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.
Today I want to share something that’s been really useful for us, especially at Content Refined, to make proposals and contracts for clients. We had always done this in a pretty laid back way in the past – we would talk to the client over Skype or Zoom, and follow up with a recap of their needs via email. There might be some back and forth, and then we would send their payment link via email.
We still do some of that, but earlier in 2018 we started using this tool Qwilr to make things a lot more streamlined. One of our Project Managers, Mona, actually introduced us to this tool. It’s basically a drag-and-drop, intuitive document builder with awesome templates to work from. They have their own stock photography too, so you can switch up the backgrounds to make it more suited to your brand. The overall tone looks really hip, clean, and professional.
Now taking a closer look at each of those…
As to be expected, there’s a lot of subjectivity in the world of content creation. Everyone has different preferences for writing requirements, format and style of articles, publishing needs, etc. So this overview is a great way to let our clients know exactly what we do (and what we don’t do).
Full overview here:
This has been great to send out to people who have shown interest in our services, or who want to refer us to a colleague. It looks professional while detailing everything. Plus they’re directed to Laura to email any questions/hesitations or to book a call.
We do a lot of custom work for people who have particular requirements that differ slightly from our standard process. We’ve also started working on more long-term contracts for our clients, like 6 or 12 month commitments. So this sort of proposal is perfect for those as well.
They have an option where you can add an ‘accept’ button and/or a signature requirement at the end of the document for contracts.
We’ve been pitching the content upgrades more over the last few months, because it’s an offering that not many other content marketing companies are doing (especially at this level) so it really sets us apart. Then we started doing personalized cold outreach, so whoever was sending out the emails (Laura, one of the other Project Managers, or a Sales Rep) would have a proposal customized to them; it would include their bio, their contact info, and their booking link. Again, this is just a nice, professional, streamlined way to keep everything looking consistent with the Content Refined branding.
I’m not an affiliate or anything for Qwilr. I just wanted to share it with all of you guys because it’s been a great solution for streamlining some of these documents and proposals for us! What do you guys use to send out proposals and contracts, etc.? Let me know in the comments!
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.
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/
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!