I work in-house with a really fun and committed team of employees, who work with me on several projects and businesses. However, a lot of the people behind the scenes here work remotely. From part-time VAs paid by the hour or by the task to full-time salaried employees, I’ve had to develop some strategies on managing and keeping connected with remote workers. After all, we’re living in the age of digital nomadism, and if you’re able to travel the world while staying committed and efficient with your career, all the power to you! I love that entrepreneurial hustle.
So here are some of my top tips for making remote work, work.
I do this across all my businesses and it is quintessential to getting stuff done. Weekly 1-on-1 check-ins with team members, and weekly check-ins with the entire team together.
Say you have 3 people plus the manager (in this case, myself) on a team. You could create a spreadsheet like this one to keep track of their weekly efforts on your end.FREE Weekly Score Card Template
I also encourage my team members to keep track of these check-ins on their end as well, to stay organized with their weekly tasks and progress.
For the full team meeting, it’s a more developed document which includes going over the business values and goals, weekly numbers, and weekly tasks and goals across the team members. This gives everyone a chance to speak freely and stay focused and on track. If you’re checking in and truly evaluating goals on a weekly basis, there’s way less risk of letting things slip.
Yes, we do probably 90% of our communications via email. And some people, especially in the digital media world, are introverted and get anxiety thinking about talking to other human beings. But actually getting on the phone with somebody is invaluable. It leaves no room for hesitation or shuffling of the truth. When you speak directly with people, you’re automatically way more connected. With remote employees, I mainly use Skype or Zoom to make free calls on the web.
Encourage your remote team to come visit whenever they can. Depending on how far away they are, it may be once a month, or only once a year, but it’s huge for keeping people connected and happy. We’ve done some fun stuff over the past few years, from a simple pizza party in the main office, to a bowling outing, to brewery tours around the area! It’s always good to take a break from the laptop life and do something fun to relax with everyone. Plus, it gets people chatting and becoming closer, which helps to build the team up with more trust and respect.
Of course, for some really distant freelancers and VAs, this is a lot harder. But generally maintaining a happy and friendly tone with your trusted team members goes such a long way.
No one likes the unapproachable boss. You want a boss who, in addition to good news and successful progress, you can come to with issues, concerns, and questions. My core team members have my cell number and know that they can text or call when they need to. Now, that’s not to say that there’s obviously a limit to expectations. I can’t be expected to pick up the phone at 3am or be on call 24/7 when I’m taking vacation time. But making sure you’re responsive to issues from your team when they need you is important. In my experience, mutual respect in these situations is ideal.
Working with a lot of remote employees means overcoming obstacles like time differences and varying schedules, as well as the lack of face-to-face communication. These are a few of the core approaches I’ve taken to keeping everyone connected and communicating well with each other, while staying on top of goals.
Have you had similar experiences with remote workers? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Whether you have a bunch of sites or just one, it’s always an easy task to outsource your publishing to a VA. The one main reason why most VA’s fail is because they don’t get clear or proper instructions on the tasks you are looking for them to complete. In order to help you out, we are going to share with you the SOP that my team uses when uploading the content to my money sites.
We also have a template of the document we send to the VA to ensure each step by step is taken that you can download.FREE VA Step by Step Template
***** We have now switched to using photo stock images as sometimes these photos are labeled for reuse but have some fine print that states otherwise so please be careful.
I know when I first started off I was publishing all my content because I wanted it to be done properly and didn’t thing that a VA could handle it. After a while I found that it was eating up my time, time that could be spent focusing on other aspects of the site such as link building or other outreach strategies. I decided I would test out a VA and for the first few, they just weren’t doing what I was expecting them to do, however after I created the SOP for them, they were easily able to pick up the skills I was looking for and was able to execute perfectly. This showed me that a lot of tasks can be outsourced if an SOP is created.
What task would you love to outsource? If it is one I have created a procedure for I would be happy to share!
Building up any website takes a lot of working with writers to get the most useful quality articles possible. Across all my money sites, I work with a team of writers to keep the content new every week and to keep the organic traffic numbers growing.
As you can imagine, that’s a lot of writers to manage. So this week I thought I’d share the best ways to hire and maintain a team of solid writers, keep them organized, and keep on track with what everyone is doing.
In addition to these practises I have developed over the years many of these lessons have been learned via ContentRefined.com where we have produced over 1,000,000 words/month for clients!
I’ve talked about this before, but hiring freelance writers shouldn’t be taken lightly. You want a native English speaking, strong and competent writer with solid experience. I always ask them to do a test assignment before bringing them onto the team. Here’s an example job posting from UpWork.
To check for grammar, I always ask the applicant to fix a couple of grammatically incorrect statements. That’s a quick way to check whether they’re legit English speakers or not. If they provide some examples of their work, that’s a good way to quickly check them out as well. But the best way is to assign them a test article to really see their chops.
I stole this rule from Jack Welch, former GE CEO, about maintaining the best teams. In a nutshell, he says that you should fire the bottom 10% of your staff every year. I apply this (in a way) to writing teams to make sure that they’re always stacked with the best writers. Say you have 10 writers on a content team. Every month or so, I cut out the 1 bottom performer and replace them with someone new. Constantly refreshing teams like this has worked well for making sure that writers are on their game and not getting lazy.
Another tip with freelance writers: don’t give second chances. It’s happened a few too many times where I’ll give somebody the benefit of the doubt for a mistake or a late assignment, and sure enough they go out and repeat that bad behaviour every time. When you depend on sticking to a schedule and you really need writers to be on the ball, you can’t let anything slide. If they screw up, move on and hire someone new. You don’t have to be rude about it. Just let them know the problem(s) and why you can’t continue to work with them. It’s not personal; it’s business.
A master spreadsheet that shows the status of team members has been the most effective strategy for keeping track of everybody. I check in with a spreadsheet like this one pretty much every day to review the work in progress. If I’ve assigned something and haven’t heard back from the writer for a day or two, I’ll follow up. If there’s still no response, those articles need to be reassigned. This simple spreadsheet will save you the huge headache of confusing emails and trying to mentally keep track of everybody. Just be sure to actually update it and don’t let things slip by, because that will make things confusing really quickly. Especially if you’re dealing with 10 or more writers, and various writing teams across different businesses, you want to make sure everything is well-organized.
I also always have an editor go through every article or piece of web copy that I have written. It’s great to have a second set of eyes on any text to help with spelling, grammar, flow, and readability. It’s usually this editor who I also get to run every piece of text through Copyscape to check for plagiarism. So in this master spreadsheet, you can keep track of what’s on your editor’s plate at the moment too.
Some freelancers will want to stick with UpWork for payments for security, but more often than not our writers ask for PayPal. It avoids the UpWork fees. No matter which way your writers want to go for payments, I recommend that you stick to a consistent pay schedule. Every week at the same time of day is ideal. Let your writers know when they can expect to be paid, and keep track of the work they’ve completed on a week by week basis. Here’s an example of what that payment tracking spreadsheet can look like. In this example, payments would ideally be made on Sundays, because the weekly tracking goes from Monday to Sunday. So writers know that if they hand something in on a Monday, they won’t be paid until that coming Sunday.
Consistent work, positive reinforcement, and clear communication are probably the three main things that have helped me keep some awesome writers around for a long time. When you’re working with someone primarily through email, it helps to have a friendly tone and to be as clear as possible with direction. Mutual respect and trust is the goal.
What have you found to be the most effective way of managing writers or content teams? Are there any tools you use that I should be checking out? Let me know in the comments!
Working on multiple business and trying to stay focused on tasks can sometimes be hard, and sometimes my time on certain projects lacks more than it should. Over the course of the last few years, I have been working on finding more solutions and ways to keep on task, prioritize important tasks, and stay motivated with the doom and gloomy tasks.
The night before work or the morning before I start work I create a To-Do list for the day. This helps me sort which are the more important tasks to get finished and which ones are lower, but still important tasks. This plans out my day and doesn’t make me spend any more effort on what I should/shouldn’t be doing, it’s all laid out for me at the start of the day. By creating this list, I am able to stay more focused on the tasks as I know what needs to get done and am able to wrap my head around the game plan for the day. I highly suggest for anyone to create a to-do list each day, it doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t need to stick to it 100% but its a good starting point on staying on task and being productive. On top of it all, it’s always satisfying when you get to scratch off a task on the sheet and eventually get down to a few tasks left.
For anyone, it can often be distracting working in an office or at home on a computer. There are many things to do on a computer and staying on task can sometimes be hard. I like to do work in 30 minute increments, or if you have a task that’s 40 mins, sit and ensure that gets done before anything else. Once the task is done or 30 mins has passed, stand up stretch your legs, take a walk, or do something else for 2-3 mins that isn’t work. Scientific research shows that you are most focused in 30 min intervals with a small break then trying to stay focused for longer periods of time, this is called the Pomodoro technique.
I have a couple hourglasses on my desk to help with this technique. I can’t say I use it all the time but when I am really trying to push I definitely do find it very helpful!
There is always a certain time of day that we feel we are most productive, some people find they are more productive in the morning and some find they are more productive after lunch. Whatever time of day is your most productive, try and schedule the more important tasks during that time. For me, the morning is always the more productive time, so my to-do list reflects this by always putting the more important tasks first.
Some people try to multi-task with tasks and some might even be really goo at this, but I find dedicating time to one project yields more positive results then splitting your time with multiple projects. If you can give a task your 100% attention, you are more likely to finish it quicker and to a better standard then if you have multiple projects on the go at one time.
During the month of November, I went on a work vacation to Mexico with both my family and a few employees. I knew that there would be many distractions around that I needed to figure out a solution on how to deal with. Before leaving, we came up with a schedule on what times of days would be work, and what times of day would be for family time and other activities. It was sometimes hard to stay focused and on task when I saw my wife and children playing in the pool or going on cool excursions, but I was determined to stay on my schedule. I had a seperate office away from all the noise, which helped me to tone everything out and settle down and work just as I would if I was working here in Ontario using the tips above that I discussed. Cold Coronas were always a welcome reward for sticking to the plan!
I always love to find new books that can help me improve my overall business sense. Whether riding a bike or in my car, I often listen to ebooks. There have been many books out there that I have listened to, but two of my favourite ones on being focused and motivated are Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek and The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy by Chris Bailey. I highly suggest anyone who likes to read to tackle Simon Sinek’s and Chris Bailey’s books as they provide a great inside look on how some of the most influential businessman stay focused and on task and continue to be motivated by the work that they do.
There are many different tips and tricks that can be used when staying on task. The above are some of the few I use each and everyday to help me with my businesses. These tasks may not work for everyone, and some might even have a better more defined strategy that may be worth looking into. If you have other tips and tricks you would like to share with me or the readers please do!
Over the past couple of years, myself and my teammates at Content Refined (the content marketing business that Madeleine Taylor and I co-founded) have really nailed down how to write killer content and optimize it for ranking. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll remember when we analyzed some of our content’s data to find the best tools and techniques. There were a few articles about this—I’ll link at the end of the article.
Well, we actually had those results reviewed and confirmed by a real statistician with a Master of Science in Statistics from Texas A&M (so he, unlike me, actually has the piece of paper on the wall that says he knows how to analyze data).
Our experience in content creation combined with the statistician’s findings has really solidified our understanding of how to achieve awesome, rankable articles.
As always, I want to share this plethora of knowledge with you guys, so that you can implement some of this stuff into your own websites. Also as always, I hope you guys like graphs!
Refining systems and processes has absolutely been key to continued success with our content (hence the name, Content Refined). If you make a good systematic cycle, and stick to it regularly and efficiently, you’ll be heading in the right direction.
So here are the four steps for creating articles that work for us:
The foundation of our articles is a strong primary keyword that is highly probable of ranking. We find the right keyword, and create an article title around it.
Once the keywords and article titles are good to go, they’re sent out to some excellent writers.
Our editors are the final step before publication. A thorough quality check includes checking for plagiarism, editing the writing carefully, and running each article through a content gap analysis and keyword optimization tool.
Our publishers follow a standard protocol for nicely formatting articles with stock photography and ensuring search engine optimization.
Now, let’s break down these steps into a set of standards to abide by.
There are a lot of keyword research tools and methods out there.
With our data review (checking the content we’ve created against their real results), we have verified three essential components of each chosen keyword; (1) monthly search volume, (2) competition score, and (3) domain authority of competitors. So, when performing keyword research, we target the following measurements:
But remember, these measurements are flexible according to your content needs (eg. international location, site traffic, niche, etc.).
We have also verified that the most accurate keyword research tools currently available are SECockpit by SwissMadeMarketing, Ahrefs.com, and KWFinder by Mangools. These are the three tools we use to perform our keyword research.
It’s super important to maintain a strong team of excellent writers. We hire only native English writers (freelancers) who can pass a series of grammar and content creation tests. Plus, our relationships with writers are dependent on great communication and clarity of requirements.
We also frequently review and renew our writing team. Our general rule of thumb is to keep cutting out the bottom 10% (the writers who aren’t consistently awesome or are starting to slack off) and replacing them with new great writers.
Another thing to keep in mind is writing a minimum of 1000 words per article. It’s generally recommended for search engine ranking. Depending on your niche, you might need more than that. The keyword research should help you figure out how long your content needs to be.
An Editor really has to be a master of proofreading.
For us, we make sure that first, they run each article through a program that checks for plagiarism, ensuring that each article is truly original content. The tool we’re currently using for this process is CopyScape.
Then, they carefully go through each article, editing for spelling, grammar, flow, and readability.
Lastly, they run each article through a keyword optimization program to naturally weave in more secondary keywords wherever they can. This greatly helps in filling ‘content gaps’ that the writer may have missed. The tools we’re currently using for this process are CognitiveSEO and MarketMuse. Both tools have proven to increase the probability of ranking in search engines.
*note: In the MarketMuse vs. SERPFox graph: Negative MarketMuse Score was used instead of MarketMuse Score because of the ascending nature of MarketMuse Score (higher is better) vs. the descending mature of SERPFox Ranking (lower is better).
Publishing requirements tend to be subjective.
Everyone has their own processes for formatting and optimizing an article before publishing. However, we’ve set out a set of standards that we follow, that have proven to increase the probability of ranking.
Uploading a bunch of articles at least once per month and scheduling them out is the most efficient way we’ve found to stay on schedule and make sure that good content is always there.
If you hire a freelancer to do this publishing, I definitely recommend doing a quick quality check before hitting the actual ‘publish’ button.
Across all my sites, this is the system we use. These are the core processes used at Content Refined, and we’ve had continued success in getting content to rank and organic traffic to grow and grow. Check out these results from one site that Content Refined does all the content creation for (whose name we can’t share for privacy purposes). They started with no organic traffic, and with these processes, plus a great niche, they’ve been able to scale super fast.
It’s been amazing to watch Content Refined grow, expand teams, and nail down these processes. I do encourage you to check them out and jump on a call with Laura (our acting Business Manager while Madeleine is on maternity leave) to discuss content needs if that’s something you’re looking for.
Let me know what you think and if there’s anything that works really well for you!
Links to our previous data collection articles:
“Rank in Google with Certainty — 2 Metrics Reveal That You Will Definitely Rank Well in Google!” https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/rank-content-in-google-with-certainty/
“Rank in Google with Certainty? — Market Muse Review Updated Data Analysis” https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/rank-in-google-with-certainty-updated/
“Definitive — Best Keyword Research Tool to Determine Keyword Competitiveness” https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/best-kw-research-tool-keyword-competitiveness/
“New Ranking Data to Help Your Site Rank” https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/new-ranking-data-to-help-your-site-rank/