Your Guide to Creating Long-form Content with a Team
23rd November 2020
Long-form content is an essential part of a content marketer’s toolkit.
That’s because - although it takes longer to produce - it ticks pretty much every box on the list of things a content marketer should be focusing on:
- It shows you’re the expert on a comprehensive or complex topic
- Longer dwell time is great for SEO
- Readers are more likely to give their details in exchange for the content
- Sales teams get to share something more useful with their prospects
- There’s more opportunity to communicate your brand voice and visual style
- More engagement on social
- It’s easy to chop up into different content formats
The list goes on.
So if you’re a content marketer, you need to master the art of long-form content. But we don’t recommend you go it alone. It can be difficult to produce long-form content at scale, not least because it can be, well, long.
You’ll need to involve people with a range of skill sets, and give them everything they need to produce something cohesive and compelling. To do that, you’ll need to know the answer to these two questions:
- Who do you need on your content team?
- How can your team work together to get the best possible result?
Note: Articles is a new place for you and your team to plan and produce outstanding long-form content that you can use across several channels. Book a personalized demo with ContentCal to see it in action, for free.
You’ll want to build a team around you to help turn your long-form strategy into reality, particularly if you plan to release regular long-form content.
Here’s the motley crew you’ll need to create great long-form content again and again:
Most obviously, you’ll need someone to write the content.
If you don’t already have access to a great writer, look on a freelancer site like PeoplePerHour or The Dots and find someone with examples of work that more-or-less look like what you’re looking to do.
You should be excited by their portfolio, and identify how the writer’s approach will resonate with your audience.
The editor briefs the writer in line with the content’s objectives and ensures the work they send back meets your business’s standards.
Who wants to read a wall of text? Absolutely nobody.
Get a designer in to create branded images and infographics that illustrate and improve your message. Your blog will look a lot better for it, and so will your bounce rates and dwell times.
You may not need a developer to help you put content live every time you write a blog, however, your developer should have clear input into the structural set-up of your blog pages.
Technical details like page load times, how new leads are processed, and the configurability of on-page elements like buttons and text inputs all fall in your developer’s wheelhouse.
The temptation to avoid promoting your content is always strong when you’ve put so much time producing it. You’ll need a marketer on your team to focus on promoting your content across every channel where people are going to engage.
Of course, it’s possible to put together long-form content by yourself, and to do all of the roles above, but realistically, you won’t build a process you can repeat and scale.
Which brings us to the second half of the guide.
We would consider long-form content anything over 1,000 words.
Now, it’s not difficult to write 1,000 words. However, it is difficult to write 1,000 words that make your audience subscribe to updates, read everything you put live, and choose your product over your competitors’.
Don’t waste an opportunity to get your readers invested in what your brand has to say by introducing a process for creating and promoting outstanding long-form content.
The first step is the most important. Sure, you could start creating long-form content without preparation, but you’ll waste time further down the line pulling together all the foundational stuff you should have done earlier on.
Before you ask anyone to produce anything, you’ll need to have the following in place:
- Content strategy aligned to wider business goals
- Clear idea of what a good result would look like for this piece of content, with KPIs you’ll stick to
- Tone of voice document
- Brand guidelines
- Technical set-up ready to host appealing-looking blog
- Promotion plan
- Enough of your team’s time to make it happen
Note: Plan and produce long-form content that your team can use across several channels using ContentCal Articles. Book a personalized demo with ContentCal for free.
Next up you’ll want to engage your team with the necessary info. This means establishing what you need from everyone, how long it’ll take, and roughly how much it’s going to cost - if you’re working with a team of freelancers.
Here’s what you need to supply everyone on your content team to get a great finished product.
Your Writer needs a clear brief, with expectations of tone of voice (usually a separate document), keywords, subject matter, and structure. Here’s an example of a writer’s brief we send to writers.
Your Editor needs to know the overall goals of the piece. It’s their job to fit it into an editorial calendar, which lets the team know when new content is due, and when it’ll be released. Then they’ll send the briefs off to the writer and designer.
Your designer should have access to your brand guidelines, and clear expectations for the quantity of designs they create, and what exactly they’ll be used for. Use examples you’ve seen elsewhere and encourage your designer to create design templates as they go to save time creating image assets later.
Your developer needs to know whether they’ll be involved at all. Most CMS like Wordpress don’t require additional tech input once the fundamentals are established, so only use a developer when you’re pushing the boundaries of functionality to get a better user experience, e.g. if you’re testing different types of sign up form.
Your marketer needs to know what the finished product will be, when it’s due, and who it’s for. Then they can plan which marketing channels they want to publish to, and the materials they need to prepare for launch.
Now you’ve given your team a cast-iron brief, the rest should be simple. By working closely with the writer and designer, the editor is able to guide the piece to completion. Meanwhile, the developer and marketer prep builds and materials in advance of the go-live date.
Now it’s time to reap what you’ve sown.
Remember: the more work you put into making your long-form content relevant and accessible, the more value it’s going to have for your readers.
That means you’ll get more engagement on owned channels (like social media), you’ll have more opportunities to feature on earned channels (like Facebook groups), and you’ll get better clickthrough rates and lower advertising costs on paid channels (like Twitter ads).
Here’s how valuable long-form content gives you the opportunity to promote content on more channels:
You’ve promoted your content, now it’s time to gather information about how it performed, so you can produce something even better next time.
When you’re pulling together a report, try not to include too much information. You only want to report on stats that meaningfully influence your marketing strategy, and therefore your wider business’s strategy.
Ideally, you’ll have a dashboard which tracks each of the stats below by post.
If you track every piece of content you post, you’ll quickly understand what works well, and what doesn’t. Keep doing what works, stop doing what doesn’t, and continually introduce new ideas to keep your audience engaged.
So, ready to get started? If you’re a Company Plan user of ContentCal or above, you’ll now have access to ContentCal Articles as part of your package.
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