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E31 Content Strategy for High-ROI Guest Blogging with Aaron Orendorff

​The Write Podcast, E31: Content Strategy for High-ROI Guest Blogging with Aaron Orendorrf

On Episode 31 of the Write Podcast, I have the honor of speaking to Aaron Orendorff. Aaron is an incredibly impressive content marketer. He’s the founder of Iconic Content, and his site slogan happens to be: “Saving the world from bad content.”

Seriously – one of the best taglines I’ve ever heard.

Today, Aaron shares (generously) his clever, high-level strategies on the strategy behind writing for coveted guest blogs, that offer a huge payoff and high ROI.

Aaron is a rock star content contributor at CMI, Unbounce, Copyblogger, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Business Insider – and that’s just for starters. He has authored some of the top-read, top-shared blog posts of the year. You could say he is a genius guest-posting machine.

On top of all that, Aaron recently became the editor-in-chief at Shopify Plus, which gives him a unique perspective from the other side of guest blogging – the gatekeeper side.

If getting more guest-blogging opportunities is on your resolutions list this year, this episode is a must-listen!

Ready? Let’s go!

E31 Content Strategy for High-ROI Guest Blogging with Aaron Orendorff

T he Write Podcast, E31: Content Strategy for High-ROI Guest Blogging with Aaron Orendorrf

  • 3:25 – 5:28: How Aaron Went from Freelancer to Editor-in-Chief – Aaron focused on guest-posting for two years, most of it unpaid. He explains how he started freelancing for Shopify Plus, which eventually turned into a big game-changer for his career.
  • 5:30 – 7:50: What Aaron Does in His Shopify Plus Role – What does being editor-in-chief at a major B2B entail? Turns out, a lot of it is old-fashioned SEO and content marketing 101, including targeting niche keywords and scoping out audience intent.
  • 7:51 – 10:15: Leads Over Social Shares – It’s easy to get caught up in vanity metrics like social shares or likes – leads from your content are the real gold. Aaron recounts an interview where that point was driven home.
  • 10:16 – 12:45: How Do You Get Guest Blogging Gigs on Major Sites? – Aaron shares a few secrets for nabbing the guest-posting gigs of your dreams. He also divulges the blog format that can score impressive engagement, which will make editors welcome you back for more content.
  • 12:46 – 15:32: More Tips for Scoring Guest Blogs – There are a few things that Aaron did a little differently when it came to getting posts on sites like Mashable, Fast Company, and Entrepreneur. A big one: He wrote posts specifically for the site and their audience, then sent them to the editor in a cold email.
  • 15:33 – 18:59: Today’s Guest Posting Climate and What You Need to Get Noticed – Aaron talks a little bit about why his method is necessary for guest posting today. Hint: Huffington Post closing its contributor network is a good example to learn from.
  • 19:01 – 21:36: Expect Rejections, but Don’t Quit – When one of Aaron’s guest posts got rejected by Forbes, he revised it to fit the next publisher on his hit list. When they rejected it, he went through the same process. Eventually, that piece got on Mashable.
  • 21:46 – 24:47: Top Do’s and Don’ts for Guest Bloggers – There are some basics you should and shouldn’t do before approaching a guest blog platform with your content. Aaron shares his top tips, including making sure to read the platform’s contributor guidelines. He also suggests a Chrome extension called Contact Out to help you email editors directly.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet:

'The thing about writing for an enterprise audience is you will get called on faking it, fast.' @AaronOrendorff Click To Tweet 'Some of those giant posts that are guest posts, that do build up your personal brand, are absolutely amazing for lead generation as a freelancer.' @AaronOrendorff Click To Tweet 'The real big ROI of guest-posting: You're not going to get a lot of traffic, but if you get the right traffic, that pays off huge.' @AaronOrendorff Click To Tweet 'It's so easy to get lost in the deluge of traffic, shout-outs, and social shares. That can be good for a certain goal, but when it comes to feeding the bottom line – lead generation – that's not the game.' @AaronOrendorff Click To Tweet 'SEO content has built our bottom line.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'What opened doors for me on the guest-posting side of things: I don't think I ever sent a pitch.' @AaronOrendorff Click To Tweet 'Make it easy for (guest blog) editors to say yes.' @AaronOrendorff Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned:

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productivity improvement for content creators

​The Write Podcast, E30: Productivity Improvement for Content Creators & Writers (How I Beat Content Creation Laziness & Had My Best Year Ever, in 2017)

Welcome to episode 30 of The Write Podcast!

For our 30th episode, I’m doing things a little differently. It’s just me in a solo episode, sharing the secrets behind how I was able to do it all last year: create and launch a course, run an agency of more than 40 team members, write and self-publish a 366-page book, launch a YouTube show, try public speaking for the first time, and, publish more than 70 posts – all while maintaining a home life (and my sanity).

“How on earth do you get that done?” is probably the #1 question my community asked me throughout all of 2017.

Finally, you learn my productivity secrets. It’s all right here. Listen in!

Sit down with me and grab some ideas to beat content laziness and boost your own productivity and professional output for 2018. ?

And don’t forget to head on over to my Content Strategy Course site to read the in-depth blog I wrote, for the full case study: www.bit.ly/juliasproductivitycasestudy 

productivity improvement for content creators

The Write Podcast, E30: Productivity Improvement for Content Creators & Writers (How I Completely Beat Content Creation Laziness & Had My Best Year Ever)

1:40: Part 1 – My Productivity Case Study

  • 1:40 – 3:12: What I Accomplished in 2017. I had a full plate last year, no question. I give a run-down of what I was able to accomplish professionally, including creating a course, writing a book, and launching a YouTube show.
  • 3:15 – 3:56: Read the Case Study. For an in-depth, detailed look at how I did it all last year, read about my process at the link provided (see “Links Mentioned” below).

3:57: Part 2 – How Exactly Did My Productivity Take Off? + 18 Actionable Productivity Tips

  • 4:30 – 4:57: The Number One Reason Behind My Super-Powered Productivity in 2017. I credit the long task of creating the in-depth curriculum for my course as the instigator for my improved productivity.
  • 4:58 – 6:54: Forming New, Productive Habits and What the Studies Say. The idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit is a myth. So, what does it really take? I cite some studies that provide enlightenment, then show how my own experience proves the research. It’s no joke (it’s hard), but it worked for me.
  • 6:56 – 7:19: Setting Deadlines and Accountability That Stick. Another reason behind my productivity: I put some accountability factors in place from which I couldn’t back down.
  • 7:20 – 9:16: Becoming My Most Productive Self. I talk about how the new habits I have formed from 2 rigorous months of hard work have paid off.

9:17: 18 Actionable Productivity Tips

  • 9:17 – 10:08: My #1 Tip. Choose your work environment carefully – don’t just work anywhere. Have a dedicated space where you get sh*t done.
  • 10:10 – 13:02: Productivity Tips 2-4 – My Recommendations for the Best Work Environment. The next few tips are all about where you sit, how you sit, and how they can affect your output. For instance, tip #3 is to work in natural light, which boosts your mood, helps eliminate headaches that fluorescent lighting can cause, and more.
  • 13:05 – 16:36: Tips 5-9 – Increase Your Speed. Invest in better tech, improve your typing speed, know some handy keyboard and tech shortcuts, and your output will be able to keep up with your brain power!
  • 16:37 – 19:50: Tips 10-13 – Make Healthy Productivity Habits Part of Daily Living. One part of being productive (and staying productive for the long-haul) involves taking care of your body. If your body is fueled with nutrients, hydrated, and energized, you’ll be able to work better, including focus better, longer. I share my favorite tips for doing just that.
  • 19:52 – 24:00: Tips 14-15 – Set Deadlines, Get Up Earlier, and Get an Accountability Partner. This is the winning trifecta that helped me successfully finish my course in 2017. I explain how they go hand-in-hand-in-hand (there’s a lot of stumbling in this story, but the point is I pulled through some hard early wake-ups!).
  • 24:02 – 25:20: Tip 16 – Listen to Music for Focus. The right music can make a huge difference for focus. I recommend my favorite type to play while I work.
  • 25:22 – 26:32: Tip 17 – Get the Support You Need. This tip is especially big for entrepreneurs. No one can do it all alone.
  • 26:34 – 27-13: Tip 18 – Busy ≠ Productive. Don’t just spin your wheels. Multi-tasking can go overboard. Focus on getting the right stuff done.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet:

'Forming a habit in 21 days is a myth. It takes 2+ months before a new behavior becomes automatic.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'A 2-month period to complete a project and teach yourself a new schedule can impact your productivity.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'The easiest thing to do when the going gets hard: stop. Habit training can show you how to counteract that feeling.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'Give yourself deadlines for everything and then work to meet them, if not beat them.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned:

Read the Full Productivity Improvement for Content Creators Case Study on the Content Strategy Blog

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E28 ivana taylor write podcast

​The Write Podcast, E28: Strategies to Help You Develop Your Marketing Message with Small Business Expert Ivana Taylor

Welcome to episode 28 of The Write Podcast!

Today we’re diving into a huge topic for any marketer, whether you’re just starting out or are an old hand in your niche: your marketing message.

Our guest who will be offering tons of tips and advice on this topic is Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers.

As a small business marketing expert, Ivana has over 20 years of experience in the industry. She’s an online publisher and influencer and the creator of DIY Marketers, which is dedicated to helping small business owners on tight budgets meet their marketing goals.

This is a meaty episode with lots of actionable insights. Listen in and enjoy!

E28 ivana taylor write podcast

The Write Podcast, E28: Strategies to Help You Develop Your Marketing Message with Small Business Expert Ivana Taylor Show Notes:

  • 1:43 – 3:00: About Ivana (and How We Know Each Other!) I met Ivana in real life at Content Marketing World, and we regularly engage on Twitter.
  • 3:04 – 6:44: Marketing Tips for Businesses Just Getting Their Feet Wet. How can a new business find and solidify their marketing message? Ivana has four words for you: Give yourself some space. From her personal experience, she shares why it’s so important to work for your own marketing
  • 6:55 – 8:10: How Active Listening Is One of Your Best Tools. Ivana describes how listening is a must if you want to glean your ultimate marketing message, one that encapsulates you and drives your business forward. However, you have to listen the right way to get the right information.
  • 8:12 – 9:13: How Express Writers Differentiated with Our Message. I talk about how, once EW found its message, we leaned into it and showcased it on our Values page and got great results.
  • 9:13 – 12:35: Three Questions Every Successful Brand Answers with Their Marketing Message. Ivana divulges the three KEY questions every successful brand has definitively answered. The first one is “Who are you being in the world?”
  • 12:37 – 16:18: How Do You Answer Those Questions for Yourself? I talk about how going straight to your customers and talking to them can help you get the answers you need. Ivana adds helpful tips on HOW to go to your customers. A big one: Hire someone impartial to survey/interview your audience!
  • 16:21 – 20:36: Once You Know Your Marketing Message, How Do You Deliver It? Ivana talks about ways to deliver your message via blogging, email, and other channels. One great tip: Repurpose your best content that helps broadcast your message across various channels and platforms.
  • 20:40 – 23:52: How to Position Yourself as a Leader with Your Marketing Message. How do you come off as an expert when you don’t feel like one (for instance, you don’t have the experience/degree/what-have-you that you think you should)? According to Ivana, it all comes down to your point of view and expressing it distinctly and clearly.
  • 23:57 – 27:05: Play to Your Strengths! Spend time developing your strengths as a marketer instead of trying to improve your weaknesses. Ivana recommends checking out the book StrengthsFinder to help you pinpoint and put words to exactly what your strengths are. This can help drive your message.
  • 27:06 – 28:55: Own Your Authority. Finally, Ivana says that to come across as an authority and get your message heard, you have to own that title.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet:

My number one tip is to give yourself time and space, and dig into ‘what is your business about?’ @diymarketers Click To Tweet Ask yourself: 'Why am I doing this? Why does this matter to me, to the customer, or to anybody else?’ @diymarketers Click To Tweet 'Listen to customers: but don’t just listen TO what they’re saying, listen FOR what they’re saying.' @diymarketers Click To Tweet 'Marketing isn’t about what you do. It’s about who you are.' @diymarketers Click To Tweet 'Choose a side and stand in the place of a leader or an authority.' @diymarketers Click To Tweet 'Be the expert that you intend to be; do the things that experts do; & you’ll have what experts have.' @diymarketers Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned:

Subscribe to The Write Podcast for More Content Marketing Advice and Insights

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write podcast E26

The Write Podcast, E26: Creating Content for the Millennial Entrepreneur With Coach & Marketing Strategist, 21-Year-Old Taylor Manning

Taylor Manning is ONLY 21.

She went from watching a video on “making money online” as a college student in debt looking for a way out, to making $80,000/month just a couple of years later.

One of her main routes to success is through the amazing content she creates, targeted to her community of millennials – and putting herself in “their” shoes, which was really where she herself was a few years ago.

For young people and the young-at-heart alike, this 26th episode of the Write Podcast is a don’t-miss!

write podcast E26

The Write Podcast, E26: Creating Content for the Millennial Entrepreneur With Coach & Marketing Strategist, 21-Year-Old Taylor Manning

  • 2:35 – 5:00: Taylor’s Story. Age has always played a big role in Taylor’s life. “Am I too young to do this?” is a question she often asked herself. She received her A.A. in high school, then her B.A. at 19. In college, she watched a video about how to make money online. That pushed her to create a profile on Upwork, the freelance platform. She created momentum and ran with it – all in her late teens and early 20s.
  • 5:15 – 7:30: Growth Tactics. Taylor managed to boost her earnings on Upwork, but she was stagnating. She hired a coach, but quickly realized she was providing the same service to her clients for free. She tapped into this potential and ramped up her efforts. She decided to go big or go home.
  • 7:45 – 12:44: Ambitious Millennial Entrepreneurs – How Taylor Found Her Niche. In the beginning, Taylor was targeting moms, because those were the demographics of a lot of her clients. What she didn’t realize: Her ideal target audience was right under her nose, and her relatively young age, something that gave her anxiety, was actually a huge selling point. Taylor explains how she used authenticity about both to gain more customers.
  • 13:12 – 14:33: Majorly Boosted Business. After Taylor’s age-related epiphany, business soared. She added group coaching, training products, and courses to her roster. Her income leaped from 2K/month to 10K/month, to nearly 80K/month.
  • 14:45 – 17:33: How to Speak to Your Audience. Taylor’s main point: It’s the hardest thing to do, but you have to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Don’t fool yourself if you’re posting content you think is for an ideal client, but is really for you. You also need to commit to posting a lot of content.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'My fear: if clients find out my age. What if they feel like I scammed them?' @taylormcreative Click To Tweet 'All of a sudden, this big fear I had became a selling point.' @taylormcreative Click To Tweet 'My content strategy is, really, show up every day.' @taylormcreative Click To Tweet 'To speak to your ideal client, whether they’re a millennial or not, put yourself in their shoes.' @taylormcreative Click To Tweet 'Create content that holds value and story and tips, that’s relevant to that ideal client of yours.' @taylormcreative Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

Subscribe, follow and listen to the Write Podcast!

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write podcast E25

The Write Podcast, E25: Course Copywriting & Strategy Tips with Maya Elious

So, you want to create an online course. What are some basic keys and useful tips for getting going?

Maya Elious has some answers for us. (FYI, this was recorded before I launched my course. I learned a couple things that I applied. :-)) She’s an online branding expert, speaker, coach, and entrepreneur. I found her on Teachable’s Course Creation Workshop series, where she impressed me with her knowledge and insights.

Today, for episode 25 of the Write Podcast, she’s sharing her know-how about course creation strategies and copywriting tips. These are useful nuggets of wisdom especially relevant for the beginner but are great refreshers if you’re an old hat, too. Sit back and listen in!

write podcast E25

The Write Podcast, E25: Course Copywriting & Strategy Tips with Maya Elious

  • 1:38 – 4:48: How Maya Got Here. Maya started out doing web and graphic design. She always enjoyed helping people “look good” online, which naturally led her to brand strategizing. She worked with coaches, authors, teachers, trainers, and more, but she kept running into the same questions, over and over. She took these concepts and put them into her first course.
  • 5:45 – 6:38: Beginner-Level Course Content Creation Strategies. Maya recommends starting with a course overview/outline, then doing a deep-dive. You’re ahead if you’ve worked with people 1:1. If you hear the same questions about a topic over and over, this tells you exactly what needs to go in your course.
  • 6:40 – 9:20: Be as Niche as Possible. Maya explains why her #1 tip is to go niche. Digestible content that doesn’t take months to go through helps your students see success at 100%, which is better for you overall – it will equal more testimonials, case studies, and positive reviews/feedback.
  • 9:55 – 11:05: Types of Media to Use in a Course. There’s no one right way to create a course. Maya gets personal and sits in front of the camera for her course videos. Think about how your audience likes to consume information – would they prefer to see your face? Or would slides work just as well?
  • 11:15 – 12:15: Make Students Want to Follow Along. Think about the results you want your students to get when they move through your content. This will help you avoid fluff and provide meaty, useful information.
  • 12:21 – 13:10: How to Create More Courses and More Passive Income Opportunities. Again, Maya discusses why going niche is the key to creating more courses and more income opportunities. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, or all your best information in one product.
  • 13:15 – 14:35: Course Copywriting Pitfalls. Maya talks about the biggest mistake you can make while copywriting for your course.
  • 14:39 – 16:25: Course Platforms and Landing Pages. Teachable is a great course platform, not just for content, but also for sales pages. Build trust in the course outcomes before they ever get to the sales page.
  • 16:30 – 17:25: Final Takeaways. If your first or second course launch isn’t successful, give it a chance to get in front of the right people. Ask for feedback – how can you make it better? Refine and tweak as you go.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'When you’re truly niche you attract the right people, and I feel like your students get better results.' @mayaelious Click To Tweet 'People want a shortcut. If it takes six months to get through your course, you’re not providing it.' @mayaelious Click To Tweet I’m always thinking: 'What is it I have to do for students to follow along?' @mayaeliou Click To Tweet We want to make customers think: 'How much is this going to cost me if I DON'T make this investment?' @mayaelious Click To Tweet 'Give your course a chance to get in front of the right people.' @mayaelious Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

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write podcast E21 sujan patel content marketing

The Write Podcast, E21: Why Content Marketing Isn’t An Overnight Success, & How to Be Productive in Yours with Sujan Patel

Listen to “E21 Why Content Marketing Isn’t An Overnight Success & How to Be Productive & Create High ROI Content with Sujan Patel” on Spreaker.

Welcome to Episode 21 of the Write Podcast. I’m thrilled to have Sujan Patel back on the show today! He was on my top-shared episode of all-time, back in Episode 6. Sujan is known as a leading internet marketer. He’s also the Co-Founder of Web Profits, a blogger and contributor to Forbes, Inc., and Entrepreneur, and is a prominent speaker at marketing and tech conferences around the globe.

Known for being a risk-taker that pushes the limits, Sujan has spent his life focusing on finding smart ways to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and make serious impact online. He specializes in helping founders and entrepreneurs learn to create killer content – be it a videos, blog, or a long-form guide.

Today, I’m exploring with Sujan a topic that virtually all content marketers struggle with: productivity and making ROI happen. As we all know, content marketing is a long haul, and Sujan and I talk a lot about how he stays focused and avoids burnout. We also talk about the nature of marketing itself: How long is the long haul? How do you create content that’s worth publishing for your audience? How do you give them the information they want to know?

write podcast E21 sujan patel

The Write Podcast, E21: Why Content Marketing Isn’t An Overnight Success, & How to Be Productive in Yours with Sujan Patel

Here are a few of the winners from this episode: 

  • 6:00-7:00: How to apply repetition after success for the best results in your content. Instead of coming up with a weekly cadence and trying to make it successful, Sujan recommends attacking it the other way around.
  • 7:00 – 8:00 : Why you need to say “no” more than “yes” with your content. And how this can help you stay focused in your content.
  • 12:00 – 15:00: Several ways that Sujan involves the questions of his audience and customers and creates content around them. TIP: Sujan looks for questions that repeat constantly in conversations with clients in sales or support threads. Questions that are repeated 3, 4, 5x are high value to his audience. He has a spreadsheet going.
  • 15:30 – 18:00: I talk about AnswerthePublic.com and what a fantastic tool it is for discovering audience questions, plus how to use it. Sujan adds what his team does to find questions that will make great content and discusses what phase to use Answerthepublic.com in.
  • 16:45: Content isn’t a one-person task anymore! If you want it to work, you’ll need more involved to help you scale it.
  • 18:10 – 20:00: Sujan discusses his favorite tools in content marketing! He categorizes his favorite tools by what helps him with research and creation. A great section for curious marketers.
  • 20:55 – 22:00: Sujan talks about how he creates content, and what his editing and ideation process looks like.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'Content marketing is like a savings account. You don't get rich overnight but if you keep at it, it pays off.' @sujanpatel Click To Tweet '#Contentmarketing: At the end of the day, it’s all about consistency.' @sujanpatel Click To Tweet 'If you’re looking for results today, content marketing isn’t for you. But next year, you’re gonna wish you started it last year.' @sujanpatel Click To Tweet 'Say no more than yes when creating content, and focus on quality.' @sujanpatel Click To Tweet On #ContentMarketing: 'If you can’t hang, don’t do it.' @sujanpatel Click To Tweet 'To appeal to your audience, make sure to create content that’s talked about.' @sujanpatel Click To Tweet 'The difference between you and your closest competitor determines the success.' @sujanpatel Click To Tweet 'It’s not just about volume, it’s about quality in content marketing.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'We launched #authoritycontent last year to answer the need of content marketers.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

Tools Sujan Recommends: 

Follow Sujan on Twitter & visit Sujan’s site.

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express writers case study

How We Outrank Every Competitor & Win Through Organic Content Without Spending a Penny on Ads (Express Writers’ Content Case Study)

Let’s face it.

Getting traffic, maintaining traffic, and creating content they come back for—and keeping that cycle thriving for years—is hard work.

Yet this is something we’ve been able to achieve successfully, day in and day out, at Express Writers.

We’re a content writing agency that does what we do best for ourselves, before we sell it to others—creating winning online content that brings revenue, markets a business, and informs and helps an audience.

Since I launched my website with a $75 investment in May 2011, Express Writers has relied on creating content for ourselves and publishing it online, organically, as the #1 source of all our leads, marketing, and revenue. We’ve focused on creating content without a thought to a sales funnel: and we’ve never paid a penny to advertise our services on Google. (You heard that right. We’ve never, once, invested in PPC. And the publications I write content for, guest blogs, don’t pay me a direct paycheck.)

Instead, we’ve just focused on writing and publishing useful, outstanding content, on our site, consistently. Consistent guest blogging. Creating a Twitter presence that rocks out organically.

Call me crazy, untypical, you-name-it… but it’s worked for us—extraordinarily well.

I’m about to reveal it all to you, in a case study I sat down to create across a five-week span.

express writers content case study

We Are Our Own Success Story: How We at Express Writers Dominate Online & Outrank Competition Through Our Content

Our major form of marketing is the actual service we sell: well-written, engaging, optimized online content.

And for the first time, I’m pulling back the curtain in a major case study where we’ll reveal exactly where we stand with content, how we fare against our biggest competitors, and much more. (I’m using a pro account at SEMrush to pull every analytic.)

Here’s a quick table of contents, so you know what’s coming:

how we outrank competition table of contents

Ready for this? Sit back—you’re in for a ride!

What does our organic online presence look like vs. competition?

A five-year-old company (launched May 2011), we outrank our major competitors on average by 5% on Google. Check out this graph:

express writers outranks competition

We’ve climbed to over 4,100 total keyword rankings in Google. Our estimated worth of traffic and rankings is at $13,200 (what we’ve have to spend to achieve these rankings through sponsored ads).

google presence express writers

(Don’t worry about that dip in traffic. I have an upcoming post, How I Lost 30% of My Organic Rankings & Traffic (On Purpose) & Added 25% Additional Monthly Revenue By Going After the Traffic I Wanted, coming out soon to explain.)

Over 300 keywords are indexed in the top 10 of Google (example in point, this is from the bottom of page 3, 100 results per page, in SEMrush):

semrush

Back to our competitors. Here’s what a real-life look at our keywords vs. theirs look like—on Google, two out of four of our competitors don’t even have a presence for the keywords we rank #1 for:

us vs them

Overall, at first glance it looks like there is an extremely oversaturated market if you Google “writing agencies,” but only a few are worth really comparing ourselves to.

Their funding: One of our two major competitors gained $700,000 and another $4.5 million for funding since launching in 2011; and the second competitor has been around for over 16 years, raising a private amount of seed funding in 2011.

Our funding: We have zero investors. We don’t have a penny in outside funding. Yet we’re doing big things. I started Express Writers in May 2011 with a pocket investment of $75. It was a five-minute business idea born from a huge load of personal freelance writing I didn’t want to turn away. I learned how to code my first website; today, Josh McCoy leads our branding, building, and all our new upcoming development has been personally funded by ourselves. And without any outside funding, we’re launching a custom-built, 200% more efficient Content Shop that we’ve developed from scratch—coming out end of 2016/early 2017. Hand-in-hand with this will be the launch of custom writer team room systems we’ve built as well. (Get on the notification list for the upcoming launch!) And Josh is knee-deep in launching a boon to all content creators, Copyfind, which will offer the deepest content checking search for originality that’s on the web. (Get on that notification list here!Yes, we have a lot about to launch. 😛

Today, we serve more than 1,000 clients worldwide, and we easily handle 300 pages in a given week. And we outshine most of our competitors’ quality because of a very personal, one-on-one mentoring environment we’ve given our writers—and because of incredibly dedicated, uniquely qualified experts I’ve been able to hire for our management staff.

I won’t lie: to stay personally funded, I’ve put in many an 80-hour work week on my part, and invested 65% to 100% sometimes of our net profits from the company back in. It’s been hard to find good people, but thankfully, today I have just those people. It’s all been worth the intensive hard work to see growth happen this way. Organically, from hard work, without a huge million-dollar bank account solely responsible for and behind the growth—as is the reality with many, many other VC companies.

How does our content perform?

We have over 785 published blogs on our site, with the first one published live on our WordPress site in September 2012. The average word count of each is 1,500 (with the highest blogs at 3,700 words, and the lowest around 500—we’ve actually been working on adding more content to the shorter ones now). Our two most-shared posts are a blog published in December 2015, on how to do a website audit—coming in at 1k shares. An episode on my podcast with Sujan Patel, published in March 2016, coming in at 800+ shares. (But I don’t think shares mean everything! Here’s why.)

The traffic, lead, and conversions that subsequently happen from our organic rankings bring in 90% of our company revenue. That’s right. That’s a six-figure gross yearly amount. The other revenue is brought in through cold lead outreach, a unique strategy I’ll be unveiling soon in another guest blog. We’ve seen five-figure clients (including big brands) walk in through our door of organic rankings in Google; we’ve created client relationships through organic connections on social media, and have seen four-figure client conversions come in without sales pressure from those that have read my guest blog content.

We’ve never bought a single PPC ad, we’ve never relied on sponsored content, and I’ve never created a single sales funnel—instead, our organic content presence brings in thousands of clients to Express Writers every year.

You might call me crazy for not making sure a sales funnel exists, but here’s the thing: I’m so busy creating relationships and the content that is behind those relationships, that I don’t have time or even need to worry about making sure a marketing or sales funnel process is there. My blog CTAs are as simple as a unique, well-written text link back to our Content Shop on the end of a blog post.

Curious as to how we do it?

Here’s the organic content marketing process I’ve followed, fully unveiled for the first time!

Our #1 Source of Marketing & Traffic Is In Consistently Creating a Ton of In-Depth, Long Form Content

Full disclosure here. We create a lot of content to win in content marketing. The majority is on our site, but our publishing schedule includes guest platforms that I blog on, too. Let’s look at how and where we’re publishing content, and where it’s gotten us.

express writers content publishing

A Split-Focus and Total of 32 Long-Form Pieces/Month Across the Web: A Huge, Consistent Amount of Quality Content (Quality over Quantity)

For the creation part, I write over 30 blogs monthly (average of each post is 2,000 words) with the help of some of my best team members, who guest author on our site. Primarily, 20 of these blogs go to our site. (You want your best content to be on your own real estate!) The other 10-12 get spread across various high-quality, large audience guest blog networks.

In-depth, specific research is key to a great topic and a great piece, and the actual writing requires time and team effort.

For the research part, I’m always on BuzzSumo, and looking up keywords in SEMrush and KWFinder to see what’s being talked about and asked the most (questions on Quora) in our industry, consistently. I’m also in Twitter chats to see what people talk about and ask each other questions on. I use all this community/research activity to find the best questions, create blog topics and then focus on highly in-depth blogs that fully answer the question in the topic.

Here’s what our EXACT content amounts and publishing times look like:

1. 20 Blogs/Month: How We Publish Content on Our Own Site (A Blog A Day, Except for Weekends)

We publish a content piece every day on our site except for weekends (5 blogs/week). Every post goes live at midnight (00:00 on WordPress scheduling) the day of. Here’s the kinds of content that involves:

  • I post 2-3 times a week on our own blog, with posts that range from 1,500 words minimum to 4,000 (with custom created visuals, screenshots, and even GIFs included in each). Each post I write takes about a week. I backdate my content and stay a week ahead by devoting one full day just to writing, planning, and creating content. I start a whole line of new posts instead of just writing one, and flip back between documents to pen down a flow of ideas that should go in various channels. I type fast, so I can finish up to five half pieces in a day, then wrap them all up the next full day of content creation. (Sound scary? This is a unique process that I’ve found that works for me—after five years of blogging every week. My typing speed is 150 wpm.)
  • We just opened our blog to internal team member guest authors only (no outside bloggers). We feature 1-2 intensive guest blogs weekly from our full-time copywriters, social media managers, and strategists.
  • Once/week, Rachel creates and posts our Twitter chat recap. It’s always near 1,000 words. Keep in mind it’s full of tweets, which are already indexed in Twitter.
  • You’re already heard about our organic presence with our site, but here’s a recap: we’re at 2,600+ organic visitors monthly from 4,100 keywords, more than 300 of which are in the top 10 of Google.
  • I audit and review our content in the rankings weekly. Once a week, I pop in to SEMrush and check out what ranks, for what keyword. If the content is at all crappy, it gets an update! (Case study coming out soon on how I’ve been successful at auditing old posts.)

2. 12 Content Pieces/Month: How We Rock Out Guest Blogging (The ROI Is Greater Than A Paycheck)

If you would have told me “blogging for free” was worth a TON of money, in the beginning I would have laughed at you. Because I needed the paycheck then, not the exposure.

But today, the exposure is worth far more than a paycheck.

And that’s why I guest blog for free. A lot.

Personally, I limit myself to about 12-13 pieces per month. I may take on one or two more channels next year, but not many more. I’ve learned that a guest blog on an amazing platform like Search Engine Journal (with nearly a million high-value, relevant readers) is worth more in potential leads that will buy our services, than if I dilute and post five blogs that week among other channels like Social Media Today, Business 2 Community, etc. And if I tackle more, I easily get overwhelmed and lose sight of devoting quality on each one.

Here’s where I currently guest blog—I recently got accepted to the HuffingtonPost, and go live on Copyhackers in October!

The Life Cycle of One Impactful Piece of Content

life cycle of content

To emphasize just how impactful online content really can be, I’d like to walk you through a real lifecycle of one organic piece of guest blog content I published. This piece of content returned 100x on the content investment.

Before I show you this, keep in mind one thing: my guest blogging isn’t just a one-time post, but most of the time, it’s an ongoing column. That’s preferential for me, because of the opportunity an ongoing presence affords: a much more sustainable, long-term way to build reputation, traffic, and leads, as you’ll see from this very example.

Let’s take a look at a $5,000 sale that happened five days after someone read my column at SiteProNews.

January 1, 2015: my article How to Create Shareable, Likeable and Organic Content goes live on SiteProNews.

sitepronews

2:25 PM: We received this contact form. (Names blurred out. We’ll call our lead Dave.)

sitepronews lead screenshot

By January 26, after several email conversations and custom project bids from our staff, Dave purchased expert copy, our content planning, and enough content for several sites at a worth of $5,000!

A Success Story or Two: How We Implement Our Own Success Strategies for Our Clients’ Content

The content success strategy I use for our own content marketing is something I take to the bank, teach my writers, and implement for use in writing our own clients’ content.

We write everything, from bulk SEO content for agencies to resell to their clientele, to expert copy for niche firms. And in every piece we create, we implement these strategies: I teach every single writer in my team with internal, exclusive guides at Express Writers built by my staff and I the essence of great online content. From writing a meta description that reads as well as an online ad (because hey—it’s the organic PPC of Google!), to writing a blog that is oriented to the audience and uses the keywords naturally. We don’t fail: we have a 99% success rate because of the exclusive, personally mentored quality of our writers and their content. I can bet you anything that no other agency treats their writer base like we do ours.

And it’s not just a nice theory. We hear time and time again from our own clients that the content we write for them returns on investment.

Here’s a success story from one of our clients, Tom Dean, IT at www.andersonhemmat.com. For this Colorado based attorney website, we wrote brand new site pages to refresh their site; blogs; and press releases. Their results after we rewrote their content? They went up ten pages in the SERPs! With the blog posts we wrote, they also saw steady and increasing rankings in the SERPs. Our content made a tremendous difference!

Tom said:

“We’ve seen a huge jump in web traffic because of the great content you’ve done for us. We’ve gone from page 12 organic to page 2 organic since the site update. The main reason I find the content a successful investment is ROI. It costs very little to have you guys write something but in the long run if it’s on the web and written with SEO in mind it will help our rankings and possibly go viral.”

SnapInspect was another client of ours. By starting their brand new blog out with a consistency of two blogs per week minimum across six months, we were able to help them grow from a zero presence on Google to a subscriber list, active readers, social media followers, and a presence in the top five pages of Google.

There you have it! Our own clients are succeeding online with the content we write that is specifically targeted to perform well. Not just in the SERPs, but with readers.

Now, how have we been able to be successful with our content? I’m going to delve into a few strategies before revealing the last part of how we dominate online—on social media, specifically Twitter.

How to Be Consistent with Great Content

I’ve heard an echoing statement among bloggers that consistency is hard.

But the key in all of this is staying fresh, being relatable to the audience in your industry, and being consistent.

The balance?

Never publish rushed, but publish as much as you can while staying within quality.

Time is what you need. If you don’t have time, a resource you can trust.

Spend the extra day to proofread, if it’s late at night and you just aren’t proofing it as thoroughly as you’d like. I’d describe my consistency of publishing as a careful balance between two constant thoughts:

  • The Thursday I don’t publish content is a missed content opportunity. (Thursday is one of our best posting days: early in the morning, a lot of people seem to be reading blogs.)
  • The Thursday I publish rushed, non-proofread content, is the Thursday I should not have published content.

What has significantly helped me in creating amazing content is to set aside one day called my “content” day. Seriously. If you are a blogger or online content marketer, you need to do that. There’s no other way.

Till the day you can hand the process off to a trusted resource, you need to allot one day to content creation. Plan your topics then. Finalize drafts. Create new drafts. Never create and publish one piece in one day. You can take breaks and create new pieces of content to break it up, but never, ever write and publish one whole piece in one single day. I never knew how much a fresh eye really mattered till I spent four weeks on one piece of content! (This piece you’re reading—six weeks. Probably my longest to-date.)

How Do We Successfully Guest Blog? 4 Simple Strategies

How do I pitch to the right platforms, and perfect the right customized content for each one?

My “secrets” to guest blogging are fairly simple. It’s a novel in and of itself, but to sum up, top strategies:

1. Less is more: I’ve noticed that if I focus on less channels, I can present better quality on each. Plus, a few top channels are worth their weight in gold, and sometimes that’s all you need to bring in serious ROI from the blogging you do.

2. Find platforms that align with who your ideal online customer is: It’s all about the right platforms—find ones with a huge audience, and readers that align with your ideal lead demographic.

3. Make a relationship with the right person: This is key in actually getting through and being published on your ideal guest blog. Think of the blog as a person you need to connect with, not an entity. This is how I made all of my guest blog spots happen (all!), from my CTO Josh personally finding Kelsey Jones, myself being invited on the #MarketingNerds podcast, and getting invited to write for Search Engine Journal, to connecting with Joanna Wiebe by offering her a podcast spot, and then getting a “yes” on the guest blog draft I sent her.

Never put time and effort in a contact forms—always find a person to contact! Sometimes starting the relationship can be as simple as finding the right “managing blog editor” to contact, following them on Twitter, and tweeting or DM’ing.

4. Always give your best, most in-depth, most useful content, oriented to the guest blog audience: If you’re writing for Business Insider, for example, you don’t want to be as conversational and story-like as if you were pitching to the Huffington Post. A technical voice might do better there. Find the guidelines for each platform, and follow them to a T. Go beyond by using the right tone that fits their audience! When making points, use screenshots. Don’t short any point you make. Be as in-depth as you can!

#2 Major Way We’ve Built Up Our Online Reputation: Domination on Twitter With #ContentWritingChat, Joining Other Chats, & My Best-Selling Book

Besides content creation, which is truly our fundamental source of valuable rankings and organic traffic, we maintain a strong presence on social media, specifically on one of my favorite social platforms of all time—Twitter.

Back in January this year, on the very first Tuesday in January, I made a resolution to launch a Twitter chat. I researched a hashtag for my chat, settled on #ContentWritingChat, and registered the hashtag to @ExpWriters Twitter handle on Twubs. I created a Twitter chat account specifically for the chat, @writingchat, as well, and started following everyone I knew, as well as major influencers, from that account. My key strategy was to a) hire help! I have had a social media manager run the chat since I started it, from @ExpWriters account. Our current one is Rachel. She’s been with me since the first month of the chat! b) remind everyone who is interested, via Twitter. Rachel takes care of that as well. Reminders are a huge way to get people to hop in your chat!

The serious evolution of our graphics, which you might notice—check out the first chat graphic, and then our last one in October with Joe Pulizzi—is because I was doing them in Canva at the beginning. Now, we have an amazing in-house graphic designer who creates our weekly featured Twitter chat graphics and the blog recap graphics. Our Social Media Specialist, Rachel, creates the Tuesday questions (eight total) on writing-related imagery backgrounds in Canva.

building your audience

Our last Twitter chat was with Joe Pulizzi himself!

Here’s a short timeline of the fast-track success we’ve seen happen from it:

  • #ContentWritingChat day 1, month 1: we climbed to #42 trending on Twitter!
  • Month 6: we were trending at #9 and #11!
  • Month 7: we were #4 on Twitter! Major influencer Brian Fanzo said yes to guest hosting one session this month.
  • Month 9: Major influencer Joe Pulizzi from Content Marketing Institute joined our chat to guest host!
  • Month 9: We pulled in a sponsor! I traded a live sponsored spot during our Twitter chat for extensive discounts on tickets to a Search Engine Journal event.

We’re at 1,000+ tweets from people around the globe during our live hour now! Want to learn more about my Twitter chat strategy? Listen in to the podcast I recorded about it with our Social Media Specialist, Rachel.

A Presence in Other High-Ranking Twitter Chats Brings in the Leads

Another way we’ve significantly grown our presence is through joining other Twitter chats. Check out the guide from Rachel with 8 chats that we love. One chat that has a huge presence is Madalyn Sklar’s #TwitterSmarter. We’ve received offline chat messages from interested people clicking through to our site, like this one, from our participation in her chat:

twittersmarter lead
Get in Twitter chats, if you’re a marketer! Or pay your social media person to join for that live hour. You might just find a potential client relationship. It’ll be worth your time.

How Do We Fare on the Other Platforms?

I won’t lie. Our Facebook is a bit dead: I’ve often considered following in Copyblogger’s steps of killing their Facebook page. I still might do it unless we can hand it over to someone who revives our Facebook. We occasionally get the interested writer and client who messages here, so I don’t want to entirely kill it yet. However, I do have a Facebook group, Learn Online Writing, which I’ve grown to just under 140 members. It’s a tight-knit community that mostly comes from my book readers, staff and writers.

Our Instagram, @expwriters, has grown significantly since I created it in August of 2015. We have over 1,800 followers, and we get about 50 likes and 3-5 comments per post. A lot of the traffic on Instagram comes from our Twitter chat followers! Rachel does a great job at summarizing our blogs with unique <100 word summaries and posting that in a new Instagram post, with a themed blog visual specifically made for Instagram, created by our lead designer.

How Publishing My Book Brought Us Organic Leads

I spent literally a year of my life (all of 2015) writing a book that’s out on Amazon, So You Think You Can Write? A Definitive Guide to Successful Online Writing. It’s maintained #3 bestseller in it’s category since it launched mid-April, 2016—a feat because I haven’t been able to advertise it outside of emailing my list, sponsoring one tweet, and telling my social platforms about it!

Here’s what I’ve seen come through the forms… “I want Julia to write my content. Can I get her? She wrote her book really well and that’s why I’m here at Express Writers. I want her to write my book.” After a good chuckle, I told the lead he was in the best hands possibly with our mentored, trained writing staff! He was very pleased with the content results. We’ve had other leads that turned into clients because they read my book and were impressed, as well as writers come in to apply after reading and learning from my book. I’ve also used it as education among our own team writers.

I also have a podcast out, but it’s been hard to quantify results. I’ve had 4,000 downloads since launching it as well in April. I’ve had several appearance and interview opportunities occur because of it, and have gotten on the radar of some of my favorite influencers (an episode with Mark Traphagen will go live this October, and I’ve had the chance to interview Joanna Wiebe, Sujan Patel, and Steve Rayson)! If anything, podcasting has been a major tool in connecting with influencers for me.

Have We Spent a Penny on PPC Ads?

Not one. Ever.

Social ads?

We just started delving into Facebook and Twitter ads for the first time ever and have barely spent $75. (We’ll spend more when I launch our first-ever webinar, coming up soon.)

I belly laugh every time I think of the $75 we just started spending on ads, versus the huge organic results we’ve had so far.

Here’s what I’m going to tell you that’s solid advice to achieve a solid, strong customer base out of your online presence: it really isn’t about advertising anymore. It isn’t about creating a funnel and a sales process on rinse and repeat.

It’s about relationships. Creating meaningful content. Building a community, over time. Answering questions. Helping people.

And that’s what we’ve managed to focus on, and grown to be successful in, here at Express Writers.

Time, effort, and people (amazingly creative people) to help you out—these are the major tools you’ll need to replicate my process.

 

Want to get started in creating and distributing great content? Let us help you today.

write podcast ep 13 embezzlement to success

The Write Podcast, Episode 13: From Embezzlement to Success, Our May 2016 Story & 4 Major Biz Lessons

I’m here on the podcast today, raw and authentic, sharing an episode that took me four weeks to figure out how to say.

We went through one of the hardest months we’ve ever had in May this year, after discovering that two managers I’d trusted for over three years were embezzling from our company for a span of eight months. That month and the ones following were a trial by fire.

But we came out refined.

Join me and my solo self in Episode 13 today on the Write Podcast. Listen to the full story of the embezzlement that happened to us, how I took immediate action steps that worked and what those were, and the four major life business lessons I learned. Enjoy!

write podcast ep 13 embezzlement to success

Episode 13: From Embezzlement to Success, Our May 2016 Story & 4 Major Biz Lessons Highlights

One day in May, I had this gut feeling that something was off. It was like knowing that I had a mole somewhere in my business, but I couldn’t identify or pinpoint what exactly was going on, or what the problem was. That month, I paid everyone and then had I nothing left to pay myself.

Where was the money going?

I took a dive deeper. I audited the business after payroll that day, working late into the night and looking into all our finances at the company. I was shocked. Two of my main staff members were claiming three times the work they had actually done. My stomach felt sick.

4:10: Learn the action steps I took after the discovery in the second lesson I detail on the podcast.

It’s been more than three months now since this happened, and not only have we fully recovered, but we’ve reinvented so many of our processes that we’ve seen a higher client satisfaction rate than we’ve ever had. We have deeper team communications, and I’m hands-on in the training for every single new hire. We’ve found amazing new writers in the past few months, trained new staff members, and brought on some truly creative minds that are the force behind our better quality.

We’re in a better place than we’ve ever been, all thanks to the scary month of May and what it did to inspire me to take better steps. Here’s a summary of the key lessons I learned: listen for the full story on each!

  • Lesson one: Schedule and do a deep audit on your business finances every few months, if you run and own a business.
  • Lesson two: Honesty and transparency works.
  • Lesson three: you can’t cut corners, rely on one single process, or expect to put in no effort if you want to deliver an incredible product every time you serve your clients.
  • Lesson four: when you find amazing people, grab them fast and don’t let them go.

One more step that is going to happen for Express Writers this year, the cherry on top to our reinvented process, is the launch of brand new custom development in a new Content Shop and internal systems that my CTO Josh has been developing for more than 13 months. Our Content Shop v. 2.0 will be launching along with the custom built team room in about two months from now. It will be so much easier for our clients to order and our management team to pick best-fit writers for every order. Stay tuned!

Relevant Links:

Like my podcast? I would greatly appreciate your time to leave me a rating & review in iTunes! Click here to go to iTunes.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'It’s vital you know where every penny is going in business.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'People are human, not robots. You never truly know them till they work in their role.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'Honesty and transparency work in business.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'I’m an authentic content marketer. I had to go with my gut and tell the true story.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'It's amazing how transparency can unite you to your client base.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'Find people who help you build processes instead of just band-aid a problem.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'The creative-at-heart is the kind of person that is the fit for our @ExpWriters team.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'I started my company on the principle of passion and growing a team of people that share my passion for online writing and content marketing.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

For great content writing, visit our Content Shop.