express writers may 2018

2.4 Million Words Written in May: 3 Lessons Learned from Express Writers’ Highest-Earning Month (Video)

Whew! It’s been quite a year already, friends!

Today, I’m here to share with you on video three of my biggest lessons on why my agency, Express Writers, achieved its highest-earning month in business ever this May 2018.

This May marked our official 7-year business anniversary. Inside that one month, we wrote over 2,482,650 words, and earned over $186,000 in sales. For the month, we created almost 5,000 pieces of content! That doesn’t even include the content strategy and social media services we also did for our clients for the month.

Compare that to a month prior, in April, when we wrote 1.9 million words, or in January of this year, when we wrote 1.8 million words.


Our business grew by 150% inside just one month!

And, we’re seeing the momentum stick around for June!

How did we do it?

Dive in to today’s video. (Stick around for the third and most important lesson at the end!)

express writers

2.4 Million Words Written in May: 3 Lessons Learned from Our Highest-Earning Business Month Ever (Video)

Lesson #1: Everything Comes Together When You Have the Pieces

The first lesson from achieving a record month: everything comes together when you have the pieces.

Let me explain.

There’s this zone, when you’re starting out in business, where everything is hard. You know, it’s hustle, hustle, hustle. Find the right people, there’ll be churn, maybe you outsourced to the wrong people and lose a few steps…but I can tell you, if you keep coming back from that, you WILL find all the pieces eventually. Running a successful business is a matter of sheer determination and perseverance despite all the odds.

Thomas Edison said:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

One major piece we were missing was making our clients feel like they were part of a brand that really knew what they were doing. I’d published multiple books, had a course out, was known in the industry, and we have some of the best industry standards as an agency for finding and training great writers. But, we still had clients treating us like crap and many that we’d have to chase down and remind them to buy.

We solved that piece recently. On the first week of May, we shut our Content Shop down and opened our services to invitation only. Read the full announcement here: Celebrating 7 Years in Business, Our Story, & Announcement: We’re Now Taking New Clients By Invitation Only

This made a VAST improvement, almost right away, in the interactions we had with clients and the sales we were making. Clients treated us like they had to earn our trust! It was wonderful. Sales improved, and the way my staff is treated has improved. We still interact with a few stragglers that like to be keyboard warriors, but overall, the change in closing down our services and having our staff manually approve new clients has been hugely positive for us.

Lesson #2: Get Strategic With How You Serve Your Customers to Grow Your Income

The second lesson I’d share from achieving our record month is that when we got strategic with how we served our customers, our income grew.

#1 we found the right people. #2 our managers knew what they were doing, they had history with our clients, and they thought strategically. So for example, instead of trying to scramble at the last minute to deliver a service, they figured out how to track our writers’ availability better and have our clients’ content tasks more strategically distributed.

Remember, everything is harder at the beginning because you probably don’t know what you are doing! That was me, literally, the first 4-5 years in business.

The minute I had a clear picture on the fact that we needed to get strategic with how we serve our clients, our income grew.

If you don’t have a strategy in place for every part of your deliverables, GET ONE IN PLACE. Know what you’re delivering, when, and get all those little pieces in-between figured out. Pay for software to help you organize deadlines if you need to. It’ll be worth it.

Lesson #3: Find Your Top 1-2 Priorities to Retain & Keep Clients

The third lesson from our biggest month in business might surprise you.

If I was to ask you, as a writing agency, what do you think our most important priority should be, what would you say? Quality content? Reaching out to new leads daily? Staffing the best writers? All of those are important, but I can tell you there’s one thing that we see is absolutely critical to earning our client’s business. Well, two things really.

Fast and effective communication as well as on-time service.

If we get that wrong in any way, chances are the client won’t be back. We can revise content if it didn’t match standards, and we have such high standards with our writers, we literally hire some of the best. So we’ve got that figured out, to an extent. But what we have to put as a #1 priority with our staff every day is fast, effective communication, and on-time deliveries of our content services.

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The Story Behind Express Writers: Julia McCoy, Founder Shares “From College Dropout to $4 Million”

99% of our sales here at Express Writers come through the content marketing we do.

I believe it’s possible, because I’ve done it.

Revenue-generating content marketing is not a myth, or some secret recipe that you have to be born into.

It’s what we do everyday, and I believe you can, too.

I’m Julia McCoy, and I’m a college dropout.

I’ve sold over $4 million dollars worth of content creation services to thousands of clients across the globe through the company I founded, Express Writers. Today I lead a team of 40 hand-picked writers, creators, and project managers.

More importantly, we have the best client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had, and we just had our biggest month in sales.

Just 6 years ago I started with nothing but $75, a hope, and a dream.

Here’s how I did it…

Because I’m on a mission to inspire you to achieve your dream even faster than I did.

The Story Behind Express Writers: Julia McCoy, Founder Shares “From College Dropout to $4 Million”

I was 19 years old and failing out of nursing school.

I didn’t have a safety net and nursing school was not going to work, so I asked myself: what do I love to do, and how can I make money doing it?

I love to write. By age 12, I’d written a 200-page medieval fiction novella. And at 13, I was teaching myself internet marketing, doing surveys for cash, learning basic computer skills. I walked around the neighborhood offering my services to the public. It worked out well, and I was earning $400 in a given month before I turned 16.

I jumped in.

In the next 3 months, I taught myself how to write, and I wrote over 250 articles for very cheap clients. But that was how I honed my early writing skills.

I also started learning a lot of SEO and content marketing back then.

More Work Than I Could Handle as a Freelancer

Two things happened:

  1. I discovered an untapped need in the marketplace when I combined content marketing with search engine optimization (SEO). Most of my competitors were frustrating clients by being one or the other. I blended the two disciplines to write content that positioned my clients as an authority AND turned into real sales, which led to…
  2. More work than I could handle.

And that’s when I started blogging regularly on my own site, and found businesses willing to pay top dollar for lead generating content, and we grew.

I had one goal when I started my company back then: it was to find a group of writers who had passion in online writing, and who I could teach the elements of SEO and content marketing to, and we could learn and progress together, as a whole.

Getting Disowned by My Parents Led to a Better Future

You might say “oh sure, this was easy for you with your family’s support.”

The truth is, it wasn’t.

I didn’t have a safety net.

I grew up in a religiously suppressed home. My dad was the pastor of a church, and on my 21st birthday , my parents locked me in my bedroom with a letter telling me my life was worth nothing.

I shouldn’t have been born.

I was not allowed to lead a normal life, was told everything I did was wrong, and my business skills were looked down on.

Even though that was the only home I’d known, when I got that letter I knew that it wasn’t normal and I had to get out.

Six months later, my sister and I made the difficult decision to escape in the middle of the night. It was very heartbreaking, but it was the only shot I had to follow my dreams and chase my passions.

200% Growth for Express Writers in the Early Years

Completely bootstrapped, no outside funding, no family support, no safety net.. my content agency, Express Writers, grew 200% in the next few years.

The first year was $50,000, and in the next few years we hit $300,000, and last year we just surpassed $650,000.

Taught Through Failure = My Greatest Lessons for Success

As an entrepreneur, you often hear that failure precedes success.

Early in 2016, I discovered two trusted managers in my staff were embezzling. I fired them, rebuilt the team, over the next five months.

I learned that with a supportive environment, ongoing accountability for your staff, and most importantly, the right people, there is no limit to what you can do as a business. That experience taught me what it means to create a great company culture, and serve our clients with the best customer service.

The CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, said “the secret to successful hiring is this: find the people that want to change the world.”

For me, that was finding people that shared my goal, a gigantic goal, of creating the best copywriting agency on the planet, and giving our clients the best content that they’ve ever gotten.

One of my biggest lessons was that it’s not about the job descriptions in your company, it’s about the environment and how your staff support each other.

The next big lesson is to constantly evolve. What helped grow our company in the beginning might not work today. For example, we had a terrific commissioned sales rep but I wanted a culture of cultivating great client relationships rather than a culture chasing end of quarter sales quotas.

I replaced our commissioned sales rep with a real content marketing expert, to do consulting and selling at Express Writers. After she was working here for a week, I checked in with one of our clients, and asked: Could you rate the difference in experience between the commissioned sales rep and our content expert? And he said that the difference was 100x better. I knew we were on the right track.

I couldn’t be more proud of the team we have in place today. We are greater than the sum of our parts.

There are no limits to what we can do as a company, because we’re learning and progressing together.

Our team is large but nimble enough to adapt quickly, which gives our clients the best service. We’re seeing the highest writer retention rates, we’re able to provide full time jobs for the writers we have, and we’re seeing the highest client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had as well.

What Is Your Biggest Success Secret in Entrepreneurism?

I think my biggest lesson as an entrepreneur and content marketer is that the right people, working next to you, make all the difference.

There’s also no I in SUCCESS.

There is an “US” in success, though.

You can’t move forward and hit your best success level by yourself. It’s just not possible.

I hope that this story inspired you!

Follow me at “JuliaEMcCoy” on Facebook, Twitter, and Julia McCoy on YouTube.

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express writers story

The Entrepreneurial Story: How I Founded Express Writers From $75, Grew a Successful Company Mindset, and My Greatest Lessons in Business (Video)

This very month, back in 2011, I was plowing the seed of an idea, hiring five writers, and coding my own website.

I decided to launch the idea, and came up with a business name in five minutes: Express Writers.

As we move into our 6th business anniversary (and my 7th in the industry), I thought it would be awesome to get on video and sharing the story behind Express Writers – on camera!

So, for the first (ever) video story that I’m finally doing, I’m sharing the story of how I started out in freelance writing at 19 then stumbled into creating Express Writers out of $75, a hope and a dream.

That was what I started with – and nothing more.

We’ve been bootstrapped all the way, learned some hard lessons, went through some crazy times, and came out stronger from every hard-knocks lesson learned. Today, we’ve served over 5,000 clients, and have grown by leaps and bounds: 200-300% year after year. This year, we were able to break all previous year’s records for client satisfaction rates and monthly income.

But the story behind Express Writers’ creation isn’t complete without the real, raw, personal side of my life that I chose to change for the better (a personal, forced lifestyle that I chose to leave – and if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be here writing this blog today.)

Here it is.

The real, raw, true story of how Express Writers came to be.

What made us, what shaped us, and what we’re doing today in the industry.


The Entrepreneurial Story: How Julia McCoy Founded Express Writers From $75, Grew a Company Mindset, and Life Lessons in Business (Video Transcript)

I run a writing agency, and 7 years ago I started with nothing but $75, a hope, and a dream.

Today, we have the best client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had, and we just surpassed our biggest month in sales.

So, how have I been able to do it in such a competitive industry? Here’s my story.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Watch @JuliaEMcCoy’s #video story behind the creation of Express Writers. #entrepreneur” quote=”Watch @JuliaEMcCoy’s #video story behind the creation of Express Writers. #entrepreneur”]

express writers launch story

Everything started in my business back when I was 19. I was in the middle of nursing school, and I was failing miserably. One day I woke up, and I asked myself: what do I love to do, and how can I make money doing it?

I knew what the answer was in my heart: it was writing. That went back all the way before I was 12. I was always writing, and by age 12 I had a 200-page medieval fiction on a floppy disk. Along with that, I had early entrepreneurial roots. I figured out how to make money using the internet at 13: I was earning cash doing surveys. And by 16 – I don’t know where this idea came from, it was just in my head one day – I decided to go around the neighborhood and ask people if they needed help using their computer. I posted ads in the grocery store, and within a few days, I had several clients and I was making $40/hour at 16.

So at 19, when I found myself in the middle of college trying to get a degree that I didn’t even want, I decided I would just try to figure out online writing and make a career out of it. And the next three months, I taught myself how to write, and I wrote hundreds of articles for very cheap clients: but that was how I honed my early writing skills. I also started learning a lot of SEO and content marketing back then.

Before I knew it, I had more work than what I could handle. My next logical thought was, why not start a business? And Express Writers was born.

I had one goal when I started my company back then: it was to find a group of writers who had passion in online writing, and who I could teach the elements of SEO and content marketing to, and we could learn and progress as a whole. I noticed a phenomenon back then: a lot of so-called writers didn’t know the standards of how to write for SEO, or the reader. So I started my business with that one goal, and clients began to trust me and to look to me for SEO and content marketing advice. And that’s when I started blogging regularly on my site,

But the story is not complete without sharing a personal story. I grew up in a religiously suppressed environment. My dad was the pastor of a church, and at 21, I found myself locked up in my room by my parents and given a letter for my birthday that said I was a disgrace to my family. We were not allowed to lead normal lives, and my business was looked down on. So when I got that letter, even though that environment was the only thing I knew, I knew that it wasn’t normal and I had to get out.

So six months later, my sister and I made the decision to leave in the middle of the night. And we did. It was very hard, but I had the opportunity to go follow what I loved to do, and go follow my dreams and chase my passions once I got out of that environment.

I did that, and completely bootstrapped, without any outside funding, we grew 200% in the next few years. The first year was $50,000, and in the next few years we hit $300,000, and last year we just surpassed $650,000.

As an entrepreneur, you often hear that failure precedes success. And that’s not just a quote or a fun saying, that’s the truth. Early last year, I found out that two trusted managers in my staff were embezzling. I had to fire them, and rebuild the team, and that took 5 months of hard work.

I learned that with a supportive environment, ongoing accountability for your staff, and most importantly, the right people, there is no limits to what you can do as a business. That experience taught me what it means to create a great company culture, and serve our clients with the best customer service.

The CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, said:

“The secret to successful hiring is this: find the people that want to change the world.”

And for me, that was finding people that shared my goal, a gigantic goal, of creating the best copywriting agency on the planet, and giving our clients the best content that they’ve ever gotten.

But in the five months of rebuilding, it was the hardest thing to find the right people. One of my biggest lessons was that it’s not about the roles in your company, it’s about the environment and how your staff support each other.

So when we were rebuilding our company culture that year, and with a goal to give our clients the best customer service we possibly could, I decided to let our commissioned sales rep go. And it was scary, because she was getting us sales, but she was chasing the sale instead of the relationship with our customers.

So I replaced the commissioned sales rep with an expert to do the consulting and the selling at Express Writers. I was honored to find an industry content marketing expert to join the team. After she was working here for a week, I went to one of our clients, and I was very straight up. I asked: Could you rate the difference in experience between the commissioned sales rep and our expert? And he said that the difference was 100x better. I knew we were on the right track.

So last year, even though we went through a lot, and it took 5 months to find the right people, when we found them there’s no limit now to what we can do as a company, because we’re able to learn and progress together. Our team is large but small enough to be able to do that, which gives our clients the best service.

So we’re seeing the highest writer retention rates, we’re able to provide full time jobs for the writers we have, and we’re seeing the highest client satisfaction rates that we’ve ever had as well.

So, 3 lessons in business.

Everything changes when you find the right team. That’s #1. When you find the right people to work right next to you in the daily grind, work becomes delightful because you support each other. I’m so honored today to lead in my staff full-time a group of women that all share the same goal, to serve our clients best and to evolve and progress with the industry.

I encourage communication in my team. Even though we’re remote, we’re so close-knit. We have daily Skype threads that address the different topics we all talk about.

The second lesson in business is: in the trenches of failure, success is often born. Failure is really hard to go through, but I believe that it’s one of the greatest ways to learn the lessons that will teach you growth.

And the last lesson is, success is a progression. It’s not something you hit and plateau at, it’s a continual progression, something you work very hard at every day.

So this summer, a big goal of mine is to launch a course. I’m launching a content strategist certification course. I’m going to certify in content strategy, and I’m putting together everything I’ve learned in the last 7 years of finding the right keywords for your niche, what tools to use, how to use them to get your best content opportunities, how to find trending topics, how to put together an editorial calendar – which is what we get paid to do daily for our clients. So all of that is going into a course, and it will be out this summer. If you want to sign up to get notified, the link will be in the description of this video. 

Thank you so much for watching! You can follow me at @JuliaEMcCoy on Facebook and Twitter, and @ExpWriters on Twitter.


What did you think?

Go easy on me in the comments. 😉

I’d love to hear your feedback – I’m an introvert, so, video isn’t easy for me. You just might inspire me to do it more!

And don’t forget…

Update: September of 2017, my course officially launched! Learn about my certification course here: <—- I’m so excited about this! 

content strategy course cta


Google Hangout: Content Curation Interview with Guillaume Decugis, CEO of ScoopIt & Julia McCoy

On January 13, I held a Google Hangout on Air with the CEO of, where I interviewed him about and the value of content curation this year. Below is the video and full transcript. It was a very insightful chat. Enjoy! 


View the Google HOA here.


Content Curation Interview with Guillaume Decugis Transcript


Julia: Hello everyone, I’m Julia McCoy, the CEO of Express Writers, a copywriting agency. I have with me today the CEO of Can I ask you to pronounce your name, if you don’t mind?


Guillaume: Sure, so hi everyone, I’m Guillaume Decugis.


Julia: Guillaume. Did I say that right?


Guillaume: Yes!


Julia: Great! Awesome. So, to start this off, I just wanted to talk to you about your tool. I think it’s an excellent tool for content curation that is a huge need coming up this year. We’re just seeing so much content happen, and we need tools for content curation, to be able to sort this content, and to be able to share it. So, tell me a little about, how you built it, and how it helps businesses today.


Guillaume: Well, thanks for the praise. So was something we started and launched three years ago. We launched it because we realized that Web 2.0 was creating an opportunity and a pressure. The opportunity and the pressure is actually the same. The opportunity is we can become a media publisher, we can publish a lot of content. That’s what all those tools around Web 2.0 helped us do. It’s not just an opportunity, it became a pressure.


Now that everybody can publish content, if you do not, then you simply don’t exist.


Or if you publish bad content, you might hurt your brand. So we felt that pressure is going to be something that a lot of professionals, businesses, companies, big and small are going to have a tough time with. Because..


Not everybody is a content creator. It takes time, energy, talent, inspiration to create good content.


And so we felt a lot of people will be struggling with that. And there’s an alternative to create content, or complement. We like to talk about complement, which is content curation. We felt not everybody can become an awesome blogger, an awesome video producer. But, we believe that fundamentally all businesses, all professionals have expertise. When you’re good at what you’re doing, you’ve done that for a few years, you have expertise and you can apply that expertise to curate content, which means selecting great content that you feel is relevant to your field, and adding your own value, your own context: telling your audience why this was an awesome piece of content. And we felt that was much more accessible to professionals in general, and it is a great way to build your content strategy for your business. So that’s the background behind it.


Julia: That’s excellent! I agree with everything you said about getting content, and staying on the map with content. As you may or may not know, I developed some content strategizing products in our own company. We wanted to go beyond just creating content. So we looked into creating curation, and we were going to try to plan content, and show people how to find content. One of the tools I found was I was so happy it was so simple to use, and I was researching maybe 20 different tools. was a key of how we find content.


How do you see it as answering a big need for curation coming up this year?


Guillaume: So, first of all, I love the fact you found simple, because that’s really I think the key to what we’ve been trying to do. We wanted to make it super simple.


Let’s clarify something: curation in itself is not simple. If you don’t have tools, it’s actually very complicated, and you can waste a lot of time trying to find great content.


You’ll have this experience of, like, I’ve been browsing the web for FOUR hours and I felt I achieved nothing. And so we felt we needed to combine a couple of things. First, a piece of technology that could automate your content monitoring. And let’s be clear: automation, we automate the discovery of content, we never automate publishing. So we empower our users to publish in their own name what they’ve selected, and we make it easy for them to find content instead of searching for it hours every day. In just a few minutes, you can have the most relevant content in your field, directly on your engine. So simplicity is at the core of what we’re trying to achieve.


I was asked by the Content Marketing Institute, what’s my prediction for 2015, and I think, you know, content marketing has been around for a few years. It’s maturing and it’s something that large companies have embraced. They’ve moved from traditional advertising, which is kind of old fashioned, to creating excellent content.


The company which I admire which is probably the pioneer of content marketing is Redbull. If you look at what Redbull has become, they’re not a soft drink company anymore. They’re a media company. They have this content pool with 50,000 pieces of content, they launched a man to space and broke the record of parachuting down to earth. They’ve done amazing stuff, they’ve done amazing content. But the thing is they’re a large company, and they’re making a bold bet of transforming their company into a media company. A lot of the small midsize companies have not been able to do this, because it takes resources, it takes a long term horizon that large companies have and small companies don’t have. So my prediction for 2015 was that content marketing is now going to become mainstream. It’s going to become something that millions of SMBs in the US or in the world are going to be able to embrace. And, I think curation is going to play a very important role there, because if you think of content marketing where a lot of people like to mix up creation and curation, and the large brands have resources. They can create a lot of content, they can have agencies work for them. But for more SMBs, they usually don’t have access to that, they usually don’t have a budget for that. So, curation is necessary for them to embrace content marketing, and that’s what we see coming in 2015, a lot of SMBs embracing content marketing through content creation and curation.


Julia: I totally agree with you. Everything you said is really insightful. I see that there is so much content on the web and it’s growing every day as you know, and it’s so important to curate and create to make your own mark.


Guillaume: Having a mix is really important. We’re not saying stop creating content; we’re saying if you have a day job, or if you’re not a natural born writer, it takes time and you should really focus on exceptional pieces of content. And we believe that curation forms creation. By curating you will spot the gaps in your field that nobody is writing about, like the things you’ve learned, you can tell. Instead of adding to the noise by creating another piece of content that’s already been written, you can use your curation abilities to say, I’ve shared some really good articles by other people, but nobody has been writing on that particular point, and I can share that and I can educate my audience. So, we’re strong believers in balance and there’s strong synergies in curation and creation.


Julia: Exactly. That’s something I’ve been blogging about in a few of my recent blogs, I talked about that exact idea.


Guillaume: Yeah, I love your blog posts by the way, I’ve curated a few of those already. Really good.


Julia: Now about blogging, I also wanted to ask you how businesses can use to publish their own content. Tell me more about that.


Guillaume: So our view is, the way we look at content and content strategy for businesses, we look at a couple of things. We think you should have a content hub, a place where all of your content, whether curated or created, can reside. A lot of businesses blog already, and if you have a blog you should make it your content hub. integrates with WordPress, or Tumblr, so it’s very easy to consolidate everything in something that already exists, like your blog. So we look at you should have a content hub, which is where you’re going to drive your audience to, which is going to be a place where people can see all of your content that defines you.


We like to say you are the content you publish.


Whether it’s created or curated, and you can organize that content the way you want. It’s also going to be a place whether you can drive SEO content, where people will be able to discover you from search, not just from your social channels. You will also be able to convert. You know, we’re doing content strategy, content marketing because we think it’s fundamentally good for your business, so it should be a way to drive and generate leads, and convert people to either subscribe, or buy, or drive a sale. And you have to have your own face to do this. It could be a WordPress blog, it could be another blog. And for those who don’t have a blog, we have a live publishing platform on so you can create pages with your created and curated content. You can use that as like a blogging platform.


So that’s one thing that’s your content hub; then you should think about all the distribution channels you could use, social media of course. is connected with all the social media channels, so in the same way you feed your blogs or your content hub on, you distribute that content to social media, to Facebook, LinkedIn, not just for files but for groups. We also integrate with the ability to create newsletters. Email has been under the radar for a few years because we say, ah, social media is the new way to distribute. We still believe that email is super important, super relevant, still in 2015. We integrate with Mailchimp to make it super easy to distribute by email. So, I like to think about creating a content hub wherever you feel affordable. But you should really own it. And with the premium version of, you can really make pages your own, you can really integrate with WordPress, and distribution channels which should be social, SEO, email, to name a few ones.


Julia: Wow, it sounds like a really thorough platform. We’ve been using it to find content, but I don’t think we’ve been using all the features of being able to publish. So, instead of a social media competitor, it sounds like really you’re your own content hub.


Guillaume: Yes. You know, again, I think it’s an evolution of which is evolving. We’re actually about to launch a new version of the platform.


Julia: Yes, tell me about that.


Guillaume: That platform is really going to be reaching all around the needs of SMEs. And I think, as grew we evolved from being a tool to becoming a solution. And what do I mean by that? Very quickly, started as a discovery tool. The first users of liked it, that they could discover content very rapidly, and then share that content to their social handles. Then we’ve added the ability to create content hubs, or view existing content hubs on WordPress. The solution people need is actually a combination of things. We think SMEs actually need a workflow. They don’t need just discovery, just distribution, just content hubs. They need a combination of that, of all things, and they need to be able to manage it. We have this new version coming in a couple of weeks, which is really about planning your content. Number one, having a calendar that gives you a full view of what is it you have plans for the next few days. Second, sourcing which is essentially the discovery part but enriched with a lot of admins features. So sourcing all of the content that feeds that planning, and then integrated with feeding a destination but also feeding distribution channels as we discussed, and also all of the analytics activity, did you get traffic, engagement, leads. So we’re packaging all of those things into a very neat solution that takes you through a content workflow with a 360 global approach.


Julia: Wow! So that’s really impressive. So that’s getting ready to launch next week?


Guillaume: Next week or the following week we’re getting ready. So in the next two weeks. Before the end of the month.


Julia: That’s a good goal! That sounds really great. So, thank you for your time and going through all of that. It’s really great to see all the features of and what it can bring just coming up this year, because content is going to be a monster. And this tool can help businesses get control of it, and just not be average with content. And, you know, just do better than your industry competitor. So do you see a lot of growth coming up, do you anticipate that this year?


Guillaume: Do I see a lot of what, sorry?


Julia: Growth.


Guillaume: Oh yeah, absolutely. I think right now we’ve been seeing large companies embrace content marketing, and we’re used by large companies as well, as more and more are using collaborative features. We’ve been used by 1.5 million professionals primarily as a discovery social media tool, and so I think we’ve seen more and more SMBs embrace as part of everything. So we have been growing very fast, we’re closing our books and so I don’t know the final numbers yet, but we’ve been focusing on that for about 15 months now. We’ve grown in a year from 0 to 3,000 business and enterprise plans, and I think it’s going to accelerate throughout the year. I see a lot of, the story that you just told, businesses are now embracing content, they’re realizing it’s not just talk with peers on social media, they’re realizing you need to have that publishing capability in order to build your SEO, your inbound marketing, your inbound leads. I think that’s going to be an essential drive and an essential strategy to grow yourself. We’ve moved from SEM and emails to getting social media, trying to explore social media. I think those companies will understand that. It’s a powerful sales channel for us. The companies that do that will grow much faster than their competitors. And that’s going to happen this year.


Julia: That sounds really great. It’s just amazing how much content has grown in the past few years and how it’s changed so much.


Guillaume: Yes! And you know, another thought I would like to bring is, if you think that this whole change, driven again by Web 2.0, is about us becoming media publishers, as professionals or as businesses.


I would encourage you to look at what are the media outlets that really became rockstars in the past 5-10 years. It’s not the NY Times, it’s not the Washington Post. If you look at the history of media, it’s completely changed.


The media that created a lot of value and grew the fastest were the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Business Insider, Upworthy.


They don’t produce 100% of their content. They use a mix of their own content and curated content, or even some of them, like Upworthy, just do curation. They do awesome curation, which means that curation really can drive amazing traffic. So if you’re going to become as businesses, media, because Web 2.0 puts us in that corner and puts that pressure on us, we shouldn’t look at becoming media in the old-fashioned, twentieth-century way, like the NY Times 20 years ago, we should look at becoming media in the modern way like the Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Upworthy. That’s using that mix of curation and creation, that makes it easy to scale and helps you become lean with content. We like to talk about lean content as a way to be efficient with your content strategy. And I think those media are a good example of that.


Julia: That’s a great point.


Just to wrap this up, I know you’ve mentioned a couple times just a mix of curation and creation. What do you recommend, knowing what you do, having gone through content, building, what do you see as a good schedule for curating (something that’s not original, but relatable to what you do) and then creating your own content? Would you say 50/50, like two blogs a week, and then a few curated?


Guillaume: So the way I like to define, for some people it will be 50/50, for others 80/20, the thing that I would encourage people to look at is what comes naturally. Focus your creation activity in creating really epic content, something that if you’re going to devote some time away from your business, away from your customers, away from your employees, you should really make it count. To me, that’s the rule. If you’re talking about a 3 people shop where the business owner has a lot of things, that could be once a month. If we’re talking about 200-people company which already has a marketing team, it could be blogging once a day (everybody publishes, you know, once a week, and if they’re a 5 people team, that’s once a day). But then, look at curation to fill in the gaps for everything else. And so I think it’s depending on,


The minute you start creating low quality content is where you should stop.


You should stop and say, well, instead of creating low quality content, create less content but curate more content. You will augment the quality of whatever your readers receive. To me that’s the signal, when you start realizing, ah! I’m pressuring myself too much, and I’m creating something I’m not really proud of. You’re better off spending that time curating.

Julia: That’s a really great rule. I think anyone could take that rule and make it work.


Guillaume: Yeah, I mean that’s the rule I apply myself, whatever I feel uninspired, and I feel I’m going to force myself to blog, force myself to create something, maybe two hours later I’m going to go through content suggestions on, and I’ll find a great piece of content and I’m inspired, and suddenly I turn that into a mini blog post, using the publishing capabilities of the platform, and that’s so much better.


Because I’ve added to the discussion, instead of adding noise.


That’s been working a lot better for us as well, and our clients.


Julia: Yes, great rule. I would add nothing to it. Really good.


Thank you so much for your time today! This was a really insightful chat, and it was really good to talk.


Guillaume: Thank you, and if anybody has a question they want to throw out, my Twitter handle is @gdecugis. Feel free to tweet me, and I’m passionate about this discussion, so we are engaged.


Julia: Yes! That sounds great. We will have to probably schedule another one of these.


Guillaume: Alright! Bye.


Julia: Thanks for your time!


Guillaume: Thanks Julia.



Follow Guillaume Decugis on Twitter. 

Google Hangout with Robert O’Haver and Rand Fishkin, CEO of MOZ, on Web Content Trends for 2014

We had the opportunity to attend and pose a live question during a Google Hangout on Air hosted by Robert O’Haver with guest speaker Rand Fishkin, CEO of Moz, 20-year Internet veteran also known for co-authoring Art of SEO and co-founding

View the Hangout on Youtube

Since Rand was answering questions live on air, I was able to post two questions for him, which he answered during the Hangout:



Rand’s question to our first question, what does he think about guest blogging, was sending us to his blog on the matter: Why Guest Posting & Blogging is a Slippery Slope. He posted this early in the week when checking on the G+ questions:



Rand’s blog on guest blogging is well-worth a read if you are looking for in-depth thoughts, including answers to certain fallacies and assumptions about the matter.


His answer to our second question, what does Rand think in general of web content trends for 2014, was live on air. We’ve transcribed it:


Rand: So Julia wants to know, I and many others I know and work with would love to know what Rand thinks in general of web content trends in 2014. So I’ll answer the second one, since we talked about the first one.


So web content trends: the way I see things going is essentially we have sort of what I call two big trends going on.


One is a massive increase in the number of marketers who are interested in and performing content marketing; and because of that, you have much, much more competition than you’ve ever had before. That increased competition is causing a second trend, which is what I call consumer or content fatigue.


People who use social media to find content, find things on Reddit, get stuff emailed to them by friends, use Facebook, are getting overwhelmed; the amount of content that they are receiving, or you know being able to access, is just exponentially larger than it was a couple of years ago.


And so, what these two trends together combine to do is they make it such that a content marketer today and for the future is going to have to do two things in my opinion. Number one, focus on quality over quantity. Right? You can’t just say to do content marketing, I’m going to put out a blog post every night. I don’t think that’s what true, great content marketing will entail. I think it‘ll be: I have something truly valuable to share, I have a great way to present it, I have really put in the effort, I will put something out there that is far beyond the quality of what anyone else has done.


The second piece of that is not just great quality, but uniqueness of presentation. So, being the exception to the rule is going to be more and more and more important. That means the standard, long scroll-y infographic that everyone has seen a hundred thousand times, it has a little chart for a little thing, that might not be so great anymore. The silly little, fun little YouTube video might not work as well as it used to. The standard blog post with just some blocks of text might not work so well. But, we’re seeing the rise of things like Svbtle as a blogging platform because it’s very unique and it really is the exception to the rule in terms of things like presentation. We’re seeing a lot more visual assets do particularly well; high quality, interactive elements and quizzes and these types of things. The NY Times had a great language-based quiz that tried to identify where you were from based on how you answered particular questions. So, you know, there’s opportunity.


Presenter: Robert O’Haver I think, you also mentioned it, but the importance of not just puking up what someone else has written, but be unique with it, and stay relevant.


Rand: Yeah, absolutely.


Thank you, Rand, for such a great and informative answer to our question!

Julia Interviews Marc Landsberg, CEO of Social Deviant

I had the pleasure of interviewing Marc Landsberg, CEO of Social Deviant, on Friday, January 24, 2014. See Marc’s blog and see his company online, Social Deviant. We were originally planning a Google Hangout, hosted by Open Communications, Mark’s marketing team—but it refused to work for us. Yes, maddening! Especially because we had our video cameras all ready! But, we were still able to meet in a recorded phone conference, and had a great conference together. 

What Marc Thought of Express Writers!


I started by introducing my company and asking Marc about Social Deviant. In return, Marc first started off by talking about how he appreciated, and saw the need and value for, the specific and large amounts of content Express Writers publishes. Marc is a 25+ year marketing veteran with a global exposure to CMOs, CEOs, for a long time, having built and sold his own businesses across the years. He saw a frustration in this world among agency owners where people did not create real-world content, which he saw as fundamental for their success—not an afterthought. Smart marketing of the future is smart content marketing, and they are synonymous. He saw the value in what Express Writers does from noticing a lack of the type of content we deliver. For instance, in one blog we talked about how to optimize your Pinterest posts. Marc saw that this offered real-world value to our followers. Too many agencies, Marc said, saw things from a 30,000 foot view—and the content topics we are delivering are spot on in today’s Internet.


Social Deviant Serving Big Names

Marc then talked about the value his brand, Social Deviant, brings to clients. “A toddler in a man’s body,” his less-than-two-year-old company focuses on helping their clients build smart social media strategies, identifying target audiences, thinking about business objectives and marketing goals, defining the content mixed model, and putting this into social platforms; including specific management, development, and optimization. SD links a strategic approach with a conceptual, creative approach instead of a programmatic idea of reposting, etc.  It’s a different approach, top-down rather than bottom-up. He outlined how he’s been targeting key metrics and building a content strategy for several clients. Just two years old, Social Deviant has already built out an entire strategy plan for amplify and publicize a new route in air travel across social media, and a specific retainer project for a big brand for Miller Coors Kraft Beer.


Why Social Deviant?

I asked Marc about his reasoning behind the company name Social Deviant. He believes in deviating from the typical and wants to revolutionize, in several ways, the field he works in. It’s also just as much as important, how you do it as what you do. Great reasoning, Marc!


Content & Social Media

Next up were my questions for Marc. Since he has probably seen it all when it comes to social media, I asked him what he thought of the role that content played in social media, specifically for example: how do blogs work for social media?


Content & Social Media = Synonymous

Marc said this is one of his favorite questions. What Social Deviant has done is equate social media with content. Social Deviant has basically made social media and content synonymous. Social media is content, Marc said. He said Express Writers’ content is great—because everything they do for clients is about content. Strategic issues arise, for example, how to measure and manage over time; how staffing can deliver smart content marketing; with POV on lots of this. Social Deviant has done a little “sleight-of-hand” to equate social media marketing to content marketing and include things like business metrics and content types, formats, frequency and volume, the social platforms, syndication and optimization strategies. He’s developed a 7-or-8 point list of content strategizing for all of his clients, making social media = content marketing synonymous.


Less Teaching In This Area?

I asked Marc if he has noticed less of a need for teaching, with more and more people realizing they need content. He said clients choose Social Deviant because they embrace the fact they need to be better content marketers. SD only pursues like-minded clients. Marc says: if you stink at advertising we’re probably not your guys, and I don’t have the time or energy to convince you that that’s the wrong approach! Instead, he is looking for clients who know they need to be smarter. The question isn’t just about social media, it’s about how to be a better content marketer, when clients approach SD.


Content Marketing As A Whole

SD also looks at all aspects and pieces of content marketing as content, and put a calendar together based on all aspects. They are re-defining what the marketing calendar looks like, driven by content. Put the word social aside, replace it with content. If you have a 12-month calendar, X budget, Y business objectives, what do you need to do to deliver on your marketing objectives? That could be a billboard, a long-form video, a Vine, infographic, images, all of the above. All of this is content. Which of these units make the most impact? Marc admitted it could be cheating—but he has put everything around content, which puts his company in a central role with all his clients. He’s taken the specific word social and replaced it with content.


At the ANA Social Summit in San Francisco, Social Deviant presented their new content calendar, driven by content formats that includes all online and offline content types. Interesting—at a social media summit, they presented an integrated content calendar! Incidentally, it’s now being used by big names like Farmer’s Insurance and was a hit when it was presented.


Marc said that what Express Writers does is very specific, very fantastic, and a great compliment to work that he’s doing. I told him we should hook this together! He said that we absolutely should, and offered to strategize together on a meeting with terrific opportunities to collaborate.


Long-Form Blogs Are Great, Marc Says

I then asked Marc how he saw other content products fitting into the realm of social media and content marketing: infographics, whitepapers, e-books. He said that Social Deviant has basically construed a taxonomy, built across categories and tags, across social platforms. He specifically mentioned that SD loves “long-form blog content.” Google, Marc said, over-indexes it, and it’s even more powerful if you’re smart about the way you blog and you use tags, etc., which is overlooked by clients but yet enormously relevant.


SM Tools

Marc then listed some of the tools that he loves for content curation and discovery: content discovery for hashtags, VideoDeck. He still saw the value of Hootsuite; but there is growing competition there, with bigger clients looking at specific curation, syndication, analytical, or all-of-the-above needs. Adobe Social integrations have been growing.


We ended the call with Marc saying: there should be less hand-waving agency guys and more of you! Very excited to get Marc’s feedback, and it was an honor to talk to him.


Express Writers – Active Collab Review

Active Collab Review

Video Transcription

My name is Julia, and my company is called Express Writers. We are a content provider with over 50 writers and editors. Together, we provide hundreds of content pages from articles, blogs, sales pages, landing pages, and more to clients around the globe.

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pyramid for keywords

The Content Keyword Pyramid

Today, I’d like to talk about writing website content and keywords in a post Penguin 2.0 web world.

This new algorithm update cracks down on content that is spammy.

Spammy content is copy that overuses keywords, is not informative, and is just generally not written well.

Since Penguin 2.0 came out, there’s a big focus on writing excellent website content.

The Keyword Pyramid: How to Use Keywords In Your Content

I’ve developed something called the keyword pyramid to help with writing content around your keywords. The keyword pyramid I’ve developed basically represents the amount of keywords you want in your content. Check it out:

keyword pyramid

It’s an inverted pyramid, and it’s divided up into three sections.

Since it’s inverted, the bottom area are the keywords you’re going to use the most. These are your primary keywords. Secondary, are your derivatives. And tertiary are your synonymous keywords.

As an inverted pyramid, this represents the amount of times you want to use your keywords. So your primary keywords are going to be used the most in your content.

Let’s say for example your product was a sleeping bag. This should be your primary keyword. You want to reach the targeted customers that would be searching for your product. So if you’re selling a sleeping bag, that would be your primary keyword.

Next come the derivatives of this keyword, a variant that you would also offer. Example: British sleeping bag.

Lastly, you have your synonymous keywords. These are anything that is a synonym of your primary keyword. So if we have sleeping bag, a synonym would be slumber bag.

The amount of times you use the keyword in your content should vary. It should not be forced. You shouldn’t count every instance and try to come up with a certain number.

It should just flow through your content naturally. Focus on being informative.

There’s a rule I always say about website content, and it’s been said before:

If you wouldn’t share your own content, you shouldn’t be publishing it.

Your content should be informative; it should be well-written; and it should not over-utilize your keywords.

Get Great Keyword Content Now

Need great web pages? We curate some of the best writers online to formulate our team of writers – order online via our Content Shop!