Content Marketing Strategy Systematized and How I Launch a New Business
Sometimes, especially when you are a little hard headed like me, you need to be hit on the head a few times with an idea to have it finally sink in.
This post is about how one of those ideas is now going to be seeing the light of day and the process I have followed to think through the opportunity and the execution plan for a new project/business.
Don’t want to read everything… the new project is a Done For You Content Marketing Service
Am I an Idiot for Sharing?
In the comments I would be VERY VERY interested in hearing people tear this plan apart!
But also since I am sharing so much info about my business plan so early in the process I would be interested in feedback on if that is either…
- Foolish – will it give competitors an edge
- Not Foolish – publicly sharing will help improve the idea and spread the word
Resisted This Idea – Or Maybe I am Just a Little Slow!
I have been being continually asked if, since I already have a team and process, can’t I just publish content onto someones money site for a fee?
I continually said NO WAY since I believed creating great content was a core process for any money site owner and thought people should do it for their own sites!
Conversations With Smart People Doing Big Things Changed My Mind:
However, what changed my mind was several discussions with people who are looking to rapidly scale their portfolio and taking the long time (which it does take) to build the internal processes/procedures and team to create great content consistently would slow them down.
Plus, there were others I talked to where their “core competency/offering” they needed to own was something else such as physical products, SAAS offering or even for someone building content sites their focus was on keyword research and monetization not on running a content team.
In short people needed a service that could act as their in house end-end content marketing team that could easily plug into newly acquired sites or existing businesses where the owners/managers wanted to focus on priorities other than content marketing!
The Vision & Introducing ContentRefined.com
Our new project is ContentRefined.com – Content Marketing Refined!
We will take care of all your content marketing needs from keyword research to post publishing and promotion.
We act as if we were your in house content marketing team.
Have a Look at ContentRefined.com
note – some limited and discounted beta testers are now welcome
Existing Competition vs Our Premium Plan
Currently the services offerings seem to be focused on producing content with little focus on driving the results for the business associated with that content. Many boutique content marketing agencies charge an incredible amount for publishing fairly basic content.
What I mean is most businesses come from a content first background and try to make the marketing portion of content marketing work. For us we come from the marketing side of content marketing and our core strengths are in the keyword research and promotion compared to our competition who want to focus on $/word.
With our extreme (as you will see below) focus on systematically verifying high quality articles we will be able to produce the best content but will crush our competition in terms of creating content that delivers results.
Content Marketing Companies:
- TextBroker Managed Service – Focused on selling $/word ($2,500 minimum for managed service)
- UpWork – Do it yourself option
- Content Refined – Marketing first content marketing service
As always I like to share EVERYTHING and this post is a little different where normally I don’t like to share everything so early in the process but I believe that if I am not feeling a little uncomfortable I am probably not pushing hard enough. So to that end I have decided to share almost everything VERY early in the process!
At a recent conference (RhodiumWeekend) a great presenter, very successful website portfolio manager and long-time reader of AuthorityWebsiteIncome (Daniel) showed a 1 page business model canvas that I really liked and had the opportunity to apply it here.
More Information About the Business Model Canvas – Click Here
Unfair / Competitive Advantage – Highly systematized business with talented/dedicated north American business manager providing a productized service that is nicely integrated into my existing audience and productized services AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com, LightningRank.com and BrandBuilders.io. Marketing focused first vs other content focused first content marketing services.
Key Variables to Validate
Following another of my favourite business books (LeanStartup) I have my list of variables/hypothesis to validate to determine how viable this business will be…
- Demand at a premium price point will be solid – Mostly validated with initial beta testers
- Cost of goods sold will be below my set target and variability will be reasonable – Mostly validated with initial beta testers
Next I have another set of variables to test and validate with the next round of beta-testers
3. We will be able to scale without losing margin
4. Customer acquisition costs will be known and stable
5. Churn rate for customers will be manageable
If you are interested in being a beta tester you can checkout the service here.
This aspect of setting up a project/business has been often overlooked by me and I have paid for it!
All my projects that have had the most success when it comes to running smoothly and realizing their full potential the most important part has been setting up the business consistent with EMyth Revisited.
Having a highly systematized business and with a clear structure on who sits in 3 key positions (Entrepreneur, Manager and Technician) has been the key for a project to realize its full potential.
For ContentRefined.com the team is clear…
- Entrepreneur – Jon
- Manager – Maddie
- Technician – Distributed Team
Maddie will be the key person for this business. For those of you used to interacting with the very organized Kelley from LightningRank.com Maddie will fill a similar role for ContentRefined.com
Maddie will be every clients favorite person! She manages the team and each clients orders. Whether it is a one-off question or detailed explanation as to why an article title was selected she is your go-to resource.
The Process & Procedures
Transparency on how we do our work is going to be key for our business and below is exactly the process that Maddie/I have developed to execute this business.
Process and Procedures
For any of my services I like to share everything I possibly can to show you how we are going to go about delivering on what we said we were.
Plus, for those that want to execute content marketing in house I hope that what we share below will be of some help!
Below is just a sampling of the procedures the team has in place.
Content Marketing – Management Procedures:
Writer Hiring & Firing Procedure
- Overview – Building up a “stable” of quality writers has taken a long time and could very likely be our bottleneck for growth. Maddie has done a fantastic job since she started of relentlessly hiring/firing writers to now have a team ready to grow ContentRefined.
- Tutorial – (link to cheap article writing tutorial)
- Tool – UpWork
- Procedure – Over the last couple of months I have gotten into the flow of hiring and firing writers on a weekly/ sometimes daily basis. This process has allowed me to develop a systematic procedure, which has enabled me to build up a team of dependable and talented native English writers. I have included the steps I take filter out writers below.
- It can be helpful to compare text using the best plagiarism checkers and a free online text comparison tool
Here is my procedure:
|1. I post a writing job on Upwork|
|2. On upwork I generally post a job with the following specifications: 1. Writer for ____+ word article 2. Writer must be native English speaker 3. Looking for bids around 7.50/article|
|3. Once the Job Posting is posted on upwork, I hire 3-5 top applicants without an interview within the fist 24 hours What I look for in a Top applicant 1. Native English Speaker (only metric “required”) 2. Good cover letter 3. High job success score 4. The more hours worked, the better|
|4. I Assign each new hire 2 articles using the Writing Instructions Template that I created for new writers|
|5. Once articles are received, I review articles for quality assessment 1. Assess grammar and language capabilities 2. Copy and paste text of the article in Copyscape to make sure there is no plagiarism|
|6. Once quality has been assessed, I use my judgment in hiring/firing decisions If the article is full of grammar and punctuation issues, I will end the contract.If the language is way too simple and it doesn’t seem like the writer is completely fluent in English, I will end the contract|
|7. As soon as the new writer is on board I will assign them batches of articles continuously as articles are returned to me. Once writers are committed to you, you then have the responsibility of keeping them busy.|
Writer Management and Articles
I mentioned above that once you have some writers that are committed to you, you then have the responsibility of keeping them busy. Let me elaborate on that.
My process is simple:
- I have a content management spreadsheet, which helps me manage my writers and my content.
- When I get a new order from a client, I try and do as much keyword research and title creation as possible so that can send off the article(s) ASAP to my writer in the form of a “batch” order (this also works with one off articles but I like to keep them busy and committed to me as I know they will be working for other clients if I give them one article at a time)
- I have a template and instructions for the different kinds of articles that I generally need created I
- fill out the instructions and specifications on the template which will include specific keywords that will need to be used in the post
- Once I send the batch of articles to my writer, I let them know their timeline (for this service I like to give 2 weeks to make sure we’re getting really good quality content)
- Once I get the article(s), I pay my writer right away, and send them the next “batch” of articles. Busy writers are happy writers!
Client Onboarding & Communication
Google Forms and and Google Sheets are amazing resources and also an integral part of the onboarding process for new clients for this service. I have been finding success with the following procedure:
- If a new client is ready for onboarding I will send them the “Onboarding Details Form” if not already completed (this will prompt the client to answer important questions that will reduce the back and forth communication later down the line)
- The form will generate a sheet that will come to me with all of the detail specifications of the order
- Once I get the specifications, I create an “Order Tracking sheet” for the client and share it with them. Click here for the template!
- This sheet will allow the client to see where things are. Whether it’s still with the writer, in QC/editing or with the publisher etc..
- Once the posts are on Draft mode on the client’s site, I communicate to the client that it is ready for review. From here I let the client decide when we are to publish the article(s) to the live site.
Content Marketing – Execution Procedures:
Keyword Research and Article Title Creation
- Overview – Many services in this space do not have a keyword research focus
- Tutorial – See below – more in-depth post coming soon
- Tool – SECockpit
- Procedure – Shared Here
Keyword research is probably the most difficult part of this process. If the Client doesn’t give you any specifications, it might also take a long time to do it well as you’ll have to read through their site to see if they already have content around words of interest. This can take a long time! To make it easier on me, I’ve trained up a couple of my best Virtual Assistants for this task. Below is the step-by-step guide I send them to make sure I’m getting the best titles and the best keywords
|1||Log into the Keyword Research Platform of choice. (lately this has been SECockpit)|
|2||Plug in their “Seed” Keyword (*Seed keywords are simply general keywords you can plug into keyword research tools to find more specific, long-tail keywords)|
|3||Make sure that the filters on the seed keyword search include appended prepended and words in between, (Note – this is one of the big strengths of SECockpit and its ability to generate more keyword ideas within the tool)|
|4||Once the seed Keyword has loaded all of its associated the long tail keywords, look for the following metricsMonthly Search Volume : Over 1000Competitiveness: 30 and underOr for very low competition with some lower traffic o Traffic > 100 o Competitiveness < 20|
|5||Once a Long Tail Keyword that meets the metrics has been identified click on the long tail keyword to view the Analytics (SERP competition)|
|6||On this page look at the competitors for this long tail keyword|
|7||Check to see if the top 10 articles ranking for this long tail keyword are similar to the company site trying to rank for the keyword (if all ecommerce and your site is a content site that is not a great sign)|
|8||Check the Page Authority, the Domain Authority and the Linking. Ideally a good Long Tail Keyword would have results with both PA and DA under 20. Example of a good tableExample of a bad table:|
|9||If competitors are in the same league as your site, and SERP table looks good, create a Post Title with that Long Tail Keyword included within the title (ideally at the start of the title). Copyblogger has great resources for creating great headlines.|
|10||Once Post title is created, add the new title to the Content Management Sheet|
I mentioned above that I have article templates that I like to send out to writers to provide them with a “shell” of what the article is expected to look like. The more guidance they have, the better and more accurate to expectations the article is going to be!
NOTE – This level of guidance only applies after the writer has been on boarded.
For this service we offer 5 different types of articles. Click on each for the template!
- Buyer’s Guide List Post (great guide at incomeaddon.com)
- How to Article (shareable version coming soon)
- Blog Post (shareable version coming soon)
Editor Quality Control Checks
- Overview – This is an area we have put a lot of effort into… how do you systematically verify that your content will be world class at scale? Our answer is to combine the traditional writer-editor model with additional tools to help systematize the process. We are leveraging several new tools
- Content Marketing Tools
- CopyScape – Verify the content is unique
- Grammarly – Verify the content is grammaticaly correct
- Hemmingway – Verify the content meets our target reading difficulty/level
- MarketMuze – Verify the content is covered in depth
- Editor – Using the tools above and their normal process ensures our content is consistently of extremely high quality
My procedure is the following:
- One I get the articles back, I send them off to the editor who does a full quality control check on the article
- I have created an SOP around this to make sure that this is done effectively and consistently every single time
These are the instructions I will send my editor to ensure consistency:
|1||When editor receives the article from the writer, the editor does a very quick review|
|2||Once the article has gone through it’s preliminary review, the editor must log into http://www.copyscape.com/|
|3||Once on on copyscape.com the editor must copy and paste sections of the article one by one into the text box and check for plagirism|
|4||If the text comes back with results on copyscape, the Editor must notify the Portfolio Manager immediately, and notify which sections were plagiarized|
|5||If no plagiarism is found, Editor must got to app.grammarly.com and paste the entire article in the text box|
|6||Grammarly will suggest grammar edits. Editor is to go through the Grammarly suggestions and edit text where he or she see fit|
|7||Once the text has been edited, Editor must open their Hemingway editor and paste the edited text in the text box|
|8||The editor will click on the sidebar and check “edit” to get a report of the article
Enter your text here…
Enter your text here…
|9||Once the editor has pasted the text and clicked Edit, the editor much check that the word count matches the requested amount and that the “readability” of the article is a grade 5-8 level.|
|10||Once all the metrics are met, the Editor must take the edited text and create a new word document titles “ArticleTitle_Edited” Example ”bestworksocks_Edited”|
|11||Now that the article is unqiue, grammatically correct and verified to be readable the article goes through MarketMuse to ensure the article covers the topic in more depth than any competitor article (Neil Patel has a great article on using MarketMuse here)|
|12||Once the new edited version has been made, the editor must send the final edited copy back to the portfolio manager and update the Content Management sheet (Sheet 3) with the date of completion|
Custom Graphic Creation
With the Content Refined Service, we also add value to your article by making sure that the graphic design piece is nailed down. I actually have a virtual graphic designer who does this for me. I’ll simply send off your headings and top to this designer and I’ll receive custom headings with cool images to go with your article!
Once the editor is done with the article, they will send it back to the manager. The content manager will review the edited article to make sure it reads well and then send it to the publisher to be published on the site. The article can stay in draft mode until the client has reviewed and given us the green light to publish!
Summary – ContentRefined.com
Anytime we start mapping out a new process it can be a very fun process and this is no different, below is an image taken Saturday night at 10pm as I was working on mapping out the new model.
This new project will be Maddie’s #1 focus and I will continue to push it to become the best/only service online that can deliver and promote high quality content consistently!
If interested in being involved in the next round of beta-testing there are a select number of spots open at discounted pricing but you will be able to signup for a wait list when we get sold-out. Checkout ContentRefined.com.
Have a Look at ContentRefined.com
The main purpose of this post is to put myself out there revealing an uncomfortable amount of what should be proprietary data to get feedback on the model and idea. So please…
- Checkout ContentRefined.com
- Tear my strategy for sharing so much and the plan behind content refined apart in the comments below
You are an inspiration. Thank you for such an in-depth and useful post. One question I would have: for the quality of the article you are looking for, what would be a reasonable price for a freelancer on Upwork? In other words, a native writer that pass your test, how much he/she would average expect to be paid? I would appreciate if you can share your experience with this
Hi Sam it really varies, for a 1,000 word article it will range from $10-$50 for it to be written by a good writer. That doesn’t include the keyword research, title creation, management, image creation, quality control or publishing.
Signed up as a beta tester – can’t wait to try this service.
Looking forward to working with you and the other beta testers. Your feedback already has been very much appreciated!
I love your whole process. One thing I would challenge is step 1 of your hiring process. You ask your potential writer to write 5 articles and spend $50 on them. I do it phase wise. I ask them to write just 1 article within a day for $5 or $10 and then based on the quality I ask them to write 5. This small additional step saved me lot of time and $$$s.
Hi Rohit, that does make a lot of sense. Great suggestion.
Jon, this looks like exactly what I need for a site I just purchased. Question for you though, not every article deserves to be 1,000 words… is there anyway to have articles be longer/shorter as needed?
Another awesome practical guide. Thanks for being so transparent on your process as I have learned a lot from this. Any recommendations on finding a good editor/graphic designer? Or do you just have VAs that manage this? Thanks again for being awesome.
Great content here, Jon. Very comprehensive. Thank you for sharing. This sounds like a great service that fills a need for many (including myself) content based businesses. Question: A lot of your peers recommend LongTailPro for keyword research. When looking at the two what do you like about SeCockpit? Also – I know you mention you have a graphics guy. Do you own a member ship to an image service on;ine or is that something that your guy does entirely? One of the things I m finding is that images can get very pricey.
SECockpit has a greater ability to identify keyword variations. I think LTP keyword competition is a little more accurate than SECockpit which still seems to identify some keywords that would be hard for an affiliate site to rank for as low competition but that can be found with a quick analysis. The project management, number of keywords identified, ability to append/prepend to find even more keywords is great in SECockpit. If I was just starting out I don’t think I would pay the premium price for SECockpit and LongTailPro is a great option if you are starting out.
Love the thought process you used behind the business (before it is started – validation, EMyth positions, et al.)
As a potential customer – my concern would be: my writer would need to be extremely familiar with our subject matter. This has taken my current writer about 6 months to get a grasp on the verbiage, technical explanations, and an overall true understanding of more than just KW research but fundamentally what the end user wants and needs.
Having a writer that is one-off or even one that handles multiple “accounts” – how will you go about handling the “education” portion for them to truly grasp the niche and the style, content, and expectations that the customer/reader would expect?
I.e. an epic article (think Nerd Fitness’s Beginner’s Guide to Paleo – https://www.nerdfitness.com/the-beginners-guide-to-the-paleo-diet/) or something even 50% of that would be impossible for a relative novice to the subject matter to write.