How To Create Effective Website Content Templates To Scale Article Production

How To Create Effective Website Content Templates To Scale Article Production

I bet it’s one of two reasons:

  1. You’re just starting with content sites and need an efficient way to outsource content production to freelancers, OR
  2. You’ve had some success with SEO sites and need to find more time in your schedule to scale up.

Did I get it right?

Either way, you need an efficient method of assigning work to writers so that you receive publish-ready articles with as little time-input on your part as possible.

Content templates are the single, best way to scale up your article production quickly and easily.

What is a content template?

Template for content

A content template is a blueprint that writers can use to create a specific type of article.

Instead of training several writers to create your articles just the way that you like them, content templates allow you to go through this process just once.

These templates should include your desired article structure, format, explanations of what should (or shouldn’t) be included in each section, and examples that illustrate how a final product should look.

After it’s created, you can simply share this document with a freelance writer or content creation agency, and they will be able to get started writing immediately.

Benefits of content templates

You probably have yet to realize how much time is being wasted by NOT using content templates.

Content templates allow you to:

  • Achieve clarity in regards to your needs and expectations
  • Reduce the amount of time you spend assigning work and training writers
  • Create uniform articles in regards to structure, format, and voice
  • Use lower cost writers since you are removing high-level decisions from their plate
  • Quickly increase the volume of article development
  • Ensure core elements are not overlooked or left out of an article

The benefits you experience from using content templates will vary by usage, but you can expect to free up massive amounts of time so you can get back to growing your business.

Style guide vs. content templates

Style Guide Vs. Content Templates

SEO content site owners often confuse a style guide with a content template.

They are not the same thing!

A style guide is a document that defines your brand’s voice and writing style.

It lets writers know your standards and expectations for all articles on your site, regardless of the content type.

Style guides generally include rules for capitalization, source citations, image attribution, punctuation, and other similar writing elements.

While prominent publications tend to build their own style guide, content site owners like us can generally get away with using the AP Stylebook for our needs.

Writers will likely have experience with it already, and it helps you avoid reinventing the wheel.

Conversely, content templates apply to a specific article or type of article.

It will include rules specific to the article such as what sections need to be included, what should be included in each of those sections, keywords to use,  types of sources you want to be included, and specific rules for any media integration.

The bare minimum template

There are a few core elements that must be included in your template.

They include:

  • The required word length
  • The article title or a clear explanation of how to create the article title based on a topic
  • The target keyword and rules for its usage
  • Structure rules such as how subheadings, bullet lists, and other similar elements should be used
  • Instructions for how to integrate both internal and external links
  • Examples of existing live articles that you want to mirror or “beat”
  • A checklist that writers can use to cross-reference their article against quickly

These elements are all you need to get content production rolling quickly and efficiently.

The detailed template

The chances of your writers making a mistake drop drastically as you increase the granularity of your template.

Just keep in mind that your ability to use this content template for the creation of many articles will decrease as your instruction specificity increases.

The way I get around this is by creating a rather broad content type template and supplement that with a spreadsheet that has all of the article-specific information that the writer will need to meet my expectations.

By doing this, I can use a single template for the production of many, many articles that all follow the same rules.

At that point, the only thing I need to do is create a spreadsheet with article-specific information such as the exact title, keywords, and other article-level instruction that will then be applied to the broader template.

It works like a charm!

Being comprehensive vs. micromanaging

Comprehensive vs. Micromanaging

Ok, ok… this section is a bit self-serving being that I operate a content creation agency. But, it should be helpful for you when creating long-lasting relationships with your writers.

We get A LOT of clients that try to micromanage us through their content templates in an attempt to get us to create the exact vision that they have in mind.

We once had a client that provided us with a 46-page content template for a single 1000-word article!

Their templates become so detailed that they may have well just written the article on their own.

Let me explain why micromanaging doesn’t work.

Besides being counter-productive to your goal of scaling content production, you will never be able to get a writer to see the exact vision you have in your mind.

If you already have a predefined vision of what you expect to see in the article down to the sentence level, you absolutely should be writing the article yourself.

You need to leave room for the writers personal writing style. By trying to get them to write in the same way that you would, you’re essentially masking the writer’s inherent talents and forcing them to be something they’re not.

SEO content site owners do not have the full picture in regards to how Google evaluates content in their ranking algorithm.

Instead, we use the best practices available to us and run tests to see what works best in our vertical.

Knowing this, we all need to give writers a little more breathing room. As long as the article follows SEO best practices, you’re in good shape.

If you feel the need to be extremely specific about your expectations, the way to get the best results is to provide the writer with multiple examples of existing articles that exhibit what you’re seeking from the article they are creating for you.

You can even point out specific sections in those example articles and explain why you like them or why they’re important.

Try it out. I bet you’ll be surprised at the result!

Iterative improvements

Improvment

Be prepared for disappointment when you use your content templates for the first time.

While you may think that you created an iron-clad document that will be the answer to all your scaling problems, your writers may not interpret it the same way.

This is not to say that your new content template won’t work and your dream of scaling content production is doomed. It just means that some tweaking is in order.

Please don’t take it out on your writer if the article they created didn’t match your vision. Instead, remind yourself that you are a business owner, and it’s your role to manage this process until you achieve your expected results.

Feedback from your writer in the form of failure is an invaluable tool that you can use to propel your business forward.

Here is how to make iterative improvements to your content templates:

  • Create the first draft of the template
  • Order 10 articles using the template; one article per writer
  • Review the articles in detail and make a note of every “failure” you find
  • Create a log of each of these failures; notate what was wrong and why it didn’t meet your expectations
  • Update your template with specific guidance, so those failures do not happen again
  • Rinse and repeat

You will move closer and closer to the “perfect” article with each iteration of your template.

Keep maintaining your issue log and update it after every batch of content comes back.

Eventually, you’ll see clear patterns that signal to you what is confusing your writers. You can then adjust the template to alleviate that confusion.

It’s time to scale!

Scale Up

And, there you have it.

This is the exact process I use to develop my content templates as well as the templates we create for our clients at WordAgents.

Take the time to create a comprehensive content template for each type of article you publish on your website.

After a few iterations, you’ll be well on your way to pain-free content production at scale!

Vin D’Eletto

About Vin

Vin D’Eletto owns and operates WordAgents.com and has over a decade of experience building, operating, and selling revenue generating websites.

When he’s not glued to his computer screen, you can find him drinking Sake at his Japanese restaurant or having family time with his wife and German Shorthaired Pointer!

Should You Create Your Website in WordPress or HTML & CSS?

Should You Create Your Website in WordPress or HTML & CSS?

If you’re looking to build a site for your business, then you’ll have to make many important decisions around the planning, design, and launch of the site. One of your first major choices will be deciding whether you want to build the site from scratch or use a website building platform.

You will likely need to hire a developer to create a website from scratch. A developer will use HTML with a variety of markup and scripting languages, including CSS and Javascript, to create web pages. Although it may require more time and money to build from scratch, this option can result in a site that looks and functions exactly like you want.

If you’d rather not hire a developer, then you can get started with one of the hundreds of publishing platforms, website builders, and content management systems on the market.

Of these solutions, a CMS is the most popular. It allows you to easily customize the design of your site, add multimedia in your posts, organize your content by tags and categories, manage multiple users, edit the underlying code, and much, much more.

Learn More About HubSpot's CMS Software

To help you find a solution that’s right for your business, we’ll compare the different experiences you’ll get using WordPress or building an HTML site.

Below are the key differences we’ll focus on. Click any of the links below to jump to that section.

Now that we have a brief overview of the differences between building and managing a site on WordPress and building and managing an HTML site, let’s start by clarifying a possible misconception. Does WordPress use HTML?

Does WordPress Use HTML?

The short answer is yes. 

The long answer is that WordPress is not primarily written in HTML. Its core software — as well as WordPress plugins and themes — are primarily written with PHP, a programming language that controls how a WordPress site interacts and connects with its database.

PHP is a server-side language, which means it runs entirely on the server that hosts the website. So when a site visitor types in one of your page’s URL, the PHP code on your server receives that request and pulls the relevant content from your WordPress database. It then converts that content into an HTML file (and the accompanying CSS files) and sends them back to the visitor who made the request. Because the WordPress core is written in PHP, third-party developers can also create plugins and themes that run on their own PHP files and use database content however they like. 

So while a WordPress site will look and function the same as a static HTML site to end users, the process of how its content and functionality is stored and delivered to those users is very different.

Whereas the hosting server has to assemble your WordPress posts or pages into HTML files using PHP code, each page of a static website is stored as an individual HTML file and these exist in their entirety. No assembly is required. That’s because HTML, like CSS and JavaScript, is a client-side language. Rather than run on the hosting server, HTML runs on the device of the visitor accessing a website.

Let’s look at what this means in terms of speed. 

WordPress vs. HTML Speed

Online consumers don’t want to waste time waiting for a website to load. In fact, page speed is so important to the user experience that Google began including it as one of its ranking factors in 2010 for desktop and 2018 for mobile. Its main reason for including speed in its algorithm was that data showed visitors spent less time on slower sites. According to a study by Google, as page load time goes from one second to 5 seconds, the probability of a mobile site visitor bouncing increases 90%.

To ensure you provide a good user experience and reduce bounce rate on your site, you have to consider speed when deciding how to build your site. Let’s compare the speed of WordPress and HTML sites below.

WordPress Speed

The disadvantage of a WordPress site requiring PHP and a database is its impact on load time. Every time a visitor lands on your site, your server has to execute the PHP code and retrieve information from your database to display the correct information to the visitor. Because this requires more server resources than an HTML site, it can increase load time and delays.

However, by selecting a fast hosting provider, purchasing a Content Delivery Network (CDN), optimizing and compressing your images, and taking other steps to speed up your WordPress site, you can meet your consumers’ expectation for speed.

HTML Speed

As mentioned above, HTML sites do not require PHP execution or database queries to load. That means that, if their code is optimized, HTML sites are faster out-of-the-box than WordPress sites.

There are several steps you can take to optimize an HTML site to ensure it’s fast-loading. These steps including eliminating unnecessary white space and comments, caching your content, reducing the number of inline scripts, minifying and compressing images, using lazy loading for images, and more. It’s important to note that many of these steps will also help reduce the load time of a WordPress site. 

WordPress vs. HTML Ease of Use

You want building a website to be as easy and quick as possible. But often, ease of use comes at the expense of flexibility. The more control you have over the administration and design of your site, the more difficult it will be to create and manage. The easier the process, the less control you’ll have.

So picking a platform is, in part, about deciding whether ease of use or flexibility is more important to you. With that in mind, let’s compare the ease of use of a WordPress and HTML site below.

WordPress Ease of Use

With WordPress, you can have ownership over your site without needing to code it from scratch or know how to code at all. You can easily create and manage content, change your site’s appearance, and configure its setting in the built-in dashboard, and easily extend its functionality via plugins.

Adding and managing plugins in your WordPress dashboard

To leverage the platform’s flexibility in these ways, you will have to spend time, effort, and money managing your site. Plugin, theme, and software updates will be essential management tasks for keeping your site safe and avoiding compatibility issues. 

Ecommerce stores, small business sites, and other companies looking to grow their brand and customer base will prefer building with this open-source CMS because of its ease of use, even if it does require more day-to-day management.

HTML Ease of Use

Tasks that are simple on WordPress — like adding and editing content, extending the functionality of your site, and changing how it looks — will be much more difficult when building an HTML site. That’s because you won’t have a dashboard with built-in features and buttons, themes, or plugins to automate these tasks. You’ll have to write the HTML and CSS yourself — or pay someone to do so.

There are ways to speed up the build process. You can use open-source toolkits like Boostrap CSS, which comes with pre-designed buttons, navbars, forms, tables, and other components you won’t have to build from scratch. 

Bootstrap pre-designed buttons displayed with corresponding code including default modfier classes

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If you don’t anticipate needing to update or change your site regularly, then you’re better off building or hiring a developer to build an HTML site. It will require less server resources and therefore be cheaper and easier to build. Once it’s published, you won’t have to worry about updating any software or third-party extensions to keep it secure.

Restaurants, gyms, boutiques, and other small businesses looking to establish a simple online presence will find this option appealing. While the up-front time and costs required to build an HTML site will be greater than a WordPress site, the day-to-day management will be much easier. 

WordPress vs. HTML Price

The cost of building a website depends on a whole host of factors but the four major ones are your time, budget, technical knowledge, and design skills. If you have time but not technical knowledge, for example, then you could learn how to build an HTML site. If you lack both time and technical knowledge though, you can build a site on WordPress.

Below we’ll look at the costs of creating and managing a website on WordPress and one built from scratch.

WordPress Price

As open-source software, WordPress is free to download and use. However, you will have to pay for a custom domain name and hosting to launch your site. You may also have to factor in any premium plugins or themes you want to install.

Although premium themes can cost up to $200 and plugins can range from one-time fees of $3.99 to annual fees of $250, these design options are most likely cheaper than hiring a web developer or designer to customize the appearance and functionality of your site.

Because domain registration, hosting, themes, and plugins vary in price, the costs of building and managing a WordPress site can range from a couple hundred to a couple thousands dollars.

Breakdown of costs of building and managing site on WordPress

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The average costs are much more moderate than that range implies though. According to Website Builder Expert, building a WordPress site will cost you around $200 and managing it will cost $11 to $40 per month, on average.

HTML Price

Let’s first consider the cost of building an HTML site. Hiring an agency to build and design your site from scratch will be the priciest option, costing tens of thousands of dollars. Hiring a freelancer will be cheaper but range dramatically, depending on their hourly rate and the duration of the project.

According to a custom quote by WebFX, hiring a developer to build out a responsive site with one to ten pages that’s moderately styled would cost between $7,000 and $10,000.

WebFX estimate for moderately stylized responsive site of 1-10 pages

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Estimating the cost of maintaining an HTML site is even more difficult than estimating the cost of building one because it completely depends on your coding abilities. If you don’t have any coding skills, you will have to pay a developer to make any changes to your site. Even simple tasks like adding new content or inserting images will require you to hire a developer for a few hours.

That’s why WebFX estimates that the cost of maintaining an HTML site can range from $400 to $60,000 per year. However, a smaller site like the one mentioned above will range much more moderately from $400 to $1,200 per year.

Since you can add new content and perform most tasks without hiring a WordPress developer, managing an HTML website will likely end up costing much more than a WordPress website.

WordPress vs. HTML for SEO

If you’re investing this amount of time and money into building a site for your business, then you want people to see it. To boost your site’s visibility, aim to get ranking as close as possible to the first page. According to Search Engine Journal, sites listed on the first Google search results page get 91.5% of the traffic share for a keyword or phrase.

To drive that organic traffic to your site, you need to optimize your on-page and technical SEO. Let’s compare the SEO friendliness of building a site on WordPress and building one from scratch.

WordPress for SEO

WordPress enables you to easily customize your image alt-text, meta descriptions, headings, and custom URLs right in your dashboard so you don’t need to edit a single line of code.

Editing URL slug in WordPress dashboard o optimize for SEO

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You can also choose among thousands of responsive themes to design a mobile-friendly site. Installing and activating a responsive theme will take a few clicks and you won’t need to worry about defining viewport meta tags, setting text in the viewport width unit, or adding media queries. 

If you lack experience or knowledge of SEO, then you can download or purchase a range of WordPress plugins to help. Plugins like Yoast SEO, WP Rocket, and Redirection let you control many aspects of your site’s technical and on-page SEO.

HTML for SEO

There are several ways you can optimize your HTML site for search engines — you just need to know how to do it.

Adding keywords in your posts and pages, linking to internal and external pages, and optimizing your URLs, heading tags, title tags, meta descriptions, and image alt text are all familiar best practices.

An image alt text for Lead Management image in Kissmetrics blog

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But, unlike on web building platforms, you can’t use any buttons on a dashboard or third-party plugins to help you with these steps. Instead, you have to spend the time creating the right tags and code for your site, or hiring someone who will.

While optimizing your on-page SEO in the steps outlined above is relatively easy, optimizing your technical SEO will be much more difficult. Adding breadcrumb menus and pagination to your site, for example, will require time and coding, whereas WordPress offers built-in functionality and plugins for adding these features.

And building a responsive site from scratch will require you to define viewport meta tags, resize your text and images, add media queries, and more. 

WordPress vs. HTML for Blogging

Since websites that feature a blog are 434% more likely to be ranked highly on search engines, you want to pick a solution that will enable you to easily create and publish custom content. Let’s compare what it’s like to blog with WordPress and with HTML below.

WordPress for Blogging

Although WordPress has evolved into a multi-purpose CMS, it was originally built as a blogging platform. It therefore has lots of built-in functionality to help you easily create content.

Using the Gutenberg editor, you can drag and drop elements to create an unlimited number of multi-media blog posts and pages. Once drafted, you can schedule, publish, update, and delete these posts and pages as needed. You can also moderate comments, assign user roles and permissions, make your content public or private, and secure posts and pages with a password.

Setting WordPress post to password protected in editor interface

The best part? You can do all this right in your dashboard without having to access or edit your source code.

If you’re a more advanced user with coding skills, then you can add code to your files to style individual category pages, display a list of recent posts in their sidebar, and extend the functionality of their site in other ways.

By offering these out-of-the-box features and access to its source code, WordPress combines ease of use and flexibility to advance your blogging efforts.

HTML for Blogging

Using HTML and CSS, you can create even more complex blog posts than you can on WordPress. You can insert images, format headlines, add bullet points, create tables, display posts in your sidebar, and anything else you can think — you’ll just need to write the code or hire someone to write the code to do so.

This takes time. For example, say you want to display some text in a simple list format. In WordPress, you can simply drag and drop the list block onto the page. On an HTML site, you’ll have to add the following code:

 

 

   

My list includes the following:

  • Item A
  • Item B
  • Item C

 

While you’ll have total control over the structure and design of your content if you create an HTML site, you’ll need the time and in-depth knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Javascript to wield that control. Since most users will have to hire a developer to add content to their site, those looking to regularly publish blog posts will be better off on WordPress.

Differences Between WordPress and CSS & HTML

Building a site on WordPress presents a very different experience from building a site from scratch. Deciding which one is right for you will depend on your time, budget, current coding and design skills, and willingness to develop those skills.

To help you make this decision, we’ll summarize the key differences between the two solutions below.

  WordPress HTML & CSS
Software Open-source content management system No underlying software
Uses HTML Yes, but primarily written in PHP. When a user visits your website, PHP code on your hosting server queries the database for relevant content, then packages that into an HTML file to deliver to users. Yes. Web pages exist as individual HTML files in their entirety. No assembly is required.
Speed Slower out-of-the-box because requires more server resources. Faster out-of-the-box because requires less server resources.
Ease of use Built-in dashboard, themes, and plugins make it easy to build, customize, and manage a WordPress site. Building and managing an HTML site will be difficult without coding experience or hiring a developer.
Price Free to use the software but have to pay for domain registration, hosting, and premium plugins and themes. On average, costs range from $11 to $40 per month in addition to a one-time sum of $200. Hiring a developer to build and design a small, responsive site from scratch ranges from $7,000 and $10,000. Maintaining such a site will cost $400 to $1,200 per year.
SEO In addition to being able to configure SEO settings in your dashboard, you can choose from hundreds of plugins that let you control your on-page and technical SEO. Have to optimize on-page SEO by including the right tags in source code or hiring a developer to do so.
Blogging Offers a drag-and-drop block editor and advanced built-in blogging functionality for managing users, controlling content visibility, and more so you can create and manage content right in your dashboard. More advanced users can edit the underlying code to make specific customizations if they want. Offers total control over the structure and design of content, but requires a significant time investment and in-depth coding knowledge to create.

Discover videos, templates, tips, and other resources dedicated to helping you  launch an effective video marketing strategy. 

How to Create an Online Portfolio for a Strong Online Presence

How to Create an Online Portfolio for a Strong Online Presence

Having a strong online portfolio is extremely important in current times, given how everything around us is marked by a powerful digital presence – be it an individual or a brand.

This is especially true if you’re doing an online job hunt or looking for potential clients for your freelancing business. Your online portfolio represents you in the digital platform and gives your employers a reason to hire you.

That’s why it’s important for your portfolio to be impressive enough to be able to grab your employer’s attention instantly.

Here are some of the most effective ways to create a great online portfolio that can help you create a strong online presence.

Pay Attention to Your Design

The first thing that people will notice about your online portfolio is its design. The better it looks the more professional you are considered to be.


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Just like a business is judged by its website, your work and professionalism is judged by the way your portfolio appears. So make sure you have a powerful and catchy design for your online portfolio.

If you’re not that good with designs, you might want to hire a professional designer who can help you create a great look for your portfolio.

But sometimes, you may not want to invest too much by hiring a designer. In that case, you can look for pre-built portfolio templates that can save you both time and money. You’ll find different templates depending on the platform (WordPress, Magento, Wix, etc.) you’re using. It’s the easiest way to make your portfolio look super sleek and professional.

Showcase Your Best Work with a Story

Storytelling is a powerful way of capturing people’s attention. And you can use this opportunity to hook your employers by telling them the story of your best work.

You don’t have to do that for all your projects. Just pick the ones you like best or the ones that have received the best results. Now tie some stories related to these projects. You can talk about how it started, what it was about, how you were able to achieve results for it, etc.

To make it more interesting, you can add some images or videos that better describe the project and your involvement with it. This will not just engage your clients but will also give them a reason to see how creative you are.

Add Solid Samples of Your Work

It’s not possible to create a story for all your work. You can do that for one or two of your best projects. But that’s not enough for your clients to know your caliber.

Some of them might want to check out more of such result-oriented work samples. So make sure you have a section that lists some of the best work samples for your clients to peruse. You might also want to include samples that display your skills in different areas.

For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you might want to include samples of blog posts, case studies, eBooks, etc., to give them a better idea of the skills you have.

Validate Your Work with Testimonials

The next important thing that can quickly make your portfolio shine are testimonials from clients you have already worked with. Testimonials act like feedback on the work that you’ve done, and they are extremely important for landing more clients.


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It supports your credibility and the level of your expertise. By adding testimonials to your portfolio, you can strengthen your reputation too. That’s because, through these testimonials, your clients are expressing their trust in you and your business.

It’s a great way of adding value to your skills and making it more believable for people who are exploring your portfolio for the first time.

If you don’t have a testimonial yet, don’t worry. Just reach out to your clients through a polite email and ask them to write one for you. They’ll surely do it without any hesitation.

You can even link your social profiles to your portfolio to give them a glimpse of your latest work. This will also encourage your clients to follow your latest projects for more information. Plugins like Smash Balloon can help you integrate your social profiles to your portfolio without writing a single code.

Write a Great About Me Page

Your portfolio is incomplete without a great ‘About Me’ page. It’s the one page that tells your client everything they need to know about you. So talk about yourself, the skills you have, how you’re different from your competitors, etc.

But in doing so, don’t go overboard and talk just about yourself. When a client is hiring you they want to know how you can add value to their business and help them get results.

So instead of going on about yourself, get a little creative in the way you put things across. Try to strike a balance between not appearing too self-centered and not being too bland about what you can do.

Give Them a Way to Get in Touch

Now, you’ve done everything you need to make your portfolio shine. But your client can’t find a way to get in touch with you. Can anything be worse than that?

If you don’t want that to happen, add a contact form to your portfolio through which your clients can reach out to you. You don’t need to design a contact form from scratch. There are tools and plugins that can help you add a form to your portfolio with just a few clicks of the mouse.

One such option is the WPForms plugin.

This drag and drop form builder plugin is the perfect solution for adding any kind of form to your website on a budget.

Building a portfolio is easy. But creating a portfolio that makes an impression isn’t that easy. By following the above points, you can come up with a portfolio that stands out and helps you mark a strong online presence.

Syed Balkhi is an award-winning entrepreneur and online marketing expert. He is the co-founder of OptinMonster, WPBeginner, MonsterInsights, and WPForms.