express writers summer 2017 changes

Summer 2017 Content Services Updates: New Management Additions, Editing Process, Agency Perks, & More

As the end of July rolls around and the last quarter of 2017 begins (can you believe it already?), we have some exciting new improvements to share that have been in the works internally at Express Writers.

Ready? Let’s delve in!

express writers summer 2017 updates

Why You Can Trust Us to Constantly Improve our Standards and Work Harder than Any Content Services Provider

A word before we get into the details of our July changes and improvements…

Everything you see here—from our website to the last offering in the Content Services area—is maintained by a tight-knit group of people that work hard and, together as one, share a great passion for this industry of content writing and marketing. We don’t have outside funding. We’re bootstrapped: we love what we do, and that motivates us to work hard at it.

I’ve done homework and ordered from many other content providers myself, and I can tell you that it is genuinely rare in this industry when a team of people come together like we do to work this hard to service our clients. Down to our sales manager, project manager, myself as the CEO and my husband as the CTO—we work hard, day in and day out, to change the common reputation in this industry of content creation providers and sell the best content service (in service and written content quality).

For example:

– Throughout the last week of July, we spent approximately 30 hours to find and hire eight solid new writers in unique expertise areas. We went through more than 50 interviews and 200+ applicants to find these eight!

– For one given day, our Skype thread looks a lot like this:

staff conversation express writers

Our editing chat is even more lively – the editors help each other out consistently:

staff conversation express writers

Constant updates, constant communication, and quick fixes for any issues. We’re able to do big things because of how much we communicate with each other.

I just want to give my team props for how hard we all work. We don’t cut corners. And you can expect this of us, every single time you order a content service from us. You’re ordering from a company that believes in hard work, and your sale directly correlates to the income that provides for our families.

With that said…

Now, let’s get into the changes for this month!

July Changes: New Management, Writing & Editing Team Additions

Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com and frequently named the “SaaS Father,” said this about hiring:

marc benioff

I believe in this statement, 100%.

That’s why I’m choosing to put more time into finding the right people, more than I ever have.

This month, we added twelve new people to the team in total:

  • A new content director, Jeremy Kohlenburg
  • Three new editors: Susan, Christina, Jessica
  • Eight new writers, in various industry expertise areas and full/part time availability schedules

Jeremy is replacing Katria, our former Content Manager, who quit in July. Jeremy is a perfect fit for the role of Content Director, bringing a great deal of freelance copywriting and blended leadership experience into this position in our team. Not only is he taking over content management, but he has a phone extension and is directly available to our clients, should they need to reach him for any concerns about their writers, revisions, our process, etc.

I’ll let Jeremy share what he brings to the team. In Jeremy’s words:

From our Content Director, Jeremy:

I’m excited to join the Express Writers’ team as the Content Director.

In this role, I will work directly with you, the client, to ensure that your content matches your exact specifications and exceeds your standards. I will be available to discuss your needs via email and phone, and I will take personal responsibility for the quality of every product I deliver to you. Behind the scenes, I will develop and lead the writing staff, closely with Julia, our CEO, and the editing team. I will hold our writers accountable to the highest professional standards, and work closely with them so you can get better products with faster turnaround times at the same competitive rates.

My commitment to customer service and performance is based on years of experience as a copywriter and communications manager. I have led marketing campaigns for business leaders that enhanced public awareness, increased customer engagement, and boosted sales. I believe that the key to my success is open, honest, and transparent communication. This means that I never make excuses, withhold information, or avoid opportunities to talk. I expect the same of everyone who works with me. This results in more productive conversations, higher professional standards, and superior content.

I am dedicated to bringing this philosophy to my new role as Express Writers’ Content Director. Please email me with your questions, thoughts, and ideas about how I can help Express Writers better meet your needs. I look forward to hearing from you, building our relationship, and making your experience with Express Writers extraordinary.

express writers jeremy

Our new editors and writers join the team in various supportive needs.

Our full editing staff ensures that content gets through the queue without any delays, on or before our deadline turnaround times: and our new writers are staffed to support all the expert areas we offer in our Content Services section.

One more proactive change for our clients and team: our deadline turnarounds on the Policy page have been improved, clarified, and reconstructed to focus on what we can handle with our new, extended staff. Check our new turnaround times out on our policy page.

Improved Editing Process

For years, we’ve offered two levels at Express Writers to support our clients needs and budgets: and to match a level that was in need but not offered, I created a third level, authority content, last year (after training our best writers on it).

Now, we’ve reinvented our editing process with brand new, rewritten and updated guidelines: new editing control queues in our teamroom, and two levels of editing:

Each have their own specific rule guides. All authority and expert content goes through our upper level of editing, where we do all the average checks (typos, grammar, flow) and we take an indepth look at link quality, facts, and expert/high-quality wording and flow being used. We have different editors assigned to these two different levels.

This ensures two things: higher quality on the expert and authority levels with a dedicated quality review process, and faster turnaround times (more editors, dedicated editing).

New Agency Client Perks & Benefits

Here at Express Writers, we have so much to offer agencies as a content team structured to handle quality and volume. We work hard to save our agency clients time and money with key benefits that include complementary project management, white labeling our content deliverables, services for every need, fast turnarounds, and a diverse team.

Hannah, our Project Manager/Agency Specialist, says:

If you own or work for a digital marketing agency, I’m sure that you’re well aware of how time consuming writing copy is. The problem is that the copy you provide your clients is also critical to how successful their website is. By outsourcing some (or ALL) of your content to us, we save you enough time that you’ll actually be able to take on more clients at once. We know SEO and will make sure that the stunning website that you’ve built for your client has the content that will make sure people see it! We’ll leave the digital marketing to you, so leave the content to us!

Want to learn more about our agency services? Check out our Agency Solutions, or go straight to book a call with Hannah, our Agency Specialist!

Need Content Services? We’re Your Guys (& Gals).

You won’t be disappointed if you choose our team for your content needs.

Give us a shout today or test out one of our services.

fly cta express writers

content strategy certification course

Our Practical Content Strategist Certification Course Is Live Today!

Remember my post about giving up Netflix and committing to 5 a.m. mornings?

Woohoo!

I’m doing a happy dance today, because…

Today, it all becomes worth it.

It worked – I was able to put in more than 400 hours on this course and create (pinch me) over 70 lessons, 50+ videos, 6 workbooks (totaling over 220 pages), and 30 exercises that build on each other.

Without further ado, the Practical Content Strategist Certification Course is live today.

Course is currently closed for enrollment and will reopen late fall 2017! Get on the list by signing up on the course page.

content strategy certification

The Benefits of Learning Content Strategy Certification from a Real Life, “Hard-Knocks” Teacher (Proof is in the ROI)

Content marketing is an industry that is seriously blowing up.

It’s the “new” marketing of today. In 2019, it will be valued at more than $313 billion.

Yet, the #1 missing piece when most businesses invest in content marketing is their actual strategy.

Yikes! Shouldn’t strategy guide their entire content marketing to obtain better results?

It absolutely should.

But it’s not easy to get to the bottom of what your content strategy should actually look like.

Where do you go to learn the skills involved in creating a content strategy?

I’ve had to learn many of the skills in creating great content through trial-and-error. Many of the courses I looked into taking early in didn’t teach the lifeblood skills I needed to know to “make content work.” And I’m all about ROI, because I’ve made it my full-time, sole focus for 6 years now to build content services and train my writers on how to create content for clients in the best way possible.

As well as create content for myself that works.

It’s eat or not eat.

In the end, it took figuring it out and creating, tinkering with, and building all kinds and formats of content to learn how to execute and implement worthwhile content.

Last year, after publishing a book, launching a podcast, maintaining a blog and Twitter chat, I hit top in the list of 2016 content marketers. I saw my Twitter chat trend at #4 nationwide on Twitter, and I hit bestseller in the top 2 books for my category on Amazon as a self-published author. And the best yet: this year, my organic traffic from blogging hit an all-time high of $57,000/month (what you’d pay in Google’s Adwords for the same traffic results). It accounts for a whopping 99% of our entire marketing and lead generation at Express Writers. That’s a big deal, when you frequently hear that “content marketing usually provides only 30% of the leads in marketing.” 


We’re about 3% more visible in Google organically than our competitors, who have millions upon millions in funding (we have none).

And, some of my guest blogs have hit top-read on their respective locations: Search Engine Journal, BuzzSumo, and HuffingtonPost to name a few…

In my agency, I’ve launched, tweaked and created levels of content at Express Writers that can give clients incredible results online too.

But…

After launching my most sophisticated content writing level, authority content, late 2016, I actually sat at my desk

And thought about how frustrated I was about the lack of content strategy knowledge.

It was killing me.

Sure, my trained writers and I can create great content all day long, but how much does that help you if you don’t have a guiding strategy?

Only 9% of 100% of content marketers like their strategy.

That’s dire.

And it shows… so much content is being created, yet only a few pieces truly stand out.

Back to that day.

I sat there and thought about building another, cooler, better agency service to sell.

“How can I launch a new service that fits the industry need better?”

…Then I realized something…

It hit me like a load of bricks.

“What if I sold the knowledge of creating ROI content, instead of just putting together another service?”

I thought about that for a while…

And I decided I’d go for it.

I talked to influencers and experts, wrote blogs, scoured the net, started backtracking my own content success, and began mapping a course out.

Fact: I almost quit on outlining day when I realized how massive it would be to actually do. I cried a little.

But, I also realized that this course, if I focused on a ground-floor practical approach, could be the answer to the industry’s biggest problem:

Creating a content strategy that works.

That simple, and that hard.

I started getting up at 5 a.m. and I committed myself to creating the curriculum.

I wrote. 150+ pages of content. Then turned it into simpler content. Created materials, diagrams, illustrations, and even came up with simple concepts to reflect the toughest parts of brand strategy, so I could help content marketers navigate through industry content creation easier.

 

I’ve created my course in an effort to teach content marketers – from start to finish – the skills they need know how to build and achieve working, high-ROI content.

And guess what?

My navigational course on these practical points – created from the viewpoint of someone who’s been in the trenches of content marketing – is finally ready.

This course has been my gigantic 2017 goal, and I’ve poured everything – heart, soul, sweat and hard work for three months – into creating this course. I’ve formulated it to be an in-depth, practical, hands-on approach to the problems of this entire industry.

In my course, you’re building the cores of a strategy, and to get your certification your work will be personally graded by my team and I!

Read more about the “hard knocks” life I had before I wrote my course here.

Check out my video where I share why my course (starting at $1,000 per seat) could be more valuable to you in this growing industry than a college education worth $40,000+:

Get Notified About The Practical Content Strategist Certification Course

To learn more about the course, go here.

By the way — with a few savvy content marketing team members from my agency ready to help me, I’ll be personally assisting my students in the exclusive Facebook group with their brand strategy builds.

I’m excited!!!!!

I hope to see you on the flip side and get the chance to personally mentor you in my course.

– Julia

content strategist course

social media services

Social Media Product Upgrades for May: All Plans Now Feature Professionally Designed & Branded Images

Just in time for summer, visuals are hot, hot, hot!

Anyone who’s been paying attention to content marketing trends will tell you that visuals are a big deal right now. Larry Kim said that an estimated 84% of communication will be visual by 2018!

So, how does this fit into your marketing? One fantastic way to boost your engagement online is by integrating beautiful, custom visuals into your social media content. And we’re here with just the product upgrade for you!

social media plan upgrade blog

Big News for Our Social Media Plans this May!

If your social media is currently handled by the SMEs (Social Media Experts) at Express Writers, or you’re looking for an agency to hand the reins off to, we have exciting news for you.

You may or may not know that all of our monthly social media plans already include images. We have three levels of Social Media Plans to choose from depending on how often you want to interact with your audience, but even our Level 1 package includes three custom images.

So how could we have sweetened the pot even more?

We took a look at the images that our SMEs were creating using Canva, and although they worked, when we realized that we have the resources to do better, we immediately took action.

As of this week, all of our social media images will be created by our in-house graphic designers. That’s right. Now when you have Express Writers taking care of your social media posts, you will now also get professionally designed visuals, pre-sized for Instagram (which translates well to all social platforms) to represent your brand at no extra cost.

That’s a huge added value to our already amazing social media offerings.

How did we do it? Well, we’ve added more staff designers just for this purpose and created a new workflow where our content manager will assign all social media images directly to our designers. The best part? We aren’t even raising our prices one single penny (yet).

We value our clients’ satisfaction and want them to love each product they receive from us, but as content marketing experts it goes beyond that. We aren’t doing our job unless we are providing our customers with the best quality we can to help boost visibility and promote their message. This is just one more way that we can continue to ensure that our products and services are the best you can get!

The best thing – our social media package prices haven’t increased a bit. We want to give our customers added value – at no extra price!

What Our Social Media Levels Include

With each of our levels you receive industry influencer content curation, and you get to choose up to three platforms for us to create posts for. We can even schedule your posts for you using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer at no additional cost.

Level 1 also includes:

  • One post across all of your platforms every day, M-F
  • Three custom images/week (perfect for Instagram as well as any other platform)

Level 2 gives you:

  • Seven or more posts daily spread among your platforms
  • Four custom images every week

Level 3 allows for maximum brand exposure with:

  • Fourteen posts on weekdays
  • Five images each week, including memes

Let Us Help You With Great Social Media Services Today

Having Express Writers handle your social media means consistent engagement across all of your social platforms with your community of followers – as well as an ability to build your network, generate leads, and boost sales.

And now, it also means having professionally designed visuals to illustrate your posts at no additional costs!

Check out our Social Media Plans today!

cta great copy

remote team at express writers

A Day in the Life of a Remote Team: How We Work at Express Writers

This blog was updated October 2017.

At Express Writers, my full-time staff and team of more than 50 work on a completely remote basis.

Yet, we manage to be so effective that our support turnaround times average within the hour, if not minutes after the 50–100 client requests we get daily (that’s across emails, chat, and phone support), and our writer, editorial, and management team work seamlessly together getting our client’s content through the queue on or before deadlines.

Our client happiness rate is 99.9%, and we handle hundreds of pages in any given week and have served over 5,000 clients to date.

Some have asked me, “Have you ever considered opening a local office?”

The truth is, I have! I moved to Austin thinking I’d set up an office space and hire more local staff, two years ago. I thought it would be an interesting and profitable switch after running Express Writers as a remotely staffed company since 2011. But I was wrong. (Ever heard “#brickandmurder” – coined by the GirlBoss founder, Sophia Amoruso? 100% true.) The overhead was tremendously pricey – it would add on an estimated $2,000-3,000/monthly to our expenses, and that was at a “cheap” location in Austin. Downtown, prices ran around $8,000. Our profit level at the time didn’t make that an option. With a self-funded business and a family, I had to watch expenses closely.

[Keep reading for the full story, and to see a “day in the life” from each of our management staff members.]

a day in the life of a remote team

A Day in the Life of a Remote Team: Express Writers is Run 100% Remotely (& Why We Succeed at It)

Late last year (2016), I started finding the most amazing team members I’ve ever put into place in the staff.

I realized that space and location means nothing when you have the right people – and if I was limited to one city and one office location, I would never have been able to hire these amazing people. After a difficult year where it was extremely hard to find the right people, I spent more time to find experts who had our clients’ best interests and each other’s support at heart.

It took months, but I found them all. When I found the right people for management – everything changed. Drastically. In a move to recreate the team mindset 100% and improve our client support last year, I let our commissioned sales rep go and found a content marketing expert to consult our clients on purchasing from us. Within the first week of our expert in the sales role, I heard from a client that the level of support he now experienced was a hundred times better in quality, from the sales rep. It was music to my ears, and confirmed that we were on the right path.

By the end of that year, I’d assembled a group of incredible women in the management staff that I’m proud to say have nothing but the success and growth of our company as a whole at heart.

We all, also, happen to be women. And our best successes started happening after this management team of amazing ladies was put in place.

supergirl

It often feels like this to be a woman leading a staff of amazing women. (CBS: Supergirl)

Restructuring Internal Roles that Didn’t Work – and How That Worked Out For Us

In August of 2017, after more than five years of low retention rates and issues with quality in our editor roles, I stood back and restructured our editorial staff, came up with a new role, and hired three new candidates.

Those ladies are in our team today: Maricel, Kate and Kristel, and today, our clients couldn’t be happier with their quality and work output! We’re thrilled to see the attention to detail and content marketing qualities that these new candidates in our new, restructured role at Express Writers are upholding.

The story behind the new role is simple. The editor role just wasn’t working: issues got straight through to the client, time after time, and editors never seemed to stick around for long. After some business research and development conversations, I came up with a “Quality Assistant” role. My goal was to integrate location-specific (Asia region) candidates into our team, that had a firm, unbending stance on content quality, as well as some content marketing knowledge and expertise. Requiring knowledge in content marketing was completely new. Prior to August, our editors were quality-focused, and looked for typos, bad grammar, etc. In this new role, I wanted to find candidates that knew the benefit good content could bring to a client – and content marketing knowledge really does get that across best. (For example: if you know content marketing, you know that one blog, oriented to serve the client’s audience and address sales questions around the client’s product or services, can generate thousands of dollars in sales! But you have to know the elements of creating a worthwhile blog for the marketing return to be there.)

So, our new QAs went from looking for “typos only” to asking: “does this content serve the client’s purpose?” Or, “is the CTA overly promotional?” The change in success rate with our clients has been drastic.

Overall, we’ve seen about a 9-9.5% success increase–which is drastic when you consider the thousands of clients we serve in a given month, and where we were prior (already at 89-90% happiness).

Now that you have some of the backstory of why we do so well as a remote team…

Let’s talk about a “day in the life.”

A Day in the Life at Express Writers’ Remote Staff

Tamila, Sales Manager: A Day in My Life

Tamila is based in Newnan, Georgia.

Tamila Work Station

My day starts around 4:15 a.m. with a cup of coffee and reading a few articles about content marketing to sharpen my skills. By 5:30 a.m., I’m answering emails from clients and checking orders. One of my goals is hitting up 10 cold leads from various sources each day which takes quite a bit of time.

I also have a huge list of leads that I send emails to. The rest of my time is spent chatting, calling and working with our staff to ensure our clients are happy. Lunch is whenever I remember to take it, normally 12:00-1:30 p.m.

I am constantly thinking of better ways to help our clients and to offer them amazing content. At the end of the day (5:00 p.m.), I close out ensuring that everyone that contacted me that day has been given the best customer service available.

Hannah, Content Director: A Day in My Life

Hannah is based in Albany, Oregon.

I live on the west coast, so I usually start my day around 6am PST with a big cup of coffee while I get ready for work. I don’t believe that working from home should be an excuse to stay in pajamas all day, and I’m not nearly as productive when I don’t start the day by getting ready as if I was working outside of my home.

I usually check email and Skype right away to see if anything new came up over night. Once I finish responding to emails, I check on our editing queue to see which projects need to be prioritized and I let our QAs know if there are any urgent needs. Next, I check on any new orders that have come in and review which writer would be best for each one. I also check on existing clients to make sure that they aren’t due to renew an ongoing project. Over the course of a day I am answering any questions that QAs or writers have about specific projects as they come up as well as questions that clients have about their orders. I also track any revisions that we are doing and take phone calls from clients about new or existing orders.

Our team communicates all day via Skype which makes it seem as if we’re all in one place most of the time! 

hannah

Julia, CEO: A Day in My Life

Julia is based in Austin, Texas.

My day starts around 7:30 a.m. with an audiobook, hugs and kisses from my toddler, a daily tonic (a simple combination of warm water, apple cider vinegar, and honey), and making a pot of coffee for the day ahead.

After I drop my daughter off at daycare, around 9:00 a.m., I start plunging into work and all the activities lined up for my day. I schedule most of my meetings on Mondays and Fridays, and I record podcast calls biweekly. If I don’t have meetings, I buckle down with a couple major focuses for the day: a long-term growth goal (right now, that’s my course and a new book I’m writing), content marketing at Express Writers (our blogs, infographics, and guest blog presence), and promotion/meetings around my new course. My day breaks around 1:30 or 2:00 for lunch and a short activity – hike, walk, or chiropractor appointment.

I plunge back in and work till 5:00 p.m. 5:30 – 9:00 is family time, and I’ll end the day by keeping up in my field of expertise, content marketing: reading news and blogs, or a recently published book, or learning about a new tool on the market, and working on our blogs for the next week.

Behind the scenes: here’s a peek of me at my desk. I love the Gaiam Balance Ball chair – seriously so comfortable!

julia at desk

I’m lucky: my home office faces a quiet acre. I get a lot of work done in this spacious room. I like to transition between desk + chair and couch for different tasks.

office2

For some reason, I find that I can think more creatively when sitting on a couch, so I write most of my blogs sitting on that corner couch.

office

#JuliaFact: I keep my desk super clean. It’s actually like that every day.

Rachel, Social Media Specialist: A Day in My Life

Rachel is based in Prince Frederick, Maryland.

My day starts at 6:30 AM. Before I sit down at my desk, I like to get in a morning yoga session and have breakfast. You can usually find me listening to podcasts while I eat because they serve as a great boost of motivation.

rachel-workspace-photo

Once it’s time to get started with work, which is usually around 8:30 AM, I begin by making a to-do list. Then, I block off time in my schedule to ensure those things get done promptly. Any tasks I have are always scheduled around one of the main things I do for Express Writers, which is participating in Twitter chats and managing our own #ContentWritingChat.

I join about 13 Twitter chats each week because it’s a large part of growing our Twitter presence and building a community online. These chats are scheduled throughout the day, with them taking place morning, afternoon, and night. In between those chats, I’m usually scheduling social media content or creating the #ContentWritingChat recap. So, it’s safe to say I don’t really work your typical hours! My day ends when the last Twitter chat does!

Kristel, Quality Assistant: A Day in My Life

Kristel is based in Detroit, Michigan.

My day starts at 6:00 AM with making coffee as the first in my to-do list. I usually talk to my friends and family in the Philippines before my shift just to catch up with them and see how they’re doing. This happens simultaneously when I prepare food for the cats.

I start my shift after all the morning preparations have been at 9:00 AM. My tasks involve checking for plagiarism, grammar errors, and content optimization of articles due to our clients. Although I do the same tasks everyday, I like the aspect where I learn about the industries that our clients our in. Deep diving into the flow and information in the article gives me a better view if the article we’ll submit will be helpful to their customers. This goes on until 12:00 PM when I end my shift.

My husband and I have our lunch after my shift just before he goes to work. For the rest of the afternoon, I clean the house and read my favorite blogs on content marketing and personal finance. It’s great that there is no wasted time since I don’t have to commute to and from work everyday.

Maricel, Quality Assistant: A Day in My Life

Maricel is based in the Philippines.

My day with Express Writers starts at 9:00 PM PHT, which is equivalent to 8:00 AM CST.

Maricel’s workstation. She doesn’t like to be in the photo, so you’ll have to settle for this. 😉

(Yes, I work nights – in case you’re wondering.) My shift starts at 9:00 AM CST, so I have exactly an hour to have supper, prepare some coffee, check if the kids are all in bed, and do a little stretching.

My work involves editing submitted assignments: catching grammar errors and typos, simplifying complex sentences if needed, and giving writers feedback to help them strengthen their writing. I also make sure the submissions follow client specifications and adhere to prevailing content marketing best practices. Client satisfaction, after all, is a top priority for Express Writers.

Aside from editing, I help our Content Director, Hannah, in assigning assignments to writers and delivering completed projects to clients.

My shift usually ends at 3:00 PM CST, which is 4:00 AM local time. By then, I’m ready to head to bed and call it a day.

Kate, Quality Assistant: A Day in My Life

Kate is based in the Philippines.

My day starts at 6:00 AM (Philippine Time) with a “me time” where I say out my daily affirmations, a great way to gear me up for the long day. I also write down all the things I’m grateful for during the day in my gratitude journal.

Then I’d prepare breakfast and drive my 11-year-old son to school. We’d play some upbeat music and dance to it like how James Corden does it on his Carpool Karaoke.

Next stop: I’d drive straight away to my favorite coffee shop (or rush back home) and set everything up as I get started with my 8-11 AM shift at Express Writers.

kate

I typically break down these three hours into editing submitted articles, sending some back for revision, answering questions from writers, collaborating with our editor, Hannah, and my co-QA’s, posting stuff on WordPress, and other related work. I like how I can easily connect with Julia and Hannah on Skype whenever I have some questions and clarifications that need to be answered.

Right after shift, I alternate my days either teaching yoga and hitting the gym for some weights. Then I’d go back to doing mommy duties, picking up my kid at school. and preparing dinner.

Tools We Use to Work Remotely

We have several main apps to help us manage conversations, activities and the things we do on a daily basis. Here are a few:

1. Custom Developed Solutions: Our teamroom and Content Shop are custom built platforms, led by our CTO, Josh McCoy. We’re in the middle of redeveloping it (happening as we speak). Development is a beast, and funding is completely bootstrapped – but progress is happening!

2. Skype: This is the “virtual office” of our entire management staff. We keep each other updated on breaks, ask for support, and even have multiple Skype threads that address the different communications we need to have internally every day.

3. Zoho: Email, internal client-focused communications (the streams function and “comment-on/share-emails” functionality is amazing), and collaborative documents.

4. Drift: This is our live chat on-site, where we handle client and new prospect questions. The Live View feature, where you can start chats with anyone on your site, is awesome:

drift

Here’s a look at the home screen of Drift.

drift

5. MeetEdgar: We’re about to switch to this program from Buffer to get more traction out of all the social media content we create.

6. Nextiva: This is our client and staff phone system of choice. We love the capabilities that Nextiva has, including custom extensions, phone recordings we can grab anytime – this is hugely helpful to client accounts where writers need to hear additional information. The Nextiva app makes it easy for remote team members to be available on phone anytime, but not have to worry about it interfering with their personal cell number or client numbers getting lost in their own private number lists.

A Day in the Life: Summed Up

There you go…

A #dayinthelife of our remote team!

We’re always progressing, working hard to stay on top of the industry, and rock out at what we do – full service content creation. We all love what we do, and one of our best competitive edges is the ability we have to grow and progress together in creating great content!

Questions about our daily workflow? Leave a note in the comments!

express writers cta 2017

dedicated writer

Why We Launched a Feature to Request a Dedicated Writer

When you place an order for that important piece of content, you’re trusting Express Writers to pick the perfect writer that will craft exactly the copy that you need.

We don’t take that responsibility lightly.

In fact, there’s a lot that we take into consideration when making that selection, which is what keeps our customers coming back for more, time and time again.

  • Topic: we know which writers will work best for specific topics based on experience and feedback from our editors.
  • Industry: if you have a niche industry, chances are that we have a writer with firsthand experience to write your content.
  • Content Level: we have writing levels to meet any need and our team can help you decide which one is right for you.

Okay, so now that you’ve received your order, and you love it, it’s time to reorder… which can seem daunting.

Your previous writer already understands you and knows what you need. You don’t want to start over again with someone new… and we get it.

That’s why when you check out from now on, you may notice that there’s a new question to answer in our input forms! Keep reading to find out.

dedicated writer at Express Writers

How the Process Works

After you check out on our website,

checkout process 1 express writers

you can enter your project details by entering a project title and clicking on “Start Project” in My Account:
checkout process 2 express writers

This is where you supply information, answer questions relevant to the product that you just ordered, and upload any supporting documents. Anything a writer needs to complete your project should be covered here.

It’s also where you will now find the newest (optional) addition to our questionnaire, “Do you want to request a previous writer again on this project?”

input form express writers

If so, all you need to do is include the order ID from a completed project with that writer or the writer’s initials (usually found on the file name for that project).

That’s right, you can now request a writer from one of your previous projects—right from the comfort of our details form!

If your newest order is unrelated to previous projects, or you just want us to pick a new writer for you, that’s no problem! Having a dedicated writer for your projects is completely up to you.

Download our full Content Shop FAQ for every step in the checkout process.

What Prompted This Decision?

Frankly, it’s also a win-win. When you’re happy, we’re happy!

You’ve spoken, and we’ve listened. Customer satisfaction is our top priority, and we’ve been fielding questions about requesting a particular writer for awhile now… and it’s only fair. If you’ve found your editorial forever after bliss with one of our writers, we don’t want to keep you apart! We love crafting quality content and this is just one more way to achieve that.

Familiarity is one of the biggest hurdles you face when outsourcing content, which is why we really want our writers to understand the projects that they work on before they even start. It saves times on both sides when that step is already complete for a new project.

Especially with particularly detailed, repeating orders, having a dedicated writer can be a life saver. You won’t need to explain your project, company, or goals to someone new—just update the details of your current project and you’re on your way to content designed just for you that we already know you’ll approve of!

Staying True to Our Values

Here at Express Writers, any changes or decisions must align with our values.

We believe in delivering greatness which means tailoring our services to fit the unique needs of our clients in order to get results. We know that there is a constant learning curve in order to stay up with market trends and current demands.

We are excited to offer this new addition to our already amazing list of products and services, and we are confident that we have the quintessential writer for your next project. The good news is that now, the fun doesn’t have to end there because you can keep requesting them for future projects too!

Hannah is a Project Manager & Sales Specialist at Express Writers.

cta great copy

Header Formatting in Word

Why We Introduced Header Formatting in Word in our Writing Team as a New Standard

Note from Julia: Ed, our Senior Editor, assisted me in rewriting our 15+ page Web Writing Guidelines for our team of 60 writers this week. One change we just implemented was teaching all our writers how to use Word’s Style menu to auto-format H2s and H3s. All of our blog content will now include this. I asked him Ed to write a post detailing why we did this change, and he kindly obliged.

Let’s face it:

People don’t read any more.

Especially online (or, more accurately, on-screen, when you consider ubiquitous the use of smart phones and mobile tablets have become), where such factors as screen size, resolution, visual cues as to page length, and eye strain play a part in our ability to focus deeply on the written word.

So what do people do online if they’re not reading?

They scan – or skim, glance, browse, graze…whatever you want to call it, it’s not the same as pure reading.

That’s why formatting for the web is so important. Everything from eye-catching headlines, to smaller-than-usual paragraphs, to bulleted or numbered lists plays a part in making an article, story, column post – any piece of content that’s predominantly text – more appealing to people.

And headings – more accurately, subheadings – are a big part of that.

Header Formatting in Word tutorial

What is a Subheading, Anyway?

According to the dictionary definition (thanks, Merriam-Webster), a subheading is:

“an additional headline or title that comes immediately after the main headline or title,” as well as a “title given to one of the parts or divisions of a piece of writing.”

It’s this latter definition that we’re focusing on.

Put another way, it’s the bold, stand-out text just above the preceding paragraph that says “What is a subheading anyway?”

Subheadings help break up large blocks of text. They can also break down a longer piece of writing into different parts or sections, serving almost the same role in an article that a chapter does in a book. Which, in turn, can help convince potential readers to keep reading…

For instance, what looks better to you in the example below:

headers-vs-no-headers

The same text with and without subheadings.

It’s obvious which looks better, right?

Why Else are Subheadings Important?

Subheadings break up articles into different sections, which allows for easier scanning of the sections of an article. And it’s a lot easier on the eyes than large, uninterrupted blocks of text – especially when reading on a screen. All of that’s well and good, but there’s a more important reason to use subheadings in your articles and blog posts: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search engines – we’re looking at you, Google (with some side-eye at Bing) – respond to subheadings because not only does it divide content into scannable blocks of copy, it also clues in the search engine as to the relevancy of the article, page, and section.

Only if you’re writing and using them correctly, of course (hint: they should contain your keywords and/or variations of those keywords).

Put another way, an H2 heading is a way of telling Google “pay attention, this is important.”

More on this topic: How to Use H2s and H3s in Your Content

How Many to Use?

Most articles – and all blog posts – should have a subheading (H2) after the introductory paragraph(s).

They should also have a closing subheading before the final paragraph(s).

And they should use a subheading before numbered or bulleted lists (with some copy between the subheading and the list).

Additionally, numbered lists should NOT be auto-formatted as numbered lists by Word (more on turning Word’s auto-formatting feature off below). Instead, each numbered item should be its own subheading – but in this instance you should use an H3 heading.

Essentially, it will look like this:

H1: Headline of the Blog Post

Paragraph text (1-3 paragraphs, depending)

H2: Subheading for first major section

Paragraph text (1-3 paragraphs, depending)

H2: Subheading for second major section

Paragraph text

H3: Sub-subheading for the first item in a numbered list, if applicable

Paragraph text for the first numbered item

H3: Sub-subheading for the second item in a numbered list, if applicable

Paragraph text for the second numbered item

H2: Subheading for conclusion

Paragraph text (usually 1 paragraph)

Longer is usually better for subheadings: they should be at least 6 words long. Don’t forget to use your keywords and keyword variants (synonyms, etc.)!

How to Tag a Heading as H2, H3

We recommend using Microsoft Word’s built-in “Style” menu for subheading text that you want to format as Heading 2 (H2) and Heading 3 (H3). The Quick Style Gallery is prominently displayed at the top of most modern versions of Word:

MS Word's Quick Style Gallery makes it easy to format H2 and H3 subheadings.

MS Word’s Quick Style Gallery makes it easy to format H2 and H3 subheadings.

We began using Word to format our H2 and H3 subheadings for blog posts in part because it streamlines the physical blog posting process. Believe me, we’re well aware that there was a time that posting into WordPress from Word generated a lot of invisible code that was not only unnecessary, and that added to the “weight” (and hence the load time) of a page, but would sometimes even break how a browser rendered a web page.

In short, pasting from Word used to be considered a big no-no.

For H2 and H3 subheadings at least, that’s not the case anymore – believe me, before we began doing it this way because it was easier and saved time, we verified in a number of our client’s WordPress and other CMS installations that the code pasted from Word generated proper, ready-to-go H2, H3 headings, and not strings of gobbledygook formatting code…without having to use WordPress’ clunky pulldown menu:

The text formatting menu in WordPress certainly gets the job done, but it's a bit clunky, IMHO.

The text formatting menu in WordPress certainly gets the job done, but it’s a bit clunky, IMHO.

What About all that Messy HTML Code Word Produces that I Keep Hearing About?

It’s true that if your Word document contains a lot of heavy formatting – such as tables, multi-column lists, custom style changes – it most likely will not be reproduced when pasting into the WordPress (or other web-based CMS) visual editor.

There are other variables that will affect how documents will look once pasted into WordPress, such as the version of either Word or WordPress you happen to be running. Suffice it to say that with older versions of either software, all bets are off.

But simple, straightforward articles composed in most modern versions of MS Word, and pasted into most up-to-date installations of WordPress, the results should be just fine.

Our New Blog Writing Standard: Implementing the Word Titles

One change we just implemented was making a standard rule for all of our writers to now use Word’s Style menu to auto-format H2s and H3s. It looks like this, in Word:

headers in wordSo when you receive your next blog, this header in your finished document (which Word automatically colors to a light blue), it will automatically translate to an H2 when copied to your WordPress blog or page, like so:

headers in wordpress

How cool is that?

It will save our clients a lot of time – ready-to-go, optimized H2s and H3s once you plug in your blog! All of our blog orders will now include this formatting, by default.

Saving Time = Saving Money

And if you happen to be managing a large volume of blog posts, the time savings from being able to paste from Word and NOT have to go back and manually reformat the blog post in WordPress – especially the crucial H2 and H3 headers – can be significant.

 

Take it from us: in addition to writing tons of blog posts for clients, we also manage the physical blog posting into WordPress and other popular CMS posting for many of our clients! See our blog plans here.

express writers cta

content shop

New Services in the Content Shop: Kindle Ebook Formatting for Self-Published Authors, Marketing Copy Formats, & New Expert Category

Over the weekend, we were busy beavers – we added several new products to our Content Shop!

  • Kindle ebook formatting (with an option for a custom, made-from-scratch cover design)
  • Marketing copy services in various formats, from flyers to brochure copy and more, under the new expert category Marketing
  • New expert writing category: Content Marketing

All of these services have been introduced because of a popular demand from our clients, and priced fairly to include expert team members for each stage of the project. An expert content marketing writer who sometimes ghostwrites for me is behind the new category just for CM, and we have a sales and marketing copywriter guru ready to deliver on the new marketing copy category and array of formats there with expertise.

I’m excited to introduce these new services to our Content Shop and answer more needs for our incoming leads. Keep reading to learn more about each one of these updated new content products!

kindle ebook formatting new services

New Services in our Content Shop: Kindle Ebook Formatting for Self-Published Authors, & 2 New Expert Category Products (Marketing & Content Marketing)

Here’s the lowdown on our new products in the Content Shop! First, we’ll start with the two new expert categories, and then discuss our Kindle ebook formatting solutions.

2 New Expert Categories: Marketing & Content Marketing

Our two new expert copywriting categories are live at the top of the expert copy category:

expert writers

New Expert Category: Content Marketing

When it comes to content marketing, we’re the perfect team to write on the subject. So it was about time to launch a dedicated expert copywriting category to the Shop, just for the subject of content marketing.

content marketing product

The beauty of this product is that it comes from what we do every day. Before we write and deliver our copy services for clients, we create content for ourselves – and that content fuels 90% of our entire marketing. (Check out our case study on our own success in that area.)

You can trust our team to deliver the best copy on the topic of content marketing. Crafted by experts in the field, we’ll deliver successful content, ready to gain and rank online. We have a content marketing expert copywriter lined up to take these orders (he sometimes ghostwrites for me, and I trained him on our Authority Content copy format launched last year).

New Expert Category: Marketing

One of our very common requests lately has been for a wide variety of marketing copy formats. So, we’ve added a Marketing expert copywriting product that encompasses the common requests we get, including PPT copy, flyer copy, and brochure copy. See it here.

marketing copy

Kindle Formatting & Cover Design for Self-Published Authors

We’ve already had ebook writing as a service in the Content Shop ever since we launched our site, but it was time to add Kindle formatting services for the aspiring self-publishing leads that have been visiting our site and services.

kindle formatting

For a few months now, we’ve received an odd number of random requests for Kindle formatting. We talked to our team, and discovered that Kindle formatting was among the skillsets of one of our our full-time writers, Ashley. So, we’ve created a workflow, priced the service at a fair cost, and added the service to our Content Shop this weekend for Kindle ebook formatting! Our designer has crafted incredibly good covers for our clients’ custom design orders already, so we added on a variation to get an ebook cover along with a fully-formatted, ready-to-go Amazon .mobi and .epub file.

We’re also getting ahead of a serious, permanent trend, by catering to the self-publishing crowd. Per a Bowker report, the amount of self-published books have increased by 375% since 2010. And that was a stat from last year. Here’s some more stats about the self-publishing industry (via PublishersWeekly):

  • 31% of all ebook sales on Amazon go to self-published authors.
  • Self-published authors are outdoing traditionally published authors, in the sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, thriller, and romance genres. What’s more, they are taking a large market share in all genres!

Self-Publishing Testament to Success

In April last year, I self-published my own book, So You Think You Can Write? using Amazon KDP and Amazon’s paperback publishing service, CreateSpace. So, I’ve been through the entire process!

so you think you can write

The reason I didn’t choose a publisher? Self-publishing on Amazon nets you a large 80% return on all your author royalties: a typical publisher will net you around 8%. That’s a tremendous difference. Of course, you have to market your book yourself when you’re self-published, and that can be difficult if you have no audience. Fortunately, I built up an audience through owning a business and starting several communities years before my book came out: and my book has sold over 500 copies across the last year just through word of mouth and publishing the link in my communities. (I’ve learned, though, that you can’t live off the income a single published book brings, not by a long shot—I net a low $150/month income from the sales. Still, it’s nice to have!)

One of the most difficult parts of publishing my book was finding a trustworthy formatter. In the process of formatting my book for CreateSpace, which was 1000x harder than formatting for the simpler KDP process, I was scammed out of quite a bit of money. Apparently, after the book was out, I learned I’d been overcharged about 50x what I should have paid.

So, this product in our Content Shop is something I’m very proud of offering. I know what it’s like to be a self-published author, both the struggles of the journey and the great reward afterwards from putting in the effort!

Conclusion: New Services in the Content Shop for April

That’s it for the roundup of the new services launched over last weekend in our Content Shop.

Questions, comments, or thoughts?

Drop us a comment below – or, if you have questions in particular about how we can help you with your needs, talk to us today! We’d love to become your go-to writing solution.

art of copy express writers

content consultation

New for Spring 2017: Customized, Build-Your-Own Blogging Plans, Revamped Content Planning, & Content Consultation

You simply can’t be a self-serve menu, when you serve up content.

One size does not fit all.

We know this to be all-too-true, and it means that our Content Shop – and entire lineup of content services – change all the time.

And the needs of our clients drive these changes.

I love that this is one of our abiding principles, at Express Writers. We act when we see a demand – and learn, fit, and adapt to the changes necessary for progression in the industry, and to make sure the services that we sell to our clients are always one step ahead.

Behind the scenes, it means a lot of work for our boot-strapped business. I’m constantly working with Tara, our Content Development Specialist, Katria, Tamila, Hannah, and our CTO to map out, create, and plan the changes – and adapt our entire sales and editorial management team to the changes.

In the end: it’s more than worth it. We see real results from the hard work put into our improvements, and happy clients!

Keep reading for all the changes out in the Content Shop this April.

content consultation

The Shortlist (TL;DR) of our Content Shop Changes: Biggest Changes, Biggest Benefits

Don’t have a lot of time? Here’s a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) list of the changes and the key benefits of the changes in our Shop. For a full in-depth list, scroll down for the per-product changes!

Blog Plans: We’ve heard for ages now that “that package just doesn’t fit me,” so we completely rehauled our preset, three blog packages. Now, you get to completely build your own, by: 1) picking your writer level, 2) word count, 3) one (or both) of two addons for images/topic and SEO keyword planning, and finally, 4) quantity (telling us how many posts you want per month). Hit “add to cart.” Congrats! You’ve just configured your monthly blog plan! (If clients aren’t sure what they want, we can build a plan for them, starting at $280/cart. See more details in the sections below.)

Content Planning: Biggest enhancement here? All blog titles are now analyzed according to Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer, one of my favorite tools on this planet. (And to solidify that we’re on track, we use Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer, too.) When I implemented checking every headline on the EMV Analyzer by AMI, our blog shares and overall traction went up by 25%+ on every post with the analyzed title. In the planning service itself, you get a ready-to-go editorial calendar for the month, a list of best SEO keywords (researched using top tools), and a BuzzSumo topic analysis.

Content Consultation: For $350 (a low, low price, considering the value of what this could bring you), we now offer a content consultation with one of our highest-level, most experienced Content Strategists (his bio is below!). The session comes complete with a Discovery Report including an analysis of what you can be doing better with your content, and an SEO and topic analysis report, highly customized to the findings in the consultation call.

Price: The price of blogging plans and content planning went up a tad. (We discovered, especially in the blogging plans, after doing some math that we weren’t able to cover the payment for our high level, content-marketing minded editors and expert writers. The WordPress posting was far too cheap – below $10 per – in the plans. We couldn’t pay out at that rate.) But with content planning blocks still starting at $120, and blog plans as low as $280 at the first configuration, you’re still paying below average rates here – even after the small increase. Jump on our services! The industry keeps changing, and skillset expertise increasing. I’ll be upfront: we simply can’t retain quality or work at low rates.

And now for the in-depth breakdown.

1. Content Consultation Call with Reports

Built into the Content Planning service is a new variation: Content Consultation.

I’ll be real: content consultation was a long time coming.

There’s been a serious demand for it.

We hear this a lot:

  • “What should I be doing with my site? Can you analyze and tell me?”
  • “Can I get a dedicated consultation?”
  • “Can I get some keyword reports and talk to a Strategist about what I’m looking for?”
  • “I know I need content, but I have no idea what I’m doing.”

What’s more, we’ve noticed, for a steady eight months now, a major need in the content marketing industry:

Customization.  

All the way from quotes at a unique, per-word level, down to increased requests for a highly customized, per-site analysis – revealing exactly what you need, down to new site page recommendations, blog title and headline ideas, to the best keyword opportunities and what your competitors are doing that you could be doing better. Then, ongoing content publishing – a customized content recommendation at an ongoing basis.

So, FINALLY, content consultation sessions, complete with full content discovery reports, are live!

I just finished building a behind-the-scenes workflow that will ensure success at every step of the way, and hand-picked one of our most successful Content Strategists for the dedicated consulting call and report creation. Check it out:

content consultation workflow

I’ve even written the interview guide that my consultant will be using, with questions that are guaranteed to elicit the best information so we find your “sweet spot” in creating content that answers your audience’s (and customers’) biggest questions, and positions you as an authority in your industry.

Meet John G, our dedicated team member who will be working 1:1 with every client that needs a guided consultation:

john g bio

John is awesome. He’s been such a team player at Express Writers, and I have no doubts that he’ll knock the ball out of the park handling our content consultations.

Check out the Content Consultation page for a checklist of the reports that come with a consultation. 

2. Blogging Plans: Customized to Your Online Presence & Needs

Completely, 100% customizable, create-your-own blogging plans are now available!

custom blog plans screenshot

Let me go back a little to explain why our reinvented blogging plans are so great.

For several years, we’ve had pre-packaged blogging plans available to our clientele. We had typical plan names: Level 1, 2, 3, or SEO / Guru etc.

Over time, we noticed a trend happening over and over again. Notes, from clients: “I don’t see the blog plan I need in that list.” “ I don’t want general or expert level, I want authority. But packaged as a plan. With content planning.” Or, “Level 2 is nice, but not exactly what I need.”

So instead of three pre-set packages, we are finally allowing the client to choose and build their own (or have one built for them, by one of our Content Specialists)!

In blogging today, the truth is that one size does not fit all, when it comes to the quality, expertise, and length your blog should be. Our new blogging format allows for customization at every level. Time to engage your readers and keep them coming back consistently with a fully managed blog, designed at the level you need!

How to Use Our New Custom Blog Package

Here’s how to customize and create your own blog package:

Step 1

step one

Start by selecting the level of writer expertise you’re looking for. See our Writing Levels explanation to know which level you fit into.

Step 2

step two

Choose the word count you want your monthly blogs to be, once you’ve selected what level of writer you need.

Step 3

step three

Choose from two available blog plan upgrades, at a flat, easy per-blog fee:

  – Content planning, where our Content Strategists research and put together your best blog topics, with timely, hot topic research (BuzzSumo) and keyword opportunities (SEMrush). We’ll even analyze and include a top-performing headline. (Highly recommended for achieving the best results from your blogging!)

 – Storytelling header sets are beautiful, feature images for your blog, that tell a story. Custom designed in Adobe Illustrator and InDesign by our lead designer, they are geared to creatively “tell the story” of your blog post. You’ll receive one header and one inset image, designed with the topic and your logo.

Here’s an example:

storytelling header set

Step 4

Choose your quantity for a final per-month amount and price:

step 4

You’re done configuring your custom blog package! You can now click Add to Cart, and checkout to secure your package!

Not sure what you need? Here’s some examples of pre-built carts with blog packages.

General Writer Packages:

  • Starter Package: 4/month (1/week) on general, 750w, includes all the basics (stock images, posting, etc): See pre-built cart. $280.
  • Long-Form General Package: 4/month (1/week) on general, 1000-1500w, includes all the basics (stock images, posting, etc): See pre-built cart. $500.
  • Want some examples of add-ons to a general blog package? With Content Planning: $656. With Storytelling Images: $800
  • Long-Form Content, 2/Week Package: 8/month (2/week) on general, 1000-1500w, includes all the basics (stock images, posting, etc): See cart. $500.

Expert Writer Packages:

  • Long-Form Content, Weekly Expert Package: 4/month (1/week) on expert, 1000-1500w, includes all the basics (stock images, posting, etc): See cart. $980
  • Long-Form 2/Week Expert Package: 8/month (2/week) on expert, 1000-1500w, includes all the basics (stock images, posting, etc): See cart. $1960.

Authority Writer Package:

  • Authority Weekly Package: 4/month (1/week) on authority, 2000w, includes all the basics (stock images, posting, etc): See cart. $1900.

Our team can build a package for you! Talk to us today. Also, we have custom coupon codes for our packages, with discounts starting around $500! Talk to us and see if you’re eligible to get a blog plan with a discount.

3. Content Planning Updates

Our Content Planning service now includes additions to the Editorial Calendar report: a Topic Scoring section. We’ll use the AMI Headline Analyzer and the CoSchedule headline tool to make sure the topic is proven to work well and rank highly!

For example, here’s a “highly-scored” headline with the AMI Headline tool (~40% means success):

headline analyzer

Content planning is the perfect service for those who want to get the most out of planning blog content. Our Content Strategists build monthly editorial calendars that correspond to a month of blogging, with keywords, topic and an entire strategy planned for the month.

Each Content Planning block includes:

  • An editorial calendar with full blog topics and details planned and dated out for a month
  • In-depth, up-to-date SEO keyword research with a list of keywords and an opportunity report
  • BuzzSumo content analysis overview report, revealing most recent top-trending content in your industry

2017 Is Busy, Exciting & Dynamic: More Changes Ahead!

So far, 2017 has been one exciting ride of a year.

We had the best and busiest month we’ve ever had since inception in 2011, this January.

Already, we’ve had tons of updates and upgrades (some major updates came out in February, too): and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with self-funded, slow-but-steady new development in the works and launching around summer.

We’re excited to share these changes with you! Let us know what you think or if you have any questions in the comments below.

art of copy express writers

 

 

 

express writers

What’s New at Express Writers for February: Storytelling Images & Custom Blog Headers, Social Media, Editing (Copy and Developmental), Project Management & More

This February, we’ve added some seriously powerful content services to our Content Shop repertoire.

All of our continual changes and updates are based on specific needs from our clients, and a strict adherence we personally have to always maintain the edge of the curve in our industry.

Here’s a shortlist / TL;DR of February’s new updates (scroll down to read about each):

  • Storytelling Images & Custom Blog Headers. Our design team has been creating these for our own brand with great results in more brand awareness and content traction, so we decided it was time to launch custom image solutions, including beautiful storytelling variations and custom blog images, for our clients!
  • Social Media Plans Update: Revamped social media plans to new standards, including content curation using BuzzSumo.
  • Editing (Copy and Developmental). At both copy editing levels.
  • Professional Interviewing. In this service, based on one simple interview fee, we now have staff Project Managers who are experts at interviewing subjects and obtaining key information that leads to a wonderful interview.
  • Project Management. This new service takes care of a lot of “monkey work” that goes into organizing and maintaining content marketing.
  • Client 101s. These are completely free for our clients, and are being written and designed as we speak! The first one, a Process/Content Order Lifecycle 101, is live! We’re working on a Meet the Team 101 next, where we explain how everyone’s staff role fits into an order and how clients can contact each of us, a Writing Levels 101, and several others.

new at express writers

What’s New at Express Writers for February: Everything You Needed to Know on 5 New/Revamped Products & a New, Free Client Resource

1. New Custom Images: Storytelling Imagery, Blog Header Sets, & More

Ever thought to yourself…

  • “I wish I had a REALLY cool branded header for my blog and a variation to share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook…”
  • “I wish I could visualize a step in my customer journey/buying process with a cool, engaging illustration…”
  • “It would be awesome to boost engagement with a cartoon strip for this industry controversial blog…”

We’ve got you covered on all of those visual needs in our re-launched Custom Imagery service, live in the Content Shop.

Clients can choose from a custom, beautiful, blog image set put together by our design team in Adobe InDesign, complete with a full-sized header and an inset to share on social media, or a storytelling graphic that would fit nicely in a process for your customers to visualize their journey/how it works page (example: our process).

Want to see how cool these get (read: how amazing our design team is)?

Here are a few:

Killer, right??

We’ve literally designed thousands of these images for our own brand by now – the samples above are a brief preview of what we can do – and we thought it was high time to allow clients to buy it as a product.

With custom imagery, we’ve seen massive results…

  • We a huge CTR boost with a cartoon strip on our SEO post – a 25% boost in actual reads.
  • Influencers picked up our content and shared it on Twitter WITH the image attached, boosting views to our content by another 25%.

Never leave your images last on your to-do list again.

Let us help you create better-than-average custom imagery to accompany your content!

2. Social Media Plans

During this month, we also did some heavy updates and restructuring, much-needed, to our social media plans.

I sat down and created new guidelines for our Social Media Experts, which condenses down to these three key, important changes:

  • We now create and post 3/images per week at the minimum level (3 IG posts) instead of 1. Images, and Instagram, are hot! You can’t miss out on either, so we’ve increasing the volume at all levels on all plans.
  • Our SMEs are now trained on how to use BuzzSumo to curate industry influencer content, and position your brand as an authority by sharing content that your fans will love and identify with.
  • Choose whichever social media platform you’d like us to manage, now straight from the product itself!

social media plans update

Our Social Media Plans have also been renamed to Level 1, 2, and 3 instead of Basic/Guru/Enterprise.

3. Copy Editing

Our revamped Copy Editing service in the Content Shop now includes two levels to cover every need, developmental and copy editing services, starting at one hour (up to 3,000 words). We have senior, expert editors at both levels ready to take orders!

See a guide to knowing the two differences of copy vs. developmental editing from our Content Development Specialist, Tara, on the Write Blog.

4. Professional Interviewing

For one simple interview fee you can now have an incredible interview organized and done (check that off your list!) by our professional interviewing team. We now have staff Project Managers who have background expertise in interviewing and journalism, and have seen amazing results from the interviews done so far.

See a post co-created by our Project Manager Hannah and Content Development Specialist, Hannah, on why interviews matter to content marketing.

5. Project Management

Just launched last week, our new project management service offers a wonderful solution for a lot of our marketer clients who are continually overwhelmed, swamped, and lost beneath the work they have to do on their content marketing get-done list.

Did you know that only 30% of marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing? An actual decrease of 8% from the previous year.(source: Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Benchmarks) Even less have a strong, documented content marketing strategy.

Yet budgets, goals, and creation itself in content marketing actually increased by a large percentage during the same year.

Our solution in offering project management is to help a real need we see that our clients have. Project management is a serious drain on them, yet a vastly crucial part of content marketing not to be overlooked.

Scenarios Where Project Management Fits In

Just a few of the problems our clients have given us that we can now solve with our project management service include:

  • “We’re thinking about hiring a part-time staff member to handle all of these content needs and work with you, but it may not be in the budget, or we don’t know if we have enough to give that person X hours per week.”
  • “I wear a lot of hats. I just don’t have time to manage all of the content, but if I had time, we’d hire you to produce a lot of things.”
  • “I’m completely disorganized and I really need help getting my ideas onto paper, and picking the right product.”
  • “I have people I want to have interviewed on our blog. Employees, industry names, that kind of thing. I just don’t have time to do it myself and it’s a long list.”
  • “I have lots of different personal and professional projects going on. I wish I could stay on task.”
  • “I have no idea about what I need but I do have an established business. I just want to pay a deposit/retainer and have you figure this out for me.”
  • “I need you to be in touch with my entire team on this project. Maybe you should even function as part of the team – as the managing editor.”
  • “I’m an agency and we want to basically up-sell your product to our clients. Each of our clients has a different need.”

What Project Management Includes

Our project management is designed into several categories:

  • A la carte hourly
  • Blocks where we manage 50 – 500 monthly projects in a spreadsheet every month.

Project management includes having us manage and create a spreadsheet, and maintain or organize a vast amount of ongoing content projects, starting at 50 and going to 500+ per month. We can enable a simple file uploader on your account, and will include weekly organization and phone support for you and your team by a dedicated project manager. You can also have a dedicated project editor in our new PM service.

6. New Resource (FREE): Client 101s

Last but not least, we’re writing and designing in-house several client 101s that will channel some of the biggest questions our clients have!

We’ll be doing more of these! Email our team: julia (a) expresswriters.com if you have any 101s you’d like to see.

Conclusion

At Express Writers, we strive hard to be at the forefront of trends, content marketing, and the best writing team out there.

(Just see our Values page if you aren’t sure about that promise.)

Hence comes this lineup of new products and resources at Express Writers, all in one month.

You can trust our commitment to stay ahead of the game when it comes to great content creation. It’s our passion!

taxbreak cta

EW writing levels

What Differentiates Our Writing Levels at Express Writers (General, Expert, Authority)

Here at Express Writers, we’re all about quality, at every level.

And that’s a major reason why many of our clients select us over our competitors.

We make it simple with three writing levels:

  • General
  • Expert
  • Authority (for those who want to be an online rockstar)

On the other hand, many of our competitor writing agencies go by a “star” level.

One-star writer, two-star writer, three-star writer.

It makes me dizzy when I read the one-star explanation: “May contain grammar, spelling, and wording issues. Will require editing. Not suitable for most clients.”

Why would you spend money on content you have to “fix” before you publish?

It’s like buying a pair of shoes with holes already in them. Plus, you’re wasting your valuable time when you have to fix, rewrite and edit, while saving a few dollars. It doesn’t add up.

We break the mold, because as a writing agency, we completely skip even offering the levels that many of our competitors start at. Keep reading to learn more about these levels, see real-time examples, and find out why I built my agency this way.

writing levels

We Revolve Around Quality

When I created my writing agency back in 2011 (see our values), I had one key fundamental: discovering writers who had a real talent for writing. If they loved doing it, I always found a matching level of quality in their work. Then, my goal was to perfect my team and process, and train and mentor my team members in new SEO and content trends and tactics, so that I could grow my company into one that was writing and creating the best content on the web.

It has been hard as heck to keep that standard high.

The entrance tests I’ve written for our interviewees rule out all but 2% of our applicants, on average, today: and even after they pass my tests, there’s yet another test to see if they have reliability and ethics.

But if there’s anything I stay firm on, it’s these very standards. We don’t create crap content. We continuously take these standards seriously.

We Are the First Ones Adapting to Trends

As the company’s chief executive officer, I’m the first one sharpening my skills day-to-day. I’ve been named a top 50 content marketer, have written a bestseller on online writing, and maintain The Write Podcast as well as a Twitter chat.

We adapt to industry trends and grow at every stage. When Google launches an algorithm update, we learn about it as a team (we attend tech events), we blog about it, and we write in-depth studies on the SERP changes.

Internally, we add new experts as trends and content marketing evolves to match those needs, and we create inside mentoring just for our writers to read and grow. We take a look at new SEO and content marketing tools on the market when they come out, and integrate them into our content strategy where we can.

Today, we’re taking an inside look as to what sets our two writing levels apart, what level your business and web presence might benefit from investing in, and some case studies of how far expert writing can take you.

The Difference of our Levels: General vs. Expert vs. Authority

See more on this: Our Writing Levels.

While all of our writers have significant experience in creating high quality, search engine optimized content, expert writers have expertise in a particular set of topics. Especially if you’re in an industry like software, medical, or law, you understand that there are significant, precise details involved. Expert writers understand those.

I sat down with Tara Clapper, our Content Development Specialist, to get her thoughts. She explains this in a really good light.

Tara:

I find it easiest to describe the difference between general and expert content to our clients by using my own experience as an example. I’ve been writing search engine optimized content since 2003. Like most writers, I have a few focused areas of expertise, including marketing.

When I write content about marketing, my background in the topic allows me to find and present a fresh angle in that field. I know exactly where to go to find reputable statistics and facts, too. I would qualify as an expert writer in marketing.

If I instead decided to write about database programming, I’d be lost. While I’m still an experienced writer, database programming is not my field of expertise, and it would show in the writing. When it comes to that subject, I’d be a general writer.

How We Select Writers at Every Level

All of our writers are personally selected by myself. Only 2% make it through the selection process, and once they’re in, we assess and track their interests and areas of expertise. Our editors continually evaluate and mentor the writers, continually helping them improve and refine their craft.

Through this process, we identify writers capable of creating expert content – and we match your content needs with those experts once you make an order.

Here’s another way to explain how different businesses have different needs:

  • Scenario 1: A restaurant owner has a website and needs copy for their web pages. Their food isn’t specialized. It’s good old American pub food, and the copy should appeal to hungry customers looking for some local grub. A general writer would be suitable for this topic.
  • Scenario 2: The owner of a company producing point of sale systems for restaurants needs a blog plan dedicated at selling their system to restaurant chains. They’re speaking a lot about the details of the restaurant industry as well as the software itself. This kind of topic would require some expertise – and it should go to an expert writer.

General vs. Expert (Bonus: vs. Authority) In Action

To represent exactly what we mean by our levels here at Express Writers, let’s look at some actual content quality ordered at the different levels by our clients.

Client A: General Law Article

This client opted in to our $35/500w general blog level, and gave us some general law firm keywords.

general level content

Client B: Expert Law Blog

This client opted in to our expert level at $90/500-600w. They also had a law firm, but wanted a statistical blog by our legal copywriting expert on the state of auto accidents and injury.

expert level content

The difference in these two levels is a much more knowledgeable writer (legal expert) in the Expert writing category. We’ve seen many of our clients move from general to expert, even on bulk orders, these days (more on that below).

Client C: Authority Content

Pssst… I just launched this level last Thanksgiving – more about that here. Authority Content is a select level where a few of my best personally-trained and mentored writers create content that is very similar to Neil Patel, Jon Morrow, and other industry bloggers. I’ve studied how they blog, wrote a guide, and trained the best writers in our team on how to implement similar standards to the best bloggers on the web – and call this level Authority Content.

For the example, this client wanted to be positioned as an authority on Google for a newbie’s guide to building a website. He purchased our authority content level at $600 for 3000w. The resulting 3,300-word article included over 15 screenshots and images. Included in the cost were all the images, many of which were custom created in Adobe by our designer.

authority content example

authority level content authority example

There you have it — the clear differences between our three levels of copy, which also gives you a good direction of which level you need for your brand, depending on your content goals.

Why You Should Consider At Least Expert Level for Your Brand

Nearly all brands that have a custom or crowded niche, or are in marketing, should be investing in expert writing if they’re looking to get content that stands out online. The concept of 10x content explains this. (I wrote an article on Search Engine Journal explaining 10x content: read it here.) That’s why we added seven new industries to the Content Shop this month, and that’s why our team of expert writers cover more than 25 custom industries.

To further delve into “why expert level,” let’s consider a couple massive reasons showing what great copy at an expert level can offer for your online presence.

1. Revenue Numbers Can Translate to 100x More Than What You Put In

I’ve invested time, resources, and revenue to my team members to help me create multiple content pieces for Express Writers.

Some have translated to high revenue returns in a short space of time.

One such piece was a SiteProNews guest blog, How to Create Likeable and Shareable Content. In just a few hours after it went live, we received a warm lead inquiry from a marketer asking for the kind of content that we create for our guest presence.

Inside the next few weeks, he talked to our sales team and converted for $5,000! I invested a little more than $50 into it: my return was 100x the cost of my investment.

Here’s what that cycle looks like, visually:

life cycle of content

2. A Serious Reputation Boost

This case study post on our blog cost about $400 in creation, resources, time spent and teamwork. That’s not including the cost of the tool subscriptions that we used to research for the piece: BuzzSumo and SEMrush.

The result? Massive exposure and reputation boost for our brand. We reinforced how much we hold to quality and doing our best marketing through our own product of deliverable, quality content, and where it’s brought us today (4,000+ keyword rankings, $13,000/monthly worth in organic traffic).

Why Should You Consider Authority Content?

I’ve answered that question at length here: Want to Be An Online Success? You Need to Be An Authority (& The Backstory of How I Launched Authority Content) Go read it for the full answer and backstory on how and why I launched our fairly new authority level.

Authority content isn’t for the faint of heart. It is, however, for those who want to “rule Google” and win the hearts of their readers. If that’s the content for you, go see it in the Content Shop here!

Summing up What Differentiates Our Writing Levels at Express Writers: General, Expert, Authority

There you have it.

An explanation of what we serve, at the three levels.

It’s simple, and most importantly, we guarantee quality at every level.

Why stop short with anything less?

Talk to us today about your content! We’d love to hear from you.

cta great copy