We have a pretty unique work set-up here at Zen Media – although we do have a physical office in Dallas, most of our team members work remotely. This leads to all kinds of questions from people intrigued by the idea of an almost completely virtual company.
We have to admit, it is pretty darn awesome to be able to work from home, from Starbucks, even from different countries (yep, sometimes team members just decide to fly over to Spain, or maybe India, and work from there for a month or two… We’re looking at you, Imran and Frank!). And since there’s so much interest in how it all works, we’ve decided to lift the veil and share our day-to-day with you in our new blog series, detailing a day in the life of team members in each department of MZ!
The Content Team
The first department we’ll be dishing on is the Content Marketing Department. Not to brag or anything, but our writers have been published in print and online publications, have ghostwritten books, and have had their work featured on outlets like Inc. and Forbes, just to name a couple. On top of having amazing writing chops, they are also online marketing gurus at the top of their game, constantly devouring courses, webinars, and new research on what makes marketing content great, and applying that new knowledge to our clients’ blogs.
Our team of writers is also pretty close-knit, in spite of the fact that they live all across the US – we use several different online tools to communicate, from Slack to Basecamp to Trello. It just so happens that we’re all parents, so we do a lot of kid-related story sharing in our spare time. (Team member Elizabeth wins hands-down with her adorable stories about her 2-year-old twin boys!)
Max and Charlie
And we’re all also a bunch of dog lovers, so there’s almost always a cute pic of someone’s pooch being shared in our chat. (VP Angela wins on this one, with her wonder dog Prim who housetrained herself!)
Decorating for Christmas is exhausting!
But of course, most of our day is consumed with passionate, intense writing, strategizing, and collaborating – and so without further ado, here is what an average day in the life of an MZ content writer looks like.
At MZ, we are all about collaboration and integrated marketing, and our workday reflects that. We start out each morning with a content team scrum on Slack, to make sure everyone’s on the same page as far as priorities and strategies, and see if anyone needs help with anything they’re working on.
Our writers approach our combined load of client blog posts as a group effort – although each writer is usually responsible for only certain clients on a regular basis, we all bounce ideas off each other all the time for all of our clients, helping each other brainstorm or even just think of the right word to use in a certain sentence. We’ve found that working together like this gives rise to much more creativity than working in a vacuum.
Depending on what day it is, we may have another meeting soon after, a Google Hangout with our CEO Shama and the entire team to discuss client campaigns and go over the upcoming week, a brainstorming session with the social media and SEO teams to plan blogs perfectly optimized for each client’s unique search and social needs, or some content team training, whether that’s working through the next installment of a course we’re taking together or attending a webinar.
And then, of course, there’s the banter that goes on via Slack throughout the day – sharing goofy videos, helpful tools or blog posts, or just joking around. Work hard, play hard, right?
Close collaboration within each department and among the entire team is what makes MZ’s virtual set-up possible – and what makes our marketing strategies rock!
Of course, when it comes down to it, writing is a solitary pursuit, so at some point, we have to log off Slack, close any distracting tabs, from email to Facebook, and face down that blank page and blinking cursor. Our team has experimented with all kinds of productivity hacks over the years to find what works best, so each of us knows exactly how to create the right environment to inspire ourselves to start putting words on virtual paper. Writer’s block isn’t an option when you’ve got deadlines to meet!
The first step involves strategy. We create custom content marketing strategies for each client, based on research into their industry, audience, and brand identity. Those strategies then inform the topics we write about, as well as the voice we use, from serious and professional to light-hearted and conversational. Any campaigns that the social media team is running for our clients are also taken into consideration, as well as clients’ SEO priorities. We use data on the performance of past posts, gathered from Google Analytics and social media analytics, to guide us in deciding which kinds of content to focus on. And of course, we keep the sales funnel top of mind, as well, crafting posts to attract people at every stage of the sales process.
Every single step of the blog writing process is carefully, strategically approached with all of those factors in mind. The topic is chosen after thorough research, the title is crafted to be easily findable on search engines, totally shareable on social media, and so intriguing that audiences can’t help but click and read. An image is chosen that perfectly fits the post and will draw eyes on social media.
And all that before we even start writing!
Finally, we put pen to paper – virtually, of course – and start to write. We structure each blog post to be easily readable, interesting and informative. We work hard to make sure each post establishes our clients as the go-to experts in their field, and gives valuable information to their audiences that will keep them coming back for more.
But here’s the thing – we’re writers. So even as we’re putting the marketing architecture in place, adding links to other helpful posts or pages on a client’s site, basing the post’s structure on marketing data, or considering what will garner more engagement on social media, we’re also listening to the music of the words, the flow of the sentences. How the piece sounds is just as important as whether it includes certain SEO keywords, or references current events for relevance on social media. We’re passionate about our craft, so we’re constantly running our blog posts by each other, asking for feedback and edits, to make sure each piece is as polished as it can possibly be.
Once our blog posts are finished for the day, they’re sent to the client for approval – and once approved, we publish them on our clients’ blogs and pass the baton to our social media team, who begins the process of promoting them!
Of course, writing client blogs isn’t all we do in the content department. There are always various other client content projects going on as well, from writing website content to creating white papers to drafting other marketing collateral. And each new project presents us with an exciting new challenge. On any given day, you might find one writer on the phone with a client, gathering information for a new project, another working on the latest MZ blog post, and another putting the finishing touches on a post for a client. It’s a fast-paced, intense ride, but we thrive on it.
Working remotely means that we have the ability to get our writing done at the time of day that works best for each of us, whether that means early in the morning, late at night, or heck, even at 3 am! That flexibility means that every writer can tap into his or her abilities when they’re at their peak of creativity and productivity – which means our clients always get our writers’ best work. Not a bad set-up, right?
So there you have it – a day in the life of an MZ content writer. From meetings to content projects, and everything in between, we’re fiercely passionate about what we do, and put our all into every single word on the page. And, we hope, it shows.
Want in on the fun? Contact us today to find out more about what we can do for your company!