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?
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
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.
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
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!
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!
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 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!
The concept of webinars are nothing new, but for the most part, they are only being used at a mere fraction of what their true potential is. When you think about the word ‘webinar’, you might think about a salesy video marketing method that online brands and marketing promote to your Facebook feed.
In truth, webinars are actually much more — but this method is one that has saturated the online marketing space as of lately. We’ve actually seen webinar usage increase during 2015 more than in previous years.
The reason for this…? Webinars work!
Today we are going to take a look at nine different ways entrepreneurs, brands and businesses can start using webinars to not only generate revenue for themselves, but also increase awareness, gain trust from their audience, cut time, minimize costs and scale their business to levels they never thought possible.
1 – Grow and Clean Your Mailing List
Webinars are an excellent for growing mailing lists. You likely already have a mailing list of your own, but how many of them are actually responsive? If you wanted to clean up your list and get all of the emails of the most response people, simply start a webinar and have a new list created from everyone who attends.
2 – Building Brand Awareness and Trust
Content creation is great, but it’s usually a one-sided conversation with you speaking to your audience. With a webinar, your audience is watching live video and they are engaged throughout the whole process. One of the best ways to sell to an audience, is to gain their trust and show your real value.
3 – Pre-Sell Your Next Project in Advance
Over the past several years we’ve seen a lot of entrepreneurs come out with websites and blogs of their own, only to come out with a real product or service later on. Through the use of webinars, you could hold “free events” and learn what your audience is in need of, then sell this product to them before it’s even created. Not only is this a great way to generate revenue, it’s also a perfect way to confirm there is a demand for your product before even making it.
4 – Becoming a Better Speaker and Presentation
One of the most common fears in the world today is public speaking. Even though you are still behind a computer screen when running a webinar, it’s still challenging to get on the mic and talk to a live audience. However, this is something that you will improve with over time. The more webinars you host, the better a speaker and presenter you will become over time.
5 – Co-Host and Interview Authority Experts
A great way to show off your own expertise and authority, is to associate yourself with other experts within your niche. A great way to accomplish this is by doing a co-hosted webinar with other marketers or experts online. There are many opportunities like this out there, it’s simply a matter of you finding them. Some will even do a rev-share with you where you earn a commission on any sales generated from your webinar.
6 – Eliminate Wasted Time for In-Office Meetings
When it comes to running a business and working in an actual office, one of the biggest time wasters throughout the day are meetings. It’s not just the concept of meetings, it’s also the planning, attending, note taking and everything else in between. Through the use of enterprise video conferencing solutions for IT by companies like BlueJeans, businesses and organizations of all sizes can effectively cut down on wasted time and costs that in-person meetings generate. Just like how live webinars are created for interacting with audiences around the world, the same approach can be taken with in-office meetings and management.
7 – Increase Conversions on High-Ticket Items
Webinars have proven to be extremely effective when trying to sell high-ticket items. In the past, we have seen long form sales pages work extremely well for $97 ebooks and products, but if you want to sell big ticket items in the $499-$999+ range, you are going to first need to build a relationship. This is exactly what is accomplished during a 60 minute webinar. The end result is likely a 5-10% conversion rate from your webinar audience… multiple times higher than what you would see from a typical email send out or basic landing page.
8 – Save Time with Automated Webinars
As amazing as webinars are, they are definitely time consuming. Every time you want to run a webinar, you are looking at anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes of pre-planning, setup, speaking and Q&A afterwards. After you’ve done your first webinar, see if you can automate the process by playing that same webinar to new audiences in the future. Depending on the webinar provider you go with, this may already be built into their system.
9 – Reach New Audience and Increase Revenue with JVs
Once you’ve mastered the art of running your own webinar and know that you have a product that sells, a great way to massively scale your reach, audience and revenue is through joint-venturing with other online marketers and site owners. A good example of this would be if you did a rev-share with another big site. You would setup the webinar (content, service, sales), then your JV partner would provide the audience. Not only are you looking at getting a bunch of sales, you will also grow your mailing list by hundreds (or even thousands) in the process. Repeat this model and see how you can massively grow your business in a short period of time.
How to Start Using Webinars for Your Brand or Business
As you can see, webinars are a whole lot more than just selling products and services to an audience. Whether you are trying to build a personal brand, sell high-ticket items or are just an organization that is trying to cut costs and connect with each other through live video… webinars are simply the best way to go.
Your competition has been using webinars for years… why are you?
Business growth is always exciting. Seeing your revenue, client base, workforce and market share expand is proof that your hard work and tireless efforts are paying off. Best of all, this is something that you can control, as long as you are putting in the necessary time, work, and effort.
While you may be eager to move your startup onward and upward, you shouldn’t forget about the potential negative impacts of scaling up. Expanding too quickly can mean biting off more than you can chew, and it’s easy for a business to collapse on itself if it cannot handle rapid growth.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind as you scale up if you want to avoid toppling your business, according to 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council.
1. Do What You’re Best at and Outsource the Rest
As you scale your business, your highest priority is to identify what you do best in the company and then find someone who is even better than you to do that task. This will free up your time to focus on growing your company and not just working for it. For example, my strength is ranking websites so I hired someone I trust to implement my system and it’s saving me 80 hours per month.
Too many startups hire for the present when they should be hiring people with the skills for 18 months into the future. Design roles for capable people to grow into. While a jack-of-all-trades talent seems valuable at the earliest stages, hiring experienced functional leaders is important during a startup’s growth phase. Lastly, turnover is inevitable so be prepared for this necessary reality.
As you scale and hire people, there will be more to manage and more minutiae will be created to account for the increase in projects and personnel. Having a project management system that can account for tracking projects at the macro level, as well as the minutiae of each project, is essential as you grow. Find a project management solution that is flexible, customizable and scalable.
Make sure that your technology has the capability to scale with your business. For example, many e-commerce businesses find themselves needing to migrate from their current platform to a more robust solution in order to handle higher user and order volume. This is a complex process that can stunt a company’s current growth rate. To avoid this, select a platform built for scalability.
As you grow your business, you will be acquiring new obligations and spending more money. Make sure to constantly monitor your cash flow and P&L. New expenses are not directly proportional to the contracts you are getting. Contracts have different arrangements and payment schedules. I have seen a lot of companies grow really fast and end up failing for this reason.
When I first launched AFS, we were a small company with an idea. As we expanded to a national player, we maintained the way we did things as a small company, and we didn’t adapt well. Once we instituted a continuous training and education program, we built teams that could adapt to growth and I found myself better equipped for the new challenges we faced as a larger organization.
7. Build Your Internal Processes to Handle Scaling
Scaling a business is not necessarily about getting more sales or hiring more employees. If your internal processes aren’t built to handle more business, then you could be wasting money overstaffing due to repetitive tasks that can bottleneck the workflow — an error that could cost you in potential sales and revenue.
When times are good, it can be deliriously satisfying to expand your business exponentially. However, it’s important to have a plan for when the money stops flowing in. Markets are unpredictable and can turn sour at any time. A bit of foresight and careful planning can ensure that your business survives a recession.
Too many complaints can bring your business to a crashing halt. You can’t stop every complaint, but you can reduce them greatly by beefing up your customer service. Train staff to resolve complaints. Stay engaged on your social media pages where customers love to take out their frustrations. Reply and make them feel like they are a priority. Just replying can make a huge difference to customers.
To sustain high growth, a company needs to retain and attract the right people. One necessary tactic to employee retention and attraction is designing career growth within a company. Employees need to see themselves progressing as fast as your company — and there needs to be buy-in from both employer and employee on what that career development looks like so you can both grow together.
It can be easy to get caught up in growing quickly, but I’ve seen a ton of businesses do that and then have to downsize immediately. It puts people out and isn’t a great way to build a solid reputation for your company. It’s important to take a step back, move slowly and really think about the next steps you’re taking to grow your business so you don’t get ahead of yourself.
Grow Your Business, By Growing Your Personal Brand
Of the many different ways to grow your online business and brand, don’t forget about the importance of growing your personal brand in the process. This is especially true if you are the face of the brand. Through the power of social media, it’s extremely easy and effective to not only reach new audiences but to also rank higher in Google for personal names and brand names in the process. Be sure to try out this method, along with each of the recommended tips above for growing your brand or online business in 2018.