content maintenance

Why Content Maintenance Has Become Just as Important as the Strategy Itself (New Product Announcement)​

This is a guest blog by John G., Authority Writer and Content Strategist at Express Writers.

Most people understand that successful content marketing requires high-quality content. Without this essential ingredient, your “marketing” won’t move the needle one bit.

Unfortunately, many marketers stop at creating high-quality content. They hit “publish” and move on to the next project.

At Express Writers, we are constantly updating our published content because we know that keeping it relevant and competitive is just as important as creating it in the first place. That’s why we’ve recently begun doing the same thing for clients with our new Content Maintenance Strategy service, which ensures their content never goes stale. Check out our new Content Strategy Maintenance service here (click the Options to see it).

content strategy maintenance

Introducing Our New Service: Content Strategy Maintenance

Subscribe to a monthly fee (no contract, cancel anytime) to have our Content Strategist set up ongoing tracking and keyword research every month, and check in on your rankings. We’ll build a report, look at your keywords, and discuss how you can improve your content strategy. Our new service includes a short call every month to discuss potential SEO and content opportunities with our lead Content Strategist, and we’ll use SEMrush to build and track monthly reports on your content rankings. Cancel anytime: we’ll send you a bill every month at the same time to order.

To find the new service, go to Content Strategy, then click on the menu under Options, and look for the second option:

The second option is our new service, Content Strategy Maintenance.

You might be asking, why should I care about maintaining my content? 

Good question.

Why Ongoing Content Maintenance Is Essential to Successful Marketing: 6 Critical Reasons

While there’s no substitute for well-written content about relevant topics that helps readers take action toward achieving their goals, maintaining that content has become just as important.

Here are six reasons why you must regularly review your content with an eye for how it can be improved if you want to see a consistent ROI.

1. You’ve Received Helpful Feedback from Your Customers

Successful content isn’t just about attracting people to your site. It should also start them on the path toward becoming actual customers.

Once your content begins delivering those leads, you’ll gain helpful insights from many of them about how your content could be improved.

Look at the questions you receive most often. Think about the pain points you constantly need to overcome. This is easy to do if you have on-site chat or if you get contact forms.

Here’s one question we received from a repeat customer that sparked an idea for an upcoming blog topic from Julia:

client conversation drift

Do you have popular posts where you can address these? That will make it much easier to convert more leads without doing more work.

2. Google Wants to Offer Its Users Fresh Content

Google only wants to show its users search results for content that is fresh and relevant. If your post contains advice that has become outdated or fails to reflect new information on the topic, Google knows users will quickly look elsewhere for help.

Google’s fondness for freshness goes back almost a decade, yet the vast majority of companies still misinterpret this requirement to mean that they must regularly produce completely new content. While new posts deserve a spot in your strategy, updating old ones is usually the more cost-effective way of keeping Google happy.

3. Competitors Are Catching Up to You

The joy I felt the first time I put a client’s site on the first page of Google was eventually overtaken by a sense of dread when, months later, their main competitor joined us.

It felt like in the movies, when the captain of a ship looks through his telescope to see a pirate flag coming over the horizon.

No!

On the high seas of SEO, there are going to be times when enemy ships begin catching up with you. That’s when you should immediately update your content to create a comfortable amount of distance.

Aside from the obvious benefits of doing this, feel free to take some pleasure in the fact that your competitor has clearly spent a lot of time and money creating content to close the gap and, now, because of your vigilance, all of that effort will not go to waste.

4. Improved Domain Authority Means Greater Opportunities for Keywords

Domain authority” remains a controversial topic, but it does seem as though Google “trusts” established sites more than new ones and, thus, makes it easier for those trustworthy sites to rank for high-traffic keywords.

That’s why, over time, you can get more ambitious about the keywords you target. When beginners start with content marketing, one of the biggest rookie mistakes they make is to go after keywords that see massive amounts of traffic but also attract lots of competition. At the beginning, ranking for those competitive keywords just isn’t possible.

However, as your rankings begin to climb for less-competitive keywords, it makes sense to look at those that were previously out-of-reach. That’s because you’ve built a certain amount of “trust” with Google and now have more opportunities to rank.

Don’t stick with the same set of keywords you originally identified. Ongoing research will show you when it’s possible to post content aimed at greater and/or more qualified traffic.

5. High-Ranking Webpages Are Good for Internal Links

In my experience, the most overlooked opportunity to improve your SEO is with internal linking.

Literally, all you have to do is include a link from one of your pages to another. It couldn’t be easier to do, yet it will help increase exposure across your entire site.

Better still, if you have a post on the first SERP of Google, it’s also an effortless way to pass along some of that “link juice” to other pages.

When I look over a client’s content and see that one of their posts is performing well, I immediately think about how I can leverage that achievement further.

So, for example, if I did a Content Strategy Maintenance report and found that my client had reached the first page for a keyword, I’d either:

  • Think of a new piece to do that we could link to from the ranking piece
  • Find a preexisting, relevant piece that’s struggling and link to it from the ranking one

Either way, I’m taking full advantage of one page’s SEO success to help rank another for my client while simultaneously making it easier for their current leads to find new content.

6. Content Marketing Requires a Long-Term Perspective

Everyone loves the idea of a quick win – a blog that, upon publishing, hits Google’s first page right away.

While that certainly can happen – especially after you build up that aforementioned “trust” – successful content marketing requires a long-term perspective.

Part of this means regularly checking back on your efforts to see where greater opportunities now lie and where you need to do some work to improve past posts.

Prioritize Content Maintenance for the Highest Possible ROI: Introducing Our New Content Strategy Service at Express Writers

Creating high-quality content will always be the cornerstone of a successful content marketing campaign.

However, it’s just as important that you maximize your ROI from each piece by maintaining it, as well. Otherwise, at best, you’ll see limited success before it’s back to the drawing board to create more content, which will only have the same short-term result.

At Express Writers, we’ve created a new service – Content Strategy Maintenance – to ensure our clients receive the most from each post without having to take the time every month to go over everything themselves.

Instead, our content strategists will review your strategy and identify which posts need to be updated and where new keyword — and topic — opportunities exist. By doing so, you’ll know that your entire content marketing strategy is continuously improving and adding value to your company.

Check out our pricing for content strategy maintenance, or send us an email about your needs.

expert seo content writer course

The Expert SEO Content Writer Course Is Open! (The Story Behind the Course Launch)

Have you ever experienced one of those once-in-a-lifetime lightbulb moments?

You know, the moments you never forget about — ever? The ones that end up changing your life in incredible ways?

I can trace every big step in my life, from the launch of Express Writers to the idea for my first book, back to those flashes of inspiration.

And one of those moments is the reason The Expert SEO Content Writer Course is now open for beta enrollment, for the next ten days. (Code BETALAUNCH2018 saves you $100 – access the quick-link to the beta offer here.)

Keep reading for the story.

expert seo content writer course

The Story Behind My All-New SEO Content Writing Course

I vividly remember the day, time, and place that particular lightbulb lit up.

Early one day this August, I was sitting at my desk.

It was a typical August day in Austin — HOT. The sun was blazing. It was one of those Texas summer days where if it was any hotter, I might as well go and sit on the surface of the sun.

Grateful to be inside an air-conditioned space, I was reviewing a new writer’s sample piece, reading through it carefully.

Then, it hit me. This is probably the 11,000th writing sample that has passed through my hands.

It’s true. Thinking back, I realized that I’ve been assessing, interviewing, and hiring writers since 2011, when I started Express Writers.

(By the way — that’s why I believe ‘luck’ and ‘success’ never go together in the same sentence. It’s self-disciplined hard work, the constant honing of your trade for days, weeks, and years, that truly gets you off the ground. But, I digress.)

And then another flash hit me.

These are the same issues, again. I see them all the time.

I was in the middle of typing a note to the writer and passing her to the next phase of our interviewing process when I realized that what I was sharing with this writer was the EXACT SAME THING I’d told the last four candidates.

These issues are a training checklist.

I know how to fix them!

…Why don’t I create a course on this?

And, the entire idea for The Expert SEO Content Writer course was born.

This is the same pathway behind my first course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. The entire idea for that course was born after a client asked me to come down to their office and teach them content strategy and marketing techniques.

I’ll be honest: I usually don’t just come up with “ways to sell my knowledge,” even though I’ve had people offer in the past to pay me money if I would consult with them. To be honest, I don’t have the time — between running a biz, writing books, launching training courses — not to mention running after a toddler at home.

Sidenote: I think this is a fantastic way to build a course. Don’t go out and search for a money-making course idea. Instead, let it come to you as you work and gain cred and a place in the industry. This way, it’s much easier when it comes to the selling part, too.

But Can’t Anyone Read a Blog & Learn SEO Writing? 2 Reasons A Real Need for My Course Exists

The first big reason I think there is a serious need for this course lies in the actual pain points I heard of, real-time, from people in my audience.

After I had the idea to build my course, I used Google Forms to create a survey, which I kept open for a few days. More than 50 people that were in my target audience filled out the form, and the survey results were conclusive: people needed and wanted this training from me. They told me so clearly in the survey where they took the time to share a huge amount of pain points.

Once I had my survey results, I took to my office whiteboard and created a graph of my survey takers’ responses to look for commonalities and create a course outline.

Watch my time-lapse video on Twitter as I real-time built a survey chart from their answers:

The second reason can be found directly inside of SEO content writing itself, which I’ve been practicing for seven years now.

SEO writing isn’t easy.

To be perfectly honest… you can’t just read a blog and walk away thinking you know how to do it if you’ve had no real prior experience.

You need training, practice, and a guiding hand, if SEO content writing still feels like new or uncertain territory and you want to get to a “knowledgeable” level sooner rather than later.

A mentor who’s been there, done that can help you get there a lot faster.

I’ve spent the past 7 years perfecting the art of crafting content that wins rankings, traffic, clicks, and subscribers.

We’ve built our Express Writers presence to more than 1,000 blogs, and 16,000+ SEO rankings in Google after seven years of consistent SEO content creation.

express writers rankings

Our site is bringing in upwards of 2,000-2,800 visitors/day on average — 100% organically — without paid ads.

express writers google analytics

And our subscriber list grows by 5-10 people on average per day simply through the “upgrades” and correctly pivoted lead magnets I’ve created and attached to our high-ranking content.

We’ve been able to achieve this kind of SEO content success for many of our clients, too.

When I surveyed my list, validation for the course was there in black and white. One person said, and I quote: “I want to use SEO in my content marketing strategy. Get more traffic and conversions. Create a community using my posts, books, etc. Be more productive by using methods, tools, etc.”

THAT’S IT!

That’s exactly the kind of knowledge you should have after effective SEO content training.

And that’s what I want to leave my students with in my coming course. A lasting knowledge of SEO writing that will empower them to create content that reaches and builds a community through one of the most powerful routes possible — organic rankings in Google.

SEO content is more powerful than ever — and it’s poised to continue to dominate ranking methods for the forseeable future.

Now is the time for well-trained SEO content writers to succeed.

Ready?

Take the plunge and learn more about the course here. Don’t forget your 35% off code at enrollment: BETALAUNCH2018

I can’t wait to see you inside. I know you’re going to love this course, just as much as I loved putting it together — and I cannot wait to welcome you inside!  – Julia

CTA seo content writer course

seo content writer

The Expert SEO Content Writer Course Opens Up Soon for Beta Enrollment!

Super exciting news! 

We’re about to open enrollment to my NEW​ writing course, The Expert SEO Content Writer Course​!

The Expert SEO Content Writer Course site just went live, today. Read all the details about my new writing course here.

Today, the new site for the course is live… and in just a little while, the online course itself will open for enrollment, for a short time. Then, it will be closed indefinitely while I work with my beta students. 🎉

Check out The Expert SEO Content Writer Course, a new #course coming soon from @JuliaEMcCoy and the team @ExpWriters Click To Tweet

seo writing course is open

The Expert SEO Content Writer Course Site Launches Today!

Now that the site for our new writing course is live, here’s a sneak peek at what’s on the itinerary!

This month, we’ll open the course for an official launch. I will be offering one-time special pricing for beta students. We’ll only have this offer open for a short time so this first lucky class of beta students can successfully get through the training and curriculum! I will be working with them personally in the private student community attached to the course.

This is your special opportunity to get advance access to the course during this short window of time.

Taught by me, Julia McCoy, founder of Express Writers, with a few appearances from special guests including content marketers from publications like CoSchedule, this course teaches you every step involved in how to write successful, profitable SEO content. At the end, you’ll earn certification as an Expert SEO Content Writer after absorbing the course knowledge and training.

Let me be clear. This isn’t one of those programs that that claim to teach you SEO writing then offer you a badge after you read a few lessons.

Although the course is structured for busy people and is under 5 hours of total lesson content, it will take at least a full week to complete the curriculum and soak in the writing templates, live writing coaching demos, and the recommended software.

We’ve set up the curriculum so you don’t need access to paid programs (free trials are sufficient!) AND we’re even cooking up special money-saving offers for our students when the course opens.

We want every graduated student of the Expert SEO Content Writer Course to ​truly be an expert ​at the art of great SEO writing.

If you want to be on that list, now is your moment!

This is the only time your special, beta-student, one-time price will be available and we’re only accepting a limited number of beta students. We’re keeping enrollment numbers down on this launch so I can focus on working with our beta students closely.

If you’re ready to step up and be in the first class of this groundbreaking new SEO writing course, getting both a lower price AND personal attention, go here to sign up, and then just watch your in-box. I’ll be sending you more information in the days and weeks ahead.

Can’t wait to share when the course is officially open, and welcome you in as an Expert SEO Content Writer student! 😄 – Julia

expert seo content writer

expert copywriting product update

April 2018 Content Shop Update: Our Expert Copywriting Level Just Got Better!

As most of our clients already know, we’re constantly updating and maintaining our services, team, and processes here at Express Writers.

Quality is first and foremost at our heart.

One reason I haven’t sought an outside partner or funding source is that running the company 100% by ourselves allows us to make fast, agile changes to our processes.

These processes can instantly allow our clients to experience more customized, high-quality services–and turn on a dime to change or fix any issues, if they come up.

Our personal commitment and involvement at this level is one major reason why we don’t even consider ourselves a competitor against many other “content vendors,” like Textbroker and WriterAccess, to name a few.

You want cheap content on a budget? We’ll hold the door open for you, and recommend one of those vendors.

You want quality web content for your blog, website or your clients’ sites? That’s when you come to us.

As the CEO, I haven’t earned my place in the top 30 content marketers worldwide by chance or through cutting corners. Quite the opposite. It’s been a long, grueling journey, full of learning experiences and challenges. I learned and grew, as I wrote and published two bestselling books in my industry, led my company, and built/rebuilt our processes.

This April, we’ve made some changes in our Content Shop that we want you to be aware of. What’s at heart? You guessed it–quality.

We want to continue to serve our clients with the best content (not the cheapest). Continue reading for a short memo on our internal, and external, changes.

expert copywriting product update

April 2018 Express Writers’ Expert Copywriting Update & Internal Process Improvements: 3 Major Changes

Here’s a rundown of the major changes we’ve gone through this year. There are more–we literally improve our processes daily–but these are the biggest ones.

1. General Content Creation Level Update

As you probably know by now, we’ve always offered three levels of content at Express Writers:

  • General (no longer offered publicly, at request only on a case-by-case basis: our lowest-cost writer level for easier subjects)
  • Expert (expert writers with specific industry experience, from legal to tech, finance, engineering, and beyond)
  • Authority (our “boss” content level: the one you order when you want long-form blogs that net serious rankings and gain in Google)

As of March 2018, we completely removed the public link to our General product level from the Content Shop. For every client interested in this level, our support team can personally hand them the link to this service after verifying that general level will be a fit for them (most sites need expert content at a minimum to see ROI from the content produced). Just open the chat in the right-hand corner of our site, or drop an email to request our General level.

2. Expert Copywriting Product Update

Our team has grown in the last month! By now, we have a library of more than 70 expert writers that have individualized experience in a wide range of industries. This is an increase of more than double in our team size across the past four months.

And this week, we revamped how we offer Expert content.

Instead of more than 20 “products” (individual product URLs for each industry topic our writers cover), we combined all our expert topics into one simple category:

Custom Industry Expert.

This single product now features a box where you, our client, can type in your EXACT industry or topic/niche, and we’ll match you up to that expert!

See below, and check out the product here:

new expert content update

You’ll see the Expert Category in our Content Shop has drastically reduced to lesser “items” – but with the ability to tell us your specific industry before you place an order, we’re able to focus on customizing our content solutions for your needs more than ever.

expert category

As our team grows, and we add more support specialists, this will be a fantastic way we can continue to focus on your specific topic and make sure it goes to the perfect-fit expert in our team.

3. HR Improvements

One of the main cores I had at heart when I launched Express Writers, was hiring every writer personally. I wanted to find the best writers. Today, seven years later, I still continue to hand-pick every writer.

This year, we’ve refined that process. I continue to carefully vet and look for industry expertise that can match every one of our client’s industries and topic areas. Our new step added to this process is having our Content Director, Hannah, hold a phone interview call with every writer that allows us to get to know our writers on a personal level, and find out their interests and favorite topics to write about, too. We also keep a running database about every topic under the sun that our experts have real-life experience in. These changes have already improved how writers work within our team, and boosted client satisfaction rates.

Need content that pushes your brand forward online? We’re your team. Talk to us today.

To your online success,

~ Julia and Team, Express Writers

SXSW 2018

SXSW 2018: 3 Session Takeaways (Lessons From Kristina Halvorson, Content Panel with Slack, IBM & Visa, & Shark Tank Guest Judge Alex Rodriguez)

This year, I finally made it to SXSW.

sxsw 2018

I live 25 minutes away from the event, and it’s always been a wish of mine to make it there. The interactive ticket isn’t cheap at over $1,000, so that held me back for a while. This year, I decided to go all in and do it.

I’ve been warned by many locals that the event is a total madhouse, and I was worried.

Luckily, my experience was mostly pleasant. I attended brand marketing sessions only, none of the music festivals, so I can’t speak for those crowds: but the marketing, startup and brand sessions were extremely smooth and easy to attend.

If you’re looking to attend the event, it might help you if I list a few important things I learned about attending SXSW:

  • Registration and session lines at SXSW are run well. Yes, crowds and crowds of people start gathering in-between events, but the lines move fast. I was pleasantly surprised by this. When I was at a session in the Austin Convention Center, SXSW volunteers held up big signs with the session name that showed you where the line started. The line ended up going down three hallways with hundreds of people single-file, which looked daunting. But the minute the doors opened, there was more than enough room to hold everyone, and we all got seated easily.
sxsw 2018 registration

Registration day at SXSW. It was a breeze to get in and pick up my badge.

  • Absolutely, definitely, use the SXSW map they give you at registration. Really – study the map and let it guide you. Once you know where the buildings are, and most of them are blocks away from each other, things get really easy. I walked to the Dell Experience, tiny house of smart, and a session inside the Convention Center all within two hours after studying the map and knowing which direction to walk in once I left each building. It was super easy and simple to get in to each of the separate events.
  • SXSW traffic really IS terrible. Use Lyft. I took Lyft both ways, from home to the event, and got around easily that way. With the app, I could literally request a driver sitting at the curb I was walking down. Downtown, you’ll end up crawling from block to block if you drive. Not just because of the surge of 90,000 extra people in Austin, but also because many roads get blocked off. If you’re just going from session to session, it’s far easier to walk than drive.

Okay, now that we’re past how I learned to actually navigate and get around at SXSW, let’s move on to the good stuff: three sessions I attended and some major takeaways. Ready?

SXSW 2018

SXSW 2018: 3 Session Takeaways (Lessons From Kristina Halvorson, Tech Content Panel, & Shark Tank Guest Judge Star Alex Rodriguez)

Let’s dive in to the sessions I attended and what I learned from them.

The Truth About Content: Broken Dreams & the Big Fix with Kristina Halvorson

Kristina Halvorson is a world-leading expert on content strategy, founder at Brain Traffic, and author of Content Strategy for the Web. (I have a dog-eared copy of her book.) She was ridiculously funny and down-to-earth in the presentation she gave at SXSW. I seriously loved attending her session. And I got to meet her afterwards!

kristina halvorson sxsw

Meeting Kristina Halvorson!

Here were some of my favorite takeaways from her presentation, The Truth About Content: Broken Dreams and the Big Fix.

kristina halvorson

“Content strategy is not 1,400 articles dumped on the floor of your site.” She literally showed hundreds of toys dumped on the floor in a pile for the slide representing this tatement (My Little Pony toys, specifically – Kristina’s a huge fun of MLP). I loved this reference, because just sometimes, I’ve come across a client or two that thought this was the right strategy. FYI. It’s not.

“Nobody cares about your content because you didn’t ask them what they cared about in the first place.” ????

Click To Tweet

“Content strategy must:

  • Define
  • Prioritize
  • Integrate
  • Systematize
  • Measure”

“Blend the editorial side and experience. You can’t have one without the other.” Great content is nothing without great usability. These two really do go hand-in-hand.

How do we get better at content? Kristina shared five keys:

1. Reset. Example: Coca Cola went from a lifestyle publication and got clear on being a publication for a drink. Their website now makes SENSE! They actually dis-invested in content marketing and simplified. What can you simplify for your end user?

2. Get aligned. Many businesses only know TACTICS. Know your vision, mission, goal, objectives, etc. The RACI chart can help.

3. Actually know your audience. Pay attention to them. Exceed their expectations. Many times they don’t want to be challenged. They want to find the coupon on the site. (GREAT point.) It’s not just in SEO Research. You should be talking to your audience. Do website polls. Phone interviews. Get your support team involved in knowing your audience. Don’t just know their name and age, know their needs.

4. Establish common systems and standards. Content structure must have a taxonomy. A governance plan.

5. Beware the silver bullet. Silver bullet = AI. But guess what? Your tech did not fix the content mess and lack of strategy. The AI prediction does not cover this. “AI can mine and repurpose the best stuff.” An actual human will fix it, not AI. AI is coming, and it requires three things: 1) a reliable source of data and content. 2) accurate info suited to the application: know what you’re using it for and your end goals. 3) a framework for organizing. We’re not even there yet as website owners running a clean website.

Content first? No, humans first.

In Q/A time, I asked Kristina this question: “What’s the biggest no-no that brands just starting out with content strategy do?”

Her answer was right on: “Businesses start with tactics instead of very clear business goals and objectives that are clear. 9 out of 10 businesses don’t really know what their customer needs. And remember: storytelling isn’t a technique or replacement for a strategy.”

Innovation Fatigue: Tech Content In a Noisy World

Another session of note that I attended was a panel with ladies from Slack, IBM, and Visa.

innovation fatigue session sxsw

My #1 favorite takeaway from this panel was this statement: “It’s no longer B2B / B2C content: it’s B2I content, because in the end, everyone we’re trying to reach is an individual.”

Visa on creating content that stands out: Visa used the characters and storyline from Stranger Things to incorporate a story that stuck. Give people a path for more information. Get deeper, provide better content.

Slack on creating content that stands out: Clearer, concise and human is Slack’s current motto for developing content. They want their content to read like a colleague showing you how to do something.

Internal vs. external content: Slack has a few channels where they introduce new people – a “yay!” channel, which is a channel to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. They also keep a “kudos” channel, where teammates thank other employee for being helpful. This becomes external content easily.

Internal vs external content isn’t something that’s been truly defined at IBM. Purposefully internal becomes external. They’re very careful about rights in photography, messaging and video. IBM has a Chief Privacy Officer now. They are very sensitive about using others’ data.

The panel was asked, Is practical content a high priority? For Slack, creating content that teaches users their app is critical. At the same time, they balance reader-friendly content. Their Work in Progress Podcast has little to do with Slack. It’s about empowering people in the workforce. Slack has to be curious about how people do their work daily. They do a series on friendship at work. “Learning how human relationships work is just as important to us as creating practical user guides.” Love that point.

Alex Rodriguez: Baseball, Business & Redemption with CNBC

Ever since I saw Alex Rodriguez appear on Shark Tank as a guest judge, I knew I liked him. His uncanny sense of clarity in business is something I don’t see in a lot of so-called “business experts.”

In the Monday session I attended, Alex said several statements about business that I had to write down. I’m going to apply these to my HR department. I didn’t take a ton of notes from this session, but the quotes I did write down are worth their weight in gold. Sometimes, one sentence can be worth a thousand words.

alex rodriguez sxsw

Alex Rodriguez On Hiring

When asked, “How do you hire good people?”, here’s what Alex said.

Hire people that are:

  • Poor
  • Hungry
  • Driven

It’s not about a big resume. It’s how driven they are.

Alex Rodriguez On Working with the Right Clients

How to choose clients to work with: A quick yes or no is far better than a slow maybe.

Alex Rodriguez Answers “How is Business Like Sports?”

“Less than 5% of major league baseball players have college degrees. It’s not just about education. It’s about hard work. There is no shortcut in business. I had to work just as hard in business as in my baseball career.

That includes taking full responsibility for my mistakes. You have to get to the bottom, and acknowledge the bottom.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”There is no shortcut in business. I had to work just as hard in business as in my baseball career. @AROD” quote=”There is no shortcut in business. I had to work just as hard in business as in my baseball career. @AROD”]

The Real Reason Alex Rodriguez Hires Women in Leadership Roles

I seriously love this answer. As a woman, I especially appreciate getting noticed for my talent and my creative skills, not just given preference because of my gender. I think Alex put it so well:

“Women have a big leadership position in my company. They got those jobs not because they were women, but because they were the best people for the job. Talent is talent, and so is character.”

Alex Rodriguez on Leadership

“As a leader, you shouldn’t ask your people to do anything you wouldn’t do. Even if it was to clean a toilet in the basement. Those are the most respected leaders. At the end of the day, we’re in it together. That’s how it is in sports, and business.”

SXSW 2018: Event Recap

sxsw 2018

I enjoyed my time at SXSW 2018!

Another highlight was that along with the sessions I attended, I met up with Mark Schaefer, who is an amazing marketer (one of the top five in the world) and author of my foreword to Practical Content Strategy & Marketing. Mark invited me to breakfast along with the Director of Marketing at UPMC, and the conversation I listened in to was amazing! Mark is strategizing his next book, which will make some waves in the industry. I can’t wait for that book.

Between the people I met up with, conversations I was a part of, cool tech I saw, and sessions I attended, I definitely recommend SXSW. It’s a forward-thinking event where you get a glimpse at the future of innovation.

julia mccoy sxsw

Enjoying the “red carpet” at SXSW!

I would recommend considering it if you want to meet up with a lot of marketers, brands, see some cool innovative tech (check out all the interactive houses and displays – seriously amazing stuff), and if you want to be an ear and listen in to some amazing speakers and sessions.

CTA ew content strategy

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 [email protected].

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.

Screen Shot 2016-11-14 at 3.51.02 PM

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!