The Authority Site Content Publishers Guild

Ryuzaki

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There's no such thing as the ASCPG... until now!

I want to put out feelers for how many people are in the authority site game. People use that term very loosely these days so I'd like to define it as:

Authority Site: A large, content-based website that thrives on a massive output of high-quality content in one vertical or niche. It attracts visitors through its branding, reputation, word-of-mouth, SEO, social media, and a general "be everywhere at all times" methodology. The main product offered to users is a constant, reliable stream of content.​

What I don't count is general-purpose News sites, eCommerce sites, Micro-Niche sites, SaaS sites, etc. The main (but not sole) product should be the content itself.

I'm asking so we can all congregate in one thread and talk the big picture:
  • Keyword Research
  • Content Production
  • Image Sourcing & Formatting
  • Publishing Schedule & Frequency
  • Social Media Presence
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Link Acquisition
  • Outreach & Collaboration
  • Employees & Virtual Assistants
  • and so forth...
It's possible that many of us even overlap since these operate in entire verticals usually rather than a sub-niche, but there's room for all of us. These ideas are a dime-a-dozen, and execution is what matters and is what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about the optimization of all work flows, cash flows, income & expenses, people & robots, and anything else that is generalizable across all verticals so we can all win bigger than we are now, cash out, and meet up on a beach and laugh about it.

I'm willing to answer nearly any question, myself, in good faith, because I want to ask a ton of questions too, which are incoming in the next post during my next break.

Anyone and everyone please join in, pick up a guide to the secret initiation handshake at the coffee table, and start mingling. Shrimp and cheese platters arrive at noon.
 

Ryuzaki

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For those of you with a content team in place or using outsourced writers...

How are you balancing these three things?
  • Cost vs. Revenue
  • Formatting & Optimizing Time
  • Mass Publishing vs. Perfection
Cost vs. Revenue:
I've seen a lot of discussion surrounding this topic, and the most realistic one is the most disheartening. There's one guy out there that is already crushing it and doesn't mind spending the cash for writers. He targets terms with zero competition and then just sits on his hands (pure SEO pray & wait).

His expectation is that all of the articles will break even by around a full year and then it's all profit. That's quite the gamble as he found out recently with an algorithm update. Even if you account for some ups and downs in the algorithm, you'd think you'd end up in an 80/20 situation where 20% of the content produces 80% of the revenue and pays off the duds (which will break even in a year probably anyways).

For even this whacky scenario to make sense, you have to have some pretty high RPMs in general to break even at a year for informational content, whether that's display ads, e-books, products or courses, whatever. And that's to cover cheap writers. Decent writers are going to compound the issue.

I only typed all of that as an example of the conversation out there and in my head. It's up to us to generate the revenue that makes it make sense. It's also up to us to do more than publish and hope Google shines its favor over our meager seeds so they may one day grow into strong oak trees.

I know @bernard is going to great lengths to track every KPI he can so he can have a real, absolute, data-backed answer to this. What about the rest of you?

Formatting & Optimizing Time:
What I mean here is the full gamut of keyword research, writing an outline, taking finished content from a writer, making sure it's not giant run-on paragraphs, sourcing and cropping and resizing and adding images, interlinking in good places, and then going back and doing the on-page optimization.

By the time I do this from articles I'm getting back, I feel like I might as well have written the article myself, especially since I can fly since I know my niche. If I'm going to do all of that anyways EXCEPT the writing, why not just write it. I'm not saving that much time, especially since no writer is going to get the on-page right, and a lot of times no matter how much you tell them, they still keyword stuff.

The best I can do is do bulk keyword research for very similar topics that can take the same outline like What is ___, How Does ___ Work?, Why Do We Use ___? or whatever. That kind of bakes in the on-page for the most part. But even with writing guides, formatting templates, and a simple list of things to follow, nobody gets it right.

Training in-house writers exactly how you want them to operate can sometimes be cheaper, sometimes be more expensive, but what really compounds the cost vs. revenue discussion is hiring an editor that you train who's more competent.

I know the answer to this for most people, which leads to the next question.

Mass Publishing vs. Perfection:
I just happened upon @JamaicanMoose's perspective on this, which is to start with cheaper content to validate the concept and then go back and improve it if it proves itself. That's the "better done than perfect" mentality that I struggle with a lot, admittedly.

I simply can't order content, interlink it, slap in an image, and press publish without having even read it, but I know a lot of people do. I at least am going to read the headers and get the on-page right there. But then I see typos and silly mistakes, which then make me want to quickly skim and proof read. Then I find gaps in info I can fix by adding a sentence, etc.

It goes back to the 80/20 principal. Mass publishing on a site that's juiced up with a lot less care is still profitable, perhaps more so. I'd rather 100 articles a month produce 80% of their potential revenue than 50 articles producing 100% of their potential revenue.

This is how I operate on my secondary sites. But my main project has real brand appeal and is discussed as one by real people on social media and Reddit and other forums in the industry. I feel like that's attributable to the care I take with each piece of content.

How I'd scale that is hire competent people, but that really hurts the cost vs. revenue part of the consideration. Once you're past the hump as a solopreneur on a project, I realize you can take a hit, bring people on to help grow faster, and then drop them later and reap higher profits, if you're willing to give up the profit in the meantime and turn it into an expense. But then you're gambling with the algorithm too.

_____

I'm just looking for thoughts and discussion, because I know you authority site guys are out there. I need to hit scale without dropping too much quality or burning up too much revenue. WAT DO? How are you handling it?
 

bernard

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Very timely post Ryu, as I've been thinking a lot about this, since I try to scale fast this year, going from one site and a very hands on approach, to more of a strategic role. It's always good to think one step ahead, always move to try to anticipate future concerns.

One concern for me: How do I make enough using a quality content rich, whitehat linkbuilding, businessmodel? Since it's likely that I'll never really dominate the big keywords, I need to dominate all the other keywords. Let the link buyers and PBN'ers use all their budget on links, while I use my budget on content and optimization for all those 90% less profiled keywords.

I'll contribute more later, but so far I've been thinking it would be preferable to have people writing and working on a salary. I'm thinking students with bright minds and low salary expectations. I hear that kind of thing isn't normal in the US, but over here, it's expected that college students work like 10-20 hours a week at real companies.

They get paid significantly less than full time employees. I got my break in the business this way myself. So that's what I've been thinking about. I could see hiring 2 students to work. They'd have to be trained, but then you could have them work off each other, even when you're not around. I think that would cut down a lot of the costs associated with quality control.

Second, I've been mostly following a formula of publishing skyscraper content, then using Search Console to find keyword opportunities. If I'm getting impressions, but no clicks, then my experience is that these are relatively easy to rank for. I'm looking into automating this process using various sources. Google App Script, find those keywords, look them up somewhere (Ahref API?), then single out those with earning potential.

Last, one of my inspirations over here, scaled from one country to 10+ using freelancers. He seems to be very involved in getting everyone together once in a while (see book: Rework), in some sunny location etc. The key is accountability. You could also consider some kind of bonus program for how content performs. This all requires some kind of longer relationship.
 
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Sutra

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For Formatting & Optimizing Time:

I blast out articles for things that use the same type of format, such as "Why Do We Use ___?". So it could like "Why Do We Use Toasters?", "Why Do We Use Microwaves?", "Why Do We Use Ovens?". I use an agency for that. Then I identify the most lucrative of those subjects and have my in-house writers write those, such as "Johnson Toaster Review", "How to Cook Pizza with a Toaster", etc etc. Everything is templated beforehand and set up with Asana for project management. This all allows me to blast out a ton of articles and build out the depth in that particular slot very fast.

For Mass Publishing vs. Perfection:

For the agency articles, it just needs to be "good enough". However, I do have my VA's quickly go through it to fix anything that is obviously incorrect. My thought is that I'll come back around and improve these as needed. The most important thing is getting them out there because a) want to rank quickly as possible to make my money back, and b) they provide the interlinking opportunities for the article I have the in-house writers write.

For the in-house writers, the article needs to be perfect. I have template and instructions and training videos train them on what to do. I put them through strict screening process before hiring them and even did face to face interviews over Skype, and also had them write test articles, etc. Since I vetted them well before hiring them there hasn't been any issue afterwards. They are subject matter experts, and previously had positions where they served as editors at other jobs, which I purposely looked for in the applicants. That way, their writing/grammar is pretty much perfect and I rarely have to edit it. After they started I pushed back on their work pretty hard to make sure they write exactly as needed. And again, after doing all this it allows me to get out lots of high quality articles very quickly, that build the depth in each "silo".
 

bernard

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@Sutra How do you keep a check on performance on those agency articles?

Here's my KPIs that I track for the content I order. Some of it is automated or semi-automated, with the plan of being fully automated (in Google Sheets):

Basics
URL
Keywords
Word Count

Affiliate Networks
Commission

Time
Date Published
Days since publishing

Traffic
Organic Searches (GSC)
Bounce Rate (GA)
Time on Site (GA)

Order details
Writer
Cost

Promotion
Backlinks built
Social Shares

Ahref data
Search Volume
CPC
Average Domain Rating (top 10)
Average URL Rating (top 10)
Average Wordcount
 

Sutra

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@Sutra How do you keep a check on performance on those agency articles?
Each of the pages have some buyers intent, kinda in the middle of informational and commercial - which is another reason why I started with those. I have my VA’s create the affiliate links with unique tracking IDs and insert them as per the template guidelines.
 

bernard

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Each of the pages have some buyers intent, kinda in the middle of informational and commercial - which is another reason why I started with those. I have my VA’s create the affiliate links with unique tracking IDs and insert them as per the template guidelines.
That's what I do as well. I don't really outsource articles yet with no commercial intent.

I do plan on outsourcing those, but in a "pillar" content type, where the goal is backlinks and social shares and I want them written by actual journalists. I just want those kind of articles to be typical "search-copy-paste" articles for when people need to drop a source on forums etc.

In that case, I'd track backlinks as a metric and assign a value to that backlink if bought.
 
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Keyword Research/Content Schedule

While I wrestle with my authority project (I'm the algo update guy from your example, FML), I've been doing these content schedules for people. It's an opportunity to get paid to develop a process that I can use to plan out my own sites.

I almost have everything here scripted reliably:
  1. input domains (similar sites, competing domains, etc)
  2. use Ahrefs Top Pages
  3. use keywords to give pages similarity scores and remove suspected duplicates
  4. this leaves me with a "top keyword" and other "keywords" for each page... "topic clusters" if you will
  5. I also extract volume (just for ball park, I don't believe many sources anymore) and word length (again for approximate)
  6. then I use autocomplete to add additional keywords that Ahrefs doesn't know about
  7. this is all spat out into a CSV - one line per post
Obviously the output isn't perfect. It needs irrelevant keywords to be removed and titles to be manually written, but I find that with a lot of the subtopics/keywords, good writers don't need an outline. I just let them work it out. The ones that can't make sense of it can't think for themselves and aren't a match for me anyway. Everyone else gets it right about 95% of the time.

The goal is to be able to build entire content schedules for large sites in a day or so.

What I haven't done here is assessed here for KD, or commercial intent and so on. Obviously this stuff matters, but I don't see KD actually being that relevant nowadays. I regularly see DR4/UR8 pages ranking top 3 when KD is 45 and you're playing the real authority site game one day you can rank for it. I'm also trying to take the approach of...

I'd rather 100 articles a month produce 80% of their potential revenue than 50 articles producing 100% of their potential revenue.
Future goal is to be able to push this CSV into Trello somehow, so each line in the file creates a new card, and then my editor can assign these to writers. The card will include all info like Title, keywords, word count, etc.
 
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Sutra

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@jjj_ During your keyword research do you use a tool to see what similar keywords the top sites are ranking for? You can do it in Ahrefs by the exporting the keyword data for top serps, then combining the sheets, then use a formula/function to place all dupes in a new sheet, then add another column which counts the dupes and sorts them. Then you know exactly what keywords are needed in order to rank in the top spots. An easier way of doing that is with Serpwoo, which is what I use now for that process.
 
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@jjj_ During your keyword research do you use a tool to see what similar keywords the top sites are ranking for?
I don't do it in the way that you are, but I suspect if we both ran our processes on the same batch of sites, I think those core keywords (which I believe your process is looking for) would be in my list as well.

It sounds to me that your process is more on the efficient side (choosing the best topics to cover) while mine is more brute force (covering everything).
 

Ryuzaki

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It sounds like creating a template for the more generic informational content is the way to go. I do have a batch of content that I could roll out in that manner using a content agency. At most I'll spend time interlinking and creating a couple images.

Not a big deal there. Nobody will care either since it'll be nearly all SEO traffic on those. I can even back publish them a bit to keep them off the homepage. I don't think I can be that robotic about most of the rest (on my precious site), but at least I can plow a category that way.

Keyword Research:
Since you guys are talking about it, I'll chime in. I do something similar to what @jjj_ described above, but instead of using Top Pages on Ahrefs, I look at keywords from the entire domain at large, ordered by the amount of traffic that's coming in.

When I see a keyword from a grouping I like (sufficient volume, acceptable KD), I'll open the report for the page that's ranking for it in a new tab. From there you can do the exact same process from the keywords for the page. You can identify the parent, the sub-topics, the variation keywords, etc. Usually these keywords are enough to build an outline, where the sub-topic keywords make the perfect H2's, for instance.

Before I write I'll open up the relevant pages from the front page of Google and see what format Google is preferring and find any other clever ideas I should incorporate. Then I smash it out, interlink to it from previous content, blast it out on social, and start the next. Some get put in the file for traffic leaking and link building when I know they have a general appeal (like an easy drop on Reddit).

By organizing by traffic amount on the entire domain, I can quickly tell when I've dipped below the threshold where it's worth looking at any more. Then I can pop in the next domain. I suspect if I did my method and jjj_ did his on the same site, we'd come up with the same keywords.

The point is, you can quickly populate a list of topics and keywords from weaker competitors that they've found and are ranking for and then you can come in and take their spot.

Finding Your Power Level:
Obviously, we want to get to the money as fast as possible, which means we need to understand in the eyes of Google how powerful our domains are. How are you determining this?

What I've been doing since November is creating batches of content. I smashed out a batch of 40 posts on "Low Volume / Low KD" terms and saved all their slugs together like slug-1|slug-2|slug-3 and so forth up to 40.

Now I can drop that entire chunk of slugs into Google Analytics from the publish date of the oldest post in the batch until the present and see how each batch is performing.

Right now I'm doing another "Low Volume / Low KD" batch, but I've also started a "Medium Volume / Medium KD" batch too. Naturally I'll eventually do a "High Volume / High KD" batch too.

Even though these are all being published at different rates and starting at different times, within a year or so I can line them up with each other based on relative times (Month 1 instead of January) and compare their performances. I should be able to determine just how high of a volume and KD I can shoot for to get to more traffic faster.

I also plan on doing this for categories too but right now I'm just slamming whatever keywords I can mine for the time being. Maybe once I have enough of these "batches" done I can re-arrange them into content categories and get some extra data out of them that way.

Publishing Schedule / Content Frequency:
How much and how frequent are you guys posting? Right now I have two sites that are on the authority site model. One I'm trying to post 5 times a week, every weekday. The other I was doing the same, but now I'm outsourcing it all and dumping the content in in batches as I can, around 4 and 5 posts at a time. The other site is the main priority.

If I stick to this 5x a week schedule I'll double my content by the end of this year, after having deleted about 150 posts last year. I expect that to turn into double the revenue, but not by the end of the year since the later posts won't have baked in the algorithm for as long. Clearly I'll have to pick up the pace if I want to absolutely crush it.
 
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Publishing Schedule / Content Frequency:
How much and how frequent are you guys posting? Right now I have two sites that are on the authority site model. One I'm trying to post 5 times a week, every weekday. The other I was doing the same, but now I'm outsourcing it all and dumping the content in in batches as I can, around 4 and 5 posts at a time. The other site is the main priority.

If I stick to this 5x a week schedule I'll double my content by the end of this year, after having deleted about 150 posts last year. I expect that to turn into double the revenue, but not by the end of the year since the later posts won't have baked in the algorithm for as long. Clearly I'll have to pick up the pace if I want to absolutely crush it.
If I could, I would post 6x per day on each of my sites. I am so very bottlenecked by content writers. Need to hire more. I love pummeling my sites with content up front and then slowing down the frequency as it ages. Only 20% of the shit I post will end up making me money. I'd rather start earning on it sooner rather than later.

(Lots of good stuff in this thread that I'll comment more on later)
 
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What I mean here is the full gamut of keyword research, writing an outline, taking finished content from a writer, making sure it's not giant run-on paragraphs, sourcing and cropping and resizing and adding images, interlinking in good places, and then going back and doing the on-page optimization.

By the time I do this from articles I'm getting back, I feel like I might as well have written the article myself, especially since I can fly since I know my niche. If I'm going to do all of that anyways EXCEPT the writing, why not just write it. I'm not saving that much time, especially since no writer is going to get the on-page right, and a lot of times no matter how much you tell them, they still keyword stuff.
I haven't started outsourcing content yet. I'm still new in the game, but this might help.
I've seen that some of you guys, get content from agencies as a reliable source. Doing something like this, might make it cheaper and more efficient.

I found an article on reddit a few weeks ago written by an agency owner. He explained how he basically did set-up everything for the team of writers, to make it as easy and efficient as possible to make content.
They where hired by a big brand, and did use this with an external team of writers, that didn't make that good content, so this can probably be applied to a team of cheap writers.

They basically set-up a sheet with pre-built articles, including title and some basic guidelines for the writer. I'm going try this blueprint when hiring writers.

- First he has basic guidelines on how to write the content:
● Use 3-4 sentences per paragraph. This makes the content more bite-sized and easier to read.
● Use visual content when possible. Think, graphs, charts, and any other types of illustrations.
● DON’T ever use generic stock photos (office people smiling). They don’t add any value and are just distracting.
● When picking which article to write from the SEO sheet, prioritize by: ○ 1st Priority: Easy wins ○ 2nd Priority: Rewarding challenges ○ 3rd Priority: Nice to haves
● For each content piece, follow the outline to the T. Don’t add or subtract any of the sections.
● Avoid passive voice when possible.
● Keep your target audience in mind. For most articles, it’s going to be middle-aged executives reading up on BPM or BPI. So, maintain a serious, semi-formal tone.
● Don’t ever fluff. The reader is an expert, they’ll know if you’re making something up.
● Use custom formatting (process boxes, pro tip boxes, interlinking CSS, etc.) when possible.
● For SEO, follow the YoastSEO instructions to the T.
● When you’re done with the article, run it through Hemingway and Grammarly
- Then if the writer decides to write the article, he gets a document with a layout like this:
Keyword: technical seo

LSI keywords:
● Technical seo 2019
● Technical seo checklist
● What is technical seo

Word Count: 4,400+

Article Title: How to Do Technical SEO in 2019 [Free Checklist]

SEO Optimization Checklist:
● Keyword density is at 0.5 - 2%
● Each LSI keyword mentioned 1 - 2 times
● When possible, LSI keyword used as header
● 2 - 5+ outbound links
● 5 - 15+ relevant internal links (as many as needed)
● Keyword mentioned in the meta description
● Keyword mentioned in the title
● Keyword mentioned in H2 heading
● Page title between 35 to 65 characters
● URL slug is brief and contains the keyword
● You’ve never written on this keyword before

Content Outline:

[Header H2] Introduction (0 - 100 words)
○ Explain why technical SEO is important to any SEO initiative
[Header H2] What is Technical SEO
○ Explain what’s technical SEO, and how it can help your overall site rankings
○ Mention how good technical SEO is more of a foundation to your general SEO efforts
○ Technical SEO is on-page (improving your website) VS off-page (generating links and exposure). ● [Header H2] X+ Technical SEO To-Dos
○ Now that you know the basics, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know to improve your site’s technical SEO.
[Table of Contents]
[Header H3] #1 - Speed Up Your Website
● Explain the importance of site speed
● Provide 5+ tips on how to improve site speed (compress images, scale images, remove unused JS, etc.)
[Header H3] #2 - Set Up a Robots.txt
● Explain what’s robots.txt and how to set it up
[Header H3] #3 - Make Your Website Connection Secure (via HTTPS)
● Explain the importance of https and how to install an SSL certificate
[Header H3] #4 - Optimize Your Site for Mobile
● Explain the importance of mobile + how to make your site mobile-friendly
[Header H3] #5 - Use the Correct URL Slug/Structure
● Explain how the URL slug should contain the keyword you’re trying to rank for
● Give an example
[Header H3] #6 - Install XML Sitemap
● Explain what’s an XML sitemap and how to set it up
[Header H3] #7 - Consider Using AMP
● Explain the pros and cons of using AMP
[Header H3] #8 - Eliminate Dead Links
● Use SEO tools to find and eliminate dead links
[Header H3] #9 - Use Rel-Canonical on Duplicate Pages
● How to use rel-canonical to avoid page duplicates
[Header H3] #10 - De-index Your Staging Server
● Explain how to make sure your staging website doesn’t get crawled by Google
[Header H3] #11 - Use Hreflang For Multilingual Sites
● Use hreflang to show Google what language each of your pages is in
[Header H3] #12 - How to Use Pagination
● Explain how / why to use pagination
[Header H3] #13 - Setup WebMaster Tools
● Explain how / why to install webmaster tools
[Header H3] #14 - Site Structure
● Explain the importance of site structure and how to get it right
[Header H3] #15 - Use Breadcrumb Menus
● Explain what’s a breadcrumb menu + how to use it
[Header H3] #16 - Implement Structured Data Markup
● Explain what’s data markup
[Header H2] Complete Technical SEO Checklist
○ Provide a checklist graphic for technical SEO
[Header H2] Conclusion
○ CTA for the product
Do you already do this? :tongue:
If not, what do you think about it? It requires a bit of work to set-up, but almost any writer should be able to follow along.
 

Ryuzaki

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@MrSanti, I do that. I have a Content Brief with the "basic guidelines" explaining the site, the demographics, the style guide, etc. And then I provide an outline like you shared above.

The problem for me is, by the time I cook up an outline like that, I might as well avoid paying $200-$300 or whatever to have that written, when I can just paint by numbers and fill in the gaps myself. For my main site or even that specific outline you pasted, I could fly through that content myself and not have to worry about that piece of content digging it's way out of a $300 hole first. It'd probably take a couple extra hours tops, and I'm happy to value my time and expertise at $150 an hour when it contributes to my own projects.

These types of monster skyscraper posts, sure I'd pay for them occasionally and then pay for outreach too and have the whole process hands free, and consider the entire expense a marketing & link building expense.

I'd do this with every single post if I had a business site with 15 posts or so. But I'm talking about websites hitting 500 and 1000+ posts. Not only is producing giant skyscrapers (beyond as many as you need for links, they're definitely good link magnets) not conducive to profit (in terms of time, effort, cost, & digging out of their hole), neither is the process of creating a detailed outline each time.

Creating that kind of outline is the ONLY way to rock if you're using a content agency and you want to get back exactly what you hope to get back. Otherwise you have to trust them to find all of the pertinent info and include it (and not rewrite and get you in trouble later too).

That's why I was talking about "template outlines" above where you can assign 50 articles that all have the exact same headers like "What is ___?" and "How Does ___ Work?", etc.

Otherwise I think it's better to build an in-house team and train them beyond writing. You'd train them on how to use a keyword list you provide to construct the H2's and H3's. You'd train them how to check the top 10 and mimic the format to match intent, and to take any missing ideas and use them too. You'd train them on on-page SEO or at least certain Yoast points like mentioned above that aren't complex.

_____

What I'm trying to figure out is how to scale content without gambling too much with the algorithms of search engines and social media, in terms of reducing profits in the present to increase cash flow later for a larger flip, or after you get rid of the writers and can soak up the larger ROI. That sounds great until the algorithms zap your traffic sources, like Facebook changing reach and Google doing it's thing and Pinterest, etc., zapping you in the midst of planting all the seeds.

Scaling authority site content really puts a damper on the crazy ROI we get out of it as solo-workers and solo-earners. There hasn't been a month that's gone by where I haven't heard about big media companies, magazines, and news outlets laying off people left and right. And it's 100% due to the overhead of paying quality writers.

That's my current focus. How to minimize risk and cost while scaling content without dropping quality too far. Templated outlines for obvious types of articles is definitely one way, especially ones for SEO traffic.
 

bernard

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If you keep the same writers, you should be able to train them after 5-10 articles, to know what kind of articles you want.

Where I think people go wrong, might be in expecting writers to work for the same money, regardless of the demands. I get my articles cheaper now, because I do this outlining in detail. I hope to be able to soon try my designated agency writer and have her go off on herself. Then the price will go up like 2 cents a word, which would be fine with me.

It all leads back to familiarity and I really think the best option is to have people present in your office if you have one. I plan on testing students, as I mentioned earlier. This is possible because of the work market here, where being "underpaid" but highly performing is the norm while studying. For those of you in the US, I believe you do Internships instead right? If you have someone working like that, then you can at the very least, have them do editing and rewriting of what you order. You can also ask them to make these briefs.

As I see it, paying $20-$25 hour for me, for about 10 hours a week = $800 / month and I think, you could get so much value for that. You have to consider that being young and inexperienced, doesn't mean you lack talent or skill. When you hire students, you can get people working for you cheap, who will be the agency stars off tomorrow.

That's my plan and I'm sticking to it. I only hate that it's so extremely bureaucratic here with salary and leave pay and sick pay and all that. I think the ideal setup would be to set up an office somewhere in Southern Europe and have a string of returning "interns" or summer jobs.
 
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I'd do this with every single post if I had a business site with 15 posts or so. But I'm talking about websites hitting 500 and 1000+ posts.
Oh ok, I get it now haha. That's waaaaaay beyond my scope, since I'm just starting out. It's really interesting for me thought.

What about the more traditional way of having a small human resources team. Just to hire writers over the internet on freelance sites and similar, maybe on countries with lower salary too. So the team takes care of reaching out for good talent. You might end up hiring and firing a ton of people just to get the good ones, but having 2-3 people taking care of the scaling would make sense.
Bernard's way looks good too.

I'm in a totally different league, but, having enough resources. What do you guys find easier to get the most profit. To stick to a project and make it "huge" though time, and I mean a few years, trying to became a huge media site. Make it as big as you can in 1-2 years and flip it. Or depends on how much future you see to the project?
 

Ryuzaki

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@Andrew Scherer, a new member and veteran of the IM & SEO community has joined us and laid out this in his intro post:

Something I've been working on lately, a 4 step collaborative content creation process. It turns the notion of 1 writer for 1 article on its head. We do this all through Trello and it allows us to use affordable writers but create something extensive and exhaustive (5k+ words) at a good price (under 2 cents per word).​
Step 1. Creating the outline. The outline is also where a lot of keyword research is done. We built out a tool called Entity Explorer that is good for this but we also use tools like Answer the Public to get it done as well. The outline serves as the foundation for the article and it's laid out, subheadlines and all.​
Step 2. We research each subheadline and drop the research directly into the article. Research is easy to do so we have folks doing it for just a few bucks an hour. This is also where we have screenshots and stuff done, if applicable.​
Step 3. Finally, the writers tackle the articles collaboratively. They have most research they need already done for them, so they're pulling it out and replacing it with unique content.​
It's not uncommon to have 3 writers working on the same piece. I think there's a lot to be said about collaborative content, try it out. All you need here is Trello and Google Docs.​
Step 4. Is the final edit. Grammarly is not expensive and Hemingwayapp is free and useful. Again, this is done collaboratively so multiple heads are tackling it and doing a great job in the process.​
We have been able to pump out some pretty nice content at less than 2 cents a word this way.​

Hopefully when he "graduates" out of the Orientation section he'll come join us here and discuss this method in this thread.

My response was that you could basically copy and paste sections from tons of different sites and then just send it off to be rewritten. It would be cheap and even if sections are "borrowed" nobody will realize it or care, since it's not the whole article.

I imagine you could build out tons of articles a day this way yourself and/or train someone to do it from keyword research you provide. Keeping this at a higher quality would really depend on your ability to find concise sections to have rewritten. And I'd definitely run each one through Copyscape afterwards.

I feel like running them through Grammarly or Hemingway would cost too much in terms of money and time when you could pay a bit more to a better writer to get it right the first time. How long does it take to improve non-native writer content on those? Can you just select the improvement and it inserts it? I've never used them.
 
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What I'm trying to figure out is how to scale content without gambling too much with the algorithms of search engines and social media, in terms of reducing profits in the present to increase cash flow later for a larger flip, or after you get rid of the writers and can soak up the larger ROI. That sounds great until the algorithms zap your traffic sources, like Facebook changing reach and Google doing it's thing and Pinterest, etc., zapping you in the midst of planting all the seeds.

Scaling authority site content really puts a damper on the crazy ROI we get out of it as solo-workers and solo-earners. There hasn't been a month that's gone by where I haven't heard about big media companies, magazines, and news outlets laying off people left and right. And it's 100% due to the overhead of paying quality writers.

That's my current focus. How to minimize risk and cost while scaling content without dropping quality too far. Templated outlines for obvious types of articles is definitely one way, especially ones for SEO traffic.
My impression of you from your posts is that you overthink things and need the perfect plan before taking action. Paralysis by analysis. You're being your own roadblock.

If you believe you can scale the business, then you need to spend the money and hire writers. You've taken the business far are your own. Hire some help.

If you're adverse to spending the cash to scale it, then ask if you really believe in yourself/the business and if not, sell the thing.

You already have proof Google likes the site. I don't understand what the problem is.

Just do something. Scared money don't make money. Worst case you're out a couple thousand $. Drop in the bucket.
 

Ryuzaki

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I don't understand what the problem is.
My current problem is actually getting the content I paid for back fast enough, if you must know, just like your bottleneck.

But did you read anything in the thread? At all?

The problem is explained very clearly. It's about Return-On-Investment in a reasonable amount of time, not Investment itself.

I know your answer to "in a reasonable amount of time" is to sell before maturity. That's fine and avoids risk. I'm going for a much bigger pay day, which means balancing risk.

Pretending that that's not what I'm talking might get you a few likes, but it's dishonest.

Scared money don't make money.
Yeah, I know. I wrote the thread. Your whole post is a straw-man and it irks me. "Just do something." I'll make sure to get that done!

Silly platitudes mean nothing. "Hire some writers." What exactly do you think this thread is about? It's about hiring writers and the nitty gritty details behind it. Do you honestly think I've never hired writers or have no writers now?

The thing is, I wrote this thread from a position of asking a bunch of questions in order to inspire conversation. Most of these questions I know the answer to, but I'm asking them in order to get more perspectives on it, because I believe I can learn a lot from the bright minds here who can articulate their thoughts past the predictable, boring, and egoic attempts to stunt on people. I'm even responding to your bait because drama inspires return visits and more conversation.
 

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Yaaaay drama:D:D:D:D:D


Bro.... we love u and talk positively about your projects and willingness to share info in our chat groups.

Listen to the moose.

Go Slam dunk your winner and come back with an epic 8 figure ama.

Drink your own coolaide. You’ve laid it out nicely all over this forum.

It’s solid stuff and working right now. Thanks for posting. You’re making more people a lot more money than you realize.
 
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My current problem is actually getting the content I paid for back fast enough, if you must know, just like your bottleneck.

But did you read anything in the thread? At all?

The problem is explained very clearly. It's about Return-On-Investment in a reasonable amount of time, not Investment itself.

I know your answer to "in a reasonable amount of time" is to sell before maturity. That's fine and avoids risk. I'm going for a much bigger pay day, which means balancing risk.

Pretending that that's not what I'm talking might get you a few likes, but it's dishonest.

Yeah, I know. I wrote the thread. Your whole post is a straw-man and it irks me. "Just do something." I'll make sure to get that done!

Silly platitudes mean nothing. "Hire some writers." What exactly do you think this thread is about? It's about hiring writers and the nitty gritty details behind it. Do you honestly think I've never hired writers or have no writers now?

The thing is, I wrote this thread from a position of asking a bunch of questions in order to inspire conversation. Most of these questions I know the answer to, but I'm asking them in order to get more perspectives on it, because I believe I can learn a lot from the bright minds here who can articulate their thoughts past the predictable, boring, and egoic attempts to stunt on people. I'm even responding to your bait because drama inspires return visits and more conversation.
I'm not sure why you got so defensive here. I've read your posts in this thread several times and what I'm getting from them is that you're scared to give up control and spend money.
 
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I'm not sure why you got so defensive here. I've read your posts in this thread several times and what I'm getting from them is that you're scared to give up control and spend money.
Why do people make up bullshit about somebody and then accuse them of being "so angry" or "so defensive" when they defend themselves from the attack?

Back to reality...

Image Outsourcing & Formatting + Social Media Presence

I've recently made two photoshop project that are templates. I got the idea from this forum actually. I made them both similar in design but fancy. They have my logo, a decorative border, and text area. One is horizontal for the featured image + Open Graph images for Facebook and Twitter. The other is vertical for Pinterest.

All I have to do is change the text to the post title (copy and paste) and drop an image onto the screen and resize it and I have images done for all four of those platforms. Then I can publish the post and then fly through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and since it's so fast I've even tossed Instagram into the mix.

This has made an entire portion of my "every post grind" a lot faster. There's zero reason I couldn't outsource this to a cheap non-native VA, too. The image creation and the social media posting even if I trusted them with logins. It'd be as easy as filling out Trello cards and moving them around columns.
 
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I feel like running them through Grammarly or Hemingway would cost too much in terms of money and time when you could pay a bit more to a better writer to get it right the first time. How long does it take to improve non-native writer content on those?
You definitely have to get a higher tier writer and they won't be a penny a word. I'm actually paying hourly. The stuff I'm doing now runs against content outsourcing norms in a big way.

About the tools, I still run my own stuff through Grammarly and Hemingway that I've written myself. IMO, these tools just make the content better no matter where you're from. They don't take incredibly long to use and are nice-to-haves if you have a small team to share your Grammarly acct with.

I could fly through that content myself and not have to worry about that piece of content digging it's way out of a $300 hole first.
I understand the contention and I think folks here could debate endlessly about the value of writing your own content or not and scaling.

I used to write all myself but got to a point where I couldn't anymore. I still help a little! But the stuff we're producing now takes about 5-10 man-hours per piece minimum. It's a full day of work for someone if they wanted it. Dumping $300 on content is an easy feat when you're doing something decent enough to rank well.

What I realized a few months ago during a night of trolling Google Search Console was this: Even if one of these monster articles we're making produces just 1 visitor per day, that's worth $2-$5 per day by our estimation.

Different niches will have different values, but you get the idea.

After 100 clicks or so, you're now talking about being ROI positive. This can happen in as little as a month or two or longer.

But where else can you be pretty certain about getting 100% ROI on your money, without gambling, in less than a year?

I think, even after all of these years, we're still in the early stages of the "content gold rush."

After 100 clicks or so, you're now talking about being ROI positive. This can happen in as little as a month or two or longer.
Just to reiterate, this is very niche dependent. If you're running a free online gaming website it certainly won't apply. But if you're playing in finance or mortgages or even a lot of local (lead gen or otherwise) niches, then it applies for sure.
 
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Over the past few years, I have hired around 50 freelance writers on UpWork in the $1.5/100 word range (spoke with probably 3x that). I use this price range because beyond $1.5/100 there isn't much of an increase in the quality for the increase in price. At this price, people can do basic research, write grammatically correct sentences, and can generally handle a large amount of content (stay at home moms, college kids, people between jobs).

(Note - the below also applies to people I've hired on UpWork in the $3/100, $5/100 and $10/100 range. I just have more data from the $1.5/100 range)

I wanted to share what I've noticed after working with / interviewing these freelancers so some of you folks can maybe save some time and frustration.

Your job posting should include at least 90% of the instructions you'll give a freelancer: Setting upfront expectations saves everyone time. You'll still get a bunch of people applying that don't even read the job posting, but those are easy to filter out.

Customized cover letter is a must: If someone isn't going to take 2 minutes to type up a 100 word cover letter tailored towards your job posting, then they're going to suck.

Don't only hire USA/UK/Canada: Most Eastern Europeans are taught English from a very early age and can write beautifully. Because the rate you'll be offering them is around the same/more than they'd make working a standard job in their country, you'll get some very talented/educated applicants.

Initial response time is a huge indicator of how things will go: The freelancers that respond within a few hours of me initially messaging them have always been the best ones to work with. If someone doesn't have email / pop-up app notifications that they received an UpWork message from a potential employer, then they're probably not going to be taking this seriously.

This goes both ways - you should also be very responsive with your freelancers.

How they reply to the initial message matters: Anyone can have a canned template that they use when applying to the jobs. You'll get a good feel of their writing style when messaging them. Do a few back and forths before sending them a test article to do.

Give instructions like you're speaking to a 10 year old: Clearer and simpler the better. Whenever I have given complex instructions, the writer seems to get confused and I end up having to simplify things anyways. Also provide them with a template / sample of how you want things done / submitted.

Initial turnaround time matters - a lot: Anyone who passes the above tests will be given a test article to do. Same pay, instructions, and such that they'll be doing for me if hired. I have found that if people take more than 2 days to get this back to me, then it's not worth my time hiring them. If they can't get an article to you quickly, they're not going to take this job seriously and/or may have limited availability. This may be fine if you need a super high quality article here and there, but if you're trying to rapidly grow multiple sites, then this greatly hurts your ability to scale. Time is money, friend. (Note: This was surprisingly true even at the $5/100 and $10/100 levels.)

More questions, the better: I used to get super annoyed when people would ask me the most basic questions with extremely obvious answers. However, as I've gotten wiser in my years, I've learned that the more questions that people ask, the more engaged they're going to be in the assignment. Usually the freelancers I've worked with that were the most annoying with questions turned out to be the ones that were the most reliable and longest tenured freelancers.

Give small pay raises: If you have a freelancer you've been working with for a short period of time (5~ assignments completed), give them a 10% raise. The pay increase will be negligible to your bottom line and increase retention.

Don't overload them: I've had freelancers that routinely submitted 20 articles per week to me. A few times I figured I would just give them 2 weeks (40 articles) or 3 weeks (60 articles) worth of assignments at once. Save us both time, right? Oh boy was that a mistake. It makes people freak out that they have so much work to do and they end up rushing through it.

Cut the cord: Whenever you notice a freelancer taking slightly longer to submit an assignment, or they start cutting corners without giving you a reason why, drop them. They're only going to take longer and longer to complete assignments. You'll spend more and more time waiting/tracking them down. If they give you a heads up that they'll be late handing something in, then that's fine.

There's probably other shit that I forgot, but I wanted to type this up while I'm going through the process of hiring 5 more freelancers (fuck the bottleneck I've been dealing with).