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content ecosystem

Your Content Bullets Aren’t Working: Why the Answer to Content ROI Lies in a Content Ecosystem

I was listening to a live talk from Jay Baer not too long ago, and this quote hit me hard:

“Stop doing random acts of content. Stop firing content bullets into the air hoping that a customer bird will fly by and that it’ll WORK.”

As this quote permeated my brain, subconsciously stewing while I carried on a typical month interacting with marketers, going through meeting after meeting, leading my team, writing and brainstorming content for all my publications… this thought hit me:

The reason why random content acts don’t work, and why so many believe these low-ROI tactics are still worth trying.

here’s a concept I teach in my Content Strategy & Marketing Course called the “content net.” It’s the antithesis to random acts of content. But, it’s not the norm.

I’m bringing it up today, because, well: content bullets. They need to STOP.

Why? Because one-off content tactics result in dismal content marketing. In an industry that’s already ridiculously tough to break into, relying on content bullets makes NO sense.

Consider this: According to a Backlinko study, 94% of blog posts earn zero external links. 😱

If only 6% of blog posts published get any backlinks, that means it’s a mighty feat to build your link profile and brand authority – especially if your site is brand new.

Even worse, when you ARE able to rank in Google, settling for position #2-10 isn’t enough. You need to be #1 to get the best shot at traffic and leads. That’s because click-through rates (CTR) drastically drop as soon as you fall to position 2, according to an Advanced Web Ranking study. In fact, at position 2, CTR is cut in half.

Unfortunately, ranking #1 for a keyword requires much more than random acts of content. You need more than one bullet to hit the bullseye – especially when that bullseye is a moving target.

So, what exactly does it take?

Let’s get into today’s original concept by yours truly, called the “content ecosystem”, developed to help you understand how and why a long-term, consistent approach to content over time works.

content ecosystem graphic

Your Content Bullets Aren’t Working (Why You’re Still Trying Them)

Learn about @JuliaEMcCoy's original concept called the 'content ecosystem,' developed to help you understand how and why a long-term, consistent approach to content over time works. 🌏 Click To Tweet

Marketers and brands are still relying on content to be their magic shot – the golden bullet that will miraculously hit whatever targets or goals they’re aiming for.

They regard random content as their “golden egg” that will bring in ALL the traffic, leads, and sales $$$ they’ve ever wanted, much like the mythical golden egg from Jack and the Beanstalk (which ensures Jack and his mother live in comfort the rest of their days).

magic content bullets

But content doesn’t operate that way.

For it to work, content needs work. It needs a basic foundation of strategic fundamentals in place to succeed. Most marketers don’t do this, or they don’t fully understand how to do it.

According to a ClearVoice survey of 1,000 marketers, the biggest content challenges are centered around production: time, content quality, creating content, scaling content, and generating ideas.

But, instead of getting strategic and putting in more legwork, they expect a one-off content bullet to make the magic happen and the sales fly in.

How did this happen? How did so many marketers come to think of content as a miraculous solution?

No matter the situation, pretty much nothing in life works like this.

One random act rarely to never equals a level 10 success.

Does a workout, for instance, lead to an instant buff physique? NO. If you pick up the violin, will you be able to play Bach in a week? AS IF.

Look at any major “people” success story. Oprah and her empire. Elon Musk and Tesla. Steve Jobs and Mac. NONE of these mega-brand legacies came about from overnight success or a shot in the dark. These people all worked their butts off to succeed.

Does any good thing in life work this way? Typically not.

So, why are we trying to apply this line of thinking to marketing, to business?

If you could get one-on-one advice from Oprah or Steve Jobs’ ghost or Elon Musk (dreams, am I right?), what do you think they would say?

Here’s my guess:

Quit wimping out and trying to take shortcuts. Quit copying and pasting what “experts” do or say and hoping instant success will come. Stop trying one little tweak and expecting the world to fall in your lap.

Success is about hard work. Not luck, not a shot in the dark, and certainly not a magic bullet. And that absolutely holds true for content.

Success is about hard work. Not luck, not a shot in the dark, and not a magic bullet. And that absolutely holds true for content. 💯 Click To Tweet

Hire a team of proven, capable content experts to boost your online ROI through great content. Visit the content shop here.

Why Today’s Audience Won’t Stand for the Content Bullet

Let’s take this one step further. Content bullets won’t work for you, but also, they won’t EVER work for your audience.

Look at the state of marketing online – people can smell an inauthentic, fake, or “doing it for the likes, follows, traffic, $$” approach from a mile away.

  • The CTR of Facebook ads is dismal – 0.5 – 1.6% – because people are seeing through the bullsh*t marketers and the Lamborghini lies.
  • Every marketing channel you’ve ever relied on is decaying. Andrew Chen calls this “the law of shitty clickthroughs.” It just means that, even when you find a marketing strategy that works, it will inevitably stop working due to increased competition, fading novelty, and more scale. “First to market” means nothing in an online world where saturation happens FAST.
  • As recently as 2018, Instagram has doubled-down on eradicating fake bot accounts, fake likes, and fake followers. People who used to pay to fake a super-popular, engaged account are up a creek without a paddle. (It’s no wonder users prize authenticity online since so much of what we see is staged or fake.)
  • Finally, let’s not forget that people don’t trust ads. In particular, 79% of Gen Z participants said in a recent study that they “avoid ads whenever [they] can.”

Simply put, content bullets pushed out with a “get ROI NOW” mentality are entirely dependent on luck – not a proven formula. Most of all, they can’t possibly contain the heart or soul they need to succeed with audiences hungry for authentic experiences.

Think Beyond Content Bullets – Enter: The Content Ecosystem

That brings us back around to something I mentioned earlier, a concept I teach in my Content Strategy & Marketing Course: the content net.

It’s the opposite of a magic content bullet.

Another synonymous name for it is a content ecosystem.

Your content ecosystem is a whole host of content pieces tied together and supported by consistency and underlying brand quality.

It. Does. Not. Compromise.

Instead of taking a shot at content in the dark, using a content marketing ecosystem is like sitting down to an elaborate content blueprint under a floodlight.

content ecosystem

7 Pathways in the Content Ecosystem

The content marketing ecosystem encompasses your entire content marketing operation. It’s made up of separate parts that affect each other. Without the dedication and a commitment to providing value to your audience above all, you can’t hope to make your content ecosystem a smoothly flowing stream of amazingness.

Here’s how it breaks down. Scroll below the infographic for more details in the blog text.

1. Brand Quality (Affects content consistency, scaling content, and brand authority)

At the deepest levels of your content ecosystem lies our first pathway: brand quality. This needs to exist at the foundation because it does two MAJOR jobs:

  • It gives your readers an amazing experience at your brand touch points, especially your website and content.
  • It gears up your pages to earn Google rankings and pull in organic traffic.

Brand quality begins and ends with a great website, one that’s smooth, fast, and all-around awesome. That’s not all, though. Along with speed and responsiveness, your website should also include:

  • Great content
  • Beautiful visuals/photography
  • A clear brand style with:
    • A distinctive, audience-aimed voice and tone
    • A recognizable, professional logo and brand color palette

For more about why a fantastic website serves as the foundation of brand quality, check out my SEMrush webinar recap: How to Write & Publish Authority-Building SEO Blogs in 2019.

Express Writers' home page with highlights on its user-friendly design

Content ecosystem pathway #1: Brand quality. Qualities: great content, beautiful visuals, audience-aimed voice and tone, a recognizable logo and brand color palette, and an awesome website. 🎯 Click To Tweet

2. Brand Consistency (Affects brand quality, distribution, scaling content, and brand authority)

Hand-in-hand with brand quality, brand consistency is our next important pathway in the content ecosystem.

Specifically, consistency means upholding your quality standards repeatedly over time. If readers can count on your brand to publish and distribute amazing content and experiences, the better off you’ll be. To achieve consistency, you need:

  • Dependable content quality
  • Regular content scheduling and maintenance

For example, look at our own high-volume content plan at Express Writers. Our commitment for 8 years has been one long-form, comprehensive piece of content weekly, and we update content on a monthly basis, too.

Thanks to this consistency, we rank for over 18,000 keywords in Google and regularly bring in six-figure income for months.

Express Writers' page stats on SEMrush. It's ranking for over 18,000 keywords.

Another fantastic case study that shows off how brand consistency wins comes from the Cleveland Clinic. If you’ve ever searched a medical health question on Google, you’ve probably seen one of their blogs in the results.

That’s because their consistency is incredible. As their Manager of Digital Engagement, Amanda Todorovich, revealed in an interview with Kuno Creative, they post 3-5 times per day with a team of 40 medical expert bloggers contributing.

Since launching the blog in April 2012, they regularly see over 5 million visitors in a single month. Now that’s the power of quality and consistency!

Cleveland Clinic's Health Essentials blog

Content ecosystem pathway #2: Brand consistency. How to achieve it: Dependable content quality and regular content scheduling and maintenance. 📅 Click To Tweet

3. Content Creation (Offshoot of brand consistency – affects scaling content and brand authority)

On the path through our content ecosystem, the next step takes us to an offshoot of brand consistency – content creation.

Pouring your best into content creation won’t matter if you can’t uphold that consistently. You need to keep your standards high 24/7 if you expect to grow your brand authority.

Consistency of content creation standards also affects scale. If you can’t replicate your blog quality from one post to the next, you’re probably doing too much and need to scale back for better results.

Content creation standards should always include the following pieces:

  • Researched
  • Audience-focused and relevant
  • Organized and logical
  • Informative, entertaining, or useful
Content ecosystem pathway #3: Content creation. Content qualities include: researched, audience-focused, organized and logical, and informative and useful. 🧐 Click To Tweet

4. Content Distribution (Affects brand authority and reach)

Next up, brand consistency and content creation directly affect content distribution. This is how and when you serve your content to your audience.

Of course, part and parcel of distribution is promotion. Sharing your content on social networks is a natural way to ensure more and more people lay their eyeballs on it.

You can’t just distribute content anywhere, though. A major component is posting on the social channels where your audience lives, at the times they’re most likely to engage. If your audience is mainly B2B, that might mean LinkedIn and/or Twitter in the mornings and late evenings. For B2C or ecommerce, it might mean brand presences on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. during hours of the day when engagement is highest.

Sprout Social's study results on the best time to post in Instagram. Highest engagement appears during weekday noons.

Finally, content distribution is a direct pathway to brand authority and reach. The more relevant, interesting, and engaging you can be to your audience, the more they will see your posts, interact with your content, and keep you top-of-mind.

Content ecosystem pathway #4: Content distribution. Major component: Posting on social channels where your audience lives and engage. 📝 Click To Tweet

5. Scaling Content (Affects brand authority and reach)

As your content gains success, the next pathway in the content ecosystem is scaling. This means producing more or branching out into different types of content, without sacrificing your original commitment to quality.

Scaling is all about optimizing your content workflows to keep production consistent, yet reach more people.

Amanda Todorovich and the Cleveland Clinic blog are great examples of scaling as well as consistency. Although the blog and brand have reached new heights of success, Amanda and her team remain committed to what they can do to produce the highest-quality content possible with the most relevant information for their audience niches.

Cleveland Clinic Health Essential blog's article titled, "Does Sun Protection Clothing Actually Work?"

According to Amanda, their content marketing ethos is “not more, but better.”

From a feature on Content Marketing Institute, here are a few insights into how the Cleveland Clinic content marketing team accomplishes this:

  • They constantly reuse and revise old content. To keep up their daily social media posting quotas, they will share posts from the archives or old posts updated with new research.
  • They tap the expertise of 40 medical professionals to write, review, and vet posts before they go live. (They need this many people to keep up with their rigorous publishing schedule.)
  • They have developed formulas for creating great headlines and choosing photos for posts.
  • They keep tabs on specific measurements for success.
  • The content team meets daily to discuss how their content efforts are doing.

As you can see, scaling content requires a few keys in place to work:

  • Efficient and effective workflows in place
  • Well-defined team roles
    • Strategists
    • Writers
    • Editors
    • Designers

If you scale the right way, that will naturally lead to higher brand authority and better reach.

Content ecosystem pathway #5: Scaling content. What you need: Efficient and effective workflows and well-defined team roles (strategists, writers, editors, and designers). 📈 Click To Tweet

6. Brand Authority (Affects reach)

Results time. (Or, as they say, all roads lead here.)

Most of the pathways in the content ecosystem point here. Once you have the other pieces working harmoniously in a continuous rhythm, your brand authority will grow and evolve.

At this point, the value of one incredibly unique, distinguishing idea grows, too. In other words, it’s time to start publishing your MASTER content pieces, the ones that may put you on the map. This is how you level-up from simply having a brand-aware audience to being “known” in your niche.

Remember: This level is impossible to hit without both brand consistency and quality leading you here, first.

Content ecosystem pathway #6: Brand authority. What you need: Brand consistency and quality pathways + starting to publish master content pieces to be known in your niche. 💎 Click To Tweet

Download the profitable content strategist skills cheat sheet here

7. Reach (Affects scaling content)

If you scale your content correctly, if you leverage your newfound brand authority, then your overall reach will begin to climb, too.

Reach is about reaching new audience members, growing your impact and influence, and adding more people to your loyal tribe.

The major points you need to understand about reach:

  • Reach shoots up when all other parts of the content ecosystem hit their highest levels
  • The greater your brand authority/visibility, the greater your reach
  • Reach propels your content marketing forward to new levels
  • Scaling content to maintain quality and consistency is key

When your content ecosystem is a smoothly running system, when all pathways naturally flow together, only then can your reach truly explode.

content ecosystem

Content ecosystem pathway #7: Reach. What you need: Greater brand authority/visibility, scaling content to maintain quality and consistency. 🤝 Click To Tweet

Forget Content Bullets or Shots in the Dark: Make Your Content Marketing a Flowing Ecosystem

As you can see, a content ecosystem is a holistic way of thinking about your entire content marketing scheme. It should all flow together.

You can’t let it drop. You can’t compromise for the sake of time or money. And you can’t put all your faith in one or two content bullets.

To truly see sustainable success, marketers MUST uphold a content ecosystem over time and understand how the parts connect, intertwine, and mingle. It’s a series of pathways that require dedication at every stage.

Ideally, as it evolves, it will get better and better until you reach your goals. After that, you can forge ahead to set new goals bigger than you ever dreamed.

CTA content ecosystem.

why your content marketing must have focus

Why Your Content Marketing Must Have Focus

In marketing, we’re told many times to “do it all” or to “jump around” in the hopes of mastering everything.

Here’s the brutally honest truth, though.

Trying to do it all is just a theory.

CTA-EW-02

In reality, devoting your time to everything at once depletes your energy and lessens the value of your work.

To quote HBR, in a study called Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, with Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy:

hbr study

I can give you solid proof that when it comes to creating effective content marketing, a lack of focus on a few cores directly translates to less quality, less readers and less revenue.

The road to successful content marketing is best traveled in only one lane, even if you do encounter a few bumps and blocks along the way.

So,  how  do you focus your content marketing efforts?

Let’s discuss.

content marketing focus

Content Marketing Focus: How Less is More

Have you worked your whole marketing life “trying to do it all?”

YouTube, blog, tweet, livestream, you-name-it?

Even if you think you can multi-task, you could be wrong. Check out some statistics on this from the same HBR study we quoted above:

energy

Whoa. Shifting to different tasks could be adding 25% more time to our task completion time?

Here’s another way this “distraction phenomenon” has been shown.

The Productive vs. The Unproductive Day: The Graphic Reality

The One Thing Multitasking

Source

(Want more depth on “focus training”?  Grab a copy of Gary Keller’s book, The One Thing.)

It might be hard hearing the entire thinking or mantra behind your working life be discredited in a few short sentences.

Some of you will be skeptical, understandably.

I’ll prove to you the benefits of narrowing your focus in terms of content marketing by dispelling the doubts you might have right now in your head.

Myth #1: Having Content about Multiple Topics will Attract More Followers

This is also known as the “casting a wide net” method of content marketing.

This idea stems from the belief that because you are catering to everyone, more people will find your content useful, which will drive more traffic to your site.

False!

In other words, you’re throwing s*t at the fan and hoping something sticks.

crap hitting the fan

One of the main goals of content marketing is steering your targeted audience to your site. The key word here is targeted.

Content marketing focused on too many topics does not build long-term followers or speak to your target audience because it is all over the place.

As an example, let’s pretend you’ve started a business that sells running shoes. One of the top blogs on your site is called, “Types of Running Shoes to Fit Your Foot.” As a potential customer this is perfect, informative and relevant. So I click around.

Next I find two more blogs, “Gymnastic Shoes for Every Foot” and “The Best Swim Techniques for Beginners.” You added these to attract more active and athletic people. These are no longer relevant to me, a runner, so I leave the site.

You just lost a sale.

The best content marketing proves that you’re an expert in your field.

Focused content caters to your ideal customer and builds the association between your brand and their needs.

Myth #2: Focusing on Only One Topic will Become Boring

If you think you’ve squeezed everything you can out of your “running shoes” content, chances are you’re wrong.

A topic is only boring if you’re not passionate about it. If that’s the case, it is probably not the right way to brand your business.

You can include variation in the type of content while keeping your focus on one topic.

How about trying…

  • How-to guides
  • Listicles
  • Guest blog posts
  • Videos
  • Interviews
  • Infographics
  • Product reviews
  • Case studies

Wait, there’s more!

Types of content marketing

If this is all new to you, good! It will be new to your customers too. Neil Patel provides great insight on how to get started.

Myth #3: One Focus Will Not Increase Revenue

Actually, it’s just the opposite.

As an expert in the field, you build a relationship with customers while attracting new ones.

Investing in useful content creation along with effective content strategy, like SEO, drives more organic traffic to your site. SEO leads have an average close rate of 14.6% versus the average 1.7% for other marketing methods.

This is the direct result of content marketing. Once you narrow your focus, you will be able to develop engaging content that drives the right demographic your way.

Don’t believe me? I’ve designed a course specifically to show how to implement a profitable content strategy.

One of the most common mistakes people make is not having a clear focus before they begin marketing. A content strategy without any guidance only wastes time, money and resources.

Where Do You Begin?

Concentrating on one main focus does not mean eliminating everything else. It means drawing your attention away from distractions and onto one thing that will get you to where you want to be.

Gary Keller, co-author of The One Thing poses the following question:

He reminds everyone that “success is sequential, not simultaneous.”

It’s about one step at a time. It’s completing smaller goals to get you to your one main goal.

Keller says this is a way to “set up a domino run in your life.

When it comes to content marketing, our one thing at Express Writers is to create and produce content designed to build a connection between your brand, the products you’re selling, and your targeted audience.

The first domino in a successful content marketing strategy is all about finding your focus.

Ask yourself:

  • What topics are you passionate about?
  • What do your customers ask about?
  • What is important that you haven’t covered yet?
  • What makes you different?

Narrow down further and further until you can hone in on one focus, one audience and one method of creating and publishing content that will bring you success.

Put Your Horse Blinds On: Take Inspiration from This College Dropout

One of my favorite terms is to “put horse blinds on.”

Ever heard of that term?

You might enjoy the background story, from dallasequestriancenter.com:

horse blinds

Focus.

Take chances you wouldn’t normally take.

Over 2017, I invested over 1,500 hours into a course and a book.

I focused on one core product and built it into something incredibly big. One course. One heavy topic. Two formats.

Did I know it would pay off?

Not 100%… it was definitely a risk.

The return?

We’ve doubled every cost put into it, and it’s just the beginning (a fledgling, 6-month-old business). All my students know, realize and value the amount of work I put into the course, and they are achieving their industry educational goals and seeing results by going through it.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely.

Think of how I launched Express Writers.

$75. Me: college dropout. Coded my own website. Spent hundreds of hours getting my first clients and building my team.

Did I think it would pan out?

No, I really didn’t, if we’re being brutally honest.

But I focused on it. For years, I kept at it.

7 years later: we’re in our first 7-figure year. Serving over 5,000 clients to date worldwide. We’ve completed over 12,000 content projects.

Every time I stopped and focused, things got clearer. For example: I was writing sometimes 7 blogs/week with no direction in my early years. Now, I write much less, but those focused pieces of content take more time and pay off more. All in all, I’m actually saving time today versus the huge amounts of scattered, unfocused time I used to spend on my own marketing at the beginning.

Focusing paid off.

Big dividends.

Even if you don’t remember all of the benefits focusing will bring to your content marketing strategy, at least you know how important focus is.

Plus, you can learn about the rest from my masterclass.

What is your one thing? How will you achieve it?

Limit the distractions of more, more, more and focus on what will take you there. Then begin: one domino at a time, one road to travel down, with a laser-sharp focus to reach your ultimate goal.

You’ve got this.

freelance copywriter

How a Freelance Copywriter Can Seriously Boost Your Content Marketing Campaign (And Save You Money)

88% of marketers are now engaging in some form of content marketing.

And why wouldn’t they?

Businesses across the globe have consistently proven just how beneficial a focus on producing content can be to driving revenue.

But while there are plenty of readily available resources and courses on content marketing, 60% of organizations still say that producing engaging content is a major challenge.

Another 57% say that they also have difficulty producing content consistently.

CMI Top Content Marketing Challenges

And if you think about it, this all makes sense.

After all, content marketing is hard.

You can’t just throw together a couple keyword stuffed articles a month and expect ROI from your efforts.

If you’re going to win with content marketing, you need to produce engaging content and you need to do it consistently.

But, other than hiring a large and expensive team of in-house marketers, how exactly are you supposed to do that?

The answer…personal, brand-fitted freelance copywriters.

Learn how to win with your #contentmarketing by teaming up with talented writers 📝 Click To Tweet

freelance copywriter for content marketing

Why Freelance Copywriters for Your Content Marketing?

Well, for one, because they’ll save you tens of thousands of dollars.

While there are a lot of variables that go into the exact cost of hiring a content specialist, the team at InTouch Marketing estimated that it would come out to about $88,123/year.

Content Specialist Salary

But what about the cost of a highly skilled freelancer?

At EW, the price of blog content from one of our vetted freelance copywriters comes out to right around .10/word (that includes editing and formatting).

Since we know that companies that publish 16+ blog posts per month generate almost 3.5x more traffic than those that publish 0-4 monthly posts, let’s assume you want to produce 16 posts per month.

And, since long form content generates a higher ranking in search results, let’s also assume that you want your posts to average about 1500 words.

Now let’s do some easy math:

16 Blog Posts x 12 Months = 192 Posts Per Year

1500 Words @ .10/word = $150/Post

$150 x 192 Posts = $28,800

versus:

$88,123 (Cost of In-House Content Marketer) – $28,800 (Cost of Freelancers) = $59,323

So, by hiring a team of freelance writers to handle a year’s worth of content, you’re saving approximately $60,000.

That’s a pretty convincing argument in and of itself.

And that’s without taking into consideration the time and resources that you would have to spend training an in-house staff.

But that’s not the only reason that hiring freelance writers is a good idea.

3 Case Studies Showing How Freelance Copywriters Can Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts

The other reason?

Because there are plenty of businesses that have proven that freelancers have the ability to seriously boost your content marketing campaign.

Let’s take a look at three examples.

1. Case Study: How Express Writers Uses Freelancers to Win Through Content

At Express Writers, we know a thing or two about working with freelancers.

Since launching the company in May 2011, I’ve worked with dozens of freelancers that I’ve personally vetted to help ensure the delivery of high quality work to our clients.

Without them, there’s very little chance that we’d be able to handle anywhere near the type of volume that we do today.

In addition to client work, I’ve also employed freelance copywriters to handle some ghostwriting for both the EW blog and a portion of the guest blogs that I do.

And why would I do that?

Because I know firsthand the type of ROI that can come from one impactful piece of content.

For us, the life cycle of a great piece of content looks like this:

content life cycle

This cycle played itself out after publishing one of my many guest blogs on SiteProNews. Let’s take a look at what went down.

Jan. 21, 2015: My guest blog, How to Create Shareable, Likeable and Organic Content, goes live on SiteProNews.

sitepronews2:25 PM on Jan. 21, 2015: We receive an email from a potential client who mentions that he is interested in our services after reading my guest blog.

sitepronews-lead-screenshot-

Jan. 26, 2015: After several email conversations over a five day period, the client decided to purchase our expert copy and content planning services. The combined price of the projects came out to over $5,000.

$5,000! All in just a five day span and from a single piece of great content.

That type of ROI, about 100x the investment, in that short amount of time is unheard of with almost any other marketing method.

And it’s exactly why I’ll be one of the first to tell you that a freelancer that can deliver great content is worth their weight in gold.

2. Case Study: How Zapier Uses Freelance Writers to Dominate Content Marketing

Zapier is another example of a company that uses freelance writers to win with content marketing.

The SaaS company earned over 600,000 users in just three years by using a combination of partner co-marketing and content marketing.

And while they do have a team of in-house content creators, a sizeable portion of their blog’s content is produced by freelance writers.

Jeremey Duvall, a freelance writer who also has a full-time job with Automattic, has written several successful articles for them.

His article about 10 Content Strategies to Rapidly Build a Larger Audience, for example, has generated over 1,000 shares to date.

Jeremey Duvall Zapier Freelancer

Duvall also wrote a chapter for Zapier’s massively successful guide to remote work.

Hiring Freelancers to Become In-House Team Members

Zapier’s head of marketing, Danny Schreiber, has said that the freelancers they’ve worked with are one of the first places they look when hiring new people.

Of the first three employees he hired for his marketing team,

“Two started freelancing – one for three months, another for six – before they were encouraged to apply to work at Zapier and then hired.”

And, as would be expected, having these existing relationships with the people Schreiber hired helped lower turnover rates while limiting the risk of bringing on new employees.

3. Case Study: How Neil Patel & Hiten Shah Used Freelancers to Build Two $1 Million+ SaaS Companies

Neil Patel and Hiten Shah are master marketers.

The duo have built Crazy Egg and KissMetrics into monster SaaS companies, as each company generates well over $100,000/month in revenue.

In an interview with Groove founder Alex Turnbull, Shah mentioned that their blog is their #1 channel for customer acquisition.

But when you take a look at the KissMetrics blog, you’ll quickly notice that a large majority of their writers are not employees of the company.

Instead, they’re a combination of guest bloggers and freelancers.

This strategy is what Patel himself calls the Neil Patel Method to Getting Great Blog Content.

Take a look at this article, written by freelance writer Alli Blum, for example.

KissMetrics Article by Freelance Writer

As you can see, the article has generated over 600 shares to date.

And here’s another one, written by freelance copywriter Sherice Jacob, that has received over 1,000 shares in less than a month.

KissMetrics Article by Freelance Copywriter

Patel and Shah realized that there is a tremendous amount of value in creating a blog that features high quality long-form content.

But they also realized that they didn’t need a huge team of expensive in-house content creators to make it happen.

And now, with the help of freelance writers and guest bloggers, they’ve built two of the most successful marketing blogs on the web.

Finding, Hiring, and Working With Freelance Copywriters

Finding quality freelancers can be tough.

Because, while there are a ton of freelancers out there, finding individuals who are responsible and talented isn’t the easiest task in the world.

Kathryn Aragon, former editor at Crazy Egg, offers four tips for doing so:

Editor Tips for Finding Freelancers

Other potential options include:

1. Utilize a copywriting agency, like EW, that vets freelancers for you.

2. Browse UpWork and Freelancer.com, which both offer a huge pool of freelancers looking for work.

Before you decide to reach out to your freelance candidate, successful freelance copywriter Barry Feldman recommends that you ask yourself a few questions:

  • What type of writer do I need? Know what type of work you’ll want the writer to handle.
  • Should I hire industry experts? They are generally more expensive but offer higher ROI.
  • How do I begin to know whom to contact for an interview? Review their portfolio and resume to ensure their experience fits your future expectations.

Hiring Freelancers

When making the hire, Feldman suggests that all agreements should include the following:

Freelancer Agreement

Working With Freelancers

I recently put together a business owner’s guide on how to work with blog writers that covers this topic extensively.

Use Freelancers to Take Your Content Marketing to the Next Level

While finding, hiring, and working with freelance writers isn’t always an easy process, the three case studies above show that it’s certainly worth it.

If you’d like to outsource your content but don’t want to spend the time finding and hiring new freelancers, we have a team of vetted writers that can produce quality content for you.

Save time and money by getting in contact with us today.


fly cta express writers

 

famous authors JK Rowling

How 9 Great Authors Almost Failed & Why You Shouldn’t Throw In The Towel Just Yet

There are times where no matter what we do, it just seems like things aren’t working. You can implement everything you’ve learned from marketing and SEO, yet you don’t seem to get anywhere. This is a frustrating reality. However, here’s the good news—you, my friend, are not alone!

Did you know there are several incredibly famous authors and creators that were in the same boat as you at some point in their career? These great authors and creators, at one point or another, were considered “failures” by themselves and others.

Once you get through failure, and don’t allow it to drown you but rather make you stronger, you will achieve greater success than you’ve dreamed of!

How 9 Incredible Creators & Authors Got Discouraged & Kept Going

I am going to take a look at a few incredible authors and creators that we all love today, and look at just how they failed before they succeeded. Let their failures and inevitable success we see now be an awesome inspiration to you, today.

  1. Walt Disney Was Told He Lacked Imagination. The man who created many stories, an epic empire, and worldwide theme parks was once considered to not have much imagination. That’s right; the creator of Mickey Mouse was believed, and told, he lacked imagination. Can you conceive of where we all would be if he listened to that and didn’t create the empire we all know and love today? He also had multiple other failures including best friends leaving Walt Disney Studios for competitors and competitors even stealing his original work, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. It was after Oswald was stolen that he created Mickey Mouse, who is definitely the most popular mouse in the entire world.
  1. Albert Einstein and the Problem of Traditional Learning. While Einstein is not a fiction writer, his works have brought about an amazing advancement to the field of science. We have many of our theories and even proof of various scientific aspects because of him. However, Einstein was terrible with traditional learning and many thought he wouldn’t go very far. This speaks loudly to those who might have a hard time with traditional marketing, understanding how to make their business a success, and even young children who are having a hard time learning in school. If he had let his problems get in the way, we wouldn’t have much of the scientific advancements we have today, nor any of his incredible academic work.
  1. J.K. Rowling Wrote Harry Potter Without Much of a Plan for Success. When J.K. Rowling first wrote Harry Potter, she was living as a single mother on welfare. It was a difficult life for her, but she decided to start writing. She created the Wizarding world, but, according to her, she was rejected “loads” of times by different publishers. She kept going, however, even though she didn’t necessarily have the finances she needed to send off so many manuscripts. I am especially glad she kept going because we might have never met the Boy Who Lived, experiencing an incredible fantasy world just a few miles away from normal life. In addition to rejections for Harry Potter, Rowling also faced several rejections as Robert Galbraith, her pen name for The Cuckoo’s Calling. What a great example of “keep on trying.” Now Harry Potter is a goliath in the marketing world, offering writers and businesses alike incredible marketing inspiration.
  1. Charles Darwin Was Considered Average at Best. Evolution has had a long, contentious past with many people arguing over its reputability. What many people don’t realize is that the father of evolution, Charles Darwin, was considered an average student at best and dropped out of a degree and career in medicine to become a parson. However, he found a significant interest in nature and began traveling the world to understand it better. As he did so, he came up with his theory and published the now popular and infamous Origin of the Species. Regardless of one’s stance on evolution, it is hard to deny that this “average” student made a huge impact on the world of science and helped bring about a different view of nature.
  1. Dr. Seuss Had His First Book Rejected 27 Times. We all love Dr. Seuss, don’t we? We all have that one book that helped us get through difficult times or at least one that was our childhood favorite, but did you know Dr. Seuss’s very first book was rejected 27 times? That’s right. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected 27 times by different publishers. It took a while for this book to become published, but eventually it was and Dr. Seuss became a tremendous part of the literary world. He even has an entire literary day (his birthday) dedicated to him and his amazing work.
  1. Stephen King Threw Away Early Drafts of Carrie and it was Rejected 30 Times. Have you read Carrie? If you’re a horror and novella fan, then chances are you already have. It is a great, scary story that is definitely a classic in the horror world. Before it became the success it is today, Stephen King got very frustrated with it and threw away early drafts of the novella. In addition, when he finally finished it, it was rejected 30 different times. It is unlikely we would have the an epic horror empire King created if it weren’t for his wife. She made sure to help get Carrie published, and we can all thank her for the wonder, and horror of a Stephen King universe.
  1. Margaret Atwood Failed Writing a Novel On Holiday. Margaret Atwood is a definite goddess amongst fantasy and science fiction writers, and we might never have received the wonder of The Handmaid’s Tale if she hadn’t failed writing another book. She went on a bird watching, book writing holiday and only one aspect of that holiday was successful – watching birds. She struggled to write her novel and eventually stopped. It was soon after stopping that novel that she began the terrifying dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale that is still creeping audiences out today.
  1. Mary Shelley’s The Last Man Was Panned by Reviewers. We all know Mary Shelley’s impressive work, Frankenstein, which was, and still is, an amazing part of early science fiction literature. However, one of her books that doesn’t get the acclaim it deserves, The Last Man was often panned by reviewers, yet has proven to be just as powerful as Frankenstein. The book even disappeared from shelves after the 1833 American edition but was eventually printed again in 1965.
  1. Publishers Were Unwilling to Publish J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. When it came down to publishing J. R. R. Tolkien’s massive, classic work The Lord of the Rings, publishers were unsure if it would actually work. In fact, The Lord of the Rings was originally one huge book. The publishers eventually broke the book up into the now infamous trilogy, which was not Tolkien’s favorite idea. His publishers were worried they’d lose thousands of pounds trying to sell this work, as well. After all the fear, The Fellowship of the Ring ran a printing of 3,500 and sold out in the first 6 weeks, which was a milestone in publishing then. Aren’t you glad the publishers, and Tolkien, stuck with the books? We not only have an epic book series, but some great films for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit to help inspire our copywriting!

What Can You Learn from These Authors?

Now that you’ve seen a few things that have happened to some of the world’s favorite authors and creators throughout their careers, you might be wondering just what you can learn from them. There are many different things you can learn, but a few things that stand out to me are:

  • Just Because You Didn’t Achieve Something Doesn’t Mean You Never Will. To many of these authors, it just didn’t seem like much was going to happen to them or with their stories. Can you imagine what would’ve happened if J. K. Rowling had never pushed for Harry Potter or what the world would look like without Dr. Seuss? Use their passion and dedication to help you achieve the marketing goals you have, and benefit your company.
  • If You Give Up Now, Just What are You Losing Out On Later? Giving up can be easy in many situations, especially after multiple failures. However, giving up could mean losing out on something amazing in the future. Don’t let your failures stop you.
  • Keep Working and Learn from Specific Failures. The above point talks about not giving up, but what should you do with specific failures? You should take the chance to learn something from them. Each failure is a lesson and it can help you learn exactly what you need to do to push your business and marketing to be the best.

Don’t Let Failure Keep You From Your Business Goals

Use these authors as a great example to help you continue striving for your business goals, no matter what. Keep writing your content and pushing through, and you’ll start to see some pretty awesome results. If you need help to create incredible, successful content, then Express Writers is here for you. Our team is dedicated to making all of our clients have successful businesses and amazing web content that your customers are sure to love. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on how we can help!

Photo Credit: harrypotter.wikia.com

red-bull-and-go-pro

A Case Study In Two Pillars of Content Marketing Success

You! Yes, you over there, searching Google for inspiration to create an epic content marketing plan. I know it’s easy to get stumped with all of the information available or you might simply need a few examples of different successful endeavors from some epic companies. Heck, as a content marketer, even I get stumped (once every few million minutes).

In this blog, I am going to do an in-depth case study of the most epic of the epic to inspire your content marketing. More specifically, I’ll take a look two content marketing pillars who have created the foundations of what a great content marketing strategy is all about! This should give you some basic inspiration that you will be able to take with you to your next content marketing meeting.

Let’s take a look at the company that gives you wings, and the company you use to film when you get those wings.

red-bull-logo

Red Bull’s Stellar Content Marketing: 7 Key Features

If you aren’t a big fan of energy drinks, chances are you still know about Red Bull and can recite their slogan from memory, “Red Bull gives you wings!” Regardless of lawsuits stating the drink does not, in fact, give one wings, Red Bull’s slogan is a great example of just how this company wins at content marketing. Let’s look at a few other ways they’re a content marketing juggernaut.

1. World Records Were Broken. Can We Ever Forget the Parachute from Space? I was one of the millions that tuned in for Red Bull’s Stratos jump from the edge of space in October 2012. It was an incredible thing to watch and what a feeling of realizing you’re watching history in the making! If you weren’t one who watched or happen to know nothing about it, Felix Baumgartner did a free fall from the very edge of space and represented Red Bull. While it happened over two years ago, Red Bull is still using this highly successful campaign over at their Stratos Team website. It was a great way to not only advance the energy drink, but to also promote science and space travel.

Just how effective was this jump, in sales and marketing results? An Econsultancy report said they had 900,000 Facebook interactions on jump day, and sales of Red Bull rose an entire 7% to a figure in the billions within six months.

Now, I understand that not everyone can break a world record in their content marketing, but this company went to the extreme and did that—and it got them somewhere! If you have a crazy, record-breaking idea for your marketing: well, who’s stopping you from doing it? 

2. Red Bull Uses Excellent Sports Action YouTube Videos. While most of Red Bull’s customers are not those who participate in extreme sports or high action events, they do know that it is a great marketing scheme. The company utilizes YouTube to provide videos to their over 3 million subscribers using different extreme sports in a video series. They have a series about racing in Seattle, as well as featuring individual sports such as mountain biking, parachute jumps, and extreme truck racing (in snowy conditions!). You can catch all of their videos by heading to their YouTube account. Prepare for some major action-packed adventures!



In addition to Red Bull’s extreme sports videos, Red Bull also live-streamed events such as Lollapalooza. Those who couldn’t get to the music festival were able to watch it live on Red Bull TV, which was another great marketing scheme from this awesome company. 

3. They Put Their Customers First. One of the major ways Red Bull wins in content marketing is that they always put their customers first. This is a great way to interact with their client base and make people feel welcome. While their customers might not necessarily participate in extreme sports or the other events Red Bull sponsors, their client base still enjoys watching them. The company states that the product is completely secondary. What comes first is what the customer wants and how the company can deliver and meet those wants and needs.

4. Red Bull Uses Multiple Formats for Content. Red Bull understands the need for multiple content formats because they understand people consume it differently. Because of this, the company not only uses their awesome digital marketing skills, but they also utilize a magazine, social media, images, and blogs (depending on the campaign). This is a great way to reach out to their audience in enough ways to keep reaching a significantly wider audience. You can find more about their overarching content at their awesome website, Red Bull Media House.

5. They Make Marketing More Than Just a Department. Their media house states they are not the only ones responsible for coming up with these stellar content ideas. Red Bull believes that they can get some of the best, most effective campaigns by involving their entire company. This is a great way to make sure they are not only engaging their customers, but their employees as well. Happy, engaged employees can mean major success for any business! Consider asking your employees to help come up with some awesome marketing campaign ideas or things they’d like to see from your company. Your employees are housing a wealth of information and if you neglect it, you can miss out on some pretty epic inspiration!

6. Red Bull Has a Strong Slogan. As I mentioned earlier, the incredibly memorable slogan did bring about a lawsuit (people sure can get lawsuit happy, can’t they?). Regardless, you cannot deny that Red Bull has created one of the best slogans. Why is it one of the best? Because whether you consume Red Bull or not, you know the slogan already. How many of us have it memorized? Let’s see; recite the slogan with me now! “Red Bull gives you wings!” This is a great example of creating a memorable slogan that helps people remember your company quickly and easily!

7. Let’s Not Forget Those Awesome TV Spots. Along with their memorable slogan, something no one can forget about is Red Bull’s amazing TV spots. They’ve been around for quite some time, and we all know what they look like. Those odd little cartoons with silly, overdramatized voices in hilarious situations are something that have made and are currently making a huge impact. Check out a few of their 2014 TV spots!

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7FxX/red-bull-light-bulb

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7EhX/red-bull-santa-can-fly

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7Fa0/red-bull-tune-teller

 

go-pro

GoPro and Their Epic Marketing Strategy: Looking at 7 Memorable Features

GoPro hasn’t quite gone to the extreme of the Stratos jump, but their product may have recorded even more extreme activity.

This company is another great pillar in the content marketing world. Their strategy is quite similar to Red Bull’s by focusing on a lot of extreme sports and awesome adventures. However, they do aim to reach out to everyone, trying to include those who don’t participate in racing trucks through and over snowdrifts. In short, pretty much anyone can pick up a GoPro and record what they’re doing!

If you’re interested in extreme sports and hilarious things animals do, then GoPro’s video campaigns are perfect. Let’s take a look at their content campaigns and how the company is so successful with them.

1. Capturing Epic Moments from Fans for Fans. There are many fans of GoPro whether they are cattle farmers in Missouri who want to check up on their cows in the back of their 50-acre land or are athletes catching hair-raising stunts. GoPro likes to feature videos and content from their fans on their YouTube account, which is a great way to ensure that their clients get content that interests them. While they might not feature every video that is submitted, it still gives a great chance for their fans to provide content for other fans. Such a cool way to promote engagement while getting content you know clients want to see! 

2. Teaming Up with Another Powerful Team – Red Bull. One thing GoPro knows is that a successful partnership can make for an even more successful product. Just how did Red Bull capture some of their more amazing stunts? How did GoPro get the funding to sponsor well-known athletes? The two companies joined teams and have created some incredible content together. If you’re unsure about partnerships working in your favor, just take a look at GoPro and Red Bull’s successful pairing! Remember, you can always team up with someone who can benefit from your company such as Red Bull benefiting from GoPro. This works amazingly for both companies!

3. GoPro Utilizes an Epic YouTube Strategy for Their Brand. GoPro also has an incredible YouTube strategy that any company, large or small, needs to take into consideration. Many businesses might spend a significant sum of money for getting some awesome, professional quality videos, but they forget something very important – YouTube is a social media channel! What do you need to do on a social media channel? Well, you need to be social, obviously. GoPro makes sure to engage with their fans on their YouTube channel by responding to comments. While this seems rather small, it is really a huge step that helps promote the company further and bring in even more engagement on their videos.

4. They Promote Engagement by Providing Content their Clients Want. Another way that GoPro promotes engagement is by giving their clients what they want to see. Most of their client base probably wouldn’t be too interested in seeing a cattle farm from a GoPro camera. However, they are interested in seeing epic content such as extreme sports and cool moments from firefighters and other professionals. They provide this to their client base and get a high amount of engagement, which helps promote the brand further. This is important to all content marketing schemes because you need to make sure your audience gets what interests them.

5. They Focus On Telling Stories in Their Content. As I’ve stated a number of times, storytelling is a great way to connect with your audience and drive engagement. This is exactly what GoPro does, and it has proven to be amazing for the company. They provide stories through video or they will share a video and later share the story surrounding it. This helps to make the content relatable to the audience, and bring about more social shares, engagement, and interest. This is actually a great way to become viral since people simply love stories. We all love stories because they give us the chance to relate and feel something whether warm fuzzy feelings or awe.

6. GoPro Doesn’t Just Promote Extreme Sports, but Regular Life. It seems like GoPro could lose a big chunk of their audience if they only focused on extreme sports. The company seems agree with that thought because they not only share extreme sports videos, but they also share videos of regular life or things that aren’t necessarily someone skydiving. They have videos ranging from a firefighter administering oxygen to a cat to a dad videoing his baby slowly falling asleep, according to NYdailynews.com. They want to sell their product to people who live regular lives and don’t frequently do death-defying stunts. This has provided a plethora of videos of silly things and a few sad videos like what a dog does when its owner leaves.

7. They Know Which Social Channel is Perfect for Them. When it comes to social media, we all want to use as many channels as possible to have the best reach. However, this doesn’t work with every company and you need to know which platform will work for you. This is exactly what GoPro does. While they have Facebook and Twitter, the company knows that there is one particular platform that is absolutely perfect for them – YouTube. They make sure to market their YouTube channel frequently, which is helping them build more and more subscribers. This is a great example of finding the channel that will work for you. It might not be as obvious for your company as it is for a camera company, but you can find out through analytics and seeing where you get the most engagement.

Ready? Set, Get Your Extreme On

You don’t have to go the way of Red Bull and GoPro, but now is the time to get to some extreme content marketing and copywriting. You can easily modify the inspiration taken from these two companies and morph them into something that will make your business highly successful! What are some things you’ve learned from this blog?

I hope you are able to take away the importance of storytelling, social media, and client engagement along with many other ideas from these particularly epic companies.

Let me know some of YOUR favorites in the comments!