Building an Awesome Content Team to Drive Links to Your Website

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September 10, 2013

Everyone loves to talk about how ‘content is king‘ and that the only way to really grow your blog is to have great content – well, while that’s not something that I disagree with, I often find that the phrase is flaunted far too often without any practical advice on how to consistently create awesome content.

I’m going to talk a little about how I go about running successful content marketing campaigns through building a solid content team. I’ve done this for clients that I have worked with across multiple niches, as well as within my own blogs, Find My Blog Way included.

Why Would I Need a Content Team?

There are a lot of reasons where building a content team can have its benefits, and it doesn’t need to cost you a fortune either. Here’s a few reasons why you might want to build a content team:

Having a team of content creators behind you can dramatically increase the amount of resources at your disposal. Having multiple content writers and designers at your disposal can not only help you write more content, but it can improve the overall quality of your posts.
By working with a team of people that have experience within your niche, you can take advantage of their social media following, email subscribers and personal contacts to increase the reach of your own content. For example, I work with a team of travel writers on my personal travel blog and am able to tap into their personal social media following with all of my content.
Having a consistent voice throughout your content is important, but adding a little diversity to your writing style and including other authors can be great. Get other people’s perspective on subjects and implement their ideas and strategies. 
Content creation can be incredibly time-consuming. Having a team behind you to take some of the weight off can be a life-saver, especially if you’re on the move a lot. 

Link Building With Your Content Team

When I mention the term ‘content team’, I don’t mean a ‘one-size-fits-all’ in-house content writer. I usually work with a group of freelance writers or experienced blog owners within my niche – this means that I can tap into the online authority of the writers and increase the viral potential of my content in the process. This leaves a lot of opportunity for link building – here are a few quick ideas:

  • Get content written by influential writers within your niche and reach out to authority websites for guest posts.
  • Gain links from your writers’ portfolio pages – where they showcase the articles they have written.
  • Cross link between content. For example, you can ask your writers to try and link between their different content pieces, which will drive back loads of relevant links from different websites.
  • Ask your writers to reference you within their author bios. For example, ‘…Matt also regularly writes for Find My Blog Way…’.
  • Increase your organic linking potential through an increased online reach; your content is more likely to get linked to because it will be exposed to a wider audience.
  • Give all of your content writers a badge that they can place on their blog to show they are part of your content team. For example, a personalised ‘Contributor to Find My Blog Way’ badge.
  • Use your content team’s personal connections within their niche to secure linking opportunities; remember that a lot of these writers also write for other websites, so will have good relationships with them.
  • Work with your team to create an evergreen content piece that will encourage long-term organic linking.

Sourcing Your Content Team

There a loads of link building opportunities that will arise once you have put your content team together. The only questions is, “how do I go about building my team?

The first thing that you need to decide upon is the criteria for a ‘good’ content writer. These are the typical attributes that I look for within any candidate:

  1. They have extensive experience of writing content related to my niche.
  2. They’re active on social media and have a good online reach.
  3. Their writing style fits with the direction of my content strategy.
  4. They can be easily contacted and have good content turnaround time.

There are lots of places that you can then look to find content writers, for example, oDesk, iWriter and Fiverr.com. Having said this, I prefer not to advertise it as a ‘job’, per se. Whenever I’m sourcing content writers, I will look at it as a mutually beneficial relationship between both myself and the writer – I will always try and help my content team to promote their own content as well.

To find candidates for my content team that fit in with my criteria, I use the same kind of research techniques that I would use to find link targets. The first of these is through Followerwonk:

Using Followerwonk to Find Content Writers

Followerwonk is an awesome tools to use in order to find great content writers from within your niche. It can also be amazing for link prospecting, but that’s a whole article in itself!

 

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The first step is to go to the ‘Search Twitter bios’ tab within Followerwonk – this allows you to perform search queries that look for information within Twitter bios. For this example I’m going to look for travel writers.

Followerwonk Twitter Bios Search

In the screenshot above, you can see that I’ve searched for anyone who has ‘travel writer’ within their Twitter bio. I’ve then specified that I only want to find users within the UK – this doesn’t need to be specified but you might find it useful to have your team close to you.

Lastly, I’ve written ‘http’ in the URL field – this will only search for users that have a URL within their Twitter bio, which means that I can take a look through their blog to get an idea of the type of content that they write. As well as this, I can also scout out a few link opportunities within my list by looking at some of the domain metrics associated with the writers’ blogs.

The next step is to download all of the search results to a .csv file, which Followerwonk allows you to do with a click of a button. Now that we have all of our data within a spreadsheet, we can drill down into the data a little easier.

Target List Filtering

The first thing that I do with my list is filter out any users that aren’t regularly active on Twitter. I only want content writers that are active and engaging on social media, so to do this you will need to go to Data>Filter (within Excel) and filter the ‘Last Tweet’ column to show only users that sent a Tweet within the last two months. This is a pretty effective way of filtering either inactive users or users with irregular posting patterns.

Next, you will want to sort the remaining users by ‘Social Authority‘ – a metric used by Followerwonk to calculate the kind of authority that a user has on Twitter. This is a good metric to use as a starting point for finding reputable writers. You can then take the top 20 users from within your list and mark them as potential candidates.

Tip: I always take a look through my shortlisted candidates’ blogs to get a better feel for the type of content that they write. I will then upload their site to BuzzStream so that I can quickly pull off their contact information (to be used for reaching out to them).

Influential Forum/Community Members

If you don’t think that Twitter is the best (or most relevant) metric to base social authority within your niche, then looking at authoritative members of established communities and forums within your niche can be really useful. Just remember that someone doesn’t need to be a content writer by trade to become part of your content team – authority can go a long way!

Moz top members

A perfect example of this is within the online marketing industry. If you’re reading this article then it’s highly likely that you’ve heard of Moz. Well, Moz have a page on their site dedicated to listing the top members within the community. This is the perfect place to start looking for influential writers within the online marketing niche. Another example is Inbound.org, who use their influential members list as a core part of their community strategy…

Inbound.org Influential Users

This doesn’t just apply to the online marketing niche. Most online community sites will have some kind of community ranking system in place to encourage their users to engage regularly – you’ll just need to do a little research here.

Reaching Out to Your Candidates

Now that you’ve gathered a list of targets, it’s time to reach out to them and get them on board. One thing to remember here is that nothing is for free – having said that, there are a lot more ways to incentivise your team than through just cash payment. Here’s a few ideas:

  • Give them access to your designers and coders when they need it for their own website.
  • Offer to pay for their web hosting – or if you own servers, offer it to them for free.
  • Give them access to post their content to your social following and email subscribers. This only really works if you have a good social following/subscriber list.
  • If you’re an industry leader, play to their ego by offering them a spot as a regular columnist on your site – I do this myself on a number of different blogs.
  • Offer to link to their site from a personal profile page on your website or within your articles.

The above examples work great if you have resources in the form of designers, coders or you’re an authority within your niche. If not then it’s likely that you’re going to have to pay for their services – prices vary depending on the niche and the work involved but you can negotiate this with the writers themselves.

 Tip: Offer your writers bonuses for quick turnaround times and give them tips for really good work – this will help build your relationship with them and make them much more receptive to future ideas.

 

TL;DR

  • Work with writers that are experienced within your niche and don’t just ‘research and write’.
  • Build long-standing relationships with your team and use their authority to gain link opportunities.
  • Utilise your content team to increase your online reach.
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About Matthew Barby

Matt is a digital marketing consultant from the UK. He is the Digital Strategist at Wyatt International and has a passion for all things digital. He also runs a number of blogs, including his travel blog and pescetarian food blog. You can get in touch with Matt on Twitter or through Google+.

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  • http://www.SEONick.net/ Nick Eubanks

    Really nice work Matthew.

    One specific part that you approached at the end, that I would love to read more on, is your experience with reaching out to your targets once you’e identified them.

    This is obviously a critical component if you’re going to scale your external content resources, and people who are busy/influential/running their own projects aren’t always willing to give you the time to talk through the requirements and get your full pitch.

    On a side note, you may find a post I wrote earlier this year on how to scale a content team interesting :)

    http://www.cucumbernebula.com/blog/scaling-a-successful-content-team

    • http://www.matthewbarby.com/ Matthew Barby

      Hey Nick,

      Thanks :) I agree – I think I will put together a whole post following on from this that focuses around actually reaching out to your potential content team members. I’ve worked with a lot of writers from different niches and with this kind of outreach, you can’t have a one-fits-all approach.

      Pricing varies, incentives are different and the general understanding of the way that these kinds of arrangements works is varied. The travel industry was a perfect example, and was quite a culture shock for me compared to the likes of our online marketing niche. I think it’s all about sensitivity to the writer and their work – understanding what they will do and what they don’t like doing is something that a lot of SEO agencies in particular get wrong.

      Also, I read your post on Cucumber Nebula earlier this year – awesome stuff and exactly the kind of thing that you don’t see written about enough!

      Will keep you updated on the follow-up to this post.

  • http://www.skiusainc.com/ SKI USA

    Awesome tips Barby. Especially on the non-monetary side of things that you mentioned. A relationship way to build links will always sustain. You can fall back on the person even later in need. That is the best part of building relationships while building links.

    • http://www.matthewbarby.com/ Matthew Barby

      Agreed, and thanks for the comments. Having good relationships with influencers within the industry can be incredibly beneficial – when you have them as part of your team then that potential sky-rockets!

  • http://eventige.com/ Eventige

    Excellent work of compiling and listing everything that one must know when he goes on trying to make awesome content. The Followerwonk step by step tutorial and the tips are real gems too!

    • http://www.matthewbarby.com/ Matthew Barby

      Thanks :) Glad you found it useful – I use Followerwonk for so many things; it’s such a great tool.

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