online grammar

Chicago Style Gets With the Online Grammar Times (Singular They, Lowercase Internet & More)

Grammar nerds, hold onto your hats.

On March 23 of this year, Carol Fisher Saller, editor of The Chicago Manual of Style’s online Q&A section, gave a presentation about some of the updates that would appear in the Chicago Manual’s 17th edition, due out in September of this year.

Among the big news?

It’s about time for these changes:

  • internet will now be lowercase
  • email will lose its hyphen.

Take that Kim Kardashian. Who broke the Internet internet now?

online grammar rules

What The Chicago Manual Is Changing For 2017 (A Win for Online Grammar)

If those two changes weren’t large enough for you, Saller also announced that the manual will begin accepting a singular “they” and that the 17th edition will include citation recommendations for social media posts, like Facebook and Twitter updates.

Each year, editors announce the changes to the Stylebook at the American Copy Editor’s Society annual meeting. This meeting is where the world heard, in 2011, that the Associated Press intended to stop using a hyphen in email.

Here’s a snapshot from that glorious moment:

In 2016, the Associated Press announced that it would remove the capitalization from the word internet. The Chicago Manual of Style has since announced its intention to adopt these styles.

Here are just a few of the notable changes from the recent meeting:

Gender Changes

Many of the recent changes revolve around what QuickAndDirtyTips.com calls “gender-related entries.” Here’s a breakdown:

  • Her, his. Before, AP style required writers to use he when a gender was unknown. Today, it’s acceptable to use they, them, or their.
  • Singular they. One of the largest changes, the AP Stylebook has recently begun to accept the use of they as a singular pronoun. This is especially useful in places where his or her would be overly clumsy or confusing. The only exception is when the phrasing would suggest there is more than one person.

Additional Changes

Additional, non-gender-related changes include the following:

  • Autonomous vehicles. Thanks to the rise of autonomous technology, the AP Stylebook has taken up a guide for how to refer to them. Instead of using the word driverless, however, the correct method is to use the term self-driving, unless the vehicle can only do some of the driving, in which case it should be called semi-autonomous.
  • Fact checks, fake news. “Fake news” may well be the term of 2017! Because there’s been such a sharp uptick in the use of these terms, the AP Stylebook now recommends using fake news in quotation marks to refer to deliberate falsehoods. The Stylebook also recommends not labeling individual news items as fake news that are disputed. Obvious enough, right?
  • Flyer, flier. Thanks to the new AP changes, you’re now a frequent flyer rather than a frequent flier. This change is due in large part to the fact that flyer is more common in both American and British spelling.
  • The Oxford comma. Today, clarity is more important than anything else, especially when viewed from the AP Stylebook’s standpoint. While the standard style has generally been to avoid the serial comma, the guideline now is to use it, but only where it’s needed for clarity.
  • Virtual reality. Like autonomous technology, augmented reality has become a major fixture in modern society. When you refer to it now, the AP Stylebook says it’s fine to use VR on the second reference, as long as you spell out virtual reality the first time. What’s more, you may use AR to refer to augmented reality, on the second pass only, though.

Why Updated Grammar Rules Matter to the Online Creator

If you don’t write, or read, or interact with content of any kind, this might not seem like a big deal!

To everyone in the content and online marketing communities, however, this is massive news. While online grammar has long since accepted these new realities, traditional grammar guidelines have seen them as “wrong” until very recently.

Now that the recognition is formal, though, it frees online writers up from being looked down upon by grammar professionals across the web and print media. It also helps standardize digital content and ensure that it matches up with print media.

Are the Stylebook and the Manual of Style Two Different Things?

If you’re flashing back to a time when you had to map sentences in high school grammar, it’s okay. Grammar can be a confusing and often overwhelming topic, and wondering what the heck the difference between the Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook is doesn’t help matters.

Here’s some clarity: they’re two separate entities.

Here’s what grammar.yourdictionary.com has to say about the separation:

“The Associated Press Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style are very different guides for two very different groups of people who make their living with the written word. The Chicago Manual of Style is by far the larger reference work, with over 950 pages. The AP Stylebook has only 330 pages. The Chicago Manual of style is the guide for authors, editors and publishers of books, periodicals and journals. The AP Stylebook is the prime reference for those in the news and public relations fields.”

The fact that both entities agree on many of these changes means an enhanced sense of cohesion for writers everywhere!

A Good Day for Grammar 

The recent changes on the part of the Chicago Manual do one thing: help unify online and print writing for the sake of journalists and copywriters everywhere. By syncing grammar rules with digital grammar style, they help reduce confusion and make good writing easier for everyone.

The print version of the AP Stylebook will be available May 31, 2017.

While this guide is updated annually, the Chicago Manual of Style is updated less frequently, and the last update was in 2010.

Check back with both entities regularly to stay on top of future updates!

Are you looking for a professional writer to help you create quality web content? Look no further than Express Writers, your source for award-winning content marketing material. Visit our Content Shop today!

2016 Content Creation Report

2016 Content Creation Report: A Retrospective Look at One of the Busiest Years for Express Writers

2011: the year I founded Express Writers (with $75, a bit of hope, and a lot of goal-setting: full story here.)

express writers

The next five years: we grew, busted through seams, grew again, busted through seams again. We found and built our own systems to manage our growing company in 2015: a Content Shop, a writer teamroom. (We’re building even better systems today, set to relaunch in mid-2017.)

2016: we found our roots.

Seriously. We’re ending the year with some deep, high caliber roots in place, and I’m glad about it. In the level of expertise our staff members have today, a perfect content fit in each of their roles: in the quality and dedication of the writers we have, and the standards we’ve been growing to perfection all year.

express writers about us

Check out more of the faces behind our team: www.expresswriters.com/about-us

So, it’s fitting that 2016 is the first year we took the time to create this end-of-year report, a showcase and look back at all the content we create. (Idea credit goes to Tara, our Content Development Specialist.)

In 2016, we created the most content we ever have, not just for clients but for industry resource and learning materials. We worked hard all year: reinvented our editing standards in May, launched serious changes over November that improved our entire team, content quality, and clientele, and rounded up the year with some fabulous content. We launched our new #howtowrite learning category, launched an incredible Twitter Chat, #ContentWritingChat in January that made it to #4 on Twitter, and I was able to launch my book, self-published in April on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and our Write Podcast published in March.

All in one year?!

Time to delve in to our first ever full content creation report! Grab a coffee and join me. We’re detailing our total content output for our clients, and what we created to add insights and resources just for our audience and industry. (Keep scrolling past the infographic for the full lowdown, and a recap of our best posts of the year.)

Download the Report (PDF version).

2016 Content Creation Report Infographic

Repost with permission, credit Express Writers

From 171 Million Words Created to Launching a Twitter Chat, Book, Podcast, & Writer Mentoring

No way all this happened in one year, standing here and looking back. Yet it did. And, it’s actually short of the goals we had for 2016. Crazy, right?

Let’s start with what the brunt of our workload looked like for the year, as content writers.

Client Work (a brief synopsis of the busy nature of our year):

  • 3,451 orders placed (one order could range from 1-5 web pages to 400 articles at a time)
  • 262,000,000+ words estimated written by our team in 2016!
  • That’s roughly 524,000 500-word articles. Included in that word count besides articles and blogs: press releases, ebooks, ad copy, product descriptions, landing pages, web pages, slides, scripts, emails–to name a few.
  • Our top content service sold for the year: blogs!
  • Our top two expert writing categories in demand: legal and technical.

Industry Resource Creation (what we launched in industry resources this year):

  • Unprecedented grassroots success creating and running our Twitter Chat #ContentWritingChat, launched mid-January this year, managed by our fantastic Social Media Manager, Rachel. We see up to 1,000 tweets during the live hour now! Our Twitter chat was #42 trending on it’s first week back in January 19th, and by August, trending at #4. In November, we had our first sponsor!
  • Launching the Write Podcast in April, making relationships with people like Sujan Patel, Steve Rayson, Mark Traphaghen, and many other fantastic content marketing influencers and leaders through it.
  • Launching my book So You Think You Can Write? The Definitive Guide to Successful Writing (400+ copies sold, word-of-mouth only!), in April, and seeing it hold strong in #4 bestseller category in Amazon for months.
  • Writing and creating internal training for our writers, with a custom 101 library of more than ten individual resources just for them, tailored to the weak points we saw that kept cropping up. Getting personal notes of thanks, and seeing tangible proof in their improved writing skills to show us the mentoring helps, is seriously rewarding.
  • Launching the How to Write category with over 15 up-to-date guides published late 2016, teaching all things online content writing.

Personally, my highlights running Express Writers in 2016 have been:

  • Launching my book, podcast, and Twitter chat, and seeing amazing successes between them all, especially in our live hour with #ContentWritingChat.
  • Getting our biggest client ever, and being able to write their orders with liberty (very few strict guidelines, a lot of creative freedom – dream client).
  • Having the honor of hiring Tara Clapper, the former blog editor at SEMrush, an all-around content marketing guru that I’ve been talking to online for years.
  • Training and guiding a successful editing team to work with our writers and help guide them to their best skills.
  • Visiting the SEJ Summit in NYC with my team members Tara, Krystal, and Josh.
  • Despite a lot of rough patches this year in the customer-facing support team with other representatives, this November I was able to reach out to and re-hire my sales manager Tamila McDonald, who worked with us in sales and content management all the way back in 2013 (and was fantastic at it). She’s been fantastic in the role already, helping our customers achieve success with content needs.

And…

Straight from the heart: thanks to all of you who have helped us grow this year!

To our clients:

We value each and every one of you. There were crazy things to deal with in the support staff this year, but they weren’t anything that a successful company hasn’t experienced at some point or other (non-loyal staff). We appreciate you so much, and will continue to work hard to earn your business and create the best content money can buy.

To our amazing writers and staff:

Working hard and tirelessly to deliver amazing content means the world to me and our clients. Remember that great things are coming for us all in 2017: stick with us, and you will, without a doubt, grow with us. (We have a huge relaunch of the Content Shop and our teamroom in development now, due out in the New Year!)

A Look Back: Express Writers’ Top 10 Shared & Talked About Posts of 2016

Let’s start by looking at what our most-shared pieces consisted of as a whole in terms of format and content type, then, delve into the top posts themselves.

Top Shared Formats

Here’s what our top shared post formats were (interesting to note how well infographics and a podcast episode did!):

  • 6 long-form blogs (5 guides on different aspects online writing, the 6th blog was a list of fun/obsolete English words)
  • 1 podcast episode (over 1,000 shares!)
  • 3 infographics

Top 10 Posts

Now, it’s time for a look back at our ten top performing posts of the year.

1. Out With the Old: Why & How to Do a New Year Website Content Audit

(See blog here) Everyone loves a little New Year’s cleaning, and this post was our top performer because it helped people understand exactly what a content audit is, and why it’s so important to conduct them on a regular basis.

In addition to clearing out any icky, old content that’s hurting your SEO, a good content audit gives you the chance to comb through your content and find any material that is outdated, inaccurate, or not converting well.

In our content audit post, we showed readers how to use platforms like the SEMrush Site Audit Tool, Moz templates, BuzzSumo, and WordTracker to perform expert-quality content audits in preparation for the new year. The post earned more than 1.5K shares and remains one of our most popular pieces!

2. The Write Podcast, E06: Talking Life, Entrepreneurship, Guest Blogging, & Content Marketing With Sujan Patel

(See podcast episode here) Episode 6 of The Write Podcast remains one of my favorites, and it was one of our readers’ favorites, as well. In this post, I interviewed Sujan Patel, co-founder of Narrow.io and Content Marketer.io, about everything from entrepreneurship to becoming an all-star guest blogger.

Sujan and I talked about how he develops his tools (and why it’s so important for him only to work on projects he feels emotionally invested in). We discussed his relation to Neil Patel, (they’re cousins!) and how he feels about live-streaming. He also offers some advice on testing business plan ideas and taking risks to get to where you want to be.

If you’re starting a small business or working to build your online presence, you’ll love Sujan’s declaration that a single payment may not matter as much as the relationships you’re building with your clients.

This episode earned more than 1,000 shares with our followers!

3. Expert Weigh-In: Content Marketing Predictions for 2016 (Infographic)

(See predictions post here) Now that the year is over, this post shines brightly. Published December 31 of 2015, we talked to 19 content marketing experts to put this post together.

Each of them had a different prediction for the future of content marketing in 2016 and, guess what? Many of them have come true!

For example:

  • Steve Rayson, the Director of BuzzSumo, told us 2016 would be all about developing clear outreach strategies and connecting with influencers. This couldn’t be more true: leveraging the power of a real relationship with influencers works! Example: when I connected with Sujan Patel, a major entrepreneur and content marketer, I was able to get his name on my book (he wrote the foreword) and record a podcast episode with him. The episode turned out to be our most shared one!
  • Michael A. Stelzner, the founder of Social Media Examiner, told us that 360-degree live video streaming would explode. Live video has been all over the web, and talked about all year, from Facebook Live to Snapchat, Instagram Stories and more.
  • Finally, Director of Marketing at Stone Temple Consulting Mark Traphagen predicted that 2016 would be a year of “quality over quantity” – we couldn’t agree more! Quality has been reigning high all year long.

This post earned 446 shares last year. Now, we’re excited to look forward and make some new predictions for 2017!

4. Google Search Guidelines Released: Here’s What They Say About Content

(See post here) This was one of our most exciting posts of 2016. It broke down Google’s newly released Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. The Guidelines, developed by Google to train its human search quality evaluators, provided a wealth of information about everything from the requirements for quality web content to the importance of expert writing.

The guidelines also dove into mobile optimization, page design, supplementary content, misspelled queries, keywords, and more. The one-stop-shop for anyone who wanted to know what the lengthy guidelines said about content, this post was one of our favorites to write and one of the most useful for our readers. As such, it earned 295 shares on social media!

5. How to Create Long-Form Content That Google and Your Readers Will Love

(See blog here) Long-form content was a buzzed-about topic this year, and we took it on in this post. To start the post, we talked about how people who aren’t seeing the desired ROI from their content might be making one critical mistake: the content they’re writing isn’t long or thorough enough.

Next, we broke down what long-form content is, and why it matters for readers and search engines. We talked about how long-form content tends to be evergreen, detailed, and informative, and how much that means to readers. We also discussed how blogs with 1,500 words or more rank higher, keep readers on pages longer, and boost conversions.

To wrap it all up, we offered a few tips about tools to use for creating long-form blogs (SEMrush and BuzzSumo). This blog earned us 292 shares across the web!

6. Your 12-Step Guide to a Small Business Content Strategy

(See post here) This post was a shout-out to our small business clients and readers! Developing a content strategy for a small business can be tough – especially when funds and resources are tight. In this post, we offered a step-by-step process for developing a small business content strategy and maintaining it.

First, we defined “content,” and then laid out the five types of key content that every small business needs (a blog, a web page, keywords, social media, and a buyer persona). From there, we provided a list of smart, actionable tips to build your content strategy, including defining your objective and creating a content calendar.

Ideal for any small business struggling with content implementation, this was one of our highest performing posts of the year with 277 shares!

7. 30 Amazing, Obsolete Words in the English Dictionary we Should Bring Back to Life

(See post here) If we’re being honest, 2016 featured a lot of words like “innovative,” “stunning,” and “unique.” While there’s nothing wrong with those words, they’re a little boring, and we can’t help but think there are some oldies but goodies stagnating in dictionaries. To celebrate those words, we wrote this post.

Our list included words like these:

  • Grumpish: Meaning sullen or grumpy. Example: The content marketer got grumpish when he forgot to complete his content calendar for the month.
  • Apricity: The wonderful feeling you get when it’s cold and wintery out, but the sun is shining warmly on your back.
  • Gorgonize: To mesmerize or enchant someone. Example: “I felt gorgonized by the beauty of that last sentence.”
  • Curglaff: A giggle-inducing word meaning shock or surprise.

This post was great fun to write, and it earned 242 shares once we pushed it out to readers!

8. 55 Content Marketing Tools to Boost Your Productivity

(See post here) Who doesn’t love a fat list of useful tools? In this post, published January 21 of 2016, we broke down 55 of our favorite content marketing tools to enhance productivity and make your days smoother and easier. Featured on the list were the following:

  • Buffer: A social media management tool that allows you to schedule posts to up to 15 different social media profiles from one dashboard.
  • Canva: A simple DIY graphic design tool that you can use to create blog headers, social graphics, and more.
  • SproutSocial: Another social media management tool, and the host of #SproutChat on Twitter.
  • GoogleWeb Designer: A banner creation service that lets you design and build banners for your websites.
  • SEMrush: A keyword tracking tool that allows you to research topics, find influencers, and recognize trending content.
  • AngelList: An investment platform that helps you raise money for your various content marketing projects.
  • MailChimp: An email marketing tool that allows you to automate campaigns and build templates.
  • Wordtracker: A keyword research tool that can connect with you with some of the top-performing keywords in just minutes.
  • BuzzSumo: One of our favorite tools, and the best way to find out what’s trending in the world of content.

This post, with its big old list of tools earned us 241 shares across the web.

9. Inside the Brain & Life of a Copywriter (Infographic)

(See infographic here) This infographic was a ton of fun to create, and it’s one of our favorite pieces of content from the year. Here at Express Writers, we love our copywriters, and this unique little piece gives readers a glimpse into the daily life of the people behind the content.

In the post, we offer some general statistics about content (2 million blog posts are published daily, and the web hosts more than 900,000,000 websites, for example). From there, we go on to talk about who copywriters are – from stay-at-home moms to millennials – and how their left and right brain hemispheres work together to combine practicality and creativity.

To finish the infographic off, we lay out five key copywriting techniques! This post raked in 235 shares across our various social channels.

10. Your Infographic Guide to Online Content Word Counts

(See infographic here) Last but not least is this piece, “Your Infographic Guide to Online Content Word Counts.” Another infographic, this post details how long all of your content should be. It discusses Twitter’s character limit increase, and the best practices for Twitter post length (100 characters is the sweet spot).

It talks about Facebook, and how perfect Facebook posts are 40-characters or fewer. It also breaks down Google+ lengths and LinkedIn content lengths. This helpful post earned 233 shares across the web!

2016: A Fantastic Year for Content

2016 was truly an outstanding year for content, and we at Express Writers want to thank our readers collectively for your ongoing support. (That means YOU!)

Here’s to 2017, creating more fabulously great content, and all that the New Year has in store!

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Express Writers Logo

November Update at Express Writers: Bidding Goodbye to Private Label, New Writing Industry Experts Added, & More

Today’s an awesome day!

We’re super excited because our Private Label system, where you have to put down a deposit to activate a pricing level, is no more as of today!

We’ve rolled out many other changes, all for the better of our quality and deliverables, listed below. What’s more, we made all this happen before Thanksgiving (Josh, my CTO, Josh’s development team and I worked on it for 24 hours straight yesterday, till about 5:30 am today). Coffee will be sorely needed today, to say the least.

Without further ado, here’s a lowdown on what you can expect going forward with our services and pricing structure.

xmas announcement

Massive Changes for the Better this Thanksgiving at Express Writers

Our Content Shop underwent all these changes last night, and was down for about 12 hours during the upgrade. Here’s a checklist of what went live as of today:

  • It’s a consensus: many of our clients agree that Private Label + the two pricing tiers, with one dependent on a deposit, is confusing! We’re officially removing Private Label, doing away with two pricing tiers, and consolidating to one that makes sense and is equalized across the board.
  • Former PL users, your Private Label deposit is going nowhere. And, you can still put down a deposit at any time! Your discount just doesn’t depend on it. You will still have all your funds in your account, within policy.
  • Better cover rates will be in the Shop, as will better word counts and product presentation. It’ll be easier than ever just to buy what you need, at any time. I’m super proud of this one. I’ve gone through our rates with a fine-toothed comb and set better, cheaper cover rates than what we formerly had – that makes sense across the board. In some cases, we narrowed down our insanely long word range choices from 13 ranges to 8. Also, the layout of our Packages is so much cleaner!
  • Pre-built carts (an easy way to quote out your custom content services) is happening! Have our team send you a pre-built cart at any time now. (Woohoo!)With a few clicks, you can check out with exactly what you need, with no rate levels to worry about – just one. For grandfathered rates, you’ll simply use a custom coupon our support team will hand you.

Quick Customer FAQ

What are the new rates?

Here’s a few of the new prices. For a full list, see our Pricing page, updated 11/22.

Blogs/Articles 350-500 $35
Word range costs: Up to 100 $10, 100-250 $20, 250-350 $25, 350-500 $35, 500-750 $55, 750-1000 $70, 1000-1500 $105, 1500-2000 $140, 2000-3000 $210
Level 1 Blogger $325/month: 8 blogs/month (2 weekly), 450-500W, SEO optimized + basic imagery + meta descriptions, published.
Level 2 Blogger $500/month: 12 blogs/month (3 weekly), 500-750W SEO optimized content with custom branded imagery + meta descriptions, published.
Level 3 Blogger $980/month: 16 blogs/month (4 weekly), 750-1000W SEO optimized content with custom branded imagery + meta descriptions, published.

The new cover rates are lowered up to 15% from previous cover rates, and up from Private Label rates by a minimum of 15%. (To compare: Private label was $25/500w blog, cover was $45/500w.)

On all our web-based content products (web pages, product descriptions, blogs): we’re now offering more variations on the lower word range, and a larger bracket to choose from on the other ends to allow our skilled writers to write with freedom and cut fluff more than ever.

Can I have my Private Label rates?

We are individually reviewing accounts and grandfathering those that fall into eligibility for discounts, for the next three months. 

For those who are missing the rates they had on Private Label, we’ve made cover rates the new standard, but lowered and equalized them across the board.

If you need to inquire about keeping your Private Label rates, we are happy to review your account and approve if your current rates aren’t too cheap. Remember, our goal is quality, and we simply cannot staff quality at cheap rates. For review questions, get in touch at info@expresswriters.com.

But we’d ask that you consider checking out with the new rates.

The new rates, which are still on the low side of the industry if you do a comparison, with no added fees for editing and management, set a standard for us to retain stronger editors and writers, overall. Remember that not only do we retain writers, but we mentor and edit them constantly. When writers drop, it can be a full-time job in a week to field for new ones, since we never compromise and skip our personalized candidate testing process, which rules out sometimes 80% of applicants.

We are the only writing team in the industry that offers exclusive mentoring content to our writers, created by our content marketing team – we stay on top of every standard and tell our writers when anything changes, down to the new meta length that Google announced. This is easily a full-time job, as well, and the new rates will ensure this mentoring continues to happen.

Our new rates will allow us to:

  • Pay editors a higher hourly wage
  • Retain an HR person, trained by Julia on how to pick and find the best talents in the freelance writing world
  • Provide us with the necessary bandwidth to make sure ongoing writer mentoring happens (extra management hours)

We’re always rolling out better features. Coming up, we have a Loyalty program in the works, and in 2017 a brand new way to buy content online with a beautiful, coded-from-scratch system on the works!

Get services sent directly to your inbox, it’s a few clicks to approve and checkout!

Confusing deposits and checkouts, NO MORE.

We now have the ability to send anyone a prebuilt cart, with a few clicks of the button, that includes a custom message from our team and all the services they need in one place. It’s a few more clicks for you to approve, review, and checkout with exactly what you need!

Here’s what your email notification will look like, when you get a pre-built cart:

shopping cart email notification

And, services within the email cart:

shopping cart

This is perfect after a strategy call where our team members work building and suggesting a custom list of products for a website or marketer that they need. In just a few seconds, you can view all those services directly in your email!

And, here’s a list of other things that went out this month:

Launched 11/16: Categories layout in the Content Shop!

Now, when you land on the Content Shop, you’ll be greeted by a clean layout directing you where to go for which need (if you need technical copy, you’d head to Expert Copy; if you need a few blogs, you’d head to blog & web).

Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 3.50.46 PM

Here’s what it used to look like. You’d see all the products as soon as you hit “Content Shop.” (In the new look, our CTO and brand guy, Josh, redesigned everything into beautifully laid out categories.)

old look ew

There’s even an “I’m Not Sure” section for those who just aren’t sure what to do when they visit the Shop:

content shop 3Plus, the new search bar is a real beast–the most powerful search plugin we’ve ever had! Give it a whirl the next time you stop by the Content Shop.

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Launched 11/16: We’ve Added 7 New Industries to the Expert Niche!

These are the new industries we’ve added this month, by popular demand:

  • Medical Copy
  • Health & Wellness Copy
  • Sports & Fitness Copy
  • Spa & Beauty Copy
  • Pet Care Copy
  • Insurance
  • Real Estate

new expert writing industries

Expert copywriting has become a serious need, and at Express Writers, we offer two levels – general and expert – to ensure success across all content project types and writing levels. Our increase in the Expert Level is a reflection of the growing need for expert writers who craft engaging copy that speaks directly to a niche audience. Refer to the Google EAT and YMYL standards, broken down on our site here, for more on what type of writing Google suggests for various industries. 

…That’s about it (for now)!

We’re always revamping, improving, and maintaining over here to accomplish and deliver on the best writing services in the industry. You can trust us to uphold that standard, every time.

To each and everyone of our clients, a happy Thanksgiving! We’re grateful for you!

holiday content coupon ew

sej summit recap

Express Writers Goes to SEJ Summit 2016 New York: 19 Top Takeaways

FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m a psychology major who plays a lot of video games and loves hockey. I’m not good at left-brain stuff. I failed pretty much every math test I ever had, but excelled in writing essays and art class. That being said, I didn’t know what to expect out of the SEJ Summit.

The Summit is sponsored by the SEJ Journal – the leading source for digital marketing news. It’s a powerhouse with 80+ active contributors. Marketing? Yes, I can definitely do that. That’s my forte: crafting words to get people excited, to get them IN.

ew team at sej summit

Express Writers meeting John Brown at the SEJ Summit. None of us had enough coffee yet. Left to right: Tara, Krystal, Josh, John, Julia

During the SEJ Summit breakfast, there was a dude with a little xylophone and a microphone. He played the instrument and like the walking dead, everyone stopped what they where doing and headed toward the auditorium. Not a word. Bells that herd people. Pavlov would be very proud. I remember thinking… “man, I wish marketing were that easy.” But I digress.

sej summit recap express writers

Express Writers Goes to SEJ Summit 2016 New York: 19 Top Takeaways (as told by Krystal)

I’m going to give you my takeaways from each presentation, because I’m nice like that. SEJ was all about connecting us (the industry) with the user. I’m talking deep UI/UX. Even when we’re talking Google analytics and algorithms (the things I’m bad at) we’re actually talking about serving users a more robust online experience (the things I’m great at).

So come along, on this magic (fiber optics) carpet ride…

Google’s Maile Ohye: Serving The Mobile-First Searcher

This presentation was given by Maile Ohye, the Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google. She made a point to mention that she’s dead last in her fantasy league team, which I can definitely relate to, being last in my fantasy hockey league because I chose players based on how cute they are or how much I liked watching them beat up other players.

maile ohye

3 Takeaways from Ohye

She had three key points:

1. Continue to pay off technical debt

How technically agile is my brand? Keep in mind that big Fortune 500 companies have gone out of business because they didn’t keep up with the tech/digital age.

2. Keep the target personas in mind

You should always keep in mind what the big guns (like Google) are saying, but find commonalities in customer needs and journeys as well. For example, map customer needs. If a customer wants to be vegetarian, they’ll probably search for benefits of becoming a vegetarian. Facilitate this journey with your UI/UX. Let them scroll quickly through testimonials. Don’t let them get bored. Most of all, understand what your customers want to use! Most users don’t want to download a native app – it’s an annoying extra step.

3. Target a specific audience

It’s not all about ranking. It IS all about being present and awesome in your customer’s journey.

From here, we need to understand that our customers are emerging with new tech. Mobile search traffic surpassed desktop traffic, with nearly a third of mobile searches are related to location. Don’t forget that your customers are in other countries, too… and not everyone has an unlimited data plan.

maile ohye google

What became clear early on was that AMP would play a big role at the SEJ Summit. AMP = Accelerated Mobile Pages. Coding is kept to a minimum. It’s reminiscent of when I was in coding school, trying desperately to keep codes to a minimum to reduce load time. I was terrible at coding (more right-brain woes) but this was a key takeaway when it comes to understanding usability.

Bill Hunt on Making SEO Lemonade: Moving The Needle On Missed Opportunities

Bill Hunt was a fantastic presenter and gave us great, easy-to-understand points in his topic on SEO lemonade.

bill hunt

Root cause identification is a critical skill. Are you able to understand the root of your access issues? Let’s say your website disappears from google. A simple problem that a design agency didn’t catch can cost a lot of money, and for one company fixing an inclusion issue increased traffic by 58%. 74% of their pages weren’t indexed. Can you imagine paying for 300 pages of analysis to identify the problem when it was just an indexing issue? It’s paramount that you have an agile IT team to troubleshoot giving search engines error-free pages.

Remember what I said about remembering that your audience may be in a different country? Make sure you’re HREFLang correctly and align to the correct country. Is your page ranking correctly? Again, we can see an 88% drop in traffic due to reindexed pages. It’s the little things that matter.

Lastly, you need to match searcher intent. Are you keyword targeting? Is top 50 on top of your rank? Remember – mobile and location searches are most popular, so you need to think about what people want when they are searching for something. This can max out your clickability.

3 Main Takeaways from SEO Lemonade

Again, three main points from this one:

1. Understanding the importance of indexability

If no one can find your content, it doesn’t matter what quality it is!

2. Accept that searcher intent is critical to success

This ties into takeaway 3, but you need to understand whom you are catering to and why they’re looking for you in the first place.

3. Maximize clickability

Get in people’s heads. Get them in on that first click, and the rest is… well, easy as making lemonade out of lemons. 

SEJ was nice enough to give us permission to use their SlideShare recaps. Here’s Bill’s full presentation:

AMP Tactics From The Conde Nast SEO Team, by John Shehata

John Shehata of Conde Nast led this one. AMP launched in February 2016. Before AMP, Conde Nast’s average ranking was around 6.4. After AMP, it jumped to 1.6. Their average CTR (clickthrough rate) went up about 4%.

Mobile search traffic is still coming from regular Google search. BUT if you only look at NEW content versus old content, over 60% of Conde Nast’s traffic was coming through AMP. For example, a AMP site vs. non AMP site covering the Oscars: AMP queries got 15x more visits, 7x more impressions, and 2x higher average rankings.

amp

Everyone needs AMP in their arsenal. Now… I know what you’re saying. I’m not a publisher! Who cares about CTR and AMP and all of these fancy acronyms? You still need to care about AMP! There are HUGE opportunities on getting traffic via AMP Blue Links.

Your 3 Best AMP Resources

Check out these links. They’ll help you understand what projects to use AMP for.

Full presentation recap on SlideShare:

John Brown from Google: Best Practices To Protect Ad Spend

 Next up was John Brown from Google, the Head of Publisher Policy Communications at Google.

john brown

Us folks at Express Writers had a chance to chat with him at the breakfast before we were herded off, and it turns out he’s from Austin like the EW team (I was the only loser from New York City, sadly). We all got a picture with John, who was super down-to-earth and cool!

Our friend proposed two stellar questions: how do I obtain good traffic? How do I grow my network?

The answer? Work with partners that respect users. Protect your users. There are three main takeaways here:

1. Strong practices build trust

2. Measure real ROI

3. Identify bots and real visitors

To build trust, you need to CREATE trust in the entire ecosystem of business. “Trust is the currency with which we trade” — invalid traffic and bad ads threatens to break this trust. In your organization, you must be on the same page as the rest of your team. You need fundamental top-down collective focus on user trust and obtaining quality traffic. With this in mind, you need to be selective. Work only with people who have goals that benefit the entire ecosystem, with a focus on rich, original and organic content. Develop a common language with publishers. Understand what illegitimate and nonhuman traffic sources are out there to harm that ecosystem.

Once you’ve created that foundation of trust, you need to measure how that trust is helping you. Measure REAL ROI. Real ROI are real conversions, not clicks, CTR, or views. You want to pay attention to signups, purchases, even tangible leads.

Lastly, we delved into the world of bots. Bots can skew everything and really mess up your metrics, as well as send your users on a wild, uncomfortable ride. Don’t break that trust because you can’t identify real traffic.

2 Final Takeaways from John Brown & Google

1. Trust, trust, trust

Your brand is only as strong as the trust exists between you and the ecosystem of your business. That includes business partners, customers, and especially the people within your own team. The more open and transparent you are about your goals, the smoother your interactions will be.

2. Get savvy about traffic

You need to know how you’re doing in order to understand how to move forward. If your metrics are all wrong and you don’t have accurate numbers of what your legitimate human traffic is, how will you know if you’re on the right track?

Brands, Search, and the US Elections – Sponsored by Search Metrics

Admittedly, I didn’t go to this one because I was election’d out. I’d love to hear some feedback about this presentation, though, now that that day has come and gone. Let me know in the comments what you think, if you listened in!

Glenn Gabe on What The Doctor Ordered: Your Yearly Google Algorithm Update Checkup (2016)

Glenn Gabe from G-Squared Interactive was a strong speaker with terrific information to present here. This one was for all of the analytic and algorithm nerds out there that I can definitely get into, being a nerd myself. Google Panda, Phantom, and Penguin are real things, not just something you have weird dreams about. They’re algorithms rolled out by Google to control SEO visibility. They can be aggressive, they can be slow, and usually hard to detect.

Takeaway: Popups will haunt you, know Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines

The main takeaway from Glenn is that you need a user-friendly site, and you should avoid too many popups or Google will de-rank you for that (soon to be more fleshed out in algo updates!). Also, low quality content is a no-no. Most importantly: read Google’s quality rater guidelines.(Julia, our CEO, actually broke the Search Guidelines down in detail in this massive post on our blog in late 2015.) It’ll help you run a better site that Google will love, and help you avoid cute Google animals… and ghosts.

glenn gabe

Larry Kim Breaks the Summit: Top Takeaway from Hacking Rankbrain

I think Larry Kim’s presentation was everyone’s favorite, on the subject of Hacking Rankbrain themed in Judgment Day subject material (yes, the “I’ll be back” guy), fantastic memes, colorful rainbows, donkeys and unicorns. He nailed the storytelling elements!

Our CTO Josh made the awesome correlation of Larry Kim + Charlie the Unicorn:

Rank brain (machine learning and search) is a very real thing, with algorithms auditioning our queries. Larry offered us SEO Weapons to survive SEO Judgment day, which included donkey detectors, unicorn converters… you get the idea.

Our takeaway from Larry’s presentation: You want to edit and find your most dynamic keywords and headlines.

You don’t want headlines that sound like keywords and do not offer any emotional triggers. Adopt personas for your keyword-ing, just like basic user testing for UI/UX. Why are we marketing? We’re trying to create biases so that even if people don’t buy your stuff right away, they’ll remember you.

Killer stuff, Larry!

Killer stuff, Larry!

We want to be a unicorn in a sea of donkeys. If you haven’t figured it out by now: donkeys are crappy headlines. 

Mark Traphagen Presents Success By Design: Content That Builds Both Brand And SEO

Traphagen sums it all up, succinctly.

Traphagen sums it all up, succinctly.

This presentation was my jam, and the rest of Express Writers felt the same way.

Here are our 2 top takeaways from listening to Mark Traphagen:

1. Don’t forget the basics of building strong content

Taking an analytic approach to your content and SEO can make a huge difference, which is something I don’t think about, and I really should. For example, one backlink from one major news site to a competitor’s site caused a huge ranking change. Using a backlink moved them to #2 slot in SERP.

First and foremost – keep in mind basics like that.

Now, for the fun part.

2. You must create content for listeners, shares, and linkers

Your content has to be 10x better than anything your competitors are doing, WITH strategic links. You’d be surprised to know that the vast majority of content gets neither links nor shares, and that your shares don’t mean that people are actually paying attention to the content. I’m sure you’ve encountered this on your social media journies – people read the headline and scrap the rest. No correlation between social shares and actual links, which means there isn’t any SEO/traffic value.

How do you break through this dead end? You have to do something unique and target it to whom it matters. Very good content is no longer enough. ELITE content is where you should focus your efforts. Understand that your audience is early adopters and innovators, and that your content should be for listeners, shares and linkers.

Yes. Throw “good content” out the window. Our culture at Express Writers really ties into this. If you look through our Expert Niche Category in the Content Shop, one vertical we’ve been working on heavily this year is introducing high-level copy to our leads. Everyone, we believe, should be investing in expert copy these days if they really want their brand to stand out.

Elite content is the key, and you need to know how to share it. (Mark’s SEJ presentation really ties into the podcast Julia did this month with Mark! Listen in here on the Write Podcast, E17.)

Keesa Schreane Presents Inspired Marketing: How To Leverage Emotions In SEO 

Keesa Schreane, Senior Manager, Marketing at Thomson Reuters, spoke on this cool topic.

The big phrase here is the THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MARKETING. Yes! I have a degree in this! This presentation focuses on service oriented marketing, using the relevancy of the Girl Scouts as the baseline. They’re still relevant after 100+ years, and that’s because every single little girl feels good about the work they put into the organization. If the customers and shareholders can see themselves in a brand, that’s good. That’s what we’re striving for.

Apple is built on the same platform. If you bought one of the first iPhones, you saw yourself as being an early adopter and a member of a community. People saw themselves in the brand. We desire ASSOCIATION. We desire that others are aware of our needs.

However, not only do you have to understand your own industry, but you also have to understand your customers’ industries. For example, with Express Writers, I have learned to become aware of the needs of the facility managers’ industry for one of my clients. I’ve learned the complexities of what these managers need to know for their job, and through that, I am able to develop a more understanding social media experience for them.

When we’re designing content and SEO strategy, we need to make our clients aware of the fact that we care.

Then, put yourself in your client’s shoes. Do you want a relationship with me, or just a sale? Do you appreciate me? Identify your clients’ needs and let them know that you need their support. Let them know that you are willing to learn about their industry and build a more robust relationship. Understand who your customer is and who they aspire to be. Authentically appreciate them, and ask them questions.

keesa sej summit

A-MAZING content, Keesa!

Takeaway from Keesa’s presentation:

Try to understand marketing as the balance between being passionate about your own product and figuring out how to get other people passionate about it, too. You want to welcome others into your world, and make them want to stick around for the long haul. Understand your clients’ needs and how you can fit them with your own.

PSYCHOLOGY! Or, the time my degree actually came in handy.

PSA: I left before a few final sessions and an AMA, but Kelsey Jones at Search Engine Journal has those covered on their recap, which you can catch on SEJ here. Check out all the presentations on SEJ’s SlideShare.

Conclusion: The SEJ Summit Was an Amazing Conference!

And that’s my journey at SEJ Summit. As a psychology major, persona studies were an amazing revelation for my ability to connect with clients. For me, understanding who the customer is key. AMP and algorithms might be the tech team’s sweet spot more than mine, but the user experience on the outside is just as important as the back-end workings that you don’t always see.

Krystal is a creative writer and Social Media Expert at Express Writers. Want to have her write YOUR content? Buy custom expert copy in the Content Shop and request her!

nanowrimo16

We Participated in #NaNoWriMo16! A Cinderella Content Marketing Story by Julia McCoy & addmustard

#NaNoWriMo16 is upon us!

For those of you that don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, sponsored by a nonprofit organization. It’s a worldwide, “virtual” contest for writing a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30. If you’re successful at that many words inside a month, you earn the NaNoWriMo badge and trophy. It’s a cool idea to get writers out of their shells, great books written, and creativity out into the open.

nanowrimo16 julia mccoy

Express Writers, NaNoWriMo16 & Cinderella

I hadn’t participated since I was a teenager on Writing.com, but this year when I received an invitation from our content marketing friends at addmustard, I couldn’t resist! They were putting together a 10x style content marketing series and were inviting the top content marketers to get involved and contribute a fairytale-esque piece with top ideas for 2017 content marketing, running one story each week of November for NaNoWriMo. Mine was the feature for the first week.

The story I put together for addmustard was: How Well Does the Shoe Fit? 5 Strategies for Finding Your Content Sweet Spot. I correlated the Cinderella story with finding your niche audience-fit as a content marketer. Addmustard turned it into a beautifully designed book!

In my Cinderella-inspired content marketing piece, I discuss five key strategies to find your sweet spot as a content marketer (like putting on Cinderella’s shoe):

  • Fit your content to the unique attributes of your reader (know your reader’s demographic and behavior)
  • Focus on just one person instead of a group (similar to going house to house, person to person, to find the perfect fit for the Cinderella shoe)
  • Narrow down your niche to find your exact-match, and find the keywords that bring in this traffic
  • Know the competition trying to squeeze into the same shoe (so you can do better and be the successful shoe messenger)
  • Know the magic of your shoe (what to offer your customer when the shoe fits–their ideal products should align to what you offer them)

I had so much fun participating in #NaNoWriMo with addmustard, and creating a piece around a story in my favorite genre, fiction. (One day I’ll retire and just write fiction.)

Writers: thinking of getting involved? Need a way to hone your writing skills and join a community of like-minded writers? It’s only mid-November, and NaNoWriMo is open! Get involved at NaNoWriMo.org. 

new at express writers services

What’s New This October at Express Writers: Expanded Team, Two New Services

Hi, blog readers! Happy October, and thanks for joining me today…you’re in for some fun stuff.

First up, I’m sharing all about the staff changes and implementations we’ve done here at Express Writers this month.

Next, it’s all about the super cool new services launched today in the Content Shop!

Ready?

express writers new services

New Staff Members & Improved Quality Processes

This month, at Express Writers, we’ve been through some serious changes…although it’s been an absolutely crazy month, we’re ending on a very strong note.

For the past three weeks, I’ve been busy prepping and training our writers and managers for our two new services that are now live today in the Content Shop, Authority Content & Case Study Creation. The training I wrote and put out for Authority Content is super detailed – over 20 pages of exclusive, directional content that you won’t find anywhere else. I’ve worked one-on-one with our case study specialist, an inbound marketing expert, to craft the perfect case study for us before we started formulating how to sell it.

So, needless to say, I’m super excited about these two new high-ROI, turnkey content marketing services–read below for more details on both.

And, this month, we’ve been on-boarding and training new faces in the management staff to support the volume of incoming client inquiries and high-level project support. It’s been extremely hard to find reliable, high quality team members in the staff that can fully pass our rigorous tests and nail every part of the process, and be in our team every day working hard. We’ve had several people in staff come and go this year, who weren’t devoted to performance and the hard work it takes to survive in this industry.

It’s taken us a while to find the right people, but we’ve been able to onboard a fully dedicated staff editor for large projects ($8,000+ per month client spend), and a dedicated WordPress posting editor, besides our regular editing team. Bringing in a wealth of experience on all fronts, our new editors have our quality at heart!

Earlier, in September, I had the honor of hiring the talented Tara Clapper, who comes from SEMrush and brings a wealth in years of content marketing experience to Express Writers, from knowing the ins and outs of online content strategy to hosting webinars and networking at events. Tara has been very successful at helping us on the editing team and giving our clients spectacular insights for their content success.

Janeka, one of our social media experts, was recently multi-tasked with the role of Content Support Specialist, and she’s been rocking it out.

new faces in the staff october

New Logo & Content Shop Icons

As most of you know, we’re on the verge of a major relaunch we’ve been building for 1+ year: a custom developed Content Shop and teamroom. Till then, we decided to run with some major brand improvements early!

instagram-logoOur new logo is an expression of how our brand has truly taken flight this year, despite all the difficulties in our way. ✈️ As a content agency, we are constantly evolving, adapting, and growing. Writing is a skill that takes great mentoring and lots of practice to perfect. That is what we believe in, and our goal and mission as a content writing agency. This year, we’ve never been more focused on our mission and more capable of delivering amazing quality – the content that 2016 marketers need. It was time to take our paper plane and let it fly!

New look in the content shop: 40+ brand new icons for each of our services, shaped and colored in the flat, poly style of design that our new logo is in. Our designer rocked these out in less than a week!

Other fun stuff: we’re going to be hitting up the Search Engine Journal Summit in New York City on November 2: my CTO Josh, Tara, myself, and our SME Krystal! (Want 15% off tickets and a chance to get a copy of my book for free? Check out the details here!) Come say hi if you’re in the area. We’d love to meet you!

Now… ready to hear about our new services that went live today?

express writers new services october

What Are the Two New Writing Services at Express Writers This October?

Let me start the new product discussion (yay!) by asking you a question…

Does there ever come a time when you write, create, publish, publish, rinse, repeat…

And you stand back and realize:

Where is the ROI in all this content that I put out?

There’s so much information out there about how to do it. More content, not less… but hey, let’s not forget quality over quantity

How do you trim the fat?

Create powerful, effective, meaningful content that WILL get ranked well and read, shared by real people who actually got something from your content?

There’s only one way: by creating the most authoritative piece on the subject.

But that means a ton (and I mean a ton) of work has to go into it.

First, you have to research to find your perfect low competition, high volume long-tail keyword before you even write it.

Second, you have to write an authoritative, expert, long-form post (1,500-3,000 words is what Google ranks the most) that nails the specifics of what the topic should give the reader, and is written in an engaging, readable, optimized style.

Thirdly: you’ll need to create custom graphics and visuals for your long-form piece to represent the key points, and finally, a feature graphic branded to you that will go with it everywhere on social media.

The Answer to Your Most In-Depth, Amazing Content Need: Authority Content

I took those points into consideration, picked the best four writers out of my team of over 50, and over the past month I sat down and created a workflow process where we nail all three of those points, called Authority Content. You know what? The workflow means four people are involved in creating one post.

That’s what it looks like nowadays when you want to nail content.

Be the biggest name in the book.

Outshine every other result in the SERPs and be THE result people WANT to click on…

And when they click through, present them with the content piece that answers every question they had on the topic.

Then, and only then, do you truly get ROI for your content.

Why create if you’re just adding to the noise?

Enter Authority Content.

Launched TODAY live in the Content Shop, I’m excited to offer a content product where I’m so sure we’ll nail the topic you want us to research and create an authoritative piece for, that your money will be given back if we don’t.

This month, I sat down, picked the best four writers out of my team of over 50 creators, and wrote a workflow process and extensive guides where we nail all three of those points. (I even created a five-point structure for winning at every single intro.) Then, I mentored my best writers on the process I wrote, tested them, and trained other team members for the other parts of the process (designing custom graphs, researching the keywords). I was hoping to launch it this week, but the quality process took longer than I expected: and today, it’s live!

You know what?

Four people from my team will be involved in creating one piece of authoritative content. Not counting editors. (Yes, they’re involved.)

Here’s a preview of the input form for Authority Content (activates as soon as the order is placed in the Shop, click the + to expand.)

See an example of an authoritative post on our site!

Second Product Out Today: Case Study Writing & Design (A Full Package)

A content type that is worth every penny of your time and money to invest in is case studies.

And, they’re a hot ticket item in content marketing, if done correctly.

You basically take a happy client of yours, create their story, and repurpose it as content that will sell your leads on why you.

You’ll need to interview your case study participant: if possible, get a direct quote. Take all the information and copywrite a beautiful, flowing case study with actual data. Then design it into a PDF for marketing; create a landing page where people can access it; and, if you really want to go places, write a blog story around it with a link to the downloadable resource.

Everything I just outlined is part of the process in how we create case studies. We have an exclusive, inbound marketing certified copywriter ready to interview and write; and our team designer that will put the PDF together in a beautiful design.

Our new case study service, live in the Shop, offers four services in one product:

  • Copywritten case study page (landing page)
  • Designed PDF (perfect for your marketing materials)
  • AND a short story blog about the success you had with your clients.
  • We even take care of approaching and interviewing your client participant, included in the cost and perfect if you don’t have the data or time to grab a direct quote (we’ll professionally represent you!).

Here’s a preview of the input form that’s live and ready to go as soon as Authority Content is purchased in the Shop (click the + to expand.)

See an example of a fully designed Case Study live on our site!

That’s It, Folks!

Convinced yet?

Go check out Authority Content in the Content Shop…

and Case Studies, here.

 

Thoughts, feedback or suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

express writers 5 anniversary

Celebrating 5 Years at Express Writers: What It’s Like Working Here, From Our Team

5 years ago, I had a dream.

My dream was to build a community of writers under one umbrella; a boutique firm that would be devoted to high quality content. My one aim was to hire writers who were excellent at their trade, who would further a mission of creating great content across the entire web. And, to never drop my content quality standards for any reason.

And I can’t believe how that dream has been fulfilled today! This week, Express Writers celebrates a five-year anniversary. It’s been a wonderful, crazy, enlightening journey. We’ve seen over 5,000 clients walk through our doors, and have 70 copywriters, content strategists, social media managers, and editors by now (tested and hired out of thousands of applicants); and have written hundreds of thousands of pages to date, across press releases, blogs, web pages, product descriptions, social posts, and much more.

I won’t lie: it hasn’t been easy. To stay at the top in today’s fast-paced content creation industry, featuring smarter consumers than ever before, you have to a) work without stopping, b) learn every day and c) grow constantly. Evolving, adapting is the name of the game. And my team and I have stayed devoted, nonstop, to maintaining and growing our presence. I’ve written more entrance tests and training manuals solely for our team use than I can count, and I refine them every few months. We don’t want to just be a content creation agency: we want to be at the forefront and be the best provider there is for great content that will fuel today’s content marketing needs.

To celebrate our five-year mark, we’re showcasing some of our staff and why they like to work at Express Writers (see below). Without our talented team of managers, writers, content strategists, and experts, we wouldn’t be able to offer the high quality content deliverables we’re able to. Plus, a little gift for our clients: $25 off anything in the Content ShopUse the code in the image below to redeem.

Celebrate with us 5 year

Use our code bday25off for an instant $25 off anything in the Content Shop, minimum $100!

Celebrating 5 Years at Express Writers: What Our Staff and Writers Say About Working Here

Writing isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not a trade just anyone can be good at; without the inborn talent for writing, every word reads forced, and doesn’t flow. Our writers have been hand-picked out of hundreds, and have passed multiple entrance tests to enter our team. We’re grateful to every one of our talented team members: they make up the core of how we tick, and how we stay consistent in delivering quality in the human-centric, difficult product of writing. We’re proud to represent quality and stand behind our mission of delivering audience-friendly, real-value content across the web! (P.S: Keep reading from a brief story from me!)

express writers 5 year anniversary

Founder’s Perspective: Our Story

A little thought, fueled by passion, and a lot of elbow-grease hard work was at the root of Express Writers’ beginnings back in 2011.

I began life as a freelance writer at just 19 years old. It was an idea that hit me like a lightning bolt when I woke up one morning. I changed my lifestyle, direction and career path solely driven by discovering my passion. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled at all in nursing school. Within three months of self-teaching and learning the trade of online writing, fueled by the fact that I was jumping into something I absolutely loved, I was able to quit nursing school and McDonalds and jump full-time into running Express Writers, a little company I created at 20 years old, in May of 2011.

The best part? I was doing what I loved with my life: writing. And it was through a channel bigger than I’d dreamed of as a little kid, who loved to fill every last scrapbook page with words. I was writing content that would be distributed across the world wide web—and how useful, good, intelligent, and worthwhile my writing was translated to how people across the globe would further interact with it when they found it in Google. That was inspiring to me. What if I could make the web a better place by simply offering a solution for it’s fundamental key: the quality of great writing, for any type of business that needed to fuel their online marketing?

Our Growth: Crazy Big Strides, Short Amounts of Time

Over the past five years, Express Writers has grown from a baby company where I was the manager, editor, and salesperson, with a team of five writers, to a global agency with over 70 writers (hand-picked out of thousands), a staff of nearly a dozen people, and a 98% success rate in content deliverables, a feat considering the difficult human process involved in what we do everyday (from matching individual client styles to picking the best writers, managing deadlines, and so much more).

We’ve seen a lot of growth across the years; from launching our online Content Shop developed by Josh in early 2015, to our latest internal growth spurt just this May. Interestingly enough, this month’s growth was fueled by the termination of our two head managers. We discovered that they were dropping our quality, pushing our writers to extreme deadlines, and overall going down a road counter-intuitive to the process and creation of quality content. In the following seven days after they were let go, I reinvented our content quality process, replacing editors with a more targeted, trained role of content reviewers; came up with a content turnaround expectations chart, that is now included in our policy page, and allows for the time our human writers need to create quality content; and trained three new staff members. We’ve already seen a 10% increase in the overall morale and production of our writing team, exhibited in clientele project approval and praise across the board, since we’ve lessened the urgency of their deadlines. I have no doubts that as we progress to training more reviewers and as our new Content Manager Katria works through her third week here full-time managing the assignments and refining which writer is best matched with a project, this production quality increase will only grow.

Plus, we’re discovering what we’re good at, and refining that process: and dropping from our product list what eats up our time and doesn’t make sense for our content experts to focus on.

As We Celebrate 5 Years: What’s Going on in the Content Marketing Industry?

To wrap up this story, a note about the industry we’re in. At the beginning, it was hard. In 2011, a mindset existed online: freelance writing should be cheap, and it should come in volumes. Over the past five years in this industry, I’ve seen a major transition from this mindset. I’d sum up the change in one word: value.

Content marketers—really, any good online marketer—have realized that they have to provide value if they want to publish winning content. True, authentic value, exhibited in the kind of content that would change someone’s life because you showed them how to do something that would increase their earnings nine-fold, or you gave them the best possible resource in existence that answered every question they had on the topic. Neil Patel has been one of the leaders in this regard. Every single post he publishes exhibits this value. Jon Morrow is right on his heels. And Brian Dean is right on the money when he says we don’t visit the 8th tallest building when we tour a new city; we visit the tallest.

At Express Writers, we take inspiration from these leaders, and this year we’ve devoted ourselves to writing and distributing the best content we’ve ever put together, at our own Write Blog and in our new podcast. This is one way we show that we have knowledge in the very product we’re selling: writing and producing truly valuable, life-changing content.

And what’s ahead for us this year? We’re planning a major relaunch in a couple of months we we’re releasing a custom developed team room and brand new, more intuitive online Content Shop. Led by Josh and a team of developers, this has been a system that’s taken than a year to create from scratch. I’ve also been busy in the background across the last few months, writing the training for new content products that I believe will seriously offer a new look into content marketing and a way for any brand or business to discover, find and publish their true brand story. I want more businesses to discover their authentic message of value, and share content in a story form that will actually attract real people, retain interest, and bring real ROI. Look out, we’re on the move!

To get your next batch of awesome content, go to our Content Shop.

express writers content turnaround time expectations chart

May Changes Update From Express Writers: New Reviewer Role, Turnaround Expectations and More

This May, Express Writers has been through some serious stages of change and growth, in the realm of personnel and internal standards. Overall, it’s been a valuable time of discovering and implementing quality enhancements—which will improve and boost our content creation process long-term!

What Happened in May, and How We’ve Significantly Improved Our Process

I greatly appreciate each and every one of our clientele and writers who had patience with us during a difficult week of transition, May 5-10th, when we had to let our two staff managers go, and pick up the pieces behind them. We discovered on May 6th that they were not only embezzling company funds but also dropping the ball throughout our content quality, and writer treatment, and terminated them that day. I know there are no excuses: I’m absolutely holding myself accountable for wrong staffing decisions. I can tell you that I’ve learned my lesson! No more complacency.

I’m proud to say that even though it was one of the most difficult weeks of our lives, it was one of the most productive weeks in terms of growing Express Writers’ content delivery process. Over 70 hours of work that week was devoted from each of us in the management front: me in writing new training, staffing and hours of Skype training, up to 6 hours at a time, with new staff; auditing everything we do, our content process, and implementing how to make it better; Katria in managing our content assignments and learning how to fill the shoes as a content manager; Josh, CTO, for picking up new client inquiries; and Sarah, our content specialist, in handling every phone call and client inquiry via chat and email. It’s a week that will go down in history!

But, I’ve been genuinely delighted at the fruits of our hard labor. Within that week after we terminated our staff managers, we’ve implemented some serious changes to Express Writers’ content process, which means that better processes are starting to happen now in our team. Great customer service is our #1 priority, and we are working overtime still to ensure all of our orders stay fulfilled right now, and fix everything. We want to make Express Writers the most effective and efficient writing service in the industry—and I know we can!

Two Major Changes to Express Writers’ Internal Content Process Structure

Here’s a lowdown on what we’ve built and added inside the past week and a half.

Change #1: Content Turnaround Time Expectations Chart

You can’t have a good writing team without a good writing environment. We discovered that our former managers were pushing writers to the grounds with deadlines: a reason why writer retention was low!

In the past week, I’ve developed a Content Turnaround Time Expectations Chart, after rounds of meetings and planning with our content management and writers. Writers can now know what to expect in terms of turnarounds for everything; our content manager can direct the writers in a way that gives them time to produce talent; and our clients can know what to expect when they place orders!

express writers content turnaround time expectations chart

It’s also built in our policy page now.

Change #2: We’ve Developed a New Quality Review Role

We’ve implemented a new quality review checking system for our staff editors. After an audit of our staff roles, I found out that many times, our editors were inserting more errors than fixing errors from our writers. We hire really strong writers; the tests I’ve written in fact rule out 90% of our new applicants. So, with strong writers, editors can in fact be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. To replace the disorganization of editing, I’ve created a focused role of reviewing and hired brand new Senior Editors, trained in my new review process.

Our new editors have been trained one-on-one by me to review the content for five-six main checks, including client specifications, correct wording, fact-checking, a Copyscape search for any duplicate hits, and more; and, vitally important, on how to grade our writers constructively to help them grow their skills.

We’ve hired two Senior Editors for this process: and we’ve already seen this system work!

I’m also continuing to refine the role and guidelines based on client feedback. I believe we’ll see a much higher success rate in this targeted quality check system as opposed to a very general, non-directed editing review.

We’ve also hired four new staff persons in the course of the past two weeks, all of which are highly qualified to handle both our clients and our content orders. We’re confident in their skills and dedication to helping our content deliverables stay within high quality standards, and professional, fast responses for our clientele and writer base.

A Message to Our Clients

If you see anything that’s wrong with your content, in terms of grammar, poor optimization, or lack of matching your specifications, we can’t improve unless we know! We would greatly appreciate you dropping us a line: send a note with your order ID along to our company content manager, Katria (email: katria@expresswriters.com) and we’ll all put our heads together to ensure better quality success for you and further content deliverables.

We want to strive to make Express Writers THE best one-stop solution for every content need.

You can bet we’re working our hardest everyday to make that a continued reality.

 

For great content for your blogs, web pages and more, visit the Content Shop.

express writers new logo 2016

What’s New at Express Writers: Our Paper Plane Logo Rebrand, Upcoming Books & More

At Express Writers, we absolutely love adapting and growing.

What we don’t like to do is stay still.

express writers growth

Photo credit mayawidiani.tumblr.com

So, for the past few months, we’ve been working on a lot of things behind the scenes. Here’s a recap for you on just what we’ve been up to!

I Fly Like Paper, Get High Like Planes

express writers logo 2016

OK, the inspiration behind our new logo was NOT the Paper Planes hit by M.I.A., but we think it’s really cool that the song ties in and just had to use it. (And no, “all we wanna do is take your money” is NOT our logo.)

Our calligraphy pen point has been our foundational visual logo for years now, and we were brainstorming together on how to take it to the next level, staring at different pen points and unique illustrative representations.

I looked at my team member, COO Josh, and instantly had a thought: a paper plane shape. What if we merged that into a pen point? Minutes later, our designer who was across the seas in Russia had the same exact idea. It was like telekinesis or something. 

We knew we loved it, and that we could blend a slight pen tip into the bottom and keep the overall paper plane idea to symbolize Express Writers. The final designed product was done by our own COO Josh McCoy.

Our paper plane represents the modern standards we’re continually adapting to, and a standard of onwards/upwards that we have been upholding for four years now.

Just to put into reality how and why we work hard to symbolize the onward and upward standard in the industry of content writing. At Express Writers, some of our services include content planning and auditing, where our Content Strategists (trained by Julia) use some of the best tools online (SEMrush, BuzzSumo, Wordtracker) and discover awesome content opportunities for our clientele, that our best writers then create original copy for. This Strategist role is something we’re continually honing.

Express Writers Annoucement From Julia McCoy, CEO

Posted to our @ExpWriters Instagram account, here’s an annoucement about all these changes at Express Writers from Julia:

I’m working on:

Books

Besides our logo rebrand, which has officially launched as of today, I’ve been working on two books: a complete guide on how to be an online content writer & a beginner’s guide to blogging.

Both will be out before Christmas, so stay tuned – look for an announcement from us with published Kindle book links.

Podcast & Twitter Chat

Called the Content Writing Chat (both podcast and Twitter chat), I’ve already created an episode and scheduled in some super cool guests. I can’t wait to share all my content marketing knowledge and that of my guests’ with you! Stay tuned for the launch, and we would absolutely love it if you joined in to our Twitter chat!

Here’s to the ever-increasing quality of the content marketing industry as a whole–and the growth of content writing knowledge!