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updates to express writers

Spring 2019 Updates at Express Writers: Team Additions, Social Media Copy & Image Updates & More

Content marketing is not an industry you can stand as an expert in without evolution, progress, and continual growth. I’m happy to say that this is in our line of vision at Express Writers: continual progress. It is a part of our mission at Express Writers to continually refine our services and offer the best in content creation.

This spring, we’ve made some changes at Express Writers to upgrade and increase the quality and uniqueness of the content services we provide for our clients.

In today’s blog, I’ve written a recap of these changes to keep you up-to-date with our changes and progress. Let’s dive in!

Check out @JuliaEMcCoy's recap of our Spring 2019 updates at Express Writers 📝 Click To Tweet

updates to express writers spring 2019

Product Changes at Express Writers: Resurrecting Social Media Services: What’s New Today, & What’s on the Horizon

I’m really excited to share that our social media copy and plans got a major facelift in the Content Shop. Both internally, and externally.

Instead of the confusing buy-5-posts-with-variations, and Level 1, 2, and 3 pre-built without customization options, here are the changes that have applied to the social media services we offer at Express Writers.

  • Standalone social media posts: pick the platform, quantity, and optionally, images: we simply write the copy and create images. See standalone posts. 
  • Social media plans have become build-your-own, instead of preset Levels: much more customizable! Just package up all the posts you need for a monthly total per-platform, per-piece quantity and price. See social media plans.
  • Social media images got a major re-haul: our designer will use your candid selfies or photographs and design them inside a 1:1 design (super hot these days on Facebook and Instagram), hand-made in Adobe Illustrator. (Examples below!)
  • Our social media experts will now include and suggest hashtags, the right amount and the right type per platforms, with the copy.

It’s a “buy one, get one now” for posts, clearly worded in the service. Or, you can package up into a monthly plan. No more confusing variations and choices.

Here’s the before and after of our Social Media Posts page. You can experience the revamped page right here.

And, here’s the new look for Social Media Plans:

The quality and what you get in our written and designed social posts has changed for the better. As mentioned, we’ll research and suggest the best hashtags to use in your Instagram posts, as well as on other platforms.

Plus, our social media image design got a full-on major facelift. We no longer work with stock images (unless absolutely necessary on behalf of the client). Instead, we’re asking that you provide images for us in the input forms, and our designer will take that image and inspiration from our social media copywriter to design a hot graphic for your social media profile inside our popular, researched and strategic 1:1 sized square graphic.

For this fairly massive service change, I did some beta testing. Chris Strub was our beta client for the new services, as well as my own social media profiles. I worked with our designer and social media experts as we went through changing the internal process.

Here’s what our new social media posts and image deliverables actually look like (content written by our social media specialist and designed by our in-house designer):

Example social media post #1

Copy:

Social media tip: The front-facing camera is the perfect metaphor for putting yourself out there on social media. Tap the little icon for turning your camera into selfie mode, and hit ‘record’ or snap a photo and make that the next piece of content you post on social media. 📸  Your audience loves seeing the authentic YOU shine through! For more social media tips, follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chrisstrub/

Example social media post #2

Copy: 

Are you writing emails and sending them regularly to your list?

If not, you SHOULD be! It’s one of the most effective ways to grow and nurture your audience. Hand-in-hand with email marketing is great content: a little secret I’m going to let you in on is that email content gets SO much easier if you have comprehensive blogs hitting your site on the regular.

If you need copy support, my content agency Express Writers can help. Our hand-picked email marketing copywriters have helped hundreds of B2Bs and B2Cs craft their message (and even helped me write the ones we send you!). Chat with us today to see how we can help you create great content! Link: https://expresswriters.com/content/email-copy/

Example social media post #3

Copy: 

FAMILY TIME.

One of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur and content marketer is that I can, if I want to, take off a random Tuesday to hang out with my little. Or, get her early out of daycare for a special treat and some playground time on a beautiful, sunny day.

Do you get to break away for family time? It’s so important!

social media services julia mccoy

These improved social media offerings will definitely bring more ROI to our clients and what they get out of social media. We’re so excited about these improvements!

Also, we’ve added a new service to our social media copy. New: YouTube descriptions! I’ve found after optimizing and publishing consistent videos on my own YouTube channel, that the copy inside your YouTube description is extremely important to rankings and click-throughs from your videos to your site.

What’s On the Horizon: Improved Experience Coming for Our Clients at Express Writers

Also, PSA for our clients: We know our systems are somewhat messy, and we’re hard at work on a total solution to fix everything. 

Navigation in the Content Shop, simply put, can sometimes be a bear. The products are too many, and confusing. The Client Account section needs more details, dates, and an easy reorder button.

We’ve got all these changes at heart, and for the past several years, we’ve been hard at work on what we call internally, EW 2.0: The Beast.

This is our brand new e-commerce system that is 100% customized and built from scratch, built for massive project management, speed, and seamless use by both team (internal) and client (external). It’s going to be good. That’s all we can say for now, and secondly, we can also say with confidence that we’re fairly close to a launch date, which will be revealed soon.

Management and Writing Team Additions: Timelines, Writing Quality, and our Mission Renewed

In January, you might have already been aware that our full-time content director of two years, Hannah, resigned and left our team. On average, we handle the creation of 200 pages in a given week, and handle dozens of full-scope, start-to-finish content projects — so as soon as I received her resignation letter via email on Saturday, I was under extreme pressure to rebuild the team, quickly.

The road to recovery began with finding a new, full-time business manager. One of our full-time writers since the early days, Korilynn, stepped up and offered her full-time assistance in my open call to fill the management role. I quickly found out in a preliminary call that this incredibly reliable writer, who I’d worked with for years, had all the expertise necessary to a management role. She’d ran her own businesses in multiple industries (cake/catering, office projects, and freelance writing), and handled all the administrative experiences for everything, for more than 12 years. As a full-time writer on the side for us, she handled a great deal of content writing with no quality loss. Along with that, she had a quiet home office in her four-story house, complete with multiple monitors, a full-speed customized computer system, and a treadmill desk! Great managers who work remotely need an optimized environment and great tech, and we soon found out that Korilynn uses her well-optimized home office to handle our content projects in smart, efficient ways.

Hannah sent her resignation letter in to me via email on Saturday, January 19. The very next day, on Sunday, January 20, I interviewed and hired Korilynn after sending out a “casting call” about an open management role. She was a perfect fit, and I’d known her for years, so I offered her the position. She started training on Monday, January 21. The long process of rebuilding everyone under our new management leader took a solid 45 days, minimum. Along the way, we improved and tightened up 100% of the processes, team rules, and policies, some of which had been left in the dust by prior management. Our editing process, which hadn’t been working for a while, was completely re-hauled, and Korilynn’s ideas for more effective editing were implemented slowly but surely.

Team rebuilding and recovery is not easy — I won’t lie. There were a couple of moments where I sat at my desk, ready to bang my head against the wall, in tears. It took a ton of hiring and firing to get everyone back on track with our renewed policies around maintaining quality and deadlines. We had to discover by trial-and-error who wasn’t fully on board our ship. I still remember when we hit day 45 of countless hours in improving our processes, hiring and firing, and rebuilding.

The improvements we’d made, after the initial growing pains, started showing in a big way. We were hitting 99.9% of our deadlines, early. We knew exactly which writers were going to be best fits for what projects, and we could guarantee quality within the intricate industries we were writing for. It was a big deal. Everything was finally, finally coming together.

Besides Korilynn, we have over 20 new writers that have joined us in the past two months. A few top profiles:

  • Cornelius M., our new technical writer with years of experience in crafting unique tech content, from policies, procedures, plans, work instructions for engineering, to design specifications, software, user acceptance specs, training material, and user material. With Korilynn and the editors’ help, he recently successfully handled a new content project for a huge new technical website client. It was a hit — they’ve been thrilled with the results!
  • Wendy T., a veteran freelancer with over 10 years of experience, digital marketing agency writer for medical marketing for 6 years, and lots of know-how in SEO writing (geolocals, etc.). She’s been successfully completing several top-tier content projects.
  • Al T., former employee in IT with Microsoft, and consultant. He’s written books, articles, training development documents and more. Al has a high standard when it comes to content and has been shining on our projects.

Special shoutouts to our veteran writers, who have been with us for many years:

  • Tami, our go-to press release copywriter, a gifted stay-at-home mom who uses her writing talents on the side with us.
  • Joshua S., veteran team member of Express Writers, who has recently been trained in Authority content and our content strategy services.
  • Mike S., technical writer extraordinaire and 1:1 dedicated project writer, who writes for one dedicated client.
  • Randi N., our talented copywriter, Content Strategist, and SEO/Google nerd, who runs her own enormously successful niche journalism website on the side.
  • John G., our on-call Content Strategist for client phone consultations, and full-time expert writer who handles every project with a high level of dedication.
  • Nikki W., talented veteran copywriter who teaches writing workshops and travels on the side.
  • Jillian P., our long-term copywriter who has taken on a dual role and has tons of experience and creativity in writing.
  • Cassie B., our reliable, efficient copywriter who has also taken on a dual in-team role and is amazing at quality content.

See more team faces on our About page. 

I have renewed faith in my team, and I’m now confident we are close to 150% renewed, refreshed, and capable from where we were at the start of January post-management-changes. It’s a good feeling, and most of all, my heart is delighted to see what we are accomplishing for our clients with a renewed, fully-committed team of people.

Justin, a new client and the founder of local Austin agency JS Interactive, just gave us this testimonial a couple weeks ago in March about his experience with our new management and writing team:

As an entrepreneur in Austin with extensive knowledge and experience in SEO, I understand the value of having content that is unique & relevant to the customers I serve. Since my recent collaboration with Express Writers, I have felt extremely confident in the creativity & the quality of work produced by Julia and her team. I love how seamless their online operation is – from my initial request to the final deliverable. The nice balance of creativity with the technical writing has produced instant results for my business in search. The staff is super friendly and responsive. Express Writers is highly recommended for any businesses looking to ‘level up’ their content marketing strategy.

We’re increasing our focus for existing client accounts, and working on continually supporting their needs in an improved, on-time, high-quality manner. We’re also taking new clients on an individual basis going forward into the year. Sign up and request a client account.

Our Content Marketing is Being Refined, Almost Daily

Not that this directly affects our clients, but I wanted to share briefly that we’re working hard at spending 60% of our focus on resurrecting and updating old content on the Write Blog, while 40% of our focus is on producing the best (most epic) comprehensive guides and original, unique blogs that the Write Blog has ever published.

We have over 1,000 blogs live, and in the last month, we deleted more than 20 that weren’t serving any real purpose from 2012 and 2013. We’ll have a final report when the spring cleaning is officially over! In keeping an eye on our rankings, I noticed that this has only seemed to help our site overall in Google. We went up by 13k in overall domain authority!

alexa site traffic express writers

So, you might see a lesser quantity of emails coming your way for new Write Blogs, but it will mean a heightened focus on quality.

That’s It for Now, Folks!

That’s a wrap on our Spring 2019 changes!

I’m so excited to share these with you — these are, overall, massive changes for our content writing agency that will result in serious improvements all around for our clients. And that’s not all. More are on the horizon that we’re really excited about. Can’t wait to share those with you, soon!

Here’s to amazing content!

 

 

 

 

 

cta social media

blogging roi case study

Blogging ROI Case Study: How 18,000 Keywords In Google Bring Us Six-Figure Income Months

“I’m ‘doing’ content, but it’s just not bringing me clients.”

“I’m posting and creating regularly – in fact, consistency is my middle name – but I’m still a one-person show with little funding to achieve my next level.”

Lately, I’ve heard this ALL too often – but the reality is, if you develop content strategically, you CAN achieve six-figure income months in your business.

Since it’s been almost two years since I created a case study on my brand (specifically, how we are our own content guinea pig: we’re able to make monthly six-figure sales happen from clients that found our content online), I decided it was time for a new one.

CTA-EW-02

I started the research for this in February, and today – almost five months later! – the case study is all done and live, as of today.

Our last case study focused on how we achieve rankings – “How We Outrank Every Competitor & Win Through Organic Content Without Spending a Penny on Ads (Express Writers’ Content Case Study),” from October 2016. Today’s case study focuses on how we actually earn real income (to the tune of six-figures per month) from the content and rankings we’ve achieved.

I’m specifically thinking of you struggling, DIY-marketers still not achieving the kind of revenue you’d like to see from your organic content efforts… yes, you! I think you’ll find today’s case study truly useful.

In today’s blog, we’re sharing a real, practical look at how we’ve built our company through content marketing. 99.9% of our leads and business revenue comes through the content we produce. And the majority of that content? Well, it’s published on our blog.

Next, we interviewed a client we work with from time to time: Magnificent Marketing, a full-service marketing agency. They also incorporate content marketing and blogging as their primary marketing avenue, using us to produce much of their content. We’ll share how they’ve boosted their client traffic numbers and rankings with great content.

If you read one blog of mine this quarter, read this one. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, and dig in!

blogging roi case study guide

Why & How SEO Blogging Equals ROI for Any Brand

Blogging (a form of great content marketing) equals ROI, for any brand.

In itself, blogging is a key online content format capable of building a brand, attracting your ideal clients to your website, and growing your entire business. Especially blogging written around viable SEO keywords you want to rank for.

But here’s the caveat to that.

That statement is only true if your blogging strategy includes consistency, relevancy and quality.

'Blogging is a key online content format capable of building a brand... BUT... that statement is only true if your blogging strategy includes consistency, relevancy and quality.' - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Businesses who create content strategically achieve ROI in the form of:

  • Better, more qualified leads that convert at a higher rate than traffic from paid ads or paid search
    • How many leads? Our content marketing ROI formula can help you estimate your average monthly leads/sales from content marketing
    • Here’s the formula: Monthly Visitors x 16% Organic Traffic to Lead Conversion Rate = X Leads/Month)

content-marketing-formula

  • According to that formula, an average of 1,000 visitors/month can get you at least 160 high-quality leads/month from strategic blogging

That’s not all, though.

Blogging also brings in:

  • Year-over-year site traffic growth that’s 8x higher than those at the back of the pack
  • 6x the conversions of those who don’t publish content, according to a well-known study from Aberdeen and Kapost

Incredibly convincing numbers, right?

But, even better than stats, we have a prime, real-life example of what blogging ROI looks like.

Ready? Let’s dig in and see exactly what the power of blogging–and great content–can do for a business.

Express Writers’ Blogging ROI: $1,600 in Content = $66,700 Worth of Traffic & Organic Google Positions

Here’s a real-life, extreme example of how great, consistent content creation can work incredibly well.

Take a look at the current traction below for Express Writers. This is after six years of consistent content, with over 1,000 blogs published to-date on our site across those six consistent years.

(Remember, steady content creation has a dominoes effect: It does better over time.)

hubspot_compounding-blogs

According to our data on SEMrush (pulled June 1, 2018), current paid search efforts to achieve our current month’s site traffic — 22,800 visitors — would cost $66,700. (This amount increases on a monthly basis for us. Lately, every month it’s been a 1-2k increase in traffic, with a fluctuating increase in rankings as well.)

If we were to buy this much traffic through Google Adsense, that would be an average paid search cost of $2.92 per visitor.

And, we haven’t even figured out how many of those are leads (buyers) yet. Expensive! $$$

semrush_06-01-2018

How Much Content Do We Produce to Achieve Blogging ROI? + the Costs

We publish, on average, one long-form, comprehensive piece of content weekly, and we update content on a monthly basis, too. Besides that, we publish monthly podcasts with show notes, and monthly #ContentWritingChat recaps.

Here’s an example of one of our long-form blogs:

ew_seo-blog

And here’s an example of a #ContentWritingChat recap post:

ew_content-writing-chat-recap

What does it cost to create this type of content regularly?

Our costs run:

  • Money: $400/month (this used to be $750, but we shaved off $300+ in costs by switching our Twitter chat to once/month instead of weekly)
  • Time: 4-5 hours of my time/month in blogging prep, publishing, writing, outlining, optimizing, & 3-4 hours/month in email marketing

If you qualify the hours I personally spend on our content into a “staff cost,” that alone could run $1,600+ per month.

How Do the Costs Compare to Paid Methods?

If paid search would cost $66,700 to achieve our current traffic in a month (22,800 visitors), and my cost of content marketing to achieve that traffic is $1,625, then paid search would be (at a minimum) 40x more expensive than my organic content marketing efforts.

Or, put it another way – a solid, consistent content marketing strategy over time could be 40 times cheaper than a paid marketing strategy. For business owners and higher-ups who think exclusively in dollar signs, that’s convincing.

What’s the Estimated ROI from Blogging at Express Writers?

Now, let’s put those numbers into the ROI formula (using my base visitor amount, to stay conservative — my site traffic is an extreme example after consistent years of targeted content):

  • 6,701 (monthly visitors) multiplied by 0.16 (average traffic-to-leads conversion rate) equals 1,072 monthly leads.
  • 1,072 (monthly leads) multiplied by 0.14 (average leads-to-sales conversion rate) equals 150 monthly sales.

In this example, a monthly investment of $1,625 into a content marketing strategy would lead to 150 (minimum) sales.

The Reward: Just How Much ROI Does Our Business Blog Bring In?

Here’s what you really want to know.

Let’s look at real, hard data and see just how much ROI an average month of blogging brings in for us.

Let’s use May 2018 as our example month of data.

Inside that one month, expresswriters.com had 93,000 visitors:

expresswriters-traffic-may2018

And the majority of those visitors came in through search rankings:

expresswriters-organic-traffic-may2018

Let’s estimate the leads and sales from that traffic once again using the content marketing ROI formula. Then we’ll compare the results to our recorded data for May 2018.

Infographic: Using the Content Marketing ROI Formula, Here’s our Real ROI Numbers for Blogging Results

Infographic roi of blogging

Our Estimated Blogging ROI Using the Content Marketing ROI Formula

Our formula is grounded in two vital stats:

Plugging those stats plus our traffic volume into a simple equation helps us estimate two huge content marketing ROI benchmarks: leads and sales.

First, we’ll estimate the leads we could see stemming from the month’s total traffic (93,000):

  • 93,000 Monthly Visitors x 16% = 14,880 Leads

Next, we can estimate how many of those leads will turn into sales:

  • 14,880 Leads x 14% = 2,083 Sales

Based on our traffic numbers for May, we could expect to see 14,880 leads and 2,083 sales resulting from our blogging and content marketing efforts.

How much ROI does our business blog bring in? @JuliaEMcCoy shares how to use the Content Marketing ROI Formula in finding actual #bloggingROI Click To Tweet

The Actual Blogging ROI

Here are our sales numbers for May 2018:

  • 235 orders placed
  • 2,140 “items” (content services) ordered
  • $186,128.50 in gross sales

expresswriters-gross-sales

  • Keep in mind: Many of these orders were from return and repeat clients, although many of them were new clients, too. Our average client retention rate is increasing, as well. Several of our recurring clients have stayed with us for 3-4 years now.
  • But, it’s 100% accurate to say that across all of our clients and lead generation methods, 99% of every client we’ve worked with to date has found us through our search rankings.
'99% of every client we’ve worked with to date has found us through our search rankings.' - @JuliaEMcCoy on Express Writer's successful #bloggingROI Click To Tweet

Our ROI from Blogging Is on Fire

The 2,140 individual content services ordered matches up very well with our predicted ROI from traffic we earned through consistent blogging (2,083 sales from 14,880 leads).

The real kicker, however, is apparent in our gross sales number.

If $1,600 in content costs per month can generate $186,128.50 in gross sales, I’d say content marketing is a safe investment to bet on if you’re considering every marketing avenue (keeping in mind these are gross numbers before we pay our team of 70+ people, and cover other business costs & taxes).

Even more importantly:

  • If we had to pay $66k in PPC ads to achieve our gross sales numbers, we’d be broke (there’s no way we’d make a profit after that high PPC cost and then the cost of delivering content services).

It’s safe to say that content marketing, mainly in the form of blogging, is the lynchpin for us in terms of drawing customers to our business.

Magnificent Marketing Case Study: Blogging = Steady Monthly Traffic Growth

magnificent marketing case study

I recently sat down with David Reimherr, founder of Magnificent Marketing, and their firm’s content marketing manager, Bre South.

Here’s what they had to say about how content marketing and blogging contributes to their client’s success.

“Our content strategy success begins with a deep dive onboard with our client to walk through targeted audience demographics, content mission statement, and their content tilt. In discussing the core messaging of the client’s product; we dig into the core of a client’s product and why it would resonate with its audience. We find which content angles will serve their audience, and how to reach their audience appropriately.

We help them figure out how to talk the talk their audience wants to hear.

All content efforts are driven by the content mission statement in addition to what our client already knows about their audience and experience. This gives way to the creation of determining main pillar topics and sub-topics the client commits to producing content for.

We help them create this mission statement for which all efforts will follow.

The main pillar topics are determined based on what a persona would actively be searching for as a problem they are looking for help to solve.

What topics will the audience care to read, interact and engage with?

All pillar topics funnel up to the brand’s content mission strategy and position the client as a thought leader in their specific industry. From here we are able to segment awareness, consideration and purchase pieces specifically and begin the roadmap of content construction and execution.

Blog writing is SEO focused which stems from a detailed keyword discovery and current ranking report to highlight the keywords to target for from their pillars.

We outline their content writing strategy by creating suggested headline topics built from our keyword report.

ROI & Success in Content Marketing

We’ve seen tremendous success, specifically in Emancipet, a national nonprofit veterinary service providing low-cost but high-quality care since 1999, through identifying keyword opportunities and crafting content around the terms to target.

We took over the account in January 2018 and through a strategic SEO focus around blog posts, consistent social media scheduling, and additional content creation we’ve seen a 16% increase in organic search. From that increase, 15% have been new users.

magnificent-increase-in-users

In addition, Emancipet nationally ranks in the top spot (#1) organically for the following keywords:

  • affordable heartworm treatment
  • Austin low cost vet
  • low cost heartworm treatment
  • cost of heartworm treatment
  • how much does heartworm treatment cost
  • how does microchip work for lost dog
  • free vet clinics in Houston
  • low cost heartworm test
  • heartworm shot cost
  • affordable pet care Austin

On a local level, we kicked off marketing efforts with Austin Dental Care, a company that has been around since 1997, with no previous strategic marketing in place, in November of 2017. Unfortunately, they did not have the proper Google tracking in place for us to historically compare but we saw the following continual uptick in organic search since our content plan kicked off. 

Increase in organic search users:

  • November: 30 users
  • December: 112
  • January: 216
  • February: 263
  • March: 313
  • April: 337
  • May: 408

magnificent-organic-traffic

Magnificent Marketing continues to implement successful content for their clients–and Express Writers helps fulfill that content!”

How Can You Achieve the Same Results and ROI from Blogging?

One of our passions is to spread the word about content marketing and help people achieve amazing results with it, like our own success at Express Writers.

Because – fantastic news – you can absolutely do this, too.

Here are some solid steps to help you get to a real level of blogging ROI.

1. Write Down What You’re Willing to Invest in Blogging and Content Marketing – and Stick to It

The type of blogging that earns ROI requires a two-fold investment of time and money.

Whether you take content creation in hand or outsource it to experts, the best stuff depends on what you’re willing to put into it.

Thus: Budget for your blogging. Write down a ballpark estimate of what you’re willing to spend, then proceed to the next step.

A typical starting budget could look like a monthly cost of investing a blog management package, where you’re posting 1-3x per week or more, and a social media plan that boosts the activity on your brand’s Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

'Tip #1: Write down what you’re willing to invest in blogging and content marketing – and stick to it.' Read @JuliaEMcCoy 's tips in achieving real #bloggingROI Click To Tweet

2. Calculate How the Investment Will Pay Off

Let’s say you choose to outsource your content.

At Express Writers, if you want our best writing level, that’s Authority Content. One authority-level blog costs $375, including full design, content, research, keyword strategy, and more.

ew_pricing

You would actually receive SEO keyword research from our trained experts in each Authority piece, and have the possibility of ranking high with each blog. Investing in one year of authority blogging would cost about $19,500 if you publish one authority blog/week.

Or, if you want our next-best writing level, you could invest in expert writing, which is not as intensified, long-form and powerful as authority, but is also a high-quality, worthwhile writing level. You get an expert writer who knows your industry. No SEO research and full design, content only. This costs $395/month for 1 blog a week, posted on your site. Or $4,740 a year. (See blog management packages here.)

Since we write to appeal to your specific readers and search engines, we can estimate your keyword rankings. We can also use stats to figure out your click-through rate and traffic from organic blogging.

We hashed it all out in our post on content marketing ROI:

ew_content-investment

With an estimate of your monthly traffic in hand, we can then estimate potential leads and sales using our trusty formula:

ew_content-investment2

As you can see, this is an easy and eye-opening way to determine how your blogging investment will pay off.

If you’re not satisfied with the potential ROI, play with the numbers and see what happens as your investment increases.

P.S. A note about blogging. You really need social media activity (posts, sharing of your blogs, relevant facts about your brand, etc.) from a qualified social media copywriter if you don’t have social media going on yet. It will really complete the full-circle picture. For example, our Twitter profile @ExpWriters is responsible for 10% of our monthly traffic! 

If you were to add social media coverage from our social media packages to the blogging you do yourself, or the blogging we could do for you, this would start at $360/month to promote the blog and share other relevant posts about your brand consistently, adding $4,320/year in costs. Making sure you have activity under your brand name on social media is absolutely necessary for every brand.

3. Blog the Right Way (that Makes the ROI Roll In)

Here’s one caveat: You’ll only earn blogging ROI if you blog the right way.

The ROI formula only predicts what you’ll earn from consistent, high-quality, targeted blogging.

If you phone it in, you will not see the results the formula predicts.

We have lots of guides here at EW that can help you blog profitably. Here are a few for starters – read up to improve your game:

4. Remember That Cheapening Out Also Cheapens Your Content

Remember that investment you committed to in step #1?

If you flake out on it, your content will flake out, too.

Cheapening out likewise cheapens your content.

For example, if you cut the time you devote for blog creation in half without improving your productivity, you’ll start pushing out lower-quality blogs.

Similarly, if you cut the budget for your content, you’ll only be able to afford the cheapest content mills. Usually, this means bottom-of-the-barrel writing, or writers whose native language is not English.

With the latter, mistakes like these are too common:

Examples via Mark Matsuno

No bueno.

Mistakes like these can kill your blog ROI, because content that’s thin, riddled with errors, factually incorrect, poorly written, or hard to read does NOT rank.

Need a visual reminder of poor blogging? Here you go:

poor-content-example

Not only does this blog make your brain hurt, it’s also completely useless information. From one post, it’s painfully obvious that this business went the cheap route for their blog.

Yikes.

Ready to See ROI from Your Blog? Be Inspired from Our Success Stories

Here’s the deal:

Our blogging ROI at Express Writers is huge because:

  • We have invested SERIOUS time and money into creating great content
  • We have blogged consistently, regularly, and predictably for six years
  • Our blogs are usually long-form, SEO optimized and targeted to our audience
  • We’re committed, heart and soul, to high-quality blogging

There are no “buts” about it.

If you want to see similar ROI down the road, you MUST commit to blogging and invest in quality.

Are you ready to bring it?

bring-it

We can help with that. Trust us with your blog content creation – we know what it takes.

 

 

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.

CTA-EW-02

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.

Subscribe to Julia McCoy on YouTube.

 

expert copywriting product update

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

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

Quality is first and foremost at our heart.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

expert copywriting product update

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

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

1. General Content Creation Level Update

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

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

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

2. Expert Copywriting Product Update

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

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

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

Custom Industry Expert.

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

See below, and check out the product here:

new expert content update

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

expert category

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

3. HR Improvements

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

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

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

To your online success,

~ Julia and Team, Express Writers

content strategist authority writer Austin

Interview for the Write Blog: Authority Writer & Content Strategist Austin

Today for the Write Blog, we interviewed one of our full-time writers, Austin.

Austin first began his career as a pro writer when he left his hometown of Los Angeles, California to travel the world and document his experiences along the way. He has toured with rock bands in Europe, written technical documentation for Australian engineering concerns and executed social media strategies for major international brands across the globe. A talented writer, Austin has been a long-term member of Express Writers for over a year, working full-time as an Authority Writer, Content Strategist and all-around gifted copywriter.

content strategist and authority writer Austin

What were your earliest writing memories?

writer austinLike many introverted pre-teens, at the age of 10 or 11 I kept a journal where I’d write down my thoughts and occasionally try my hand at poetry.

Shortly thereafter, I migrated to the then-popular LiveJournal platform and share these thoughts with the small handful of close friends who took an interest.

Back then, everyone had a Myspace account, but keeping up a LiveJournal took a bit more effort, and it was a far more convenient way to share opinions and tell stories.

What (or who) were your early influences in writing?

I’ve been an avid science fiction fan since I was first introduced to Isaac Asimov. My father gave me The Foundation Series as a birthday gift. Asimov’s influence is easy to identify in both my creative and practical approaches to writing.

In particular, one quote of his made a huge impact on my creative goal as a writer:

“I made up my mind long ago to follow one cardinal rule in all my writing—to be clear. I have given up all thought of writing poetically or symbolically or experimentally, or in any of the other modes that might get me a Pulitzer prize…”

I’ve also adopted many elements of his famously hyper-productive workflow – Asimov wrote almost 500 books during his lifetime, which calculates to an average of one full novel every two weeks for 25 years. I haven’t quite reached that volume of output, but if I had received George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones that year, this interview would not be online until the year 2050.

What kind of topics get you excited/passionate to write about and why?

I find inspiration in anything new, innovative, or otherwise under-explored. For the most part, this happens in the tech sector, where entrepreneurs and 08 writer austinstartups are constantly coming up with fresh and exciting challenges to the status quo.

But this can happen anywhere, in any subject. Usually, I try to address this frame of reference in almost everything I write – synthesizing the well-established facts of the past with the new insights of today to create a better perspective of tomorrow.

Do you have any daily/typical writing rituals?

I continuously engineer just about every aspect of my daily writing routine to reduce inefficiencies and keep myself focused. Most of these rituals prevent decision fatigue from tiring me out throughout the day. For instance, I work at home, but always dress to a tee beforehand. Music is almost always playing (loudly) while I write, but only specific albums and playlists on repeat – radio host banter would get in the way and break my concentration. I keep my office immaculately clean for the same reason.

I don’t smoke cigarettes, but I do hold an unlit antique tobacco pipe in my mouth while writing. That’s just a personal idiosyncrasy I suppose stems from popular depictions of writers like Ernest Hemingway or Mark Twain. Somehow, it just feels appropriate.

What books, tools, websites have helped your writing the most?

This is a small list of resources I reference the most:

  • Kevan Lee’s list of copywriting formulas. This is a great tool, not just for introducing articles to readers, but for introducing just about anyone to anything.
  • Google Scholar. I’ve found that more often than not, great sources form the crux of great content. Finding better, more recent, and more complete data about a subject than anyone else practically guarantees that you’ll be able to deliver a clearer and more compelling argument about it.
  • Practical Content Strategy & Marketing. Can’t go wrong with this one. This book offers a bird’s eye view of content strategy as a discipline and then goes deep into what defines a successful approach, step-by-step.
  • Buzzsumo. This tool is extraordinarily useful for synthesizing topics and strategies out of already-popular content. Used in the right way, it can be your go-to topic generating tool for almost any industry.

Importantly, these are all technical resources that help get content made. For the creative work of actually writing content, I rely on two philosophical disciplines more than anything else:

  • Aristotelian Rhetoric. A lot of motivational speakers, speechwriters, and life coaches will claim to teach you the secret of how to convince anyone of anything, but few, if any, do anything more than paraphrase Aristotle. When it comes to persuasion, the definitive work has been written and its about 2,400 years old.
  • Critical Theory. This one is a little less user-friendly, but it’s incredibly useful when you need to disprove something, or otherwise poke holes in people’s existing prejudices, principles, and belief systems. Handle with care. Don’t try this at home.

What is your favorite article that you wrote?

05 writer austinMy favorite project so far was a white paper for a cryptocurrency designed to operate in the healthcare sector. The level of research involved can only be described as legendary – decades of aggregated healthcare spend in multiple countries compared with each nation’s respective changes in fiduciary policy and the effects of those changes, transformed into a projection of future trends and used to argue for the need for a new form of currency to compensate for the discrepancy in inflation rates between fiat currency and healthcare products and services. Psychedelic stuff.

A favorite client that you worked with?

There’s a fellow whom I know only as “Sean”. One of my most memorable projects with this client involved long-form content about space travel, artificial intelligence, and robotics.

Then he comes back around in a month or so and wants in-depth content about golf, or a listicle of the best waterparks in the United States. He’s a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.

What is the oddest writing assignment you’ve ever had?

Probably all that stuff about golf. Product descriptions can get pretty weird, too. Sometimes you’re looking at some everyday item you’ve never thought of as the product of a commercial enterprise – like cable ties or threaded washers – and you have to rack your brain for a few minutes to come up with pain points customers may wish to see addressed.

01 writer austin

How does your writing career help you either creatively, personally, or financially?

Creatively, there is something profoundly satisfying about generating value using only one brain, ten fingers, and twenty six letters. Seeing the words you write actually inspire people to take action is a wondrous experience. If my writing career is a means to an end, that’s the one I’m looking for.

Personally, being able to set my own hours and work from anywhere on the planet is hugely empowering. This work environment instills in me a sense of liberty that is hard to find anywhere else.

Financially, writing has been a lifesaver. Initially, it started out as a convenient option for scraping out a living in inconvenient circumstances. It blossomed into a full-fledged career that is now generating enough profit to finance other initiatives – things I’ve always wanted to do but never had the combination of time and money to really dedicate myself towards. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

CTA content strategist and authority writer austin

copywriter Diana

Interview for the Write Blog: Copywriter & Content Strategist Diana

Today for the Write Blog, we interviewed one of our full-time writers, Diana.

Diana is a journalism graduate, award-winning filmmaker and online content specialist. She dedicates her work to crafting content that connects people with stories and ideas that matter. When she’s away from the laptop, you can find her navigating through South America’s mountain trails or planning her next large-scale environmental project. Diana joined our team earlier this year and has become an integrated part, training closely with Julia for a course support role, and writing a myriad of content types for our clients. 

interview with writer Diana

How did you first find out you liked to write?

02 dianaMy dad is a writer and I’ve always been a big fan of him in many ways.

So when I was about nine years old, I decided to submit a story for the Remembrance Day competition at my school. The story ended up winning first place and was announced at the annual ceremony.

If you can remember being nine years old, winning basically anything was the best thing ever.

So clearly, I exploded — and became totally obsessed. Soon after, I got a hold of my dad’s old briefcase, filled it with blank notebooks and begun writing long-winded mystery stories for a good length of time (Nancy Drew was my other hero).

What (or who) were your early influences in writing?

After my long-lived Nancy Drew/Harriet the Spy phase and survived my too-cool-for-school chapter, I was introduced to a handful of influencers in University.

Besides my incredible journalism/writing professors and mentors, there were some other special people I surrounded myself with:

I ABSORBED Kurt Vonnegut. Like I wanted to take his work and inject it into my body somehow.

Douglas Coupland and Rawi Hage were fairly prominent in my life, too.

David Sedaris was pretty much my long-distance, secret mentor for my short story work.

Hunter S. Thompson was my muse.

Charles Bukowski, Leonard Cohen and Sylvia Plath were my sad, soulful weekend mentors.

At this time, I was also regularly writing lyrics for a band I was in.

I think this may have been one of the greatest influences for my writing: The self-disciplined study of lyricism and poetry. It gave my writing a certaindepth and flavour.

Henry David Thoreau was a game-changer, though.

I think I’ve read Walden 4 times.

This, combined with tree planting expeditions and my insatiable love for scriptwriting eventually led me to creating work for a purpose, rather than simply the joy of storytelling.

What kind of topics get you excited/passionate to write about and why?

I love characters. Profile pieces, especially on zany people, make me giddy.

I also love every aspect of writing for environmental topics. I try to learn as much about environmental issues on the side to help my craft in this field.

Honestly though, any topic that has the potential to influence further development in either myself or the world at large has me pretty pumped.

01 diana

This can include:

– content marketing
– social enterprises
– psychology and self-development
– new cuisine or farming practices
– specific technology

Do you have any daily/typical writing rituals?

I meditate.

I go through stints where I don’t do it as often, but it’s clear how it affects my concentration and therefore my writing.

Meditating every morning before looking at screens improves the overall productiveness of my day significantly.

Clear/calm mind + blank paper + coffee = real potential.

What books, tools, websites have helped your writing the most?

I’m kind of old school.

I believe the simple discipline of reading and writing a desired topic/style can boost your abilities.

Currently, I’m trying to improve my content writing, so I’m reading Julia’s book while following various blogs.

I use Feedly to help me stay updated with specific styles of content I’m focusing on — which is actually the most high-tech I’ve ever been in this respect.

What is your favorite article that you wrote?

It was called, “Massacre on Dundas Avenue.”

It was an investigative piece on why there were so many dead squirrels littering the main roads in my town.

The article was a result of a casual observation that led to a broader issue — an approach I feel makes for the best articles.

A favorite client that you worked with?

Dr. Graham’s Homes, which is an orphanage and school in Kalimpong, India. I wrote a number of the graduate’s testimonials for their main site to encourage essential funding.

The stories these students shared were truly inspiring, some of them almost chilling. Being given the chance to take these stories and mould them into something tangible was an honor.

What is the oddest writing assignment you’ve ever had?

I covered a radio story on the inside life of a trailer park, which was actually a few hours away from where the TV show, Trailer Park Boys was shot.

The assignment required me to go door-to-door and interview residents of the area, which proved to be both terrifying and awe-inspiring. The range of characters was vast, but one common theme that carried through was the residents’ ability to effortlessly entertain guests.

How does your writing career help you either creatively, personally, or financially?

My writing career not only pays the bills and my ability to travel (which includes its own benefits), but it encourages me to evolve on a personal level.

I believe that constantly working on a craft, whether it be art, carpentry, music or writing, enhances your ability to expand in a myriad of ways.

It helps you practice humility, and when done well and enjoyably, can be beneficial for your spirit and overall well-being.

The craft of writing helps you connect with people and ideas.

It supports continual learning, curiosity, and encourages open-mindedness.

Needless to say, invaluable gains.

CTA writer Diana

content strategy services

The State of Content Marketing Today. Why We Just Launched New & Improved Content Strategy Services at Express Writers

Let’s talk a little about the state of content marketing as it stands today.

91% of content marketers are using content marketing. That’s higher than all previous years to date.

Content creation is the #1 activity in content marketing that gets outsourced.

45% of content marketers are more successful than they were the previous year:

And 78% quoted better content creation as being the number one reason for their improved success.

Yet only 4% of these marketers rate themselves as extremely successful. 

CMI adds: “As they have in the past, respondents who have a documented content marketing strategy report higher levels of overall content marketing success compared with those who have a verbal strategy only, or no strategy at all.”

Yet, despite this guaranteed success rate, only 37% of marketers still have a documented content strategy.

Here’s a quick slide of those statistics from the CMI report:

What exactly is IN a documented content strategy?

Here’s eleven top cores I’d direct you to consider. Note that it is much more than just a keyword report, or a topic calendar.

  1. Audience Persona (you’ve identified your audience so specifically that you have a name and a face)
  2. Your industry standout factor (Content Differentiation Factor)
  3. Your messaging, voice, and tone (Brand Style Guidelines)
  4. SEO keyword reports with high-value, high-opportunity keywords (researched consistently)
  5. Content creation plan & creation team in place
  6. Content types to create
  7. A content creation budget
  8. Editorial calendar with staff collaboration
  9. Social media platforms to build a presence on
  10. Guest blogging opportunities identified
  11. Content updating, tracking and maintenance plan in place

That’s a lot. 

You want to be in the 4% of content marketers that are “extremely successful,” right?

Then you need all eleven cores turning in your content wheelhouse.

But, here’s the issue.

You’re probably facing two questions right about now.

  • How the heck do you do all those things ^?
  • Where the heck can you find a support team, that is quality controlled, to outsource all those things ^?

the state of content marketing and why we launched new content strategy services

How & Why Our Mission These Days is to Solve Industry Problems & Help Brands Succeed By Offering the Best Content Strategy Services

Here’s the thing…

I’ve been focusing on this “big industry picture” since late 2016.

It all started when I began to look at these CMI Benchmark reports, and even asked myself “why are our blogging clients not renewing their order every month?”

Every year, content marketing investment and marketer buy-in goes up.

But the strategic success hasn’t really gone up at all.

Today, only 4% feel they’re very successful at content marketing in 2018.

You know what’s worse? Take a look at previous years’ records.

In 2016, 88% of marketers were doing content marketing – now, 91% are. In 2016, 32% had a documented content strategy: today, 37% do. In 2016, 6% rated themselves as highly effective.

Today, only 4% feel they’re highly effective.

That’s -2% from two years ago!

In my firm, I’ve seen success rise for my content marketing year-after-year.

I know by now that it is all about consistent content, and I also knewafter five years of trial and error, beyond a doubt the value of great content in content marketing – provided you get consistent and you know what you’re doing. When my brand went past 1,000 published blogs, I wrote about the results after looking through our sales forms. It’s rather mind-blowing. 500+ inbound lead inquiries from those 1,000 blogs, closed with a sale at an 80-85% rate. Those were high-value leads: just one converted at $75,000.

The success I’d experienced by using content marketing to power 99% of my own business success (for six years!) is the very reason I created a content strategy course.

I go through all the cores I just mentioned, and teach strategists at all beginner levels how to be successful. 

How to be in the top 4%.

By doing this, I want that industry metric to expand.

Expand from 4% to 10, 20%.

If brands get extremely effective at their content marketing, BIG things will happen for that brand.

They’ll get known: appreciated: earn a loyal, tight-knit fan base: and see sales roll in every day.

Hand in hand with the course are the content strategy services I’ve built in my content agency, Express Writers.

I started writing the core training for our “content planning,” “keyword research,” and “content consultation” 5 years ago–and that inspired the industry-wide course I launched last year.

We’re a content creation agency first and foremost, but truly: what is great content if you don’t have your fundamental strategy mapped out?

Recapping the Main Changes to Our Content Strategy Services for 2018

Here’s what the new product, Content Strategy, looks like:

new content strategy service

3 main changes to our content strategy services

  1. We revamped and improved each strategy service we offer (list of changes below), for the year.
  2. On top of that, I launched new internal training for our Strategists, straight from the cores of my 6-week, intensive content course at www.contentstrategycourses.com. All this happened in the last three weeks here at Express Writers.
  3. All of our content strategy services are now available from this one product link, Content Strategy, instead of multiple links for keyword research and the other variations inside this one service.

Keyword research has now become more finely tuned and available in two variations: Keyword research for blogging, keyword research for web page topics. We’ll research longer-tail keywords for your blog, that offer a high likelihood of ranking: and wider opportunities for your site, where you’d want to rank overall for bigger, bolder keywords.

Content planning and content planning blocks has turned into Topic Research, for web or blog. You’ll receive an editorial calendar with high-ROI topics analyzed, as well as a core keyword to use in the topic: and what’s more, we now research influencers for your topic area as well and give you an exported list in the Excel editorial calendar. Our topic headlines are highly-scored, and carefully analyzed by our Content Strategists.

We use some of the best tools on the market: SEMrush, BuzzSumo, Hawkeye by Scoop.it, and Mangools’ KWFinder. Our team Content Strategists are fully trained from my content strategy course cores on how to deliver keywords and high-ROI content topics.

Our Topic Planning is available in three variations:

See an example of a Topic Planning package, complete with editorial calendar.

What’s more, we now offer a follow-up call with you + our Content Strategists to make sure you’re able to get the most from your topic planning. This will help our clients understand how to use their keywords and topics in the best way for on-site ROI.

Interested? Click here to book a call with one of our staff members to talk about your content strategy needs, or view the new product by clicking on the image below.

cta new service

Let Us Power Up Your Content Strategy

We can’t wait to serve you with the best content for more success in your content marketing, this 2018.

If you’re looking for training for your agency, my Content Strategy Course could be a fit. (We’re relaunching a new and improved site late February, 2018!)

Need done-for-you strategic content marketing services?

We love serving custom, high-quality content to seasoned brands and agencies.

If that’s you, we’re a great match!

Talk to our team today about your content needs.

CTA content strategy

cmworld 2017 express writers

CMWorld 2017: 9 Top Attendance Takeaways & 3 Event Networking Tips (What I Learned as a First-Time CMWorld Attendee)

I’ve always wanted to go to CMWorld.

Like, since I started out 6 years ago in the industry.

If you know anything about me, you know that I started Express Writers back in 2011, at 20 years old, with $75: and through consistent content creation, I’ve been able to reach clients and grow to a team of over 40 writers, serving over 5,000 clients over the last 6 years. The sole marketing we do is content marketing. We are a realization of our services: literally, we ARE a content creation agency marketed and fueled by the content we create for our brand. This is done through my content on the Write Blog, my guest blogs on Content Marketing Institute, Search Engine Journal, and SiteProNews, to name a few. By now, we have over 4,000 organic keyword spots in Google.

So this year, I finally went and gathered in a crowd of people that were my kind – over 4,600 content creators and marketers, at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio. I took one of my team leaders with me.

The verdict?

We experienced a dynamite week at CMWorld.

I walked away with four potential new clients, three (maybe four) sponsors for my new course, AND some key lessons learned that I’ll be implementing for the good of my company and the web (seriously – I’m about to get a lot realer and create even better content in the days ahead – I’ve been strategizing and mapping since the moment I left).

Here’s a recap. Keep reading for 9 main session takeaways – simple, favorite takeaways – and 3 critical lessons I learned as a content marketer attending #CMWorld, about the event in general and how to network effectively.

cmworld 2017 express writers

CMWorld 2017 In Pictures

How fun is this? Our designer took the 30+ pictures I shot at the event with some of my favorite content marketing people, and made an infographic collage! Enjoy. 🙂

[clickToTweet tweet=”Experience #CMWorld 2017 in pictures: #infographic of event pictures via @ExpWriters” quote=”Experience #CMWorld 2017 in pictures: #infographic of event pictures via @ExpWriters”]

cmworld 2017 express writers collage

Arriving in Cleveland September 5 for CMWorld 2017: Day 1

Tuesday, September 5, started off the event with an amazing networking night where each one of us 4,000+ marketers hung out together at the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. I’d never been, and it was incredible – a beautiful venue.

Hannah, my Content Director at Express Writers, and I landed right at 6:55 pm. Hannah came from Albany, Oregon, and I came from Austin, Texas. The networking party was from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. We dropped our bags off at our hotel and got ready to network and party! We ended up at the event around 8:15.

The trolley left our hotel, Crowne Plaza, every 30 minutes. Which was awesome. We didn’t have to call an Uber or a taxi for the CMWorld events that happened close to our hotel. Content Marketing World had all the details covered – even a printout of where you were going ready to hand out at the hotel front lobby. In fact, CMWorld signs were EVERYWHERE. We saw cars sporting magnetic roof signs, like pizza delivery cars, for the event. Content Marketing Institute did an outstanding job on event marketing. Everything was set up to be extremely helpful for attendees, especially the new ones that weren’t sure where to go (me).

At the networking event Tuesday night, we had an amazing time. I actually got to personally shake hands with and hug my industry hero, Joe Pulizzi! Funny story: Hannah and I ended up escorting Joe Pulizzi for the CMI staff up the escalator, both of us on each side of him! I also met the amazing CMI staff, who I’d emailed and tweeted with years prior to this week. It’s great to make a connection through email and/or Twitter, but there’s nothing like hugging in real life. I crossed paths with a lot more people I’d tweeted or emailed. The opening night party was loads of fun.

9 Session Takeaways from CMWorld 2017: Joe Pulizzi, Jay Acunzo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & More

The CMWorld event, true to awesome form, comes complete with a CMWorld app. CMWorld 2017 is downloadable through the iTunes store. It was an amazing way to manage the 150+ sessions that occurred from Tuesday – Friday during the week of the conference. You’re free to scroll through the sessions, pick the ones you want to attend, and add them to your agenda. Incredibly smart and useful.

Here are some one/two-liner (some are longer) takeaways from the sessions I attended. Keep reading for some hugely critical tips I learned on networking for great results, too.

1. Joe Pulizzi, Welcome to the Content Marketing Revolution (Opening Keynote)

Favorite takeaway:

“You need a loyal and trusting audience. Traffic and shares are good: but without a loyal audience, nothing is possible.

9/10 marketers that are successful at content marketing, say that they focus on building an audience.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”Without a loyal audience, nothing is possible. @joepulizzi #CMWorld” quote=”Without a loyal audience, nothing is possible. @joepulizzi #CMWorld”]

2. Linda Boff, GE, “Imagination at Work: Lessons in Storytelling from GE,” General Session Keynote

linda goff cmworld

Key takeaway:

“Stories are right under our noses—we just might need to change the lens every now and then. Content that tries to sell, doesn’t.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”Content that tries to sell, doesn’t. @lindaboff” quote=”Content that tries to sell, doesn’t. @lindaboff”]

3. Jay Acunzo, “Be the Exception: How Brilliant Marketers Find and Follow What Makes Their Stories Different in a World Full of Average Content,” General Session Keynote

Key takeaway:

[clickToTweet tweet=”Pay more attention to your customer than your industry, and your customer will pay more attention to you. @jayacunzo ” quote=”Pay more attention to your customer than your industry, and your customer will pay more attention to you. @jayacunzo #CMWorld”]

“Be exceptional. Spend your time doing truly remarkable work and building something worth subscribing to. Pay more attention to your customer than your industry, and your customer will pay more attention to you. What is your aspirational anchor? What is your intent for the future? What kind of hunger do you feel about work today… and what is your unfair advantage? Use these as both a filter for endless advice and your differentiator in your content.”

4. Michele Linn of CMI, Creating the Ultimate Content Marketing Team (45-Minute Session)

Favorite takeaway:

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Creatives with skills outside their specialty are highly marketable. Don’t just hire a ‘writer.’” @michelelinn ” quote=”‘Creatives with skills outside their specialty are highly marketable. Don’t just hire a ‘writer.’” @michelelinn #CMWorld”]

michele linn cmworld

Michele mentioned that originally she’d thought about making the presentation about “roles,” then realized that every marketer she spoke to in researching her presentation topic had a different role title. Role titles didn’t matter as much as the skills and actual responsibilities. Michele also shared a great Cameron Conway quote: Behind every great content marketing effort, there’s always a driven, well-organized team.

5. Amanda Todorovich of Cleveland Clinic, The Inside Story of How Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials Drives Consistent Web Traffic and Builds an Audience (45-Minute Session)

Amanda, with the approval (and cheerleading) of the health clinic’s CMO, took the Cleveland Health Clinic’s online presence from zero traffic to an on-track goal of hitting 5 million hits per MONTH this October. They publish 15 blogs/day, and right now, the number one way they win new patients is through their content, with multiple blogs set up where they post content to. Way to go, Cleveland Health Clinic–and Amanda!

Amanda says: Look at your content AND your audience as an asset. She recommends dropping the stale monthly reports and reporting back when you see a change, improvement, follower movement–which could be a daily occurrence. Also, patience is key. It’s taken them years to build their tremendous presence and audience.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Look at your content AND your audience as an asset. [email protected] from Cleveland Health Clinic #CMWorld” quote=”Look at your content AND your audience as an asset. [email protected] from Cleveland Health Clinic #CMWorld”]

6. Garrett Moon of Coschedule, Going Beyond Content Marketing: Turning Traffic into Leads (45-Minute Session)

coschedule cmworld

This session by Garrett from CoSchedule held some great tips.

“Drive profitable customer action. Attract an audience that is excited to discover your product. What do your customers really care about? To get leads, you must understand your customer.

Focus on having a content core. Have one clear CTA message in your content, never two. Place them in the top and bottom. Use the HelloBar and package your content with value. Instead of just asking your readers to subscribe, give them something for free that’s of value along the way.

Goal setting and tracking is important. Understand how to measure your lead generation, and remember that different phases of business mean different goals.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”Find a topic that your customers care about and map it to an angle that provides value. @garrett_moon #CMWorld” quote=”Find a topic that your customers care about and map it to an angle that provides value. @garrett_moon #CMWorld”]

7. #AMA – ASKMEANYTHING – How Marketers Can Deliver Better Speeches and Presentations, with Cathy McPhillips, Donna Moritz, Scott Stratten, and Tamsen Webster (Lunch & Learn)

Favorite takeaway:

“Speaking can be deeply uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Passion trumps polish EVERY TIME.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”Passion trumps polish EVERY TIME. @tamadear” quote=”Passion trumps polish EVERY TIME. @tamadear”]

8. Joseph Gordon-Levitt Keynote – Hollywood, Media and How to Collaborate to Build Something Truly Great

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, film star and director, built hitrecord.org from scratch, a community of collaborators and work together to get paid for their creative skills (over $2.5 million has been paid out to their creatives).

joseph gordon levitt cmworld

Favorite takeaway:

Although Joseph’s speech was awesome, my favorite short-liner would have to be Joe Pulizzi clearing up what “content marketing” means to Joseph.

Joe Pulizzi (talking about what Joseph does): So what kind of marketing category does that fall into?

Joseph: Brand marketing.

Joe: Why not content marketing?

Joseph: Well, what is the difference between brand and content marketing?

Joe: Brand marketing is marketing that serves the brand. Content marketing is marketing that serves the audience.

Joseph: Okay, then, I guess I do content marketing.

#audienceapplause

9. Jay Baer, How to Get Promoted by Creating Less Content, Not More (45-Minute Session)

I apologize – this one isn’t going to be a one-liner takeaway.

I was inspired by this particular session by Jay Baer so much, that I’ll be writing a standalone blog on a guest blog platform just around what I took away from listening. This was a powerful wake-up speech that every content marketer should know about. Stop doing crap volume content – it’ll kill you, eventually. Here are a few key notes from the session.

First, Jay shared core statistics that are pretty crazy:

  • 76% of marketers plan to create more content than ever this year
  • Yet more than half of all content gets LESS THAN 4 social shares
  • And more than 75% earns no links

Being relevant to your audience is the hugest content need today. Content fails when it doesn’t matter enough to trade time for information.

jay baer cmworld

Jay identified a wonderful solution by building multiple personas. He introduced a “5x5x5 topic archaeology:” determine 5 key questions that must be answered for your audience to progress through the sales funnel. Create a persona for each stage of the funnel. 125 questions (5×3 stages of the funnel) will net you 60 questions. Then, you can figure out the content type to create to answer their questions. FAQ, blog, etc.

Think of creating consistent content shows. On your site; and in other places. Thematic content is key. Stop creating content randomly. Jay’s Social Pros podcast has ran for 7 years. Whiteboard Friday. With shows, you stop random nature of creating content. Your audience will tune in. Easier to test and optimize. Repurposing content is easier this way, too.

The most persuasive content is created by real people, not brands. The more content customers and fans you create, the less you have to create. More trust, less work.

Robots that can write well, WILL happen – they are happening now. In just a few months they could replace your job. Add the secret sauce of humanity to keep your job as a content marketer. Have a laser focus on relevance, trustworthiness, memorability…not volume.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Add the secret sauce of humanity to keep your job as a content marketer and stand out against the robots. @jaybaer ” quote=”Add the secret sauce of humanity to keep your job as a content marketer and stand out against the robots. @jaybaer #CMWorld”]

3 Key Lessons I Learned From Successfully Networking and Attending CMWorld 2017

At CMWorld 2017, I walked away with several potential new clients and three, maybe four, course sponsors.

How did I make THAT happen?!

Let me be specific, so you don’t think these were just “leads:” we walked away with at least two new client relationships (brand new, direct emails and contact info exchanged, and “I will be hiring you” actually said to my staff member and I). We’re working on potentially two more of those, too.

With my course, I have meetings that I discussed and set from the conference floor with three executives that are definitely interested in sponsoring the course. Granted, when it comes to the course, these were people I have had connections with for years – yet I think meeting in person at CMWorld was a huge key to successful communication regarding it, and the trust factor just gets so much “realer” when you’re in person.

1. If You Want to Get a “Lead” That’s Worth Something, Don’t Pitch Cold. But, Look for Opportunities & Make Friends.

How interesting is this tip?

Dave, my client at Magnificent Marketing, who was at #CMWorld too, told me that pitching while at a party or doing dinner together just feels “slimey.”

I agree, but I think there’s a balance. The odds also seemed to be heavily in my favor to naturally find opportunities, since we were the lone content creation agency (everyone else was a consulting agency, marketer, SaaS creator, etc).

For example, I was standing in the middle of the Expo Hall (which is giant) and was talking to my friend, the Director of BuzzSumo, Steve Rayson. The minute I finished talking to him, two people came up to me. Turns out they led marketing at an agency, were looking for writers, and had read my badge while I was talking to Steve – “Express Writers.” They said they were in need of writers yesterday and we instantly exchanged information. This happened a couple times.

I think you should go prepared to pitch if you find someone that needs you, and you’re confident you can deliver. However, don’t just “pitch.” Look for the opportunity, make a friend, and then make the connection.

There was one booth there where the guy, an obviously seasoned and salty “salesperson,” walked up to me and tried to sell me on a webinar system I didn’t need. Within five minutes, he’d sent me a LinkedIn request with his calendar link to book a call.

That was a major, major turnoff. You’re at a content marketing event, where the theme was “audience comes first.” Never do what the overly-salesy sales guy did to me.

2. If You Have Prior Influencer Relationships Built Up, When You Finally Meet, It’s Dynamite & Big Things Can Happen.

This seriously applies to meeting influencers.

Seriously.

Don’t go expecting big things and try to meet influencers you’ve never, ever talked to before.

Why? First of all, they usually have a crowd around them. Second of all, the connection won’t be as amazing as a moment that goes… “aha! So good to meet you, finally!” It’ll be a much less impactful connection if you’re a complete stranger when you meet them at the event.

So I’ve been podcasting (the Write Podcast) since April 2016, and through that channel, I’ve been able to meet and build relationships with some amazing influencers in the industry. Same for a Twitter chat I run, #ContentWritingChat. Before my podcasting days, I’d already met a few of the influencers virtually through live events, tweeting, etc. Some of these connections went as far back as 2012. So, before I even planned on #CMWorld, I’d tweeted, emailed, and talked consistently with these amazing influencers.

When we met, it was DY-NA-MITE. Like, “let’s sit down and talk opportunities” dynamite. I had a sponsorship meeting booked and two in the works before I left the floor on Day 2. We hugged, took pictures, and the conversation flowed, too. It wasn’t one-sided with me “asking.” We were truly friends before I even got there. And the ask was easy–the influencer and I both knew it was in our favor.

3. CMWorld Is One of the “Easiest” Conferences With Short, Walk-In Sessions & Everything Set Up For You.

When I planned my trip to CMWorld, I was honestly worried how 150 sessions and 100 speakers would go. I thought I’d be completely drained – I’d been to another conference with 45-60 minute sessions back on back and was drained quickly.

The app made it extremely easy to pick my sessions. I didn’t even have to look for signs or go somewhere – I just looked at the app.

I found that CMWorld was structured so well that the sessions were short (some at 20 minutes long) and the longer sessions still allowed you to come and go very easily.

The come-and-go nature of the event, and the constantly open Main Expo Hall with a giant, comfortable lounge, was perfect. Seriously, desks and chairs were everywhere incase you needed to take a quick minute to catch up on work, and the entire convention center was rented out for us – AND the next-door hotel!

Over 4,000 attendees and you could still find a quiet corner to make or take a call. (Except for the Expo Hall when it was time for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s keynote. Forget even trying to walk through. It moved fast, though.)

In honesty, I attended less sessions than I thought I would, but the networking results were fantastic. I kept popping out early to go see who I could find at the Expo Hall, and then walking into other sessions.

The end result? I was engaged, happy, and the opposite of bored (what I would have felt if I was sitting in a session for more than an hour at a time).

Final Shoutout #1: Andy Crestodina Is An Influencer that Sets an Industry Example

One influencer that I made a new relationship with at CMWorld consistently stood out for his helpfulness, kindness, and all-around awesomeness – to me and everyone around me. Andy Crestodina.

There are a lot of amazing, helpful, kind people in content marketing, but Andy is hard to describe because of how much he goes above and beyond. I was thoroughly amazed and inspired by Andy’s above-average caring nature as a content marketing expert and influencer.

Here’s why.

We were standing in the expo hall. I had just met him face-to-face, and was telling him how much I enjoyed the book that he mailed me, at no cost, with a handwritten note – before I went to the event. (Seriously, wasn’t that nice?) I told him “so sorry I missed your session today! I ended up going to another.” Do you know what Andy said? “Skype me. Or catch me later. And I’ll give you the whole talk. It was short. I don’t want you to miss it. So I’ll give it personally to you if you want. Just let me know.”

Then, he texted me later on the second full day of the event, and got me into an amazing event hosted by Ivana of DIYMarketers.

Seriously! What influencer does that?! Content marketing has heroes. That’s all I’m going to say.

Final Shoutout #2: Thank You, Joe Pulizzi, Robert Rose, & the CMI Team!

I was honored to walk out with a handsigned copy of the newest book from Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. This one will be on my bedstand table for a while.

joe pulizzi signed book

Thank you, thank you Content Marketing Institute for a wonderful event!

For this content marketer, it was an incredible experience. I will be back!

content strategy course cta

General, Expert, Authority: What Differentiates the Content Levels at Express Writers? (Infographic)

At Express Writers, we’re a tight-knit team of content creators that pride ourselves on serving our clients with the best copy on the web.

Since I founded the company in 2011, we’ve served over 5,000 clients around the globe. Watch our video story.

Part of our structure in customizing our content and matching up our writers to our clients for successful results, has been in serving our clients with three specific levels. Our three individual content levels are suited to every kind of budget, expertise level needed, and consistent brand positioning.

To explain our levels better, we created a visual infographic to represent what each of these levels look like. Enjoy! And be sure to scroll down to the content below the infographic to see examples of each content type, written by our creators.

See the three content levels at @ExpWriters #infographic Click To Tweet

General, Expert, Authority: What Differentiates the Content Levels at Express Writers? (Infographic)

General, Expert, Authority: What Differentiates the Content Levels at Express Writers? (Infographic)

Explaining the Three Content Levels at Express Writers

General Copy: The Lowdown

See an example of General Copy.

Writer: Your writer passed our hiring tests. Only 2% of applicants do, so they’ve got writing chops. They’re not, however, an expert on the topic and will instead rely on their research and writing skills.

Content Quality Specialist: Your editor follows our unique 5-point quality check to eliminate grammar and syntax errors while ensuring strong word flow and proper formatting. 

Thorough Research: Includes statistics, quotes, and/or links that support your article topic.

Benefits of General Copy

SEO-Friendly: Formatted and written to be found by search engines.

Created for Optimal Readability: Content is broken up with subheadings and short paragraphs to make it easy for readers to consume.

Who General Content Is Perfect for:

  • Small businesses focusing on local SEO
  • Agencies reselling our content to small, local-focused businesses
  • Businesses or bloggers in non-competitive niches that need content for their blog or social media pages

Expert Copy: The Lowdown

See an example of Expert Copy.

Expert Writer: Your writer passed our tests AND has extensive experience writing about your topic. They also have a better understanding of your readers than a general writer would. And, they’re expert in the nuances of engaging writing. Many of these writers have taken advanced courses, live workshops, or coaching sessions on how to write for engagement and conversions.

Content Quality Specialist: Your editor uses our 5-point quality check process AND checks for link quality and research accuracy.

Extensive Research: Using their experience, your expert writer knows where to find the best resources (links, statistics, quotes, etc.) for researching your topic.

Benefits of Expert Copy

Made for Search Engines: Everything, from the quality of the content to the formatting and keywords used, is made for high ROI in the organic SEO rankings, targeted to the real human reader.

Audience-Centric Content: Content is designed to connect and engage with your unique audience.

Positions You as an Expert: After publishing several expert articles, you’ll be well-positioned to start generating organic traffic for the long term.

Who Expert Content Is Perfect for

  • Businesses or bloggers that want to begin establishing themselves as an expert in their industry
  • Small or medium-sized businesses that want to start generating organic traffic
  • Businesses in a niche with moderate competition that are trying to work towards becoming an authority

Authority Content: The Lowdown

See an example of Authority Content.

This content level not only uses the highest level writer and editors in our team, but also has a specialized process, workflow and extra steps for SEO keyword discovery and special image creation.

Content Strategist: Step 1 in the Authority Content workflow. Uses industry-leading tools to perform keyword research and determine which long-tail keywords your content should be built around.

Authority Writer: Your writer, who is an expert on your topic, works with the content strategist to ensure content is written around long-tail keywords that have the best chance to help you rank quickly. This writer has been handpicked out of our best writers and mentored by our CEO.

Content Quality Specialist: Uses the 5-point quality check process, checks for link quality and research accuracy, AND ensures your content passes the quality standards necessary to rank.

Designer: Creates customized images, based on the writer and content strategist’s suggestions, to ensure the content is as engaging as possible.

Benefits of Authority Content

Designed to Be the Best: Everything, from the images and research to the link quality and formatting, is designed to position your content as the BEST available on your topic.

Positions You as an Authority: With our incredibly high standards, the quality of this type of content helps position you as an authority within your niche.

Customized, Engaging Images: Content with images produces 650% higher engagement rates. With the customized images our designer creates, that number could be even higher.

First Page Focus: The goal of this content is to get you to the first page of search engines for the long-tail keyword/s that we’re targeting.

Who Authority Content Is Perfect For

  • Businesses that are looking for content that “wows” and engages their readers
  • Businesses in competitive niches that want to get to the top of the search engines
  • Businesses or bloggers looking to establish themselves as an authority in their industry

Interested in Finding Your Content Level Match? Talk to Our Team!

Content creation tops the list as the most effective tactic for SEO. (Marketing Sherpa)

But if you’re not investing in excellent content for your site, and publishing it on a consistent schedule, the chances of SEO rankings, more inbound leads, and sales drop.

Get off the ground and start flying by investing in custom content for you and your brand!

Want to discover which of our content types is right for you?

Talk to us today! We’d love to help support your content creation.

Head on over the contact page and book a call with one of our Specialists, or go straight to the Content Shop and check out our three levels: 

how to beat writer's block

Copywriting Fixes: How to Beat Writer’s Block and Churn Out Decent Copy

This blog is guest authored by a full-time writer at Express Writers, Alyssa.

As a copywriter, I wheel and deal with words.

Every word I write is worth something: money in the bank, bills paid on time, food in my fridge.

Needless to say, when your words are your currency, you have to be able to produce.

Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. There are all kinds of scenarios that threaten my writing.

Sometimes my dog sits at the foot of my chair and stares up at me for minutes at a time. Her eyes get big and sad.

Eventually, she sits up on her hind legs and reaches out one little paw, giving me a gentle pat on the leg. “Hey, remember me?” she seems to say. “I depend on you for survival.”

cutedog

At this point, I can only sigh deeply and try to understand what she wants. Usually, this is her not-so-subtle way of asking for a bathroom break.

My dog is the least of my worries, though. There are other barriers to writing.

The worst of them seems beyond my control.

Writer’s block.

This anxiety-inducing state is not only dreaded, but unavoidable.

Seconds, then minutes, tick by as I sit motionless, staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor. These two portents of doom taunt me.

This is the point where I have to act, or I’ll never get out alive.

So, what’s a copywriter to do in the face of this self-created melodrama? If you’re still with me, I’ll show you my strategy.

how to beat writer's block

A Copywriter’s Guide to Winning Against Writer’s Block

Writer’s block can be a copywriter’s nemesis. It doesn’t want you to write a word, and it certainly doesn’t want you to get in a groove.

Here’s how to fight back.

1. Focus – No, for Real

I know if I have writer’s block, my mind is elsewhere. If it’s the same for you, I suggest sitting back and discovering where your mind has gone (or when).

Then, yank on it and rein it in.

Put your phone away. No, don’t put it in your pocket or set it within arm’s reach. Get up, go into the next room, and literally hide it from yourself. You’ll thank me when you don’t have notifications pinging at you every 20 seconds.

Next, close every extraneous browser window/tab you have open. Just say no unless it’s essential to your process. For instance, I like to leave a tab open for an online thesaurus. It’s useful for cases of overused adjectives (“great,” “beautiful,” and “excellent” are common culprits).

Once you have eliminated distractions, center yourself. Meditate on the topic you’re writing about. If your mind wanders off again, pull it back, and be firm with yourself.

2. Do You Need Mood Music?

Once your distractions are gone, you may feel antsy. Sometimes, the silence amplifies writer’s block. It becomes a solid, menacing entity versus a metaphor for brain fog.

In these cases, I recommend background music.

Example (purchased from MelodyLoops):

This infographic from WebpageFX gives you an idea why:

music-and-productivity-1

I’m talking about the kind of music that gets your brain quietly but steadily moving, like a running brook. You don’t want waterfalls – unless you prefer that mind environment. If that’s you, by all means.

For me, a quiet, steady, musical movement equals production in an equal measure. Like the music, the words drop at a constant beat and keep coming. It’s not just like a brook, it’s like a faucet turned on to a continual drip.

I require instrumental music. Not angry, dramatic symphonies or complicated melodies, but simple arrangements. A piano, a violin. Clear notes at a moderate pace.

For you, this might be totally wrong. I recommend searching your favorite music app until you land on something that sets your perfect writing mood.

If this sounds incredibly fussy, believe me, I know. However, if your currency is words, you’ll understand.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Struggling to beat writer’s block? Check out these tips from @ExpWriters to start writing great copy again!” quote=”Struggling to beat writer’s block? Check out these tips from @ExpWriters to start writing great copy again!”]

3. Light the Wick

Here’s another scenario: What if you don’t need music? What if you only need ideas?

Chances are, if you’re a copywriter, you had a topic handed to you. Whether you find it inspiring, the client needs 1,500 words expounding on it.

If you look at the topic and feel dead inside, you probably need a therapist. If you look at it and feel blah, you need to light the wick.

How?

Strike the match. Start by skimming everything you can find on the web about that subject. Read every article, blog, and website you can with the time you have. If applicable, look at pictures, too. Get inside the topic and swim around.

Reading is one the best ways, I find, to get inspired and find your footing. Once you have a better idea of where you are, you can discover an angle to explore.

If you can, make that angle as interesting to you as possible. Not only will it be more fun to write, that interest will bleed into your tone.

Let’s face it: We all know when a writer is bored to death. To combat that bored tone from boring your readers, get in there and find the interesting side.

Comic by Grant Snider

4. Resort to the Dying Arts

So, what if silence isn’t bothering you? What if distractions aren’t an issue? What if you have ideas, but the writer’s block is still there?

If you’re blank, you need my last-resort strategy. It requires three steps:

  1. Get out a notebook.
  2. Grab your favorite pen.
  3. Write – in cursive.

I’m not talking about the modern scrawl you use to sign checks and jot grocery lists. I’m talking about formal, cursive handwriting.

Yes, the type they don’t want to teach in schools anymore. The kind you practiced during painstaking sessions of loops and swirls in second grade. That one.

When all else fails, this causes my brain to light up in a new way. I start thinking differently than when I’m typing. Sometimes, I’ll even jot down a whole introduction to my article in cursive. Then I switch back to the keyboard to keep going.

It works like a charm. Try it out and see what happens.

The Number One Writer’s Block Tip? Just Do It

When all the tricks and cursive writing in the world don’t help, there’s one last-ditch cure left.

Just do it.

Nike trademarked this phrase for a reason. It’s motivating.

Sit down and do it. Don’t overthink it. Just write.

Image via QuoteHD

Meanwhile, writer’s block has retreated to a dark corner. It’s rubbing its hands together and whispering, “Until we meet again…”

You’re not worried, though.

You’ll be ready.

Is writer’s block plaguing your content efforts? Express Writers has a team of pro writers that consistently block crushers. Let us help.

cta great copy