Let's assume you understand your clients NEED content, and you see the writing on the wall about content marketing being the future. You're 100% committed to making your firm a first class content provider. So now what? You quickly realize that, in order to scale your content business, you'll need the right tools to make the process efficient and organized. You decide to jot down the various actions required for each client project, along with the tool/program you'll use to get it done:
Right about now, after identifying the 7th separate tool you'll need, your initial excitement is replaced with a sinking feeling. There are way too many tools to manage. You have neither the staff nor the time to manage or game plan all these different steps and nor learn the intricacies of the different platforms . And you still haven't even figured important content questions like:
You quickly realize this will NOT work. What you need is one comprehensive, yet simple system that combines ALL the necessary tools and writers you need to manage your clients' content projects from start to finish.
Let's imagine what this ultimate content platform might look like.
If you wanted to build the ideal content platform, the first step would be to identify a simple, yet flexible process. The ideal system would walk you through the process in a simple, step by-step format, and provide all the tools and people you need to get quality, predictable results every time.
Here are the required steps for any successful content project you may manage on behalf of a client:
Let's take a closer look at each of these steps in the process. and see how the ideal system would help you accomplish each one.
The first step with any content project is to find out what your client wants. With the right tools and the right process, you can develop a quick content strategy for each client without a lot of time or stress on your end. It's always a good idea to do an initial kick-off call with the client, but this call usually is not the best way to find out what the client really wants. Instead, the best strategy is to send the client a simple questionnaire that helps them organize their thoughts into a coherent set of instructions you can then convey to the writers.
The Ideal System would... allow you to create custom questionnaires, with text fields, drop downs, multiple choice, and other types of questions. Then, the system would let you send this questionnaire to your client with one click, so he/she could fill it out and submit it back to you.
Once your client submits their questionnaire, now it's time to use that info to create some clear and concise GENERAL instructions for the writers. It's important to take a few extra minutes to clearly and concisely explain what you want the writers to do. The better instructions you provide the writers, the better chance your client will be happy with the content they receive.
The Ideal System would... provide you an organized way to convey detailed instructions to your writers.. It would store those instructions for all future titles ordered within that project so you don't need to fill it out every time you want to place another order for similar content in the future.
Now it's time to get more specific and come up with a list of all the general page topics you might want to write about for the client - now or in the future. The best way to do this is by researching keyword data. That's because keyword data will tell you what topics people are interested in. If no one's searching for it, then it's probably not worth writing a page of content about it!
The Ideal System would... have an integrated topic research tool that lets you quickly identify the best topics to write about for each client, and then store them in a master topic List. This tool would include the monthly search volume and competition score of each keyword so you can also decide which topics make sense to target from an SEO standpoint as well. The system would then give you the option to send this list to your client so they can approve the topic list before proceeding with the rest of the content development process.
Once you've identified the general topics you'll be writing for your client, the next step in the process is to develop your list of actual page titles you'll be posting or assigning to the writer(s). For article or blogs, this would be the headline for the post. For whitepapers. e-books, or other forms of content, this would be the title of the document. While creating interesting, engaging titles can take time, it's definitely time well spent. Great titles are crucial for 3 important reasons:
The Ideal System would... make it easy to create interesting, engaging titles. It would allow you to manually create titles based on your general page topics, and would also have a title suggestion tool which would allow you to see what titles other sites on the web are creating - to give you ideas for titles you may not have thought of yourself.
Now it's time to get your titles assigned to the best writer. This is the stage where most content firms fall short. One of the most important factors that will determine your success as a content agency will be your ability to quickly find, sample, and manage a pool of top quality writers. However, the choices today are less than ideal. Hiring full time writers may sounds good, but this is the most time-consuming and expensive route. Searching for freelancers, or using other general freelance project platforms like elance, odesk, or guru, can also be cumbersome when it comes to managing content projects. These platforms are not designed specifically for content projects and lack many crucial components you'll need.
The Ideal System would... include an integrated writer marketplace that would give you access to thousands of U.S. based, pre-screened writers. The system would make it simple, fast, and risk-free to sample and compare these writers so you can find the ones that fit your needs. It would allow you to set the price you want to offer writers and you'd only have to pay if you like their work. If you like what you see, it would allow you to save that writer to a favorites list so you could assign future titles directly to that writer. The system would have simple communication tools that would let you develop close, long-term relationships with your team of writers, just as if they were working full time in your office, but without having to increase your payroll.
After posting or assigning your titles to the writers, the next step is to review the content (if required) and forward to your client for their review and approval. The amount of time required for editing will be directly related to the quality of writing you're getting from your writers. As with anything else, the more you pay your writers, the better quality you'll get. The better quality the writing, the less editing time will be required. Once you've built a team of writers you know and trust, you may feel comfortable skipping the editorial review process altogether, and forwarding content directly to your clients. If you want to grow and scale your content development capability, this editorial process is one main reason you'll need an extremely efficient and streamlined system that makes it easy for multiple people to quickly review each page and either approve, request revisions, or reject each page of content.
The Ideal System would... streamline the content review and revision process. It would give you (the agency) the option to either have completed content sent to you for review, or directly to your client, or both. When the writers complete their work, the system would notify you and let you review the content. If it requires revisions, your editor could fix small issues, or the editor could choose to send it back to the writer to fix major issues.
The final step is to get your content published. This may be on your client's site, or it could be on a 3rd party site like an article directory.
The Ideal System would... make it easy to export your content in a wide variety of formats so you can quickly publish it to the platform of your choice. It would allow you to publish directly to popular platforms like WordPress and Hubspot with just a few clicks.
Any company thinking of selling content to their clients will also need to answer the following questions:
Content is no different than any other product or service you purchase. You get what you pay for. Your content packages should take this into account by offering your clients a few simple choices when it comes to quality VS price. The best way to do this is to offer three "Service Levels" where each level would cost the client more, but would provide them with additional benefits, the most important of which, is a higher-rated writer.
Here's an example of this type of content package offering. You could simplify the selections above by removing any of the columns above you don't feel are necessary.
|Service Level||Writer Rating||Initial Consultation||Research & Time Invested||Target Keywords / Page||Revision Requests / Page||Phone Support|
|Basic||30 mins||Standard||1 Primary||1||20 mins|
|Professional||1 hour||High||1 Primary
|2 rounds||1 hour|
Over the last decade, SEO has thankfully evolved from consisting of sneaky tricks designed to game search engine algorithms, into simply focusing on creating unique, interesting, and engaging content. Google and other search engines have made it clear that when you focus on quality content, you'll be rewarded in the long run with lots of inbound links, and higher ranks. Therefore, when creating content for your clients, don't worry too much about optimizing and just focus on writing for the PEOPLE that will be reading it! That being said, Google does permit a certain level of basic onpage optimization. There are several on-page SEO concepts, but the two most important when it comes to developing content are:
In most surveys of SEO experts, the title tag is consistently ranked as the most important on-page SEO factor. Therefore, whenever possible, try to include your keyword in the title of the page and use that same page title as your title tag.
Google sees a benefit to their search engine when you include the keyword every now and then in your content. However, don't overdue it or else:
The Ideal System would... build SEO right into the process by providing an integrated keyword research tool to help you find the best keywords (topics) to write about for each client. Then it would give you the option to create optimize page titles around those topics. Finally, it would give you the ability to choose the keyword density you want your writers to use when writing each page.
You'll need to have an efficient way of keeping everyone on your team up-to-date on the status of the project, and what needs to be done next, by whom. If you're managing one content project, you might be able to get away with typing emails by hand. If you plan on growing your business, however, you'll need something completely automated that sends the right email template to the right person at the right time to keep the project moving forward at all times.
The Ideal System would... include a sophisticated email notification engine that would immediately notify your team, your clients, and your writers when their action is required for each client project. If the person does not take the required action, the system would continue sending email reminders until that person does take the required action. The system would allow you to have these emails sent directly from an email/domain of your choice.This would save you countless hours of time and would allow your content business to take on an unlimited number of clients in the future.
What if you already work with a few writers that you know and trust?
The Ideal System would... allow you to add your writers into the system and assign your work directly to them. This way, you would be using the software as a project management tool. As your business grows and you need additional writers, you could then tap into the integrated writer network to find more great writers.
If you use your own in-house writers, plagiarism may not be an issue, but when using freelancers, it becomes a concern. Imagine sending content to your client, only to have them find the same content on one of their competitor's website!
The Ideal System would... automatically scan all submitted content through Copyscape and show the results of the report to confirm there has been no plagiarism detected for each page. It would practically eliminate plagiarism by showing the results of this scan to the writer before they even submit their work to you, and give them a chance to remove any copied work before continuing.
As your content business grows, you'll find the need to hire help, mainly in the following areas:
The Ideal System would... give you access to a network of trained and certified experts that can provide you with the services listed above. You'd be able to assign one of these experts to each project, and pay them either per hour, or per piece of work - whichever you wish. This would save you from having to hire these people full time and increasing your payroll as you grow!
Your clients NEED great content to succeed. If they don't understand this now, they will in a year or two when their competition starts passing them by. You have the ability to provide your clients with the custom content they need to compete and succeed in today's search and social media dominated environment.
With the right system, a proven process, and a pool of talented writers and editors at your fingertips, you can develop your firm into a first-class content agency, and develop a profitable source of residual revenue for your business. The opportunity is waiting. The time to act is now!
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