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!
Whenever I’m trying to gain some recognition for a young business, I put someone on my marketing team in charge of finding some low cost opportunities to promote the business online. That person performs a deep dive into our content niche and sources opportunities to find backlinks, get mentions on other pages, build connections with others in the industry, etc. It’s a time consuming effort, but in the long run it’s so worthwhile.
Take a simple backlink for example. In this graph, check out those two spikes. That’s from when we had new backlinks live from good authority sites. Even though our traffic dropped back down, consistent links and mentions over a long period of time will build up our own recognition in the industry, reputation in the niche, and our website’s authority.
A lot of the time, backlinks and mentions aren’t free. Leaders in the industry and high authority website owners are savvy to their power, so they’ll often charge a fee for that outbound link. This can range anywhere from $50 to $1000+ depending on the site. It depends on things like their traffic, the page that the link is going on, if you’re asking for an image or other content to accompany that link, etc. Sometimes you can get lucky, or you have a buddy with a high authority site that owes you a favor, but, more often than not, this is one more thing that you’ve gotta work into your marketing budget. (P.S. Don’t spend $1000 on a backlink.)
And then we tried something new.
Nowadays, it seems like every guy and his cousin run a podcast out of their garage. (“Hey, we are geniuses about Bill Murray movies and classic rock history—let’s start an Americana Movie & Music podcast!”) An April 2018 news article from Fast Company states that there are currently “over 525,000 active shows, with more than 18.5 million episodes available, including content in over 100 languages.” In the world of business, digital media, and marketing, there are literally thousands upon thousands of podcasts available. Plus, most of those include interviews with leaders in the field. So, with this in mind, my brain started spinning some ideas:
I had to test it. So I took to UpWork (my favorite place to find freelancers) and posted a couple of jobs. This was an initial trial, so we wanted to cover all the bases; we needed someone with some podcasting experience, maybe some PR experience, and digital media connections. Here’s the strategy: Offer this ideal person $50 for whatever podcast they can get us booked on. For someone who’s in a network of podcasters, it’s easy money.
After a couple of hours, there was radio silence (pun intended). 24 hours went by–still crickets. So I started actively searching on UpWork for freelancers who fit the description. I just searched for terms like “podcasting”, “podcaster”, “PR”, etc. A ton of people with good looking experience showed up right away. I invited them all to the job, and within about a day I had a few people working away! I asked them to look for podcasts that were specific to our field (in this case, ‘digital marketing’, ‘entrepreneurs’, and ‘start ups’, etc.).
The person doing this outreach usually has a tracking system, like this spreadsheet, where they can keep a record of everything. It’s a good way to make sure they’re following up with opportunities, getting things booked on schedule, and take notes of any new ideas.
Two months later, we’ve recorded FOUR podcasts! There are a few of these ‘podcast specialists’ working for us, actively seeking new shows for us to record on, and they’re happy to get $50 per booking. It’s perfect for us, because they do all the time consuming work, then we get our company name out there at a low cost, with in depth interviews about our company’s origin story. We also get to add a new podcast appearance to our media kit, which looks great. Plus, we get a backlink from the podcaster’s website. All this for $50 each.
This podcast hack has gotta be one of my favorites. If you give it a shot, leave me a comment about your experience!
Are you trying to find ways to increase your organic traffic and Google Rankings? Have you ever tried to do this with Infographics? If not- you should definitely give it a try! We use this strategy a lot on our own websites and it works!
Infographics are a really great way to build solid links for any of your websites. Infographics take a slightly different approach to SEO and are solely focused on amazing content and really nice graphics and design. We like to try and make infographics as useful as possible so that other websites will want to link to your site in return.
Like most projects, the initial planning and research phase for infographics creation is going to be the most important part of the process. The first thing you’re going to want to do is get to know your website and the niche it’s in. Figure out exactly what TOPICS are related to your niche, and what kind of information is going to be VALUABLE to your audience.
Make a LIST- This is is going to include a focus topics but also topics that are loosely associated with your niche. This is going to ensure that you can come up with different infographic ideas that might draw from different/closely related audiences.
Go through your list and do some internet research to figure out what people like, link to, and share. The best methods to do this are the following:
1- Check out Pinterest:
Pinterest is going to be an amazing resource since they are so visually inclined. Search your Topic+ infographic and see what comes up. Then check how many shares it gets and look at who is sharing and linking to them
2- Google Images search is always a good option and you’ll be able to figure out pretty easily who is linking and sharing these as well
3- Another great resource is Buzzsumo– which is an amazing online tool that will help you figure out what content is getting a lot of traction by topic or website. You can sort by all sorts of metrics including social shares which is of huge value
Get creative! Your titles are the biggest piece of marketing that you’re going to do so this is going to need to be eye-catching to the reader. Some examples
The general rule of thumb for article titles are that they shouldn’t be longer than 150 words. They should be attention grabbers and pose some sort of question o r fun fact or statement.
If you don’t have a writer already, use this SOP that we use internally to hire a writer
Please see the Step by Step guide on how to hire and assess writers via Upwork
Step 1. Log in to your upwork account
Step 2. Go to the Jobs tab and click on “post a job”
Step 3: Select “part time”
Step 4: Then- describe the job with the requirements for how to write your infographic – The infographic title should suffice.
Step 5: Select “ Pay a fixed price” and make your budget $10. You should be able to get a really good quality infographic for $10.
Step 6: Generally with our screening questions, we ask them to fix a sentence that is grammatically incorrect so that you can just skip over their profile and application if they answer badly.
Step 7: Click “ post job”. Don’t worry about cover letter
Yay! You’ve posted your job!
Step 1: Wait 12 hours and check your job posting, you should have a few freelancers on the list at this point when you check your job posting
Step 2: Click “Review proposals” and you will get to a list of those who have applied
Step 3: Things we look for
Step 4: If you find one you like and meets the metrics, click “ hire freelancer”
Once you get the Copy created for your infographic, you’re going to want to think about the DESIGN work for it. Now this is probably the part that is the most fun because you get to work with some pretty creative people. This is the Job posting we put on upwork for this.
We’re looking for an infographic designer to make great looking charts, graphs, and other infographics to go along with informative blog articles.
Ideal applicant must be:
– experienced and skilled in graphic design (please provide examples)
– experienced with Canva or another infographic creation program
– experienced with Photoshop
– available to work 15-20 hours per week
$10-$15 per infographic.
Applicant must be willing to perform a test assignment.
Now all you have to do is provide them with the COPY and let their creative side take over. I’ve always been happy with the different iterations I’ve received and designers are usually really great and taking your feedback.
What I usually like to do it make sure that I have a blog post or article that can support my infographic. Here is a list of tips about publishing:
1- Posting an infographic should happen at the beginning of the week ( on a Monday or Tuesday) A typical infographic life cycle is about 1 business week
2- If you’re doing an outreach effort with a vendor, make sure that you coordinate with them properly
3- To get more traction to your infographic, it can be worth buying paid traffic from sites like Reddit or StumbleUpon etc.. to get more social shares and links
4- Make sure that each infographic has Social Share Icons to make it easy for people to share. It will also help you measure what platforms are working best for you. For WordPress- use ShareBar which is a plugin that will give you advanced sharing options.
If you have any other tips with regards to the use of Infographics- feel free to share in the comments!
In January of 2017, I took over a site that was on a decline. Most of the time people run away from sites that have a downwards trend because they believe the site is a goner. More times than none, the site is just lacking quality, consistent links as well as good content. This article will go in detail on the “Dead Cat Strategy” and how you could turn your site around.
I was like most other people when it came to buying sites that looked like these. I was very hesitant and in most cases refused to buy, or put too low of a price tag for the seller to sell. This site fell into my lap and so I decided to do some digging and find a system the could help turn the site around. What usually happens when sites start to do a decline is owners build it up, set up the monetization and then leave it for a while, only to go back and look to see it plummeting in the rankings.
When I bought the site, I wanted to do small tests to see if there was any possibility of turning the site around before I put more of an investment into it. At the time of buying it, the site was only ranking for 461 keywords and according to SEMRush, only had 3 as its traffic. So, I went through the rankings and picked out the landing pages for some keywords that the site was already ranking well for (10-40 ranking).FREE Upgrade Content Template
I then asked my team to go to those landing pages and check out the content and run it through MarketMuse. Through MarketMuse I ran each article to see how they compared to other articles going after the same keyword. I found a lot of the content was very thin, and needed more words added to it. Once I did this within a few weeks I was able to see a few good bumps in the rankings. If you haven’t read my guide on how to do content upgrades, you can view that tutorial here.
After we saw the rankings increasing, I knew this site wasn’t a goner and just needed a bit hand holding to get it back on track. My team then did a bunch of keyword research and competitor analysis to find other keywords that my team could go after. Once this was completed, we put a good solid 10 additional articles on the site and have been rolling out 4-5 articles per month since then.
In conjunction to the articles being published on the site, I also had my team creating Done For You PBN sites as well as getting Use My PBN links pointed to keywords that were seeing a good increase in the rankings. After a few months (June 2017), we were seeing some great increase in both rankings and traffic.
After seeing the great results for this site, I bumped up the article creation to twice a week so 8 articles per month. I also continued to get the PBN links pointed to the articles but on top of that, I also did some genuine outreach and got a few good backlinks from other quality sites. Over the next 6 months, we continued with the links and the articles and almost tripled in traffic.
Overall, the site that I thought was doomed, has turned out to be a great test. Within 1 year, the site went from having traffic of 3 to over 20,000 as well as only ranking for 461 keywords to well over 6,000 keywords, a lot, which are in the top 1-3 position.
Now when I come across sites that are for sale that have a downwards trend I look at it more as an opportunity as in more times than none, the sites just been left alone for too long. There are still going to be the sites that are banned, deindexed or have spammy backlinks so make sure you check all of those before you buy but if everything looks clean, it may make a great investment.
Note – buying a site on a decline often stays on a decline so definitely a risk that needs to be sufficiently priced in if you are looking to buy. Sometimes I call this my “dead cat” strategy… if you can buy a site for cheap enough… kick it and see if it moves and if it moves give it some TLC… if it doesn’t move you can put it in the dumpster.