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2018 EW January express writers Report

Express Writers January 2018 Report (Infographic): 1.8 Million Words Written, 3 Reasons We Hit Our Busiest Month, & Policy Reminder

When December of 2017 came to a close, I wrote my goals for the upcoming New Year down on my whiteboard.

One in particular was a big, bold goal for Express Writers, which I’ve been running for six years now (seven if you count my first year as a freelancer).

I’d never physically wrote this goal down before, although I’d been thinking of it for months.

See the little tiny “$100k/Month”? Under Grow EW -> New System Launch

In my goal list, I wrote down “new system launch” first. That’s because I truly didn’t think our $100,000 month would come before our new build of Express Writers teamroom and ecommerce client system, which has been estimated to take 5-8 months as a custom development timeframe minimum, over 2018. We have a development team in place for this new build, and Josh our CTO (my husband) is leading the initiative. It’s costing a ton, but it’s necessary as a smoother machine to run our growing business.

Well, in January of 2018, the little (big) goal I’d written down came true.

To my shock, we surpassed $120,000.

For the month, across all the content services we offer, our team wrote a collective estimated 1,851,200 words.

In this report, first, we’ll go into a visual representation of what our January content accomplishment looks like: next, three core reasons from me on why we were able to successfully take this on, and stay light and agile: finally, we have a client reminder on our policy, turnaround and communication. Let’s jump in!

The Data in Pictures: Express Writers vs. 1,851,200 Words (Infographic)

2018 EW January express writers Report Infographic

In January of 2018, our content creation agency Express Writers had its busiest month ever! We had over 282 orders placed, and we served more than 50 clients, focusing on repeat clients (many of our repeat clients placed 32-40 orders throughout the month).

We saw a 99% success rate on projects completed (we revise if our clients aren’t happy, and refund if the client is not a good fit).

Overall, we completed:

  • 625 blogs and articles
  • 606 expert industry-specialized blogs and web pages
  • 1069 product descriptions
  • 7 press releases
  • 7 social media packages

Many of the blogs were long-form. If we average the word count at 800w to account for shorter items like social media copy, the total word count we wrote was 1,851,200 words. We even served customers in more than 10 countries!

Why We Hit 1.8 Million Words in a Month: 3 Cores that Took Years of Hard Work, Trial and Error

I know a lot of business gurus that say things like:

“Write it down, and the universe will respond and make it true.”

I’m going to get real for a second so I’m not misleading anyone.

Listen in closely…

Our major goal did not come true only because I wrote it down.

In fact, the underlying structures, years of groundwork that we’d been refining for months, are really what made this goal come true.

And everything just happened to fall into place finally in January, 2018.

1. We have the best staff I’ve ever hired finally in place, true role direction, and real capacity

A new move that took a while to work out was expanding our Editor role into a Quality Assistant role, a staff role I brainstormed in August 2017 to replace our struggling, low-success Editor role. We monitored, trained, and added new QAs, eventually, this role grew to have 300% more stability and success than our Editorial role that I had for five years prior.

Our expert writers, authority copywriters, content strategists, social media copywriters, continue to fall into place. Out of 200 interviewed writers in January, we added 15 new writers to our team. I live by the mantra “less is more” for our team, finding the right people and giving them full-time work is a winning formula. And the capacity we can take on with just one new writer is staggering: sometimes, 24,000 additional words/week. So, 15 new writers can mean that we can handle 360,000 additional words in a week, or 1.4 million words in a month. Because I remained focused on hiring this month (I interviewed daily), we didn’t even max out our writer team with the busy month we just had.

Because of our role structure, I’m free to do what I do best: write thought leadership blogs, run a Facebook group that links to our Twitter chat, share Instagram stories, refresh and update all our marketing strategies, run my course and write my next books.

2. Our inbound content rankings and industry trust is through the roof, a combination of a 1,000-hour project and 6 years of work

Industry positioning and organic inbound marketing takes time.

This month, our organic rankings are coming in at 12,600 keywords. We recently crossed the 1,000-published blogs mark. That took 6 years of consistent, in and out, day after day, content creation. We outrank our competitors on Google by an average 4-6% visibility. These are big reasons companies choose us to write their online content.

Next, my comprehensive course at www.contentstrategycourses.com and the accompanying book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, has been spreading like wildfire (89 copies of my book sold in the last few weeks with NO ads, and we’re nearing 40 students enrolled in the course). The course build took 1,000 hours of my time in 2017.

Through guest speaking appearances, my Facebook group, Twitter chat and organic connections, I’ve been spreading the knowledge of the course I created. The only paid marketing is $5/day for Facebook ad retargeting (through an installed Facebook pixel). This ensures people who visit the course site once don’t forget about it. Since Facebook targets people who are in my group, they get a double-whammy reason to invest in my strategic training.

The growth in trust has been confirmed every time I log onto social media. I received an Instagram story on my account at @fementrepreneur from a marketer who purchased my book, had his office read it, talked to JJ and bought $700 worth of content services within the same week.

It’s hard to track the actual dollar from organic positioning through inbound content, but trust me, it happens — and in a BIG way. (We’re working on industry resources to help define this better. Stand by!)

#3 is another example of this.

3. We were featured in Forbes the first week of January

Marketer Joe Escobedo featured a story on my company, which I sent to our list and we shared heavily on all platforms. This instantly grew our trust and had a great impact on our existing audience list. The tweet where I shared this article has over 104 likes. That’s with no paid promotion or ads. I’ve also been mentioned online quite a bit more frequently because of the Forbes piece.

Strategic Thinking + Time + Perseverance = Pays Off

In a recent staff meeting, I asked our full-time executive Content Director, why she thought we hit our first $120,000 month, and she confirmed my thoughts: “We have happy clients… we are focusing on the kinds of clients we want… your book… we have a good system and can handle a lot… I think it’s a combination of things.” It’s a series of events, coming together. (Not unfortunate events, for my fellow Lemony Snicket fans. 😉

Client Policy Reminder, What’s Coming, & a Few Communication Rules

I want to end this report by reminding everyone who orders with us (thank you so much for trusting us with your content!), that when you sign our policy, which every client does before they pay for their content order, it binds you to our deadlines and rules.

policy signature

Please stay familiar with our turnaround times, listed on the Policy page. Although most of the time we can get content done sooner, if that time frame is outside our specified turnaround times, it will qualify for a rush fee.

Once you approve an order, it’s hard for us to go back and ask the writer to make changes: be sure to send revisions in a timely manner (we allow up to two revisions for free, which is usually all it takes to succeed on a new client project). The cutoff time for asking for revisions is within 14 days once we upload the finished content to your account.

Communication Headsup

Next, please remember that emailing back to reply to a project status, or sending an email to [email protected], is not the best way to reach us. Use your account area to leave a comment on your project so our admins can see it right away, and email in to the right department using the Contact page. If you have direct staff emails, that is also a great way to reach us.

We don’t ask our staff to check email and voicemails 24/7 on weekends, so please don’t expect immediate Saturday and Sunday answers. It’s important to recharge our brains on those days, rest, and get ready for a full week of work.

In the Works: New Teamroom, Internal-Only Proprietary Training

Finally, we’re excited to share that the Content Shop will be getting completely updated this year, for an easier, better, more enhanced experience for our clients! Stay tuned for that. It’s a lot of custom development work, and will require time, effort, and investment for a company that’s completely bootstrapped.

Also, last weekend (February 2), I just launched an internal course on Teachable for our writers and staff only, training them in 2018 standards on SEO content, overall content strategy, and content conversion optimization basics.

internal training

Sneak peek at proprietary writer curriculum training.

We may be one of the only writing agencies that offers custom curriculum written just for their writers! This will continue to ensure we can serve our clients with the best service possible.

Video: My Agency Wrote 1.8 Million Words this January! 3 BIG Reasons Why We Hit Our Busiest Month Ever

Conclusion: We’re Excited for 2018, and Thrilled We Can Continue Serving You!

January 2018 was one heck of a start to a year!

We can’t wait to continue serving our clients with amazing content throughout 2018.

Here’s to your success in content marketing! You can count on us to always strive to have that at heart.

-Julia

CTA express writers content shop

express writers summer 2017 changes

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

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

Ready? Let’s delve in!

express writers summer 2017 updates

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

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

staff conversation express writers

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

staff conversation express writers

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

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

With that said…

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

July Changes: New Management, Writing & Editing Team Additions

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

marc benioff

I believe in this statement, 100%.

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

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

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

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

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

From our Content Director, Jeremy:

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

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

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

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

express writers jeremy

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

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

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

Improved Editing Process

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

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

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

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

New Agency Client Perks & Benefits

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

Hannah, our Project Manager/Agency Specialist, says:

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

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

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

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

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

fly cta express writers

express writers

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

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

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

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

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

new at express writers

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

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

Ever thought to yourself…

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

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

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

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

Here are a few:

Killer, right??

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

With custom imagery, we’ve seen massive results…

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

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

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

2. Social Media Plans

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

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

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

social media plans update

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

3. Copy Editing

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

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

4. Professional Interviewing

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

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

5. Project Management

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

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

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

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

Scenarios Where Project Management Fits In

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

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

What Project Management Includes

Our project management is designed into several categories:

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

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

6. New Resource (FREE): Client 101s

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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