you want a professional blog manager, put out a casting call or look for then on freelance websites.
• If you want a company to manage all of your blogging and social assets, begin searching for companies.
Step 2: Gather a list of potential candidates for whichever type of blog manager you want. Make up a table for each, listing their availability, prices, references and other pertinent information.
Step 3: Investigate third party reviews, testimonials and search results relating to each potential candidate. If they are who they say they are, they should have no trouble furnishing you with relevant information. Put that information to the test.
Step 4: Interview your potential candidates. For basic bloggers and solo blog managers, you can treat this as you would an interview for any other position in your company, though it’s probably you’ll be taking them on as a contractor – or buying their services – rather than hiring them on your own payroll. Ask them questions pertinent to your position:
• Explain how you completed a difficult project in the past year, which you are particularly proud of.
• Detail the results of a campaign you completed recently – not just responsibilities, but successes.
• Tell us why you think you’re ideal for our position.
You’re looking for creative people to run your campaign, so if they can’t answer open-ended questions with satisfactory answers, they may not be the right hire.
Step 5: Present your best potential candidate with most of the specifics of your niche, requirements, goals and tools available. Have them produce a sample 90-day plan complete with goals, checklists and results they will achieve within that three-month period.
Step 6: Hire or contract your ideal candidate post-interview. Set them up with the tools and access they need, tell them your requirements and set them loose. If they are as talented as they should be, your blog should be ready to roll in a matter of days.
Initially, you should hire them on for a sample 90-day trial. You can use the 90-day plan from the previous step to hold them to a standard they claim they can achieve. Once the three months have passed, you can determine whether they lived up to expectations or if you should look at a different manager.