how to write an ultimate guide

Your Ultimate Guide on How to Write an Ultimate Guide (Infographic)

There is definitely some Matrix-like inception going on in today’s blog. 😁

seinfield gif

We’ve created the Ultimate Guide on, well, how to write an Ultimate Guide.

Here’s a fun fact: in this information age, it’s relatively easy to find guides on anything you want.

The results are good, but then there comes a showstopper that immediately makes you pause in your random clicking and reading, and absorbs and holds all your attention.

You’re actually learning something, and you don’t want to click away.

This is the benefit of building an ultimate guide on the internet.

We’ve all seen these pieces. They are referenced repeatedly, get tons with traffic, and see non-stop shares across social platforms.

From how to groom your Labradoodle, to the entire guidelines for changing guitar strings, a mind-boggling Javascript tutorial, or the ultimate whammy guide on creating great social media posts.

Psst…we can help you with that last one.

The ultimate guide that truly adds value could be called the holy grail of content pieces.

They’re some of the most comprehensive, authoritative, and popular pages you’ll find. If you’ve ever turned to cyberspace to learn something, chances are you’ve used one at some point.

Today, I’m sharing tips on how to create an ultimate guide of your very own.

This will cover it all. Starting with strategy and brainstorming all the way through revising and updating, this comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know to get started.

Trying to create your own holy grail of content for your niche? @JuliaEMcCoy shares us her guide on how to write an ultimate guide. Click To Tweet

infographic blog how to write an ultimate guide

7 Steps on How to Write An Ultimate Guide

1.    Why You Should Create an Ultimate Guide (and What it Means)
2.    Topic Research: Study Your Topic, Audience, and Competitors
3.    When Writing, Start Off with a Format – or Better Yet, a Template
4.    Conduct Keyword Research AFTER Your Outline is Created
5.    Go Heavy on Examples, Images, and Statistics if Applicable
6.     Get a Designer Involved
7.    Do Ultimate Editing and Tracking for Your Ultimate Guide

All of these are coming in our blog topic today, complete with a visual infographic on the topic. First, let’s share a story about why and how ultimate guides work so well.

The Story of an Ultimate Guide That Helped Put a $7 Million Business Together

We will start with strategy – but first a little preface on exactly why you should get excited about building your ultimate guide.

Creating an ultimate guide means giving your readers a comprehensive content piece they can’t find anywhere else.

There’s another advantage to that – you’re associating your name with that outstanding piece.

Many readers will have already heard of Unbounce. While you may know them for their landing pages, popups, and sticky bars, you might have also seen the ultimate guide that skyrocketed their brand to success.

The year was 2011. Oli Gardner created a free six-month guide to marketing for Moz. Between the great content and the massive infographic, it racked up views in no time. Below is the top part of the graphic – we won’t show the whole thing here, but recommend checking it out in its entirety.

Nice, huh?

The piece clearly told readers what they wanted to know. It took an already-talented brand and strapped a rocket to their back.

The results? This guide was downloaded over 150,000 times and earned thousands of backlinks. Blogging was their survival, and epic content put them on the map, according to their lead Content Strategist Dan Levy. Just five years after the company’s founding, Unbounce went from nothing to over 9,800 paying customers and $7 million in annual revenue.

How’s that for “ultimate guide success story?”

A good guide is as useful to you and your brand as it is to your readers.

One look at that graphic shows the main reason why this guide was so successful. You can tell the people behind it knew their subject matter – they didn’t just know it, they lived it and breathed it. When you’re creating this type of piece, you need to be a knowledgeable, trustworthy authority on the topic.

This takes years of work honing a craft, tons of practice, and hours upon hours of research. You’re doing this so your readers don’t have to – that’s why they’ll appreciate it and you.

[email protected]'s ultimate online marketing guide has brought them $7 million in annual revenue - a real success story that proves why you should publish your own guide. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Your Ultimate Guide on How to Write An Ultimate Guide (The Infographic)

Scroll below this guide for our more in-depth written guide on the topic.

infographic how to write an ultimate guide

Beginning Stages: Research Your Topic (and Other Ultimate Guides)

Content creators know all about preceding their creation process with strategy. If you’re looking to build a piece that’s more informative and in-depth, you should expect a research period of the same complexity.

The amount of time you spend on a piece isn’t always proportional to its quality – but if you’re doing things the right way, it should be.

This stat is just for blog posts, but if it works for those, you can imagine how much better it works for an ultimate guide.

Image from Orbit Media

The interesting observation is the lack of significant variation between the 1-6-hour mark. Yet, when you go beyond that, results tend to be much better.

As for specific research strategies, a lot of your research will come from doing. Your ability to give someone a guide to something is related to your knowledge of it.

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t search the web for additional insight. When you’re in the strategy phase, think about the following:

  • How to Explain Things You Already Know: Don’t fall into the Dunning-Krueger Just because you are an expert on something, doesn’t mean everyone else is. In an ultimate guide, you want to explain everything. The fundamentals, the nuances, the maybe-you-should-know-this-too parts. The more comprehensive your resource is, the better. It should be a one-stop piece.
  • How to Explain the Same Thing in Multiple Ways: Searching for insight about your chosen topic isn’t just so you can explain it. You need to explain it in multiple ways, if need be. If the same advice can be given from two different perspectives, make the effort to cover both. Remember, you may be talking to beginners, too. The ultimate guide to content writing, for example, may be used by people other than expert copywriters and career marketers.
  • How to Explain Things Your Competitors Don’t: Researching your topic also means researching competing ultimate guides – or other comprehensive content types like eBooks and white papers. See how other people are explaining it, and know whether your insight could provide something the competition doesn’t. This is the key to having the ultimate resource that ranks the highest.

Take our agency for example – one thing we do is create a table of contents to start our authority pieces and ultimate guides. This is something that not everyone does, so it sets us apart. If the time, budget, and piece calls for it, we’ll interlink these headings like we did here.

If you want to be known as an authority online, we can help.

Extra Resources for Fine-Tuning Your Strategy

Your strategy process should be comprehensive, and that means covering all those FAQs. If you wonder about the questions people ask but don’t always get answers to, try visiting sites like Quora.

Image from Marketing Land

Yes, using it as a source of answers is about as reliable as using Wikipedia – we don’t recommend it, especially in an authority piece. But while it isn’t great for answers, it’s awesome for questions. See what people ask about your topic, and you’ll know what answers to include in your piece. It can also help you understand common misconceptions so you can clear them up.

You should also aim to make your content evergreen – this type of content never goes out of style. To do this, focus on the fundamentals and points that transcend time-relevancy. You can also adhere to this style by updating your ultimate guide periodically. But, more on that later.

As for the keyword research, we’ll cover that in the section after next – first, let’s work on crafting a format that helps your reader realize they’re in the right place.

Writing an ultimate guide? Start with research. @JuliaEMcCoy shares how you can do your own content research and strategy. Click To Tweet

Formatting Your Guide and Picking an Ultimate Guide Template

For the sake of example, I’ll be putting together a sample format (with some sample body text as well) to show you how to create an ultimate guide based off a great outline.

This is where things start to get exciting. You’ll be seeing your ultimate guide take form in the early stages. You’ll also get an idea how on to bring everything together. Every format will be different, so don’t think you have to make yours like every other guide on the same topic.

For this format, we’ll go with one of the examples we mentioned at the beginning – how to change guitar strings. To make it a little more specific, we’ll make it “How to Change Guitar Strings on a Floating Bridge.”

Image from Floyd Rose

Our outline:

Your Guide: How to Change Guitar Strings on a Floating Bridge

  1. Gather the Tools You Need
    1. Sub-points about the right tools
  2. Prepare Your Instrument
    1. Preparation sub-points
  3. Remove the Old Strings
    1. Sub-steps on how to do this
  4. Replace the Strings
    1. Sub-steps on how to do this
  5. Tune the Guitar
    1. Sub-steps on how to do this
  6. Relock the Nut
    1. Sub-steps on how to do this

Whew! Remember, formatting your ultimate guide isn’t just about making steps – it’s about making steps within your steps. Remember, we’re aiming for a thorough, detailed, comprehensive piece that tells your user everything they need to know.

Formatting your ultimate guide isn’t just about making steps – it’s about making steps within your steps. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Formatting: Steps Within Steps

So, under the first of our headings, we could have a few sub-categories. The copy could look something like this:

1. Gather the Tools You Need

After you’ve got your guitar and a fresh pack of your preferred strings, make sure you have the following: a set of Allen wrenches, wire cutters, and a blanket or large soft surface to protect your instrument from harm while you change the strings.

3 Recommended Tools

The following tools aren’t mandatory for getting your strings swapped out on a floating bridge system, but they can definitely make things easier:

  1. String Winder: Whether you go for manual or electric, a winder can help you avoid the tedium of turning your pegs dozens of times by hand.
  2. Fretboard Cleaner and Polishing Cloth: Changing your strings is a great opportunity to clean your fretboard. Make sure you use a cleaner specifically made for fretboards – don’t use things like rubbing alcohol, as they could pull the oil out of the wood and cause it to crack.
  3. Neck Cradle: This nifty invention rests the neck safely so you can work with two hands, giving you just enough elevation so you can maneuver comfortably and have easy access to the tuning pegs.

Troubleshooting the Floating Bridge System

The floating bridge system is notorious for making string-changing difficult. It’s not as hard once you understand the process, but some people wonder whether they should block the bridge to make it “fixed” as they change strings.

We’ll cover how to tune, adjust, and retune your guitar in the tuning section – so you don’t have to block it to use this guide. Many people have said blocking is dangerous to the bridge system. Do so at your own risk – but if you do choose to, a block of wood or a stack of picks could do the job.

If you want to make your guitar’s floating bridge fixed (temporarily) the safe way, consider investing in a locking system like the Tremol-No. Note, this requires its own installation, which is not covered here.

From our sample, you can see that each heading from your table of contents can have subheadings, bullet points, and sections for common questions associated with each part.

If you’re still not sure about how to create your format, try drawing inspiration from others. You can even use ultimate guide templates or examples – simply plug in your own information or alter the existing entries to fit what you’re creating.

Creating or writing a how-to guide template or ultimate guide template may take some trial and error. You may get part of the way through and find you need to go back and explain something else a little more thoroughly.

Formatting is the first part of the actual writing process, and the more work you put into the content the more detailed and precise your format should be.

How Long is Too Long?

When we’re talking ultimate guides, we’re talking about detailed pieces. However, everything is subject to diminishing returns – water, money, and yes, even great content can lose its value or even become detrimental in too great a volume.

According to one study, the answer actually depends on what you’re writing about.

Image from WordStream

To be fair, how-to guides could fall into the category of personal development – or maybe a hybrid between that and another field. Simply make sure your content centers around the main points of your format, and you should stay on track without delving too deep into unnecessary specifics. Typical ultimate guides end up around 3,000 words or more.

Just remember to stay on point with your main topic. For example, in our sample piece, we wouldn’t necessarily go into steps about how to check the guitar’s intonation – such a topic would warrant its own piece, despite involving some similar terms and tools.

Q: How long should your ultimate guide be? A: Typical ultimate guides end up around 3,000 words or more. Know more on @JuliaEMcCoy's guide on how to write an ultimate guide Click To Tweet

Choosing Keywords For Your Ultimate Guide

Keyword research is something every content creator is (or should be) familiar with. In the internet age, understanding SEO is great for making sure the people who could benefit the most from your content can find it easily.

Need help with SEO basics? Download my 15 SEO content on-site ranking factors along with 8 steps to accurately optimize your content.

When we’re talking about how to write an ultimate guide that is properly optimized, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Longtail Keywords Work Best: If you go with a word like “content strategy,” you could attract people who are searching for things like “average cost of content strategy” or even “content strategy statistics for 2019.” If you’re writing a guide on “how to build a great content strategy” use that as your keyword. Longtail keywords are more specific, and they’re great for making sure you attract the optimal traffic.
  • SEO Best Practices Still Apply: Even though the type of keywords you use will be a little different, you should keep the same principles in mind. Make sure you have your keywords in the right places – headers and sub-headers, especially. Don’t forget to keep frequency in mind. Even in longform authority pieces, don’t resort to keyword stuffing. Use them organically and conversationally to rank higher and create more valuable content.
  • Look to Your Format for Example: The reason we covered formatting first is that it is a great place to find keyword ideas. Going back to our own example, think of all the relevant keywords that could be used based on the headers. They include: “how do I remove strings from a floating bridge,” “do I take all guitar strings off at once,” and “how to keep a floating bridge guitar in tune.” Longform, yes – but that’s the idea. They’re specific, and you can use them as sub-headers in quote format if necessary.

Also, the same tools can be useful in guides just as they are in blogs. The tried and true go-to options like SEMrush, KWFinder, and Ahrefs are still great choices.

Image from KWFinder

The ultimate guide meaning, or purpose, is to answer questions – so your longtail keywords can become your primary keywords. The opposite is also true. Those smaller, shorter keywords are still good – but in this case, you will use them as secondary options.

Power Up Your Guide with Examples and Media

One of the main traps guide writers fall into is being so focused on having all the written content they need that they end up with a text block. Yuck.

Detail is good, but you should break up your copy. Images or even videos are great for making your guide look better. The best part is they also strengthen the guide’s ability to convey information. Many people learn better from seeing things rather than reading them.

Approximately 60 percent of the population are visual learners – the graphic below shows that stat to be even higher according to some estimates.

Image from McKnight Kurland

People are also compelled by the stories of others, and by numbers. Therefore it is wise to use examples and figures when applicable. To make sure your content stays relevant (we’re almost to that section) make sure you keep your stats up to date.

People trust statistics for everything. From our evening weather report to medical studies that eradicate diseases over generations, much of the important information we rely on (and benefit from) is based off hard data.

Examples can also come in the form of real-world stories and popular cases. You don’t want to get too personal when it comes to your ultimate guide, but if examples fit, it is great to put them in.

Approximately 60 percent of the population are visual learners... it is wise to use examples and figures when applicable. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Consider Getting a Designer to Create Unique Visuals for Your Ultimate Guide

Design is critical to a thorough ultimate guide. While you want to include screenshots, graphs, and images for anything that lends itself to a visual, going a step further can bring even more traffic and growth to your site. For example, you could have a simple infographic designed for your guide – just like the one we designed, above!

Here’s another example. In one of Jon Morrow’s ultimate guides, a 3000-word blog that ranks in the top 10 of Google for how to become a freelance writer, he had a simple infographic designed and embedded that summed up several of the powerful statistics in the ultimate guide.

ultimate guide example

See full infographic.

This is a great example of a value-added design that is 100% original and unique to the ultimate guide where it was posted within.

You can find awesome designers through resources like freelance platforms, LinkedIn profile searches for “freelance designer”, or you could talk to us about the custom blog header sets and ebooks we design for our content marketing clients as part of our content writing packages.

Go a step further by adding visuals in your ultimate guide. Add graphs, screenshots, and even custom images created by a hired designer. @JuliaEMcCoy on how to write an ultimate guide Click To Tweet

A True Ultimate Guide Requires Ultimate Editing & Tracking

If you’re a content creator looking up how to write an ultimate guide, you’re probably already familiar with the most basic revision best-practices, including:

  • Using plugins like Grammarly to check your grammar and diversify your word choices
  • Reading your copy out loud as if it were a script to see if it flows properly
  • Having a separate editor/co-author check over your work to bring a fresh perspective

I won’t tell you that these don’t apply here – but I also won’t tell you that this is enough. Because, for an ultimate guide, you simply have to do more.

The editing process for an ultimate guide can take a full week. Make sure you have an outside eye assisting in the process.

Then, when you finish your ultimate guide, set up a reminder to monitor and update it after publishing.

It’s easy to assume that when you finish your ultimate guide, you may be fine with how it looks. But, how will you feel about it in a week? A month? A year? Remember – these are pages that will bring in millions of views over the years if optimized properly.

Our story about Unbounce is a perfect example. Such a piece kept getting clicks and circulated through content marketing circles across the globe. If your piece is to have that type of a lifespan and continue generating returns, you need to make sure it is updated regularly.

Luckily, if you’re learning how to create an ultimate guide on a particular topic, you probably already know that topic fairly well. Which means you’re also researching it constantly and keeping up on any changes to it.

If there are new developments, new studies, or any new changes at all, you should put them in your guide if they fit. I know what you’re thinking – what if a development happens and you aren’t able to find it quick enough?

I recommend using proven research tools – like Google Scholar, for example.

With access to plenty of university repositories, this tool is fantastic for finding stats as they come out. The best part is you can set up an alert whenever new articles are published. You can also see which papers have cited which, so you’ll know if you’re bringing in a fresh perspective.

Other popular tools for researching new studies and stats include Trello, Mendeley, and Scrivener.

Don’t forget to promote your ultimate guide again and again. Especially after you’ve made some updates – your readers will thank you for keeping your guide fresh and relevant.

Don’t forget to promote your ultimate guide again and again. Especially after you’ve made some updates – your readers will thank you for keeping your guide fresh and relevant. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Looking to promote on social media? We’ve got entire plans to pick from.

How to Write an Ultimate Guide Your Readers Will Love

Every content marketer, copywriter, and creator dreams about going viral with that piece readers just can’t get enough of.

It’s the one they keep coming back to, share on the regular, and still view years after it is released. There’s arguably no content type that fits this description better than a well-crafted ultimate guide.

Remember, to create an ultimate guide, you should:

  • Research your topic from multiple perspectives, understand common questions, and see what others are missing from their own guides
  • Craft a format that is organized to cover all major topics in a step-by-step format with the proper amount of detail for each
  • Conduct your keyword research by drawing inspiration from your format, and leaning toward longtail keywords as your primary targets
  • Integrate plenty of visuals, examples, and statistics where applicable
  • Revise your content regularly – update it is as needed, and promote it after each update

Your ultimate guide, like any long-form authoritative piece, will take a lot of work. You’ll be putting in a lot of hours (and days, really) to get everything together.

But it will be worth it. An ultimate guide is the type of piece readers will breath a sigh of relief upon finding. A content marketer’s ultimate goal for building a content piece is to tell the reader everything they need to know. You want to tell them things they always wished they could find – things they couldn’t find elsewhere.

When you create a piece like this, you’ll be glad you put in the work – your readers will be glad, too.

Need an authoritative guide written, but don’t have time to create it yourself? Trust us to — we care about each and every one of our clients’ content projects. See pricing for our Authority Blog, aka Ultimate Guides, here.

CTA ultimate guide

roi of content marketing

Infographic: The ROI of Content Marketing (In Numbers Everyone Understands and With a Case Study)

Content marketing is effective – but I’d bet you certainly don’t need convincing.

You already know how good it is:

The problem:

How do you explain the ROI of content marketing in a way that’s immediately understandable to people who aren’t you?

Important people like…

  • Clients
  • Executives
  • Stakeholders
  • Business partners

Instead of putting these key players to sleep with a long list of incomprehensible stats, you need to be more persuasive.

We put together a guide that might help you, with formulas based on real scenarios, and language that even the toughest boss will understand (ROI speaks for itself!). This piece was a collaborative team effort between myself, our lead Content Strategist JJ, our creative full-time writer, Alyssa, and our amazing designer.

Please share if you enjoyed this infographic. Let’s spread the word about content marketing ROI! And, we’d love to hear in the comments what you think!

The ROI of Content Marketing: In Numbers Everyone Understands and With a Case Study (Infographic)

ROI of content marketing infographic

Download as a PDF.

Explaining the ROI of Content Strategy Through Numbers Everyone Understands (Infographic)

return on investment of content marketing

The way to make a client’s or high-level executive’s ears perk up when you talk about content marketing is not by showing them examples of others’ success.

Instead:

  • They want to know how this strategy will help THEM.
  • They want to hear about the dollars, cents, and ROI THEY will get.

How do you estimate what this will be?

You need the Content Marketing Trifecta.

The Content Marketing Trifecta: Earned Traffic = High Quality Leads = Sales

A great content marketing benchmark to use for estimating dollar signs is conversions.

At its most basic level, content marketing’s main goal is to drive targeted traffic to a website, where that traffic is converted into high quality leads. These leads are then converted to sales.

  • Earned traffic, high quality leads & sales.
  • This is a simplification, but that’s the goal.
  • We need to translate conversions into dollar signs, A.K.A. speak the most simple yet persuasive language for key players to get on board.

The Benchmark Numbers

How do we compute the ROI associated with conversions from content marketing? We need some benchmark numbers.

We need to know:

  • The average rate at which targeted traffic coming into a website converts to high quality leads
  • The average rate that those leads convert into sales

16% Traffic & Leads

  • According to Marketing Sherpa, the average rate for converting traffic to leads across industries is 16%.

14% Leads & Sales

  • SEO leads convert at a higher rate than outbound methods, like paid advertising.
  • Studies have shown that leads generated from SEO have an average close rate of 14%, while outbound-generated leads have a close rate of 2%.

The Content Marketing Trifecta Equation

Using our benchmark numbers and monthly traffic numbers, we can plug them into an equation that will estimate how many leads and sales we can expect to see per month using content marketing.

  • Monthly Visitors x 16% Organic Traffic to Lead Conversion Rate = X Leads/Month
  • X Leads/Month x 14% Lead to Sale Conversion Rate = X Sales/Month

Example Scenario

If Business A gets 1,000 visitors to their website monthly:

1,000 Visitors x 16% = 160 Leads/Month

160 Leads x 14% = 22.4 Sales/Month

According to average conversion rates, out of 1,000 visitors in website traffic per month, Business A could expect 160 leads and 22.4 sales per month if they use content marketing.

Judging the Content Marketing Trifecta Equation Against Real Numbers: Case Study

To show how well the equation holds up in real life, let’s compare actual results with what the equation predicts.

  • The monthly traffic for Express Writers in January 2018 was about 15,470.
  • 15,470 Monthly Visitors x 16% = 2,475 Leads
  • 2,475 Leads x 14% = 346 Sales

Do the numbers hold up?

  • Expected: 346 orders
  • Actual: 289 orders
  • While we did come up 57 orders short of the expected total, this was a deliberate move for 2018 as we have shifted our focus to serving only clients who we believe are the right fit.
  • Due to this shift in focus, our average order size for January 2018 was $416 (new record for us at EW).

3 Steps to Explain the ROI of Content Strategy to Clients and Superiors

You’ve got some good numbers up your sleeve that are immediately understandable and persuasive for higher-ups and clients. This will help push them toward investing in content strategy.

Now it’s time to pull it all together.

1. How Will Evergreen Content Make Their Garden Grow?

Organic traffic from content marketing will help a business’ garden plot grow lush and thriving – think lots of green growing on that money tree.

The evergreen effect makes it possible:

  • According to a SEMrush traffic analysis, Express Writers earns 22.1k visitors in monthly organic traffic.
  • Our evergreen content pieces do most of that legwork.
  • If we didn’t have an evergreen content strategy in place, SEMrush estimates that we’d have to pay $45,400/month on Google AdWords (over $500,000/year!) to achieve the same results.

2. What Will They Need to Fertilize Their Content Soil for ROI?

In content marketing, to get the green rolling in, it takes some investment up front.

How do you fertilize the content soil to grow your business garden? What must be put into content marketing at the outset to see your efforts grow tall?

Example:

  • Estimate what you’re willing to invest.

If you outsource to a copywriting agency like Express Writers, the cost would average about $375 for one authority content piece.

If you commit to one piece per week, that’s an investment of about $19,500/year.

  • How does this investment shake out?

If we focus on low competition, high volume keywords, we could safely estimate ranking 3rd place in Google results within a year for 2/3 of those keywords (around 34 out of 52).

Assuming those keywords had a search volume of 1,500/month each, we could expect a click-thru rate of 13.4%, according to Ignite Visibility.

We’d also get an overall search volume of 51,000 (34 keywords x 1,500 monthly search volume) and an average of 6,701 visitors per month (51,000 total search volume x 13.4% click-thru rate).

  • Why is this investment better

According to the numbers, we would pay $19,500 per year (or $1,625/month) to reach 6,701 visitors per month.

To get the same amount of traffic with paid advertising, we would have to spend around $17,000 per month, according to SEMrush data.

That’s 10x more expensive.

That means investing in organic content marketing is 10x cheaper than paid advertising.

  • How does this investment translate to leads and sales?

Use our content marketing trifecta equation to predict the leads and sales you’ll get from that traffic influx of 6,701 visitors per month.

6,701 Monthly Visitors x 16% Organic Traffic to Lead Conversion Rate = 1,072 Leads/Month

1,072 Leads/Month x 14% Lead to Sale Conversion Rate = 150 Sales/Month

3. Show Them the Green

Once you understand the potential leads and sales your business could earn per month, you need to show your clients/bosses/higher-ups/stakeholders the green.

  • Pull the numbers together to illustrate the revenue potential of content marketing
  • Show them what they must invest to see real ROI
  • Compare what they’d have to spend on paid advertising versus getting the same results with organic content marketing
  • Show them what the ROI looks like in the form of potential leads, sales, and increased revenue

Once your key decision-makers can see the green potential for themselves and their business, it’s in the bag.

CTA strategic ROI content

2018 EW January express writers Report

Express Writers January 2018 Report (Infographic): 1.8 Million Words Written, 3 Reasons We Hit Our Busiest Month, & Policy Reminder

When December of 2017 came to a close, I wrote my goals for the upcoming New Year down on my whiteboard.

One in particular was a big, bold goal for Express Writers, which I’ve been running for six years now (seven if you count my first year as a freelancer).

I’d never physically wrote this goal down before, although I’d been thinking of it for months.

See the little tiny “$100k/Month”? Under Grow EW -> New System Launch

In my goal list, I wrote down “new system launch” first. That’s because I truly didn’t think our $100,000 month would come before our new build of Express Writers teamroom and ecommerce client system, which has been estimated to take 5-8 months as a custom development timeframe minimum, over 2018. We have a development team in place for this new build, and Josh our CTO (my husband) is leading the initiative. It’s costing a ton, but it’s necessary as a smoother machine to run our growing business.

Well, in January of 2018, the little (big) goal I’d written down came true.

To my shock, we surpassed $120,000.

For the month, across all the content services we offer, our team wrote a collective estimated 1,851,200 words.

In this report, first, we’ll go into a visual representation of what our January content accomplishment looks like: next, three core reasons from me on why we were able to successfully take this on, and stay light and agile: finally, we have a client reminder on our policy, turnaround and communication. Let’s jump in!

The Data in Pictures: Express Writers vs. 1,851,200 Words (Infographic)

2018 EW January express writers Report Infographic

In January of 2018, our content creation agency Express Writers had its busiest month ever! We had over 282 orders placed, and we served more than 50 clients, focusing on repeat clients (many of our repeat clients placed 32-40 orders throughout the month).

We saw a 99% success rate on projects completed (we revise if our clients aren’t happy, and refund if the client is not a good fit).

Overall, we completed:

  • 625 blogs and articles
  • 606 expert industry-specialized blogs and web pages
  • 1069 product descriptions
  • 7 press releases
  • 7 social media packages

Many of the blogs were long-form. If we average the word count at 800w to account for shorter items like social media copy, the total word count we wrote was 1,851,200 words. We even served customers in more than 10 countries!

Why We Hit 1.8 Million Words in a Month: 3 Cores that Took Years of Hard Work, Trial and Error

I know a lot of business gurus that say things like:

“Write it down, and the universe will respond and make it true.”

I’m going to get real for a second so I’m not misleading anyone.

Listen in closely…

Our major goal did not come true only because I wrote it down.

In fact, the underlying structures, years of groundwork that we’d been refining for months, are really what made this goal come true.

And everything just happened to fall into place finally in January, 2018.

1. We have the best staff I’ve ever hired finally in place, true role direction, and real capacity

Our Content Director, Hannah, has been delegating instead of doing all the “tasks” herself, and taking the most important tasks (sales calls, order renewals, client satisfaction, writer management). This ends up working extremely well only because Hannah has serious talents when it comes to organization, delegation, and quality control. I’ve hired managers with years of experience who didn’t have the first clue about good delegation or true quality control. This January 2018 marks one full year for Hannah at Express Writers. I lucked into finding her on Upwork, and her role started out as a project manager and eventually grew into the full-time role of Content Director. She’s our Swiss army knife that can adapt to any kind of tech and multi-task like a genius.

Another move that took a while to work out was expanding our Editor role into a Quality Assistant role, a staff role I brainstormed in August 2017 to replace our struggling, low-success Editor role. We monitored, trained, and added new QAs, eventually, this role grew to have 300% more stability and success than our Editorial role that I had for five years prior. One of our QAs is in a senior role handling many tasks as Hannah’s direct assistant.

On the sales front, for live chat and new talk to sales forms, we have a naturally gifted content marketer, JJ Bennett. He just “gets it” in the nuances of content strategy and marketing, is naturally industry curious, and is an amazing copywriter as well as strategist. He’s been in our team for over a year, and has read my book and enrolled in my course, along with other industry courses from experts like Joanna Wiebe. JJ guides our new and existing clients on which content to invest in as best-fit recommendations.

Our expert writers, authority copywriters, content strategists, social media copywriters, continue to fall into place. Hannah has been helping review the final writers that make my cut. Out of 200 interviewed writers in January, we added 15 new writers to our team. I live by the mantra “less is more” for our team, finding the right people and giving them full-time work is a winning formula. And the capacity we can take on with just one new writer is staggering: sometimes, 24,000 additional words/week. So, 15 new writers can mean that we can handle 360,000 additional words in a week, or 1.4 million words in a month. Because I remained focused on hiring this month (I interviewed daily), we didn’t even max out our writer team with the busy month we just had.

Because of our role structure, I’m free to do what I do best: write thought leadership blogs, run a Facebook group that links to our Twitter chat, share Instagram stories, refresh and update all our marketing strategies, run my course and write my next books.

2. Our inbound content rankings and industry trust is through the roof, a combination of a 1,000-hour project and 6 years of work

Industry positioning and organic inbound marketing takes time.

This month, our organic rankings are coming in at 12,600 keywords. We recently crossed the 1,000-published blogs mark. That took 6 years of consistent, in and out, day after day, content creation. We outrank our competitors on Google by an average 4-6% visibility. These are big reasons companies choose us to write their online content.

Next, my comprehensive course at www.contentstrategycourses.com and the accompanying book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, has been spreading like wildfire (89 copies of my book sold in the last few weeks with NO ads, and we’re nearing 40 students enrolled in the course). The course build took 1,000 hours of my time in 2017.

Through guest speaking appearances, my Facebook group, Twitter chat and organic connections, I’ve been spreading the knowledge of the course I created. The only paid marketing is $5/day for Facebook ad retargeting (through an installed Facebook pixel). This ensures people who visit the course site once don’t forget about it. Since Facebook targets people who are in my group, they get a double-whammy reason to invest in my strategic training.

The growth in trust has been confirmed every time I log onto social media. I received an Instagram story on my account at @fementrepreneur from a marketer who purchased my book, had his office read it, talked to JJ and bought $700 worth of content services within the same week.

It’s hard to track the actual dollar from organic positioning through inbound content, but trust me, it happens — and in a BIG way. (We’re working on industry resources to help define this better. Stand by!)

#3 is another example of this.

3. We were featured in Forbes the first week of January

Marketer Joe Escobedo featured a story on my company, which I sent to our list and we shared heavily on all platforms. This instantly grew our trust and had a great impact on our existing audience list. The tweet where I shared this article has over 104 likes. That’s with no paid promotion or ads. I’ve also been mentioned online quite a bit more frequently because of the Forbes piece.

Strategic Thinking + Time + Perseverance = Pays Off

In a recent staff meeting, I asked Hannah, our full-time executive Content Director, why she thought we hit our first $120,000 month, and she confirmed my thoughts: “We have happy clients… we are focusing on the kinds of clients we want… your book… we have a good system and can handle a lot… I think it’s a combination of things.” It’s a series of events, coming together. (Not unfortunate events, for my fellow Lemony Snicket fans. 😉

Client Policy Reminder, What’s Coming, & a Few Communication Rules

I want to end this report by reminding everyone who orders with us (thank you so much for trusting us with your content!), that when you sign our policy, which every client does before they pay for their content order, it binds you to our deadlines and rules.

policy signature

Please stay familiar with our turnaround times, listed on the Policy page. Although most of the time we can get content done sooner, if that time frame is outside our specified turnaround times, it will qualify for a rush fee.

Once you approve an order, it’s hard for us to go back and ask the writer to make changes: be sure to send revisions in a timely manner (we allow up to two revisions for free, which is usually all it takes to succeed on a new client project). The cutoff time for asking for revisions is within 14 days once we upload the finished content to your account.

Communication Headsup

Next, please remember that emailing back to reply to a project status, or sending an email to [email protected], is not the best way to reach us. Use your account area to leave a comment on your project so our admins can see it right away, and email in to the right department using the Contact page. If you have direct staff emails, that is also a great way to reach us. We’ll paste them here:

  • Hannah, Content Director: [email protected] (existing orders, agencies, new orders,)
  • Maricel, Senior Quality Assistant: [email protected] (existing orders, order statuses)
  • JJ, Content Strategist: [email protected] (Strategic help choosing the right content for your site or marketing, sales inquiries)

We don’t ask our staff to check email and voicemails 24/7 on weekends, so please don’t expect immediate Saturday and Sunday answers. It’s important to recharge our brains on those days, rest, and get ready for a full week of work.

In the Works: New Teamroom, Internal-Only Proprietary Training

Finally, we’re excited to share that the Content Shop will be getting completely updated this year, for an easier, better, more enhanced experience for our clients! Stay tuned for that. It’s a lot of custom development work, and will require time, effort, and investment for a company that’s completely bootstrapped.

Also, last weekend (February 2), I just launched an internal course on Teachable for our writers and staff only, training them in 2018 standards on SEO content, overall content strategy, and content conversion optimization basics.

internal training

Sneak peek at proprietary writer curriculum training.

We may be one of the only writing agencies that offers custom curriculum written just for their writers! This will continue to ensure we can serve our clients with the best service possible.

Video: My Agency Wrote 1.8 Million Words this January! 3 BIG Reasons Why We Hit Our Busiest Month Ever

Conclusion: We’re Excited for 2018, and Thrilled We Can Continue Serving You!

January 2018 was one heck of a start to a year!

We can’t wait to continue serving our clients with amazing content throughout 2018.

Here’s to your success in content marketing! You can count on us to always strive to have that at heart.

-Julia

CTA express writers content shop

Christmas Social Media Campaigns

A Handy Holiday Content Guide to 12+ Days of Festivities for Christmas Social Media Campaigns

It’s that time of year once again…

The festive lights go up, holiday music starts playing everywhere, and the Christmas spirit comes alive.

christmas

It also means a giant wave of holiday campaigns arriving on our social media feeds.

Every business has a holiday campaign, and it can feel hard to compete – especially if your time or budget is tight.

The thing is, though, these holiday promotions are totally worth it.

The Christmas season of cheer is a perfect time to engage your list of email subscribers, boost traffic, increase sales, and more. According to HubSpot, shoppers give back to retailers who help them get through the season of giving (think useful and timely content marketing). Plus, holidays are a huge time for sales. In 2015, 74% of retailers said at least 20% of their total sales for the year happened over the holidays. That’s nothing to wink at!

To start our guide, we’re going to take note from some brands on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram doing it right.

The one thing they all have in common?

They set out to delight their audiences first, and boost their bottom lines second.

Brands with holiday campaigns should set out to delight their audiences first, and boost their bottom lines second. @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

For our creative Christmas infographic, we’ve pulled ideas and inspiration you can use to brighten up your own feeds and holiday campaigns, taking inspiration from the 12 days of Christmas lyrical piece. Enjoy. Let’s dive in!

Add Holiday Spice to Your Christmas Social Media Campaigns with Our 12 Days of Christmas Campaign Ideas (Infographic)

Just like the holiday tune “The 12 Days of Christmas,” we’ve got 12 festive ideas for your Christmas social media campaigns.

Try one (or two, or three, or all 12!) to get your holidays rolling. Read below the infographic for more how-tos, example, and links straight to free tools you can use to craft holiday-focused content.

Christmas Social Media Campaigns infographic

Decorate Your Christmas Social Media Campaigns with 12 Days of Christmas Campaign Ideas

1. “Decorate” Your Social Profiles

Take a page from Penguin Books and spruce up your social profiles with some festive graphics. Theme them around your brand’s purpose to make it even more impactful.

Note that Penguin updated their header image with a festive photo that features some of their books. It looks like they’re about to get wrapped in pretty holiday paper and ribbon. Note that the images they post to their feed have a matching look, which helps tie it all together.

Another good example is how Starbucks jazzed up their Twitter page with a photo of their new “coloring book” holiday cups:

Some of the cups even look like a kid scribbled on them, which is endearing and sweet. That sets a perfect tone for a family-friendly holiday.

Another perfect example:

Ulta, a national beauty chain, gave their Twitter page a holiday twist with a bunch of women showing off festive holiday party looks:

Follow suit with your social media accounts, but try to make the “décor” relevant to your brand. (Hint: Don’t just put up a random picture of Santa – tie it into what you sell or offer!)

How to Use Canva to Easily (& for FREE) Add Some Festivities to Your Profile Images

You can do this super easily.

Canva, for instance, has customizable templates that are professional-looking and already perfectly-sized for your Facebook cover image or your Twitter header. To find festive templates, use the search bar to narrow down your options.

Or, if you love to DIY, first check out these sizing guidelines for creating images for your social media profiles.

2. “Santa Hat” Your Profile Pictures

A quick, fun way to inject some festive flair into your social media presence is to add a Santa hat to your profile pictures.

Check out these leading brands who did it to great effect:

If you go for the Santa Hat, just be sure it doesn’t look tacky (i.e. you don’t need anyone thinking your brand could only afford imagery thrown together with amateur Photoshop skills).

All of the above logos use Santa hats that mesh well with their graphic style.

To get the perfect Santa hat for your logo or branding, enlist the help of a graphic designer. (This could be a great project to hand to a graphic design student looking for some experience!)

The best part about this tip: Once you update your profile picture(s), all of your posts automatically get a touch of holiday pizazz by association. Can you say “ho, ho, ho”?

3. Host a Holiday Giveaway

There’s no better time to host a fun giveaway than the holidays. Everybody’s already getting into the gifting spirit – you should definitely join in and offer delightful prizes for your followers.

Plus, giveaway posts are massive magnets for engagement (who doesn’t like free stuff?), which could help you widen your following and earn some leads.

Luckily, a giveaway hosted on social media is much easier than it sounds.

Your 7-Step Guide to a Great Holiday Giveaway

Here’s a general, quick 7-step guide:

  1. Gather a few covetable prizes. They can be your products, something fun that’s related, or a prize pack with goodies from some other affiliates thrown in.
  2. Make sure you choose goodies people will actually want to win (preferably with some cash value).
  3. Create a post that explains your giveaway. Use an eye-catching image of the goods you’re giving away to help draw attention to it.
  4. Post your giveaway with the rules (for instance, ask that people follow you and like the post in order to enter the contest). Make sure you set an end date for accepting entries, and specify when winners will be announced.
  5. Pick your contest winner(s). To do it, use a free tool like The Good Luck Fairy to help you randomly choose them. This type of tool comes in handy if you have a huge list of entrants. Or, if you use social media management software, check to see if a social media contest feature is built-in.
  6. Announce the winner(s) in a new post. Tag the winners and send them a direct message to make sure they get notified. Don’t forget to ask for their address!
  7. Send off the goods (and feel a little bit like Santa’s secret elf in the process).

Here are good examples of holiday giveaway posts from the lip balm brand, Lipsmackers (they’re cleverly calling it the #12Daysof KISSmas):

The season of giving is here! So to help make your spirits bright Lip Smacker will be giving away items from our 2017 Holiday collection for days straight! Two lucky winners will be chosen at random each day. . Our Day 1 prize for #12DaysofKISSmas is our Holiday Biggys! . To enter to win: 1. MUST BE FOLLOWING @lipsmackerbrand 2. Like this post 3. Tag 2 friends in the comments below Contest end: Saturday, December 2nd at 11 AM PST Winners announced on Instagram Stories Saturday, December 2nd 12 PM PST . Open to US residents only. #giveaway #Holiday2017 #LipSmacker #BestFlavorForever . . . NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED. This Promotion is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are at least thirteen (13) years of age or older as of the date of entry. If a participant has not reached the age of majority in his/her primary state of residence as of the date of entry into the, then the participant must obtain parental written consent in order to be eligible to enter the Promotion. Please visit http://www.lipsmacker.com/termsandconditions for Official Rules.

A post shared by Official Lip Smacker (@lipsmackerbrand) on

It’s day of our #12DaysofKISSmas giveaway! Today’s prize is our Lip Balm Trio Canes! To enter to win: 1. MUST BE FOLLOWING @lipsmackerbrand 2. Like this post 3. Tag 2 friends in the comments below Contest end: Monday, December 4th at 11 AM PST Winners announced on Instagram Stories Monday, December 4th 12 PM PST Open to US residents only. #giveaway #Holiday2017 #LipSmacker #BestFlavorForever . . . NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED. This Promotion is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia who are at least thirteen (13) years of age or older as of the date of entry. If a participant has not reached the age of majority in his/her primary state of residence as of the date of entry into the, then the participant must obtain parental written consent in order to be eligible to enter the Promotion. Prize will be given as an e-gift card. Please visit http://www.lipsmacker.com/termsandconditions for Official Rules.

A post shared by Official Lip Smacker (@lipsmackerbrand) on

4. Create and Share a Gift Guide

If you sell products, you’re perfectly positioned to highlight them for gift-giving during the Christmas season.

How do you do it in a way that benefits your audience? Gift guides!

Look at this gift guide post from Uncommon Goods for inspiration:

The gift guide works in a few ways:

  • It promises to help alleviate gift-giving anxiety (a real thing!)
  • It promises to help you find a unique gift
  • It promises to help you stay stress-free (“cool as a cucumber”) during this hectic season
  • And, finally, it does all of the above while highlighting the brand’s products (note that this is last on the list)

To do it, create a round-up-style blog post with lots of images and links. Include your own products based on how well they fit the list, along with products from other brands. (By the way, this is a great opportunity to plug some of your favorites and potentially get them to share your post.)

Finally, create social media posts on each of your accounts to share the guide. Remember to tag or mention any other brands you included in the blog.

5. Publish a Series of Gift Guide Posts

Another way to share a gift guide is to do it exclusively on social media. Here are some suggestions:

  • Choose products around a theme that’s targeted for your followers.
  • Round up links and pictures to share.
  • Space out your gift guide over a number of posts.
  • Do one post a day that highlights a product in your gift guide (any more might seem spammy).
  • Explain why each gift idea could be perfect for that particular person on your followers’ lists.
  • Tie it all together with a relevant, catchy hashtag (#12DaysofGiving, #GiftIdeasforMom, etc.).

6. Get Your Products in Other People’s Gift Guides

Similarly, getting your products featured in others’ gift guides is a great free plug for you. Look at how Club Ride and Apparel got one of their products featured in a blogger’s cycling gift guide:

To do it yourself, reach out to bloggers/influencers you love to read who are relevant to your business.

Note how the above brand reached out to a cycling enthusiast – they knew their products would be a perfect match for that influencer’s audience.

Never reach out to someone cold with a line that reads, “Hey, I think my product would be great in your seasonal gift guide.”

Instead, think about people you know, with whom you’re already networking or relationship-building. Reach out to them and offer them something in exchange for the plug.

7. Speak to the Emotions of the Season

This time of year, people want to draw their loved ones close and feel that sense of togetherness, especially if they live far away from each other. They also want to cozy up inside with family and feel warmth, peace, and joy.

If you can speak to the emotional side of the holiday season, you can draw on those feelings to boost shares, traffic to your site, sales – whatever your goal may be.

Here’s another example from Uncommon Goods that speaks to holiday emotions. In this post, they highlight one of their products that has an emotional pull for the holiday season:

The engagement on this post (over 1,000 likes and nearly as many shares) shows how much it has resonated with people.

Note that this post/video doesn’t sell the product. Rather, it focuses on the benefits: you can show people you’re thinking about them, no matter how far away they are.

During the holidays, that’s something that mightily appeals to just about anybody. The fact that Uncommon Goods just so happens to sell the product isn’t even secondary; it’s tertiary.

However, based on the engagement for the post, it’s safe to assume that the company boosted their sales for this one product. That’s a powerful post.

8. Share Recipes

Even if you aren’t in the food industry, recipe-sharing is a fun way to shake up your posts and offer something a little personal to your audience.

For example, sharing your favorite recipe for holiday dip, rolls, or even a festive cocktail is a warm way to connect with your followers over food – and isn’t that what the holidays are all about?

Here’s a good example from Yoga Journal:

And, here at EW, we recently shared our favorite pumpkin pie recipe on this Thanksgiving-themed infographic:

You don’t have to get fancy with this. It can be as simple as linking to your favorite recipe and adding a few personal lines explaining why it’s a hit with your family around the holidays.

The point is to send warm wishes to your followers with a simple personal gesture.

9. Ask for Your Followers’ Favorite Recipes

Along with sharing your own recipes, you can also dedicate a post (or two or three) to inviting your followers to share their favorites. Ask for Christmas cookie recipes, recipes for holiday drinks, or recipes for holiday dinner dishes.

Check out the engagement on this post from Mrs. Claus.

She asked for recipe favorites and got a great response:

Here’s just a small sample of the discussion it started:

People love talking about their holiday traditions. Invite this type of fun discussion in your own holiday post comments and see what happens.

10. Hold a Mini Contest in the Comments

Taking inspiration from recipe-sharing, why not hold a mini contest and reward the person who submits the best one?

Ask for your followers’ favorite holiday recipes, like in tip #11, but up the ante and offer a prize or personal coupon code for the best recipe submission shared in the comments. To get more traction on the post, tell followers they must also tag a friend who might want to join in.

11. Create Your Own Holiday Hashtag

An even easier way to get festive and inspire your followers is to create your own holiday hashtag.

Ideally, this hashtag will be one your followers can use to show off their holiday cheer in a way that ties to your brand.

For example, if you’re an online shop selling products, ask your followers to show how they’re wrapping gifts from your store using a hashtag like #[YourBrandName]Wrapped or #[YourBrandName]UndertheTree.

Check your tag and choose one submission to repost and feature on your feed daily. Remember to tag the person featured!

12. Align Your Christmas Social Media Campaigns

Your holiday social media posts will get more traction if you tie them all together.

For example, if you create a gift guide to share, like in tip #4, don’t just share the same link + picture to the post on all your social accounts. Take it a step further and highlight individual products from the guide in separate social media posts. Spread these posts across your different accounts.

For example, highlight one product from your guide on Facebook, another on Twitter, and post a fun image or video of one of the products getting used on Instagram.

These posts all tie to the same piece of content – the gift guide – but offer value in different ways to different sets of audiences. As a result, you could pull in more traction for the blog overall.

Look at how Birchbox aligned their posts on different social accounts for their own gift guide:

They highlighted a product on Instagram:

And they posted about it on Facebook:

They didn’t use the same image or wording, but the posts tie together. Try your own creative ways to tie together your different social posts for the same campaign.

For Best Results, Sprinkle Your Christmas Social Media Campaigns with Cheer

The keys to a great Christmas social media campaign are posts that speak to the best parts of the season. Tap into the spirit of giving, the emotions the holidays evoke, and the festive flair that makes people feel a corresponding warm flare of joy.

Even if their hearts resemble lumps of coal, people won’t be able to resist your Christmas cheer.

After all, the best way to spread merriment during this special time of year is to feel it yourself, first.

If you still can’t help feeling like a Grinch about your social media campaigns, we can help you write cheerful, merry posts that get you noticed. Check out our done-for-you social media posts!

content marketing spread

How to Throw Down Your Best-Ever Content Marketing Spread: Thanksgiving Style (Infographic)

It’s Thanksgiving week, and content marketers around the U.S. are preparing for a delicious, tasty week of family, food and relaxation, and definitely no content marketing or strategy for at least a couple days. 😉

But in the days that lead up to T-Day, it’s wise to soak in all you can about creating your best content marketing strategy, so you return empowered and armed to take on your marketing for killer results.

We’re here with a fun map for you, just in time for the holiday:

How a perfect content marketing strategy is very much equal to the best Thanksgiving dinner you’ve ever partaken in.

To serve it up, you need the right recipes for success, tried-and-true tools and techniques, and winning dishes created with flair.

Here’s your ultimate guide, Thanksgiving-dinner style — baked and cooked up into a visually entertaining infographic by our team at Express Writers.

Enjoy! Don’t forget to share if you found this useful. And…happy Thanksgiving!

How to Throw Down Your Best-Ever Content Marketing Spread- Thanksgiving Style

How to Throw Down Your Best-Ever Content Marketing Spread: Thanksgiving Style (Infographic)

5-Star Content Dinner Tools and Equipment

For a five-star content “dinner,” you’ll need:

  • Planning
  • Creativity
  • Research
  • Strategy
  • Good-ol’ elbow grease

Don’t Forget:

Just like any great feast, your content meal should move seamlessly from course to course. Your audience should tuck in with vigor and keep coming back to refill their plates. If you can make your audience feel warm, happy, and content, not to mention implicitly trust your cooking skills, you have succeeded. Needless to say, you can’t wing this kind of perfection, but we’re here to guide you through.

Ready to learn how to create a legendary Thanksgiving content spread from start to finish? Put on your apron – let’s get cookin’.

Create a table-like design for the below

9 Essential Steps and Recipes for a Fabulous Content Marketing Feast

The time you spend carefully and lovingly preparing your content marketing feast will pay off tenfold. That dedication will carry through to your audience down to the very last bite-sized sentence.

Here’s how to make your content dinner table legendary:

Set the Table for Content Success

Every great content marketing spread begins with a perfectly set table.

Your place settings and decorations need to match up with what you know about your audience, your kitchen, and your food. This is how you create a foundation that sets off your whole spread.

Keys for setting the table and planning your content feast:

  • Who are the guests that could show up?
  • What are your specialties?
  • What kind of content will your guests prefer?
  • What tools will you need to serve them the right way? (Are your kitchen and pantry properly equipped?)

During the meal:

  • When your guests are happily chowing down, check in with them from time to time and see how they like the spread.
  • Continually go over your recipes and techniques. Measure, analyze, and update your methods for an even better dinner.

Now that the table settings are planned, you can get busy in the kitchen!

Whip Up an Audience-Pleasing Side – Mashed Potatoes or Dressing, Anyone?

Every delicious Thanksgiving content dinner should start with a crowd-pleaser. To make it, you must know your audience and what they’ll love.

  • To find out what will please your guests most, ask them!
  • You can also imagine your ideal dinner guest to decide what to serve them. Think of them as a real person with distinct preferences.
  • Once you figure out what your audience craves, you’ll whip up dishes so delicious, everybody will go back for seconds (and thirds).

Tip: Give the people what they want. Serve content that performs like whipped mashed potatoes, sausage and apple dressing, or green bean casserole. These disappear like magic into hungry bellies.

Prepare and Roast Your Content Creation Turkey

The meat of a fantastic content marketing spread is your content creation turkey. It’s the star of the show and the vehicle that drives the whole meal. As such, invest in the most high-quality bird you can afford.

  • The best content creation needs careful preparation, plus plenty of time in the oven. Give it an ample amount of both so the end result is incredibly juicy, succulent, and mouth-watering.
  • If you rush it or season it wrong, it will come out dry and tough to swallow.
  • Make enough content creation turkey to use the extra meat in guest blogs and other content types, and don’t forget the final spices: creativity, readability, and great writing.

Tip: To put your content creation over the top, add a special spice that is unique to you as a cook. Your content turkey will be irresistible, even if your guests can’t put their finger on the secret ingredient.

Simmer Perfect Keyword Gravy

What’s a content marketing spread without keyword gravy? The right amount really makes your entire meal sing.

This is the link juice that takes your content creation turkey to the next level and makes your meal more desirable. The scent alone should draw your guests to the table, and, depending on how well your keyword gravy flows, Google might add you to the top of their list of V.I.P. cooks.

Tips:

  • Be careful not to make too much or over-season it. You want just the right amount to drizzle and spoon over your content and tempt your guests.
  • Dump too much keyword gravy on the spread, and your audience won’t be able to taste any other flavor. Google, especially, will give your meal the thumbs-down.
  • Avoid a lumpy gravy by using only all-natural keywords.

Serve Fresh Cranberry Content Sauce

It’s time to finish off your content marketing main dishes. A sweet side of zingy, fresh cranberry content sauce is the perfect addition to a savory spread.

Tip: Cook up the freshest content you can for the best taste – try using ripe cranberries and a hint of orange zest for originality.

Canned, regurgitated content is no substitute for fresh. Your guests will surely turn up their noses at this inferior fare.

Send Out RSVPs to Promote Your Thanksgiving Content Feast

The main dishes of your content marketing dinner are now simmering, baking, cooking, and roasting. As soon as you pull the first finished dish from the oven, it’s time to send out RSVPs to promote your content.

  • Send out invites to your lavish content marketing spread on social media, email, and other promotional channels.
  • The more people who see your invites, the more guests you could end up serving. Get the word out there!
  • Take the time to cater your invites depending on your sending method.

Choose the Best Recipe for Engagement Pumpkin Pie

If your meal is high-quality and satisfying, your guests will definitely stick around to help themselves to dessert.

Serve your very best engagement pumpkin pie (spiced with enough ginger, cloves, and cinnamon to make it lively). Your audience can sit back and savor a sweet treat while they go over the finer points of the whole meal. The better the meal – and the better the pie – the better the engagement.

Tip: See our favorite pumpkin pie recipe, below, for a crowning glory for your Thanksgiving spread.

Your Feast Is a Smash! …Now What?

A successful Thanksgiving content marketing spread that’s well laid-out, tempting and delicious can put you on cloud nine.

Wait one second, though – you can’t hang up your apron and have a celebratory drink just yet (though helping yourself to pumpkin pie is absolutely warranted… and no one will notice if you sneak a swig or two of libations).

The meal is still going, and you want to keep it that way.

Keys to keeping the meal and conversation flowing:

  • Keep the food warmed up for late arrivals and those who want second helpings. Thankfully, these dishes taste just as good as leftovers.
  • If you do it right, this should be a long meal that never ends. Get cooks to help you in the kitchen, and start planning more dishes with the help of an editorial calendar.
  • Finally, check in with your kitchen and keep going over your table settings, presentation, recipes, and guest comments to keep improving and climb to five-star-chef status with Google.

And to “sweeten” it up, here’s a REAL recipe just for our readers!

Thanksgiving pie recipe

Express Writers’ Not Your Average Pumpkin Pie (Real Recipe!)

This spiced pumpkin pie is a true classic, but the method is a little different from the one on the back of your average can of pumpkin puree. It’s a little more flavorful and has a smoother, creamier filling. Plus, thanks to blind baking, the crust gets perfectly crisp. Enjoy!

This recipe makes one 8-9-inch pie.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves or allspice, or to taste
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pie crust. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Roll out the pie dough and transfer to an 8 or 9-inch pie pan. Crimp the edges. Chill the crust while the oven preheats.
  2. Blind bake the crust. Line the inside of the crust with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or just until the edges turn golden. Remove the weights and lining, and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  3. Prepare the filling. Combine the pumpkin purée, brown sugar, salt, and spices in a bowl. Mix until the brown sugar is completely incorporated. Whisk in the milk, cream, eggs, and vanilla until just combined.
  4. Fill the pie crust. Place your blind-baked pie crust on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Carefully pour the pumpkin filling into the crust. Be careful not to over-fill the pie.
  5. Bake the pie. Turn the oven heat down to 375°F. Transfer the baking sheet with the pie to the oven’s middle rack. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes. If the crust starts to darken too much, cover with a ring of aluminum foil and continue baking. When it’s done, the pie will be darker in color and may puff in the middle, and will jiggle a bit if you gently shake the pan.

The pie will continue to set as it cools. Let cool completely before serving with generous dollops of whipped cream.

General, Expert, Authority: What Differentiates the Content Levels at Express Writers? (Infographic)

At Express Writers, we’re a tight-knit team of content creators that pride ourselves on serving our clients with the best copy on the web.

Since I founded the company in 2011, we’ve served over 5,000 clients around the globe. Watch our video story.

Part of our structure in customizing our content and matching up our writers to our clients for successful results, has been in serving our clients with three specific levels. Our three individual content levels are suited to every kind of budget, expertise level needed, and consistent brand positioning.

To explain our levels better, we created a visual infographic to represent what each of these levels look like. Enjoy! And be sure to scroll down to the content below the infographic to see examples of each content type, written by our creators.

See the three content levels at @ExpWriters #infographic Click To Tweet

General, Expert, Authority: What Differentiates the Content Levels at Express Writers? (Infographic)

General, Expert, Authority: What Differentiates the Content Levels at Express Writers? (Infographic)

Explaining the Three Content Levels at Express Writers

General Copy: The Lowdown

See an example of General Copy.

Writer: Your writer passed our hiring tests. Only 2% of applicants do, so they’ve got writing chops. They’re not, however, an expert on the topic and will instead rely on their research and writing skills.

Content Quality Specialist: Your editor follows our unique 5-point quality check to eliminate grammar and syntax errors while ensuring strong word flow and proper formatting. 

Thorough Research: Includes statistics, quotes, and/or links that support your article topic.

Benefits of General Copy

SEO-Friendly: Formatted and written to be found by search engines.

Created for Optimal Readability: Content is broken up with subheadings and short paragraphs to make it easy for readers to consume.

Who General Content Is Perfect for:

  • Small businesses focusing on local SEO
  • Agencies reselling our content to small, local-focused businesses
  • Businesses or bloggers in non-competitive niches that need content for their blog or social media pages

Expert Copy: The Lowdown

See an example of Expert Copy.

Expert Writer: Your writer passed our tests AND has extensive experience writing about your topic. They also have a better understanding of your readers than a general writer would. And, they’re expert in the nuances of engaging writing. Many of these writers have taken advanced courses, live workshops, or coaching sessions on how to write for engagement and conversions.

Content Quality Specialist: Your editor uses our 5-point quality check process AND checks for link quality and research accuracy.

Extensive Research: Using their experience, your expert writer knows where to find the best resources (links, statistics, quotes, etc.) for researching your topic.

Benefits of Expert Copy

Made for Search Engines: Everything, from the quality of the content to the formatting and keywords used, is made for high ROI in the organic SEO rankings, targeted to the real human reader.

Audience-Centric Content: Content is designed to connect and engage with your unique audience.

Positions You as an Expert: After publishing several expert articles, you’ll be well-positioned to start generating organic traffic for the long term.

Who Expert Content Is Perfect for

  • Businesses or bloggers that want to begin establishing themselves as an expert in their industry
  • Small or medium-sized businesses that want to start generating organic traffic
  • Businesses in a niche with moderate competition that are trying to work towards becoming an authority

Authority Content: The Lowdown

See an example of Authority Content.

This content level not only uses the highest level writer and editors in our team, but also has a specialized process, workflow and extra steps for SEO keyword discovery and special image creation.

Content Strategist: Step 1 in the Authority Content workflow. Uses industry-leading tools to perform keyword research and determine which long-tail keywords your content should be built around.

Authority Writer: Your writer, who is an expert on your topic, works with the content strategist to ensure content is written around long-tail keywords that have the best chance to help you rank quickly. This writer has been handpicked out of our best writers and mentored by our CEO.

Content Quality Specialist: Uses the 5-point quality check process, checks for link quality and research accuracy, AND ensures your content passes the quality standards necessary to rank.

Designer: Creates customized images, based on the writer and content strategist’s suggestions, to ensure the content is as engaging as possible.

Benefits of Authority Content

Designed to Be the Best: Everything, from the images and research to the link quality and formatting, is designed to position your content as the BEST available on your topic.

Positions You as an Authority: With our incredibly high standards, the quality of this type of content helps position you as an authority within your niche.

Customized, Engaging Images: Content with images produces 650% higher engagement rates. With the customized images our designer creates, that number could be even higher.

First Page Focus: The goal of this content is to get you to the first page of search engines for the long-tail keyword/s that we’re targeting.

Who Authority Content Is Perfect For

  • Businesses that are looking for content that “wows” and engages their readers
  • Businesses in competitive niches that want to get to the top of the search engines
  • Businesses or bloggers looking to establish themselves as an authority in their industry

Interested in Finding Your Content Level Match? Talk to Our Team!

Content creation tops the list as the most effective tactic for SEO. (Marketing Sherpa)

But if you’re not investing in excellent content for your site, and publishing it on a consistent schedule, the chances of SEO rankings, more inbound leads, and sales drop.

Get off the ground and start flying by investing in custom content for you and your brand!

Want to discover which of our content types is right for you?

Talk to us today! We’d love to help support your content creation.

Head on over the contact page and book a call with one of our Specialists, or go straight to the Content Shop and check out our three levels: 

The Recipe for a Perfect Blog Post (Infographic)

If little boys are made of snakes, and snails, and puppy dog tails, and little girls are sugar and spice, and everything nice, what is the perfect blog post made of?

Luckily, it’s a selection of ingredients you probably already have in your content “pantry.”

While throwing together the perfect blog post can feel intimidating, it’s as simple as memorizing a straightforward ingredient list, assembling it all with love, and giving it the time, space, and attention it needs to develop into something extraordinary…

Like a pastry chef creating a beautiful cake. Don’t forget to share if you enjoyed our infographic! Full transcript below.

perfect blog post

Feel free to share this infographic, credit to Express Writers: www.expresswriters.com/recipe-for-a-perfect-blog-post-infographic

What Goes Into the Perfect Blog Post?

Before you start assembling the perfect blog post, be sure you have the following ingredients on hand:

  • 1 stellar title
  • 5-10 sentences of compelling introduction
  • 1 heaping spoonful creativity
  • Several outstanding and informative subheaders
  • 2 cups succinct body copy
  • Four handfuls research
  • Six parts formatting
  • 1 part conclusion
  • A sprinkling of enthusiasm
  • Love (for garnish)

Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients, follow these steps:

Assemble the Title

The title sets the stage for the rest of the blog post, so it’s important to get it right. If you don’t spend enough time on it, or if you throw it together hastily, the whole post will fall when you pull it out of the oven. With this in mind, be sure to mix the right amount of information, intrigue, and length into the title. Remember titles with numbers taste better to readers, so you may consider sprinkling some in. For best results, be sure to keep your title under 160 characters, so it doesn’t get cut off.

Lay Out Your Introduction

Next comes the introduction. Since the intro supports the title, you’ll need it to be nice and firm. Take your time laying it out and be sure to keep it short, sweet, and to-the-point. Don’t stretch it too thin. Otherwise, it won’t be able to support your nice, hefty title. You should also be careful not to make it too dense since this will drive your readers away.

Once your introduction is the right consistency, let it rise for 4-6 hours before revisiting it again.

Structure Your Subheaders

Your subheaders are the pieces of your perfect blog post that help guide readers through, so you’ll want to ensure they’re well-spaced and informative. For best results, add a subheader every 300-350 words, so your content doesn’t get too dense. Be sure to use numbers throughout, and keep your subheaders impactful and informative, for best taste.

Mix Together Body Copy

For your body copy, you’ll need to assemble your creativity, research, and formatting in a large bowl and stir until well combined. If necessary, add more research to reach the right consistency. Citations are critical to great blog posts, so be liberal with yours. Be sure that the content on your site is fresh and high-quality since this will improve the taste of the entire blog post.

Once you’ve secured your citations, turn your attention to the formatting. Half of the fun of creating a perfect blog post is making it look beautiful. With this in mind, use bolded subheaders, H1, H2, and H3 tags, bulleted and numbered lists, and plenty of images. The images are extra important since they make your blog post unique and unforgettable. Be sure to sprinkle them in to taste.

Arrange Your Conclusion

Your conclusion is the last part of your blog post, so you’ll want to pay particular attention to this. As you write your conclusion, be sure it sums up the main points of your blog post and gives your reader a tasty little morsel with which to end the post.

Just like you did with your introduction and body copy, keep it short, succinct, and to-the-point. Any “fluff” should be cut out so as to preserve the taste and you should always use the most high-quality writing possible.

Keep in mind that conclusions read better if they’re allowed to rest before publication, so you’d be smart to let yours sit for 4-6 hours before finishing.

Finish the Post

Once your post has cooled for 4-6 hours, run back through it one more time. Cut out any fluff that has risen to the top, tighten up language, remove unnecessary words, and re-shape the post into a narrative arc the reader would want to interact with.

Edit 2-3 times before publication and consider asking someone else to read the post as well, for posterity’s sake. Once the post is finished, sprinkle it with your enthusiasm and love, for garnish, and publish across your blog channel and favorite social media platforms.

Serve hot with a side of engagement and responsiveness to everyone who reaches out about the post.

The Perfect Blog Post Made Simple

Congratulations! You’ve just assembled your perfect blog post! That wasn’t as hard as you thought, was it? Keep in mind that blog posts are very flexible, so you can repeat this recipe, trying out various lengths, topics, methods, and writing styles.

To keep your posts high-quality, be sure never to rush the recipe, and always allow time for them to rise and cool before you publish them.

Also, don’t forget to decorate liberally with the love and enthusiasm, as this is what sets one blog post apart from another and puts the final beautiful touches on your blog “cake.”

Happy writing, and enjoy that delicious content!

art of copy express writers

content marketing spend

The Big 2017 Content Marketing Spend: Content Budgets by the Numbers, & How to Set Your CM Budget (Infographic)

Will content marketing be a hot form of marketing, more so than ever this year?

The answer, in short, is YES!

According to a hot 2016 BuzzSumo content piece, the future of content is more, not less. Platforms like The Washington Post publish thousands of posts each day, and Google increases its number of indexed pages by the millions each year. It’s clear that content is booming, and that it shows no signs of slowing down in 2017.

If content is growing this fast, though, what will content marketing budgets look like–and how do you set yours?

It’s a big point to discuss, and it’s one we’re going to dive into in today’s post. Infographic from our design team below – and beneath it are all the live links for the stats and data we pulled. Enjoy, and don’t forget to share and pass the love or leave us a comment if you found this useful!

big 2017 content marketing spend

The Big 2017 Content Marketing Spend: Content Budgets by the Numbers, & How to Set Your CM Budget (Infographic)

10 Stats About the Inflating Nature of Content Budgets (by the Numbers)

Here are a few stats to help you understand how (and why) content budgets are increasing this year.

  1. According to MarketingMag.com, content marketing will be a $300 billion industry by 2019 – this means it will more than double in under four years.
  2. Google’s number of indexed pages has grown from 1 trillion to more than 30 trillion in the last seven years alone!
  3. 2015 was the sixth consecutive year that the content marketing industry enjoyed double-digit growth.
  4. B2B content marketing accounts for 7% of the revenue in the content marketing industry.
  5. The US enjoyed $12.11 billion in content marketing revenue in 2014, which made it the world’s largest market for content.
  6. MarketingProfs reports that the most successful B2B marketers dedicate at least 39% of their marketing budgets to content.
  7. The average marketer spends 29% of their total marketing budget on content.
  8. 37% of marketers who aren’t successful with content marketing say it’s because they the content budget is too low. What’s more, 27% of marketers who have seen a decrease in the success of their content strategies say it’s because of inadequate budget or budget cuts.
  9. 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 than they did in 2016.
  10. 39% of marketers expect their organization’s budget for content marketing to increase in 2017.

5 Key Reasons for the Upward Trajectory of Content Marketing

2016 was a banner year for content, and 2017 shows no signs of being anything but a continuation of that trend. Here are a few of the top reasons this is true:

1. There’s not much to abate content growth

Right now, it’s tough to even track the number of new blog posts and articles publishers put out every day. What we do know is that Google has seen a more than 29-trillion page increase in indexed content since 2008 and that WordPress alone is publishing nearly 2 million new posts every day. As it stands now, there’s virtually nothing to abate the rapid growth of content. Self-publishing is easier than it’s ever been before and about 40% of the world’s population has access to the web. As such, content continues to grow, virtually unfettered.

2. Content is the most functional modern form of advertising

While outbound marketing has fallen out of vogue in recent years, content has risen to take its place. Less expensive yet more effective than traditional advertising, content serves the purpose of making an emotional connection with readers while also driving sales. When you think of it this way, it’s the perfect type of marketing!

3. Content automation is accessible and cheap

Another factor contributing to the rapid growth of online content is content automation. Today, content automation has drastically lowered the cost of content production. It’s also made it easier to schedule and promote content without a massive hands-on effort.

4. Global literacy rates are increasing

While a mere 12% of the global population could read and write back in 1820, all but 17% of the world’s population is literate today. Global literacy has exploded in the last twenty years, and the upward trend will only continue in the coming years. This increase in universal literacy creates more people to read, write, and interact with online content.

5. High-volume content strategies are driving massive success

In addition to all the other factors driving the increase in digital content, it’s also worth noting that high-volume content strategies are incredibly lucrative. As such, they’re being adopted by publishers around the world. The Washington Post, for example, managed to grow its visitor rate by 28% between October and December 2015, all by creating more content.

What Does this Growth Mean for the Future of Content Marketing Budgets?

As content creation budgets uptick, content marketing budgets will, as well. As content forms ranging from search marketing and social media to display ads, and email marketing gain prominence in coming years, firms will increase their marketing budgets to match.

According to a 2014 Forrester report, the firm will allocate 35% of their marketing budgets to content by 2019. This is as opposed to the 29% the average firm dedicates to content today.

Budgeting for Content Marketing Will be Critical in 2017

According to a 2016 Curata post, marketers spend an average of 38% of their content budgets on curation and aggregation, 35$ on creation, and 29% on content workflow.

Despite those large numbers, however, not all companies have defined content marketing budgets. In fact, only 64% of companies with a content strategy also have a content marketing budget. This can create significant challenges for companies.

Because of these things, and the fact that the prevalence of content will explode in the coming year, and the years after this, it’s critical to develop a content marketing budget for 2017.  This is often easier said than done, though. Larger companies might have a tough time securing executive buy-in for a content marketing budget, while other businesses might mistakenly believe that content is an overnight ROI producer, and slash the budget when that dream doesn’t come true.

Instead of taking that approach, marketers who want to succeed in 2017 and beyond need to take a strategic and intentional approach to the structure, contents, and timeframe of content marketing budgets. By considering variables like content goals, target audiences, distribution methods, and more, it’s easy to create a functional and long-lasting content budget to guide your content strategy in the coming year.

4 Fast Tips to Develop a Functional Content Marketing Budget

If you want to develop a content marketing budget, but you’re unfamiliar with the process, here are the four steps you’ll need to follow to succeed:

1. Think about your content staff

One of the first things you’ll need to consider when developing a content marketing budget is your staff. If you don’t have a content marketing executive in place (only 43% of all organizations do), do you need one? If so, what will that cost? Do you have writers, social media experts, or content strategists you need to pay? If so, what are those salaries or monthly costs?

Because your content staff is one segment of your content marketing program that’s entirely non-negotiable, it’s critical to consider these fixed expenses first. If the costs associated with this staff is making you squirm a bit, there’s always the option of outsourcing some or all of your content creation, especially if you don’t have any content staff, but you need some additional help.

Firms like Express Writers specialize in content creation and can help you manage all your various social media, marketing, and native content. It might even save you some money in the process.

2. Factor in your content marketing tools

If you’ve been doing any content marketing so far, you’re likely using a few tools to help facilitate posts and content distribution. Things like KWFinderBuzzsumo, and even Copyscape all come with some associated monthly or use-based fee, and factoring these things into your overall marketing budget is a critical step in ensuring the final number you come up with is the right one.

To keep things organized, create an Excel spreadsheet with spaces for each tool you use and its monthly cost. If this number gets higher than you’d like, look for cheaper (or free) alternatives, or one-stop apps like Buzzsumo, that allow you to do things like keyword and influencer research in one convenient place.

3. Think about your promotion and measurement tools

Promotion is a critical part of content creation, and technology is often the simplest and most efficient way to do it. While there are dozens of different ways to promote content, both manual and automated, factoring in promotion and measurement expenses is critical to developing a marketing budget.

If you use a tool like Buffer to schedule and promote your content, add its monthly cost to your spreadsheet. If you use a human team to post, share, re-use, and promote your content, you’ll need to figure out how much those efforts cost you and factor it into your spreadsheet, as well.

If (gasp!) you don’t do any content promotion, now is an excellent time to allocate a budget toward it. While many people have a hard time justifying the expense associated with content promotion, the content you work so hard to create will perform better when you promote it, and this is one simple step that’s worth taking.

Once you’ve come up with the numbers for your promotion expenses, it’s time to think about what you’re spending (or should be spending) on content measurement. If you’re not analyzing critical metrics on each piece of content you publish, it can be virtually impossible to determine what’s working and what’s not. This, in turn, can result in you blowing through your marketing budget, publishing unpopular content without even knowing it!

With this in mind, invest in a measurement tool, or develop a staff that can track key metrics (like social shares, site visits, comments on your blog, and even the quality of the leads generated) to help you get an idea of what’s productive and what you can improve.

4. Adjust as needed

Once you’ve developed a content budget, keep in mind that it’s not set in stone. It can (and should) grow as your company gains more resources and customers, and should account for things like changing target audiences, additional audience segments, and new content types.

When you adjust your content marketing budget accordingly, you stand a better chance of staying afloat on rapidly shifting trends, and ensuring that your content strategy is always up to par with what the digital marketing world demands.

5 Smart Reasons to Develop a Content Budget NOW

Still not sure you need a content budget? Here are five smart reasons to jump on the bandwagon for 2017:

1. There’s no way around developing a budget

You can avoid a content budget for as long as you want, but content marketing isn’t going anywhere. Again, the future of content is more rather than less, and flying in the face of that will only land you in a place of financial hardship and irrelevance.

2. The potential ROI is huge

If you invest in content marketing, and develop a content marketing budget to reflect that, you stand to enjoy a highly attractive ROI. As it stands today, the content marketing industry is worth a staggering $300 billion – and that number will only grow in the coming years. With that in mind, now is the time to get abreast of content marketing, and doing it can represent a massive payoff for your company.

3. Content marketing channels are always changing

According to a 2013 Custom Content Council survey, print (both physical and electronic) is growing rapidly. Inherent within this rapid growth is a great deal of change, and it’s only companies who are intentional and calculating about their content marketing that will stay on the bleeding edge of that change.

Since the distribution of spending in areas like social media, pay-per-click advertisements, content creation, and video recording are always changing, developing a budget that allows space for these fluctuations is critical.

4. Content has become inter-departmental

Today, “content” isn’t delegated to an anonymous room of writers and never thought about again. Instead, it spans all departments of a given company and has major repercussions for each. By investing and measuring the return, you can get smarter about the allocation of your resources and grow your company.

5. Embracing budgeting is just good business

You have a budget for your personal monthly expenses, right? So why not develop a budget for your content marketing, as well? In addition to allowing you to allocate funds more intelligently, a content marketing budget is just good business, and it will benefit your company both now and in the future.

Content Marketing is Here to Stay

The future is bright – and filled with content! In light of this, it’s critical for companies of all shapes and sizes to develop functional, actionable, and flexible content marketing budgets that help them plan for the inevitable future of content, and how it will interact with the various segments of their companies. After all, content is the way of 2017 and beyond!

Need a team of writers that won’t destroy your content budget? Contact Express Writers today to learn about our various content packages and select the one that best suits your needs!

10 New Year Blogging Centric Resolutions for the Content Marketer (Infographic)

With blogging as a source of 97% more inbound website backlinks, 126% more business lead growth, and much more (stats below), it’s a major, major foundation of content marketing you don’t want to miss out on in 2017.

To start January off with a bang, we decided to help share some inspiration for our fellow content marketers and create a list of 10 top resolutions to help you blog this year (better than you’ve ever blogged before)!

Print the following infographic below out, and hang it up to inspire your blogging and content progress all year. 😉 Here’s the PDF version, resolutions only, to download. Enjoy – written and designed by our team at Express Writers!

Blogging and Content Marketing Resolutions infographic

Why Make Blogging Resolutions for 2017?

Here’s some (serious) inspiration.

  • More than 200 million people (and a whopping 16% of the U.S. population) use ad blockers – so organic content (blogging is best!) is the only way to reach them.
  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links.
  • Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog.
  • Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 5X more traffic than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts.
  • Long-form blog posts earn 9x more leads than short-form posts.
  • 70% of B2B marketers plan to create more content in 2017 than they did in 2016.
  • The average length of top-ranking blogs is increasing – sitting at roughly 1,050 words in 2017.
  • 49% of marketers are focusing on aligning their content with the buyer’s journey.
  • Nearly 30% of the most successful marketers routinely repurpose their content. To join the club, though, you must have content to repurpose – and blogs are perfect for that!
  • 45% of all marketers report that writing blogs is the single most important piece of their content strategy.
  • 80% of decision makers would rather get information about a company through an article than they would through an advertisement.

10 Top Blogging Resolutions for the Content Marketer

 To outperform last year’s results and make 2017 one to remember, stick to these ten resolutions:

1. I will get backup in my content creation this year

No more stressing out about deadlines, topics, and writing it all. (Express Writers can help!)

2. I will be authoritative in every content piece I put out this year

If it’s less than authority expert level in my niche, it might not be worth my time.

3. I will never put quantity over quality

I should publish more blogs this year to increase my inbound leads, but if I’m rushing and the content is low quality, I shouldn’t publish. Quantity comes second to quality.

4. I will give my audience what they want

I will be relevant, use tools like BuzzSumo to research and find out what my audience wants in topics. This will help me gain more loyal customers.

5. I will increase my rankings by finding and writing around long-tail keywords

This is one of the top ways to gain blog spots in Google’s rankings.

6. I will promote and create

Creating isn’t enough: I also need a promotion plan. I will have social media management and an active social account connected to my blog.

7. I will be creative with topics and approaches

Content burn-out will only hurt me and my readers. This year, I’ll dig deeper to come up with more creative topics and new ways to approach topics and news.

8. I will take notes from my competitors

I will monitor my competitors to learn things like which keywords they’re targeting, which social platforms they’re using (and how), and what I can do to enhance my content efforts accordingly.

9. I will try new content forms

Interactive content, newsletters, infographics, and live-streaming can all boost my content strategy in 2017. I will expand into these new content forms to grow my business and expand my audience.

10. I will repurpose my content to get more traction

Repurposed content can help my content strategy stretch further. I will find creative ways to repurpose and re-use content of all types.

Ten 2017 Blogging Resolutions for the Content Marketer (Infographic) Sources:

New Year CTA express writers

why content marketing

Why Content Marketing? 10 Proven Statistics & 5 Ways to Win (Infographic)

As we start the New Year, here’s a great question to ask yourself (and your clients, too):

Why should you commit to investing in content marketing as an integral part of your marketing strategy?

This powerful form of marketing fuels 99% of our own lead and revenue generation, so we know well what content marketing can do for a brand.

This week, we put together an infographic with a few of our favorite reasons to invest in content marketing, featuring (killer) statistics with undoubtable proof that this form of modern marketing is worth every penny you put into it.

Plus, we’ve included 5 principles to help you do your best content marketing this year! Read on for the full story. Infographic written and designed by the team at Express Writers.

Infographic Why Content Marketing Works

Why Content Marketing? 10 Proven Statistics & 5 Ways to Win (Infographic)

6 Stats: You’ll Get More Site Traffic

  1. Companies that blog receive 97% more backlinks
  2. 55% more visitors to your page
  3. 67% more leads for your company
  4. Companies that blog more than 16 times each month earn 5x as many leads as companies that only blog 4 times!
  5. 60% of customers say they feel better about a business after reading their original blog posts
  6. Since 23% of social media message contain content, creating more of it means more shares around the web

4 Stats: You’ll Give Your SEO a Boost

  1. 72% of marketers worldwide report that content creation is the biggest factor in successful SEO
  2. The majority of web links go to the top 10% of content on the web
  3. 50% of marketers say that content has increased the strength of their company’s SEO
  4. Content with a strong headline can boost page views by 500%. This enhances SEO and helps you rank better.

Bonus: You’ll Stand Out as a Thought Leader

Content helps you become a thought leader in the following ways:

  • It showcases your expertise
  • Helps you build your voice
  • Allows you to dominate your niche
  • Give you a platform for sharing and promotion

5 Fast Tips to Dominate Content Marketing in 2017

1. Create long-form content

Readers love long-form content and it generates more shares and links. For best results, publish posts with more than 1,500 words.

2. Produce visual content

Content with images earns 70% more views than content without images. Boost your engagement by adding visuals to your blog posts and producing infographics, memes, videos, and other visual marketing material.

3. Do your research

Relevant, fact-dense, original content performs best. Instead of just scratching the surface, dig deeper to give your readers something they can’t find anywhere else.

4. Share your content on social

In May of 2015, smartphone social media use jumped 51% in users between the ages of 25-34. Share your content on social to get the most possible traction from each piece.

5. Develop a content marketing program

79% of the most successful content marketers have a clear idea of what effective content marketing looks like and how to achieve it. Follow in their footsteps! 

Why Content Marketing? 10 Proven Statistics & 5 Ways to Win (Infographic) Sources

Dilate.com: http://bit.ly/2gONO6I

CrazyEgg: http://bit.ly/28RKbsa

Contently: http://bit.ly/29OBBa2

Curata: http://bit.ly/1GjxoWz

Content Marketing Institute: http://bit.ly/1FFxBYf

New Year CTA 3