Authority Website Income
Shares

Category Archives for Team Management

Guide to Publishing Articles on WordPress

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

 

Step 1: Login

  • In order to get to the login page for any site using WordPress, you need to add /wp-login.php to the end of the site url unless you have created a custom login link for security reasons.
  • You will then be brought to this page:

 

Step 2: Adding a new post to the website

  • Once you are on the sites dashboard page, you will need to go to either the left hand side and click on Post —> Add new post

Step 3: Inputting the article into the post

  • Enter the title of the article
  • Copy and Paste the content from the article into the body section

 

Step 4 : Editing articles

  • Before the article is uploaded to the site, we always like to run the article through MarketMuse to see how it compares to the other articles ranking for that keyword. If you don’t know how to use MarketMuse, we have a good tutorial here.
  • After we run it through MarketMuse, we then upload it to WordPress.
  • Ensure all subtitles are formatted to Heading 2 and any heading sections underneath each of those headings a Heading 3 and so on.
  • Ensure article is grammatically correct.

 

Step 5: Adding Images/Charts/Videos

1.Create images that are copyright free and that go with the article (use google free for use and modification images or photo stock service)

  • You will want to add 1-2 photos related to the article. You can use Google Image search and filter for “free for reuse”.
  • When adding the photo make sure you rename the title of the photo.
  • You will want to add your keyword as the Alt tag when uploading the content.

***** 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.

 2.  Please embed comparison tables using HTML and/or plugins

  • If you are comparing products or are creating a “5 best…” type articles, it is always best to add in a comparison chart.

3. Find and post relevant videos to the article if applicable

  • Most times there won’t be a video that needs uploaded but we add this in just in case. Sometimes if I am creating a review article, I may find a video of someone using that product.

Step 6: Add Internal and External Links

1. Finding authority sites in the same niche and link externally

  • Find some relevant popular terms in the article to link to authority sites. So for example, in this article we could link the keyword “graffiti” to the wiki page for graffiti – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graffiti
  • You can do this with different sites such as About.com, ehow, yahoo answers or any other general authority sites.
  • You will also want to add any monetization links that you have if applicable.

2. Link internally

  • Link internally to other article on the site. Don’t force it, it should be a natural link.

 

Step 7: Other Important SEO Work

1. Bold Keywords

  • Throughout the article you will want to bold the keyword. If the keyword is used a lot of times, stick to only bolding 2-3 times.

2. Add Tags

  • Add tags for the post
  • Use 2-4 tags that are related to the article.

3. Meta Description (SEO Pack or YOAST plugin)

  • Copy the Title of the post into the SEO Title Box
  • Add the first 1-2 sentences into the description box. Ensure that the keyword is near the beginning and that the sentences make you want to learn more.
  • In the keyword box, input your keyword you are wanting the article to rank for

4. Categories

  • IF there is a category, select the category (sometimes they won’t have one)

 

Step 8: Publish or Put into Draft Mode

  • Once you are done you can either publish the article or if you have a VA doing the work you can ask them to save it into draft mode for you to review before publishing. I do this for the first few when I hire a new VA to double check their work, but after I become confident in them I will tell them to just go ahead and publish.

Conclusion

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!

5 Tips for Managing Writers

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!

1. Hiring Writers

I’ve talked about this beforebut 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.

hire freelance writers

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.

2. The 10% Rule

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.

3. No Second Chances

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.

4. Keeping Organized: Spreadsheets!

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.

managing writers spreadsheet

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.

5. Consistent Payments

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.

paysheet timetable

Final Thoughts: Keep Your Writers Happy

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!

Benefits of Using a VA and Our Top 4 Uses for them!

When I first started off in the online world, I was working full-time at my day job as an Engineer. I would then come home each night to eat dinner and spend the rest of the night working away at my computer. My time was very limited to spend online so I had to make the most out of every minute. I quickly realized that the small tasks that were lower level were eating up my (very limited) time, and set out to find a solution to offloading some of those tasks away from me. I had used Upwork (Formerly ODesk) in the past with another job so I decided I wanted to find a VA on here that could help me.

If you haven’t read my post before on how I hire VA’s, you may want to take a look at that before setting out on this task.

This was a pivotal move in my online career that allowed me to free up my time to focus more on pushing businesses forward and doing the higher level tasks rather than holding the business back and pushing through the lower level activities on my own. This allowed me to work smarter, not so much harder. If anyone who is working online finds themselves doing a lot of repetitive tasks that could be offloaded with the use of a simple SOP to a VA, I highly recommend it.

I know a lot of people have had a hard time finding good VA’s and find that they are spending the same amount of time on hiring, training and handhold as they would to complete the task. But what they may not know, is once you find a good VA, the relationship gets easier, the ability to assign them more is fantastic and if you need to hire more down the road, that VA can train them. However, there are a few main points that will help you with being more successful when hiring a VA.

  1. Hire and fire fast – when hiring a VA, hire a few, give them a small task to see how quickly they do it and the quality in which they provide. Keep the top and fire the rest. Never hire just one VA and give them a big tedious task without measuring their ability on a smaller scale first. This will save you both time and costs. Here is an article I created in 2013 but has been update over the years on how to hire a VA.
  2. SOP/Training is key – Before even hiring anyone, ensure that you have an SOP or good training instructions for the VA to follow. This is like throwing them into the deep end without giving them instructions on how to swim. Most of the time a VA fails and it is preventable is due to inadequate training.

My Top 4 Uses for a VA That Saves Me Hundreds of Hours Each Year!

Data research

This is one thing I use VA’s for all the time. Wether its scoping out a niche I want to go into, gathering data off the internet and putting it into a Google sheet or any type of easy research, I highly recommend using a VA.

Publishing

While putting together content plans, I use VA’s all the time to help me with managing my blog posts across all my sites. Adding images, creating tags, dealing with formatting is all time that could easily be done by a VA and allows you to be more hands off. Yes you uploading one blog post here and there isn’t too big of an issue but if you are looking at uploading 5+ per month, save yourself some time and hire/train a VA to take this task off your hands.

Here is an SOP that we use when we hire new VA’s to upload content.

Sending Client Invoices

Another part of my business that I found I was spending time on was creating invoices for clients (my current billing system doesn’t automatically generate these). They often would take only a few minutes to do each but as more and more were needed, I desperately needed to find a way to offload them to someone else so I create a simple SOP on how to fill out the proper details. Now all I need to do is send him an email once an invoice is needed.

WordPress Support

As with many people who are in the online space, there is some aspect of web development or WordPress that you could use a little hand with. Whether it’s installing plugins and themes, site maintenance or troubleshooting, a VA that has some skills in this area is a definite bonus. With having so many sites, it’s hard to keep track of them all and ensure they are all running smoothly, so having a VA going in to check on each site is a great way to not lose out on

Conclusion

A VA can be a great fit for people who find themselves struggling for time by freeing up some of your workload to allow for some bigger important tasks to have your attention. If you use a VA I would love to hear more about what tasks you use them for. If you don’t use a VA, I would love to hear why.

If you have never used a VA I HIGHLY recommend starting the process of hiring fast and firing fast until you have only the best on your team!

How to Share Passwords with Team Members – The Safe Way

As your business grows and your team expands, there could be a lot of passwords that need to be shared across team members. But what happens if you fire one of your team members? How do you know what passwords to change and how it will possibly affect your business?

Over the last year, I have thought about this dilemma and have tightened my teams security levels across all business’ and have worked hard to put in place systems so that if one member leaves, it can easily be mitigated and the impact to myself and the businesses are minimal. There are a lot of moving points in my businesses but password protection is something that can be fixed with the proper hand holding the start. The solution; password management system.

Don’t get me wrong, this process took a bit to get into place and took a while to get all team members on board and using it correctly. But at the end of it all, our security when it comes to passwords is stronger than it ever has been and the ability to deal with people leaving has become a lot easier and less worrisome.

Before when someone left, we would have to change all passwords ever shared with them, then we would have to send the new passwords out to team members. Now with a password management system, we just upload the new password in one spot and those that we have allowed to use that tool will have the updated password there for them the next time they need it. No need to send passwords over emails!

Below I have listed 3 of the top password management systems you could use to implement into your systems.

Top 3 Password Management Systems

LastPass

LastPass is a great password management tool to use. It works with a variety of different browsers and is also available on iPhone, Android and Google devices, which is convenient if you are not at your computer. LastPass upon signing up makes you and your team members set up a your master password, this will be the only password anyone on the team will need to remember and this is set by the individuals so no two team members will have the same master password. Upon signing into their account with their master password, they will also need to set up two-factor authentication. This will provide even further protection because if someone can guess your password, they would need the two-factor authentication code in order to enter your account.

With LastPass, you will have a central control system where you will be able to setup, manage and edit different teams and team members. You can only share specific passwords with them members that need it.

The passwords are all encrypted with  AES-256 bit with PBKDF2 SHA-256 and salted hashes to ensure complete security in the cloud. This means even people at LastPass will never be able to access any of your passwords, keeping it safe. The two things about LastPass that are unique and very helpful is it seems to have the best activity audit and can have people use the password without actually being able to see it.

  • Available on all browsers and mobile devices
  • Each member creates their own unique master password which grants them access to the teams passwords
  • Two Factor Authentication for added security measures
  • Central control system to easily see team members and the passwords they have access too.
  • AES-256 bit encryption for security in the cloud.

Here is the pricing for LastPass:

1Password

1Password is quite similar to LastPass in terms of features and usability. 1Password doesn’t have a Two-Factor Authentication factor available, however upon your team members setting up their account, they will be provided with a 128-bit identifier which will be their secret key. And since it never gets sent to you or your teammates, your secret key can’t be reset, intercepted, or evaded, unlike two-factor authentication. Another differences is with 1Password, it allows you to delegate responsibilities to your business leads so they can manage their own teams with custom groups and vaults. Again, just like LastPass, it works on all types of browsers through an extension or computer app, as well as it being available for most phones through the app store and is accessed by the team members independent master password. 1Password major difference is it is a more user friendly and slightly less expensive when compared to LastPass.

  • Each team member creates their own master passwords which allows them to view all passwords they have access too.
  • 128-bit secret key will be presented upon signing up, and will be used if you cannot remember your master password and you need to reset it.
  • Allows you to give business leads the ability to manage their own teams by allowing them to share passwords and well as managing members in each group.
  • AES 256 encryption technology is used when storing your passwords.

Here is their pricing:

 

TeamPassword

TeamPassword is also available on all different types of internet browsers and mobile devices just like LastPass and 1Password. Like, LastPass, Google Two-Factor Authentication is required in order to access your account after you input your master password. Get email notifications whenever someone adds or removes any team member, you can also use this to get notified whenever new passwords are added. You can also view an activity log of all passwords which, allows you to see when passwords were used and by whom. TeamPassword also uses AES-256 bit encryption which is the top of the line encryption for passwords when storing them in the cloud.

  • Works on all browsers and mobile devices. Just download the extension on your browser or the app through your mobile devices.
  • Google Two-Factor Authentication required after inputting your master password
  • Get email notifications when team members are added and removed or when new passwords are added to the system.
  • Activity and logging allows you to see which passwords are being used and which ones aren’t and when they were accessed, allow you complete knowledge of your teams usage.
  • AES-256 bit encryption for all passwords

Here is their pricing:

 

Final Comments

As with any new system, it takes some getting use to and takes a little hand holding to get setup. But once setup, sharing passwords with team members and revoking passwords has never been simpler.

If you have used any of these which ones your go to? If there is another one I should add, please let me know!

 

2 Employee Thefts – Over 6 Figures – How to Prevent

Well it has been a weird few weeks here!

I am going to share some personal painful stories here…

Two businesses (not adbank) have both had issues of employee theft which is a first for my business! We are not talking hundreds of dollars but over 6 figures!

I won’t get into the exact details but one is solved and one is in the process of being solved.

The key anytime we have a major f-up in our business is to dig in and understand why it was allowed to occur, if the risk of it occurring again is worth putting in stronger systems.

This article will cover the 2 scenarios the systems that were in place and why they failed plus the 5 keys everyone should do if they have any team members with access to hurting your business financially.

Swiss Cheese Model for Losses:

One of the ways I like to think about the risk mitigation systems inside my business is the Hazards – Losses path through multiple layers of swiss cheese. No system can be completely bulletproof but the idea is if all layers are in place and working the probability of all holes lining up is very low.

Failure 1: Speed vs Control Accepted Risk

An employee wired himself funds, oversight was not in place fast enough.

There were 3 layers of mitigation

  • Mitigation #1 – Trusted employee & controlled access
    • Never a sufficient mitigation on its own!
  • Mitigation #2 – Accountant monitoring monthly numbers
    • The accountant was unfortunately months behind not revealing the problem.
  • Mitigation #3 – Bookkeeper/Controller onboarded
    • The controller for the business was not up to speed fast enough leaving a window of time where things would go undetected.

In the end we were not pushing the pace fast enough on the 2 financial oversight systems resulting in a window for theft to occur.

Although this was the far larger of the 2 thefts it is one where no major systems upgrades are needed as there was some acceptance of risk due to prioritization and low probability of someone repeating with the systems that were too slow to get in place now in place.

  • Note – All funds from this theft have been recovered + consideration for time/fees.

Failure 2: Execution

Although the dollar amount is smaller than failure/theft #1 this one has me much more upset.

This was a known risk we had put many barriers against but the systems all failed in the same way to allow this to occur.

  • Mitigation #1 – Trusted long term team member & controlled access
    • Clearly this is not enough to rely on blindly! This employee has been with me for YEARS and involved on multiple projects.
  • Mitigation #2 – Daily Revenue and Expense Monitoring – Temporarily Not Active
    • During this time we had taken a break from the daily expense tracking due to workload in other areas
  • Mitigation #3 – Weekly unit economics review – Didn’t Validate
    • This one is frustrating as this practise was created with the intent of being able to quickly detect any issue however the theft was paired with forged numbers that were not validated. Human error on compliance to the process for validation of the numbers was the reason this mitigation failed.
  • Mitigation #4 – Monthly PnL statements and review – Not setup on new system
    • We have been in the process of upgrading our proper monthly PnL and as a result were not in a position to review them. Getting these completed slipped down the priority list and as a result allowed this issue to continue.

Note – All funds have not been recovered, the length we will go to will be unreasonable 🙂

 

5 Steps to Take:

  • Financial Risk & Access Control Matrix
      1. There are a lot of potential attack vectors. Having an organized control list of all the places that someone could impact you financially and then understanding who currently has access is key. There are the obvious locations like bank account, paypal but then you also need to think about the revenue sources Amazon Account, AdSense account etc. Plus, don’t forget places where funds could be improperly sent from Fiverr, UpWork etc. Don’t forget your websites that make the money, swapping out an affiliate link on a few pages can be another source of theft that is harder to detect.
  • Agreements Updated
      1. Ensuring compensation agreements are in writing is key to ensure there can be no debate about the amount of funds received.
  • Have Contact Information Handy
    1. For anyone with access to money you should have accurate information on them including name, ID, phone number, address etc.
  1. Proper Login & Password Management
    1. Managing logins for a team is a daunting task! 1Password and LastPass are the tools we use for a couple different projects. The key is to be able to quickly turn on/off access while controlling the ability to provide access through either the tool as a user (with the login still in the password management system) or shared access via a password management system. Strong random never reused passwords and 2FA activated whenever possible goes beyond just internal theft but is one of the most basic steps to avoiding theft from hackers.

Conclusion:

I hope you haven’t experienced any issues like these. My hope is sharing these unfortunate events and what I have learned will be helpful in preventing future problems for you or if problems do occur arming you with what you need to resolve quickly.

 

Please share any other suggestions on how to help protect your business!