Today Content Refined turns 2.5 years old and Maddie has recently shared a BIG post about the journey!
Read about the entire journey here – Content Marketing Company
Plus they just had a video produced to help people learn more about Content Refined…
In this post I want to share 3 lessons I have learned from my position (idea identification, initial system architecture and assembling/stewarding the team).
In the summer of 2016 Maddie joined my team with the mandate of systematizing the content creation process for my portfolio of sites. She killed it!
From that effort we decided to launch Content Refined as a content marketing company.
I documented that launch when I announced it in this post – https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/content-marketing-strategy-launch-business/
It grew incredibly well, achieving 10% week over week growth for the first few months.
There have certainly been a fair number of challenges/opportunities and in this post I hope to share from my perspective what the 3 most significant lessons were.
For everyone that reads this site they know I LOVE systems. Systematized business processes and systematic solutions to problems are core values for the business.
However, despite the engineers desire in me to build a system that doesn’t require great people to run it never happens. Great systems allow great people to execute better.
As I significantly shifted my focus in 2017 to adbank my core businesses needed to be managed and any business where there was a manager responsible for running the business did well. However any business that was solely dependent on a system went off the rails.
Maddie grew the business, Laura managed it while Maddie was on mat leave and I have had limited ongoing involvement. No system could have been built to adapt to the changed and achieved what the team has achieved!
Content Refined has been a great business with significant initial success and very solid longer term performance. But as with any recurring revenue business that is non-essential, churn is the enemy!
Trying to keep growth moving while fighting churn is a never ending battle and can be very unmotivating.
Sometimes even solid months feel like this…
For anyone who ever wants to dig more into recurring revenue business models this is the best article on any subject ever and it focuses on metrics – https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/
Congruent has been my favourite business word for awhile. Ensuring the people, value proposition and systems are all aligned congruently is critically important.
Building that congruence around the set of strengths that makes you unique and focusing on it has been where our biggest successes have come from and also, when we drifted, where our biggest failures occurred.
For Content Refined, the effort around data analysis (to determine what tools/metrics give our content the best predictive ability to perform well in Google) has been very rewarding. Trying to broaden and sell other services where our set of strengths didn’t align didn’t get off the ground in a significant way (for example, an email marketing service to existing clients).
Being accountable for results and not just words, as a content marketing company that uses data (and the thousands of articles we’ve already published) to continually refine what is working now, is what has Content Refined clients loving the service.
I hope my view on the 3 key lessons while stewarding the growth of Content Refined has been useful.
If you have any content marketing needs be sure to book a free call with Maddie or Laura… they often share some pretty incredible and specific to your site insights on those calls! You can book here if there is availability.
It has been a very busy 1.5 years in my business with the majority of my personal focus being on the blockchain ad tech project adbank.network. Today we have launched something new and I wanted to share the story behind it on the first day it launches (despite the ironic timing this is not an April fools joke).
You can see the result of the last year of work here – BLADE ad block & reward extension (just went live)
(note please use referral code – c0903255-a8b2-32f6-3466-7d96fce1b64f)
The total amount people will earn for browsing the web with BLADE installed is estimated to grow to ±$15/month – enough to cover a streaming services cost!
The rest of my businesses have mostly continued to run well (especially the ones where a great manager/team was in place – Kelley, Maddie, Laura etc). However, some of the projects have suffered… my personal portfolio has had some struggles with limited oversight on management (more on that in another post).
Today I want to share some of the exciting work that is being done by adbank and how we think it will change the landscape of digital advertising…plus how it can directly benefit you!
If digital advertising is the monster industry it is and you the end user/audience are a significant part of the value created why don’t you have any control over the process?
Seems like we should have more control over the process.
If you want to learn more about what BLADE is you can check it out here but here is the simple explanation…
The simple story is once you install the browser extension (BLADE) you will start getting rewarded for seeing ads in Cryptocurrency.
(note please use referral code – c0903255-a8b2-32f6-3466-7d96fce1b64f)
Free to download and use + earn crypto (ADB) for browsing the web like you normally do!
I often talk about incentive alignment when working on any business and really like what Charlie Munger says…
Within the BLADE ecosystem here is how each of the actors are incentivizes…
How Users / Audience (anyone who installs and uses BLADE) Benefit:
How Advertisers Benefit:
How Publishers Benefit:
For such a simple concept… ad block extension that rewards you for viewing ads… a lot has gone in to make it happen.
For those interested here are a few of the challenges the team overcame.
To give you a little behind the scenes on what we have built to make all of this work there are
Checkout BLADE on the first day it is live HERE!
It’s been a while since we’ve had a post like this. Your opportunity to join the team!
Over the past couple of months we’ve been sharing some more info about Content Refined. That business is in an interesting place right now, because we’re 2 successful years in and can now really find some solid footing for the future. We’re always trying new marketing initiatives, which will continue as we keep growing and building.
What we are most excited about is scaling a unique strategy to identify our ideal audience and a new offering we have already seen substantial product/market fit with!
We are seeing a lot of success and scalable potential in these Pareto Content Upgrades, which is what I went into detail about a couple weeks ago. I won’t go fully into the details again, but it’s really beneficial for clients to have their existing content worked on and improved for consistent and higher rankings. So we’ve developed a B2B-focused service offering based on that need. This high demand, systematized through our processes (which are proven to be effective), will allow Content Refined to continue to scale in the field that we know best: content marketing.
We’re at the point now where we have the processes, we have a system worked out, but we need help to scale. We are looking for someone to fulfill an enterprise-level sales role for this offering. So, if you want to get involved, or you know someone who would be awesome for this position, please check out the job description below and send a note to our acting Business Manager, Laura Day, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ContentRefined.com is a growing content marketing company (HQ in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada) specializing in results-focused content marketing.
We are accountable to our clients for results and not just words!
Our unique focus on using data to predictably create content that will perform well for our clients is an exciting opportunity for an enterprise/B2B focused digital marketing sales rep.
We are looking to capitalize on recent success with a new system/offering and aggressively grow the business.
The role we are looking to hire for is an outside sales rep to take a proven strategy and grow it.
We look forward to hearing from you if you think you might be a fit!
Please email your resumé and cover letter to Laura Day at email@example.com.
We don’t do much of the “fill out this form”, “how did we do today?”, or “rate our services online” stuff for my businesses. We usually go for more of a personal touch. When we ask for feedback, it’s more direct through emails or phone calls with clients. So, how do you gather that feedback as data to assess client needs and the future of your business?
Today I want to talk about those changing needs and determining direction.
Track your expenses and income. Hire an accountant if you’re not great with numbers and/or don’t have the time yourself. And don’t forget about that bottom line. If you’re spending too much on a service or offering, and people aren’t paying enough for it (or not enough people are interested in it), then you know something’s wrong. Maybe you can cut some of your expenses and rebuild that offering in a way that makes sense financially. Or, hey, maybe that offering is done and it’s time to move on to something else. I know I’m painting this as very black and white, but it really does help to take a step back, look at the numbers, and determine whether an offering is worth it based on the revenue (or lack of revenue) that it’s bringing in.
One of the tricky parts here is timing. I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this in the comments as well. Personally, we track and review numbers across all teams weekly. If something is outside of the safe zone, we talk about it in our weekly business meeting. If that continues for a few weeks, we talk more seriously about it. If a few months go by and we’re clearly wasting our time and resources, it’s time to make a drastic change.
Obviously I can’t share our spreadsheets here, but you’ll need to create a document with your own financial goals in mind that can be updated on a weekly basis. Include sales and analytics as needed for your business.
So that’s one objective way to see whether your service/offering or product is working for your clients. But how do we see it coming before wasting that time and those resources?
I can use Content Refined as an example here. Content Refined is primarily a content marketing company that works on a monthly subscription-based content creation cycle. Madeleine, our Co-Founder and Business Manager, was finding that she was getting a lot of “custom” requests for upgrades to existing content on clients’ websites. These clients had content already on their site that they needed someone to go through, clean up, and ‘refresh’ to help it rank higher. So, that request came in enough times that Maddie thought, “Hey, we need to make this a real offering, not just a special custom thing we do when people ask for it.”
We figured out our pricing needs and built the system around ‘content upgrades’. Now it’s front and centre on the home page of Content Refined’s site.
Word of warning: you do have to take all requests with a grain of salt. There’s a fine line between being flexible and bending over backwards. Custom requests only work if the numbers work. So you have to be careful at how far you bend your standards to meet client needs.
Which brings me to my next point.
It’s extremely difficult to expand out to new service offerings when you’re still working on mastering the original one. Until you’ve got a great system worked out for your business and you’re handling everything on your plate really well, don’t try to start something new. Pretty reasonable, right?
To be a master in your field, you’ve gotta stay on top of the trends and news in your industry, and really do your research. Especially in the digital world, things are moving so quickly that it’s hard to stay relevant. Check out what’s going on in conferences, and get in the networks with the top players in your field. This way you can figure out what you should be offering before your clients are even looking for it.
To continue with our example of Content Refined, we constantly look at trends in the content marketing world. With anything SEO related, you really have to look at the data and figure out which tools and methods are the most effective. Last year around this time we did all kinds of data analysis on all the content that we had created for clients. Then we had a statistician go through everything to confirm our findings. Right now we’re in the process of going through everything again to renew those findings and update any strategies as necessary based on the results. By continuing to evaluate our business with the actual data, we’re able to stay focused in our field while maintaining great results for our clients.
Assessing client needs is super important to keeping your business relevant and growing. It can take your business in new directions that you may have never foreseen. Have you had experience with something like that? Leave me your stories in the comments!
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.
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!