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Summer Content Plan Failure and How to Fix!

Summertime is around the corner. For me this usually means long weekends at the cottage, outside activities with my wife and kids- like hiking, biking and boating and also just some general vacation time. I’ve always been an outdoorsy guy so the summer is a great time to recharge and reap the benefits of our area, especially since it doesn’t last too long here in Canada!

Although the down time is really nice, it unfortunately has come at the expense of some of my businesses- especially the ones that are relatively low maintenance and are easy to fall off my radar.  I’ve had a long history of taking my foot off the gas pedal during the summer when it has come to my content sites, which for some sites has lead to irreversible traffic declines and lost revenues!

Over the years I have noticed a consistent decline starting in or around June and July which coincides with the beginning of summer. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a guy who is pretty data oriented and systems focused- so this predictable decline is annoying to me. What’s more annoying is that it is entirely my fault. If I had just taken a little bit of time to get in front of my content strategy and systematized the content creation process then I could have saved myself (and my sites) the hit that we ended up taking.

Take a look as some of these screenshots- none of these sites have recovered fully from these declines!

So what are my takeaways for this year? I’m going to get in front of my content creation strategy and systematize the content creation and publishing on my money sites so that I don’t even have to think about it this summer while I’m taking some time off. I’ve leveraged my team at Content Refined come up with a great plan that they will execute over the next 5 months so that it’s completely hands free for me.

Take a look at my spreadsheet for all of my money sites for the summer! I’ll quickly use one of my sites as an example to show you what I’ve done. And hey don’t steal my Keywords! 🙂 I’ll give you this sheet or free at the bottom of this article so that you can create your own plan!

Step 1:

Figure out how many articles you want published on a monthly basis. For this particular site, I have steady traffic already and am just looking to maintain. I figure 6 articles per month at 1000 words each will be sufficient in keeping the momentum I need around this size of site.

Current Traffic:

2. Conduct Keyword Research for your Niche.

The Team at Content Refined has engineered my site and separated it into the pillar topics. This is to make sure that every section of my site will get some content throughout the summer. They’ve picked the keywords and assigned the month of production to each

Step : 3 Make sure the metrics are understood and aligned with your goals!

Search Volume and competition are super important when it comes to picking keywords that will predictably rank on search engines. The gold standard that Content Refined uses is searches above 500 per month with a competition of under 30% are most likely to rank top 10!

We leverage other tools such as marketmuse to pull the average content score and the average word count that we should be targeting for each article. This way the writer assigned to each article knows how long it should be and what kind of content score we expect when we run it though marketmuse. If an article exceeds the average content score it is more likely to outrank the competition !!!

Step 4: Pick your plan!

I’ve opted to have the team at Content Refined deliver these on a monthly basis and update the spreadsheet accordingly. Alternatively I could have had these articles created all at once and then scheduled out on a weekly basis. The team is pretty flexible and can work with your budget and needs.

Now I’ve got my summer content plans ready to go and a system in place to make sure that my content creation strategy doesn’t fall off the priority list. I’m really stoked that I got in front of my content marketing goals for the summer and I think this will help avoid the trend. So what are you waiting for?

Download my spreadsheet for free: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1DjC0ir8UqigcXwa-nJrPTt2Mz2UPG_Vqk_Psy0PWz64/edit#gid=0

To have your summer content strategy taken care of, visit https://www.contentrefined.com/summer-special/ and have a chat with them on how they can do this for your sites!

3 Lessons after 2.5 Years into building ContentRefined.com

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).

Background:

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.

Lesson 1: Systems Can’t Replace People!

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!

Lesson 2: Churn is a Moral Sapingl!

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/

Lesson 3: Focus on your Strengths in a Congruent way!

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.

content refined business management

Summary

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.

Rewarding You For Seeing Ads – BLADE.Software Ad Block Extension

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)

Download Chrome Extension HERE

(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!

 

The Big Question We Have Been Wrestling With…

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?

  • Why don’t you directly get rewarded for the ads you see?
  • Why aren’t you in control of the tracking done to you while browsing?
  • Why aren’t your incentives aligned with the other actors in the digital advertising transactions you participate in daily?

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…

 

Be In Control & Get Paid!

The simple story is once you install the browser extension (BLADE) you will start getting rewarded for seeing ads in Cryptocurrency.

 

 

Download Chrome Extension HERE

(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!

 

Incentive Alignment – BLADE (Blockchain Advertising Ecosystem) built on adbank

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:

  • Browse the internet like you normally do and get paid in Cryptocurrency for the ads you see
  • Turn on/off ad block functionality
  • Experience a faster internet with the most obnoxious ads blocked

 

How Advertisers Benefit:

  • Pay a smaller fee to middlemen
  • Real users view your ads (not bots and reduced ad fraud) due to KYC required for users

 

How Publishers Benefit:

  • Currently publishers receive no direct benefit if a visitor to their website has an adblock extension installed. Some of these adblock extensions have over 500 million installs! With BLADE we record what sites a visitor was on when they earned ADB and keep track to reward the publisher as well.

 

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.

 

Some of the Innovations to allow BLADE to happen.

To give you a little behind the scenes on what we have built to make all of this work there are

  1. AdBlock Extension That Places an Ad in Your Browser – Not just a standard adblock extension was needed but also one that identified the size/location and could place a relevant ad on your browser without impacting the user experience.
  2. Ad Server Connected to the Ethereum Blockchain – To ensure transparency and allow the rewards to flow through to all parties the ads are served on an ad server (adbank.network) that is connected to the Ethereum Blockchain.
  3. Cryptocurrency Efficiently Sending Rewards – Sending micro-payments to over 100 countries and thousands of users on a monthly basis is a financial system nightmare. However, with BLADE integrating a unique solution with a couple smart contracts makes this process automatically happen with minimal transaction costs!
  4. Patent Pending AI to monitor blockchain transactions for ad fraud – I won’t get into the details here but you can read about it here. Bottom line is as digital advertising moves onto a blockchain solution there will be a need to monitor those transactions for fraud and applying AI/machine learning to monitor will prove to be very valuable!

Checkout BLADE on the first day it is live HERE!

(note please use referal code – c0903255-a8b2-32f6-3466-7d96fce1b64f)

 

Career Opportunity for New B2B Offering at Content Refined

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 laura@contentrefined.com.

content refined logo

Position Highlights

  • Located Anywhere (be available during EST working hours)
  • High Growth Potential
  • Base + Commission
  • Unique Client Acquisition Strategy!
  • Leading Edge Content Marketing Strategies (not selling $/word here!)
  • Report to Founder

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.

Capabilities:

  • Initiate calls / outreach to list of potential clients
  • Utilize CRM to document all customer activity.
  • Articulate ideas in a clear, concise manner.
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills.
  • A reliable worker who desires both individual and company-wide success.
  • Must have knowledge of digital marketing (specifically content marketing)
  • Be comfortable/motivated working in an incentive and reward-based environment

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Ability to close sales
  • High levels of ambition
  • Have previous experience with Enterprise/B2B sales success

Compensation and Logistics:

  • Base Salary + Commission based on experience.
  • Must be willing to work during Canadian business hours

Additional Benefits:

  • Team is filled with amazing people – Maddie, Laura, Mona, Adriane etc
  • Already proven system delivering real results
  • Not selling $/word but a unique proven system already being used on some of the biggest websites in the world
  • Average order size >5k resulting in substantial commission opportunity per sale

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 laura@contentrefined.com.

Assessing Client Needs for Business Growth – The Smart Way!

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.

crunching numbers business accounting

1. The Numbers Don’t Lie

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?

2. Create Products/Services Based on Repeated ‘Custom’ Client Requests

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.

 

assessing business needs

3. Dominate Your Field Before Expanding Out

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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