The Authority Site Content Publishers Guild

Sutra

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@JamaicanMoose do you hire an editor to edit/proofread the articles your writers submit? If so, what do you pay the Editor, and what’s your hiring process like for them?
 
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@JamaicanMoose do you hire an editor to edit/proofread the articles your writers submit? If so, what do you pay the Editor, and what’s your hiring process like for them?
Nope, no editor. I only read the first couple of articles that each writer sends me. Beyond that, they get sent straight to my VA for uploading to Wordpress. I then do the final formatting touches. If there's anything really wrong, it will stick out and I can fix it then.

While an editor would be nice, there isn't much value add in my niches. It would just further create a bottleneck to my scaling.

People don't read shit. They scroll to look at headlines, pictures, bullets, and buttons.
 
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There's been some talk about how to determine if an article is worth writing based on ROI. Here's how I figure if it's worth it or not. (This is going to be a mess so bear with me). I should also note that I only do Amazon Associates. If you're targeting health / finance / etc shit where articles are expensive, just ignore this.

Let's say it costs me $15 to have a 5 product buying guide written and $1.50 to have my VA post the draft. Total cost is $16.50. I'm not including my time to find the keyword topic because that's free as far as I'm concerned.

If this $16.50 article earns me $0.50 per month, the valuation on this article when I sell my website is roughly $16.50 (using 33x valuation multiple).

Now, not every article you have written is going to earn money. Far from it. Most aren't going to rank / earn shit. However, what they do add is authority to your site and boost your profitable articles. It's known that backlinks create a rising tide effect for your whole site. I believe content does the same and it's significantly cheaper with more upside.

Back to the example. Say I have 30 of those $16.50 articles targeting LSI of a higher priority KW on my site. These 30 articles aren't earning shit (say each is $0.50/mo) and getting low traffic. However, they're linking to one another and to the higher priority KW article. The higher priority KW article goes from #4 to #2, increasing revenue on it by $500/mo.

I spent a total of $495 to increase my monthly revenue by $515/mo and added $16,995 valuation to my site when it comes time to sell (using 33x valuation multiple).

The above is really a worst case scenario. It's really hard for a page getting traffic to only earn $0.50 per month. Even at a 3% commission, selling a $17 item once per month gives you more than $0.50. The average order on Amazon is higher than that.

In a more realistic scenario, say each of those 30 articles earns $3/mo and the higher priority KW goes from #4 to #2, increasing revenue on it by $500/mo.

I spent a total of $495 to increase my monthly revenue by $90/mo and added $19,470 valuation to my site when it comes time to sell (using 33x valuation multiple).

Now instead of 30 articles, imagine 100, 200, 300, etc. That's where scale gets you. Maybe this also pushes your higher priority KWs from #2 to #1. Maybe you grab some rich snippets. More content = more chances of that.

Anyways, a simple formula to see how much you would need to earn monthly on an article to break even. In the above, Cost of Article / Valuation Multiple = Break Even Monthly Revenue. In this case, $16.50 / 33 = $0.50. If I think an article can earn me more than $0.50/mo in revenue, then I buy it.

I try and keep my content costs as low as possible. It's a crapshoot as to what will rank. The lower my content costs the less monthly profit I need to earn from it to make it worthwhile to order.

Hope that makes sense.
 

bernard

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I spent a total of $495 to increase my monthly revenue by $90/mo and added $19,470 valuation to my site when it comes time to sell (using 33x valuation multiple).
That's a very interesting way to think about content value.

I used to think content quality would add a large premium on a sale, but judging from the offers I've gotten, buyers don't really care too much. Earnings are far more important.
 
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That's a very interesting way to think about content value.

I used to think content quality would add a large premium on a sale, but judging from the offers I've gotten, buyers don't really care too much. Earnings are far more important.
Indeed. Same with PBNs. Most buyers aren't going to care. Earnings are what matters because it shows Google likes the site. That's the hardest part about SEO.
 

bernard

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Indeed. Same with PBNs. Most buyers aren't going to care. Earnings are what matters because it shows Google likes the site. That's the hardest part about SEO.
I personally wouldn't buy a site with crap content and PBN links though, because I would consider it too volatile and risky.
 

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A major challenge of scaling is losing overview of which pages perform as they should, particularly if you have more than one site.

So how do we keep track on which pages are performing and which have something wrong with them, maybe a broken link, outdated content etc?

The first thing I've done is to set up a Google Sheets script, that gets earnings from affiliate networks, sorts pr. page and pr. time period: 30 days, 90 days, 365 days. I then calculate the average 30 day earnings for each page for each time period. If one page is underperforming sub 30% for a 90 day average, I color the cell RED. If it underperforms more than 20% I color it YELLOW. If it overperforms or stays above sub 20%, I color it GREEN. I do this with conditional formatting. I sort by color, so that red is on top of my sheet list. All this is done automatically and runs everyday.

This allows me to quickly see which pages have been underperforming for a time period. I chose 90 days to get rid of variance, but I suppose 60 days, might be a better measurement. The goal is to find that middle position, between obsessing over stats and just letting things ride. I sacrifice some earnings on some pages, for scaleability, but I still get alerted of serious declines.

Next up, I'm going to set up Google Analytic alerts for pages that drop more than an percentage in visitors and those pages that drop in goal completions (such as broken scripts etc influencing stuff).
 
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This allows me to quickly see which pages have been underperforming for a time period. I chose 90 days to get rid of variance, but I suppose 60 days, might be a better measurement. The goal is to find that middle position, between obsessing over stats and just letting things ride. I sacrifice some earnings on some pages, for scaleability, but I still get alerted of serious declines.
Your idea's good, but several variables might mess with your numbers big time:
  1. Seasonality (e.g. products that are HOT in summer, but dead in winter)
  2. New & low traffic pages will skew numbers (no performance, high % because of 10 visits with 1 sale while that's not reliable statistically, etc.)
  3. Cookie period etc.
For seasonality it might be worthwhile to plot performance per month of year, while you might (partly) solve for variable #2 by grouping content based on age i.e. what is the avg. performance of 30 day old content, 90 day old, etc. You'll probably have to play around with the buckets (groups) so things don't get too granular.

I'm also trying to tackle this issue ATM, thinking through what kind of data I really need, what's just useless data p*rn, etc.
 

bernard

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Your idea's good, but several variables might mess with your numbers big time:
  1. Seasonality (e.g. products that are HOT in summer, but dead in winter)
  2. New & low traffic pages will skew numbers (no performance, high % because of 10 visits with 1 sale while that's not reliable statistically, etc.)
  3. Cookie period etc.
For seasonality it might be worthwhile to plot performance per month of year, while you might (partly) solve for variable #2 by grouping content based on age i.e. what is the avg. performance of 30 day old content, 90 day old, etc. You'll probably have to play around with the buckets (groups) so things don't get too granular.

I'm also trying to tackle this issue ATM, thinking through what kind of data I really need, what's just useless data p*rn, etc.
Good points, particularly about seasonality.

It's obviously possible to do a much more comprehensive overview, but not in Google Sheets. It would require a proper database with historic data.

My goal here isn't to get precise data, but merely to make me aware if something is awry and needs to be fixed.

That's what I'm aiming for. I don't want to have one of those sites I see around the web with tons of broken affiliate links or content that's outdated. Stuff that could be easily fixed for improved conversions.
 

bernard

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I'm beginning to see some learnings here from my initial batch of 20 or so outsourced articles, that I tracked most things about.

Once each outsourced article has 6 months to go on, I'll write a more qualitative analysis.

So far, these are my intuitive findings:

1. Articles can earn themselves back surprisingly quickly if published on a strong domain, from 3 months if..

2. Articles written on high commission yielding products are preferable, since they need fewer commissions to break even and thus can be longer in lenght.

3. Shorter articles seem to be significantly better performing in terms of earnback period. The added benefit, if any, of 3000+ articles do not seem to show yet in earnings.

4. Articles written on topics and keywords already ranking (GSC) perform very well and quickly earn themselves back.

Which leads me to conclude:

It's most profitable to outsource short articles, on closely related, already suggested keywords in GSC. This also mitigates the risk of duds and you can always add more text or other content.
 
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@Ryuzaki what are your thoughts of ROI on content production?

My concerns are not accurately being able to predict which pieces of content will ultimately be the ones driving revenue (in my experience doing SEO on small projects I haven't been able to accurately predict this and the articles I would never expect to be on top are the ones that end up driving a majority of the revenue--vs. the ones I focused hard on and didn't turn out).

AKA do you feel that you can accurately predict ROI on content? Or is it just the long play of hoping your overall investment will work out and going all in on whatever content you can find that's applicable to your site/niche?
 

Ryuzaki

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@Positivity, I've begun to think about it in batches of similar content. This arises out of the same understanding you have, that you never know which ones will pop and be the main earners. Those earners have to pay for the others in the short term, which would eventually pay themselves off over the course of time anyways. It's hardly ever a loss if the project will live for 3+ years.

You can stack the deck if you can afford (in terms of money & time and the domain being able to absorb the links) to hit each post with a link or two with the right anchors.

If you have data an how similar types of posts on your site perform you can start to get an idea of what amount of traffic they'll bring and what that translates to in terms of revenue. I was doing that this morning walking the dog around. One batch of content I just rolled out and got some links for will likely pay themselves off in 30 days if not a bit sooner. Another batch for a different site might be anywhere from 60-90 days (I won't hit them with links).

A large part of this seems to boil down to monetization methods too. It's easy to wrap your head around and calculate if you're dealing with CPM ads or CPC ads and have a steady CTR on those ads. You can spray and pray with the right type of keyword research and formatting based around an already successful post or set of posts on this set of keywords.

For something like affiliate commission posts, you could still do the same approach but the impact of the 20% paying for the other 80% and making profit becomes harder. The SERPs all have much stiffer competition and fluctuations.

Working in batches, though, takes the heat off of any one post and lets you gauge when any one batch becomes profitable. Once you gain confidence in your method, you should be able to let slip the dogs of war and buy a bunch of time so all of the content can start aging faster.

There's also posts you know are winners that don't quite get the Google favor that you can seed on forums, Reddit, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. and force some traffic your way to make up some of the expense.
 

Ryuzaki

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Something to think about in regards to reaching scale for authority sites:

The Systematized Business
When you start out, you're probably doing all of the writing, formatting, and publishing yourself. If you have some startup capital or cash flow, you can fast forward a bit.

The name of the game here is to create a system that can operate without your constant intervention, and that's going to involve three roles (as defined by the book The E-Myth Revisited, where I encountered it):
  • Entrepreneur
  • Manager
  • Technician
You'll fill all of these roles initially until you can afford to hire people to fill the roles.

Entrepreneur
You are the entrepreneur, building your business as a system. Your goal is to have the vision and then work towards making the business fulfill that vision. You do this by creating a system that can work without you later with the lowest skilled labor possible. Your goal isn't to have low-skill labor, but to design the system in such a way that the quality of the output can be achieved by nearly anyone as long as they follow the system.

Manager
The manager will be acting as the project lead, quality assurance, and go-to authority for the technicians below him or her. They also follow the system but run interference between you and the technicians so you can achieve the "four hour work week" (aka free up your time to work on the business instead of in the business).

Technician
These are the people that do all of the grunt work. As long as they have a system to follow, the quality of their output should not vary wildly. This allows the business to achieve a lever of consistency in output volume and quality.

Operating Procedures
Once the system is designed, everything should be broken down into dummy-proof steps to follow. These are called standardized operating procedures. They should provide the user of the procedure three items:
  • An explanation of why these tasks are being done
  • An "in the weeds" step-by-step methodology for completing the entire task
  • A "bird's eye view" summary of what was / is to be done
The best move is to have the user initial each step once it's completed or tick off a checkbox. This dated document not only provides accountability but the initialing of each line item stops shortcuts from being taken or attempts by the user to perform it based off of their memory of the steps.

The system is the operating procedures, and the operating procedures are the system. They should be so clear cut that you can replicate them, bring in a whole new team, and start another site, all with very little effort on your side. The system does all of the work after the on-boarding.

The Authority Site
In the case of the authority site, it should be pretty obvious who is playing each role:
  • Entrepreneur = The Site Owner
  • Manager = Keyword Researcher / Content Editor & Formatter / Outline Writer / Project Manager
  • Technician = Content Writer
Businesses have been built to provide a "purchase to use" system for each of these roles. Companies advertising here in the BuSo Marketplace have content editors and teams of content writers ready to be used for a premium. You don't have to re-invent the wheel if you can find a team that can meet your quality standards.

And that should be the first step to systematizing and removing yourself from your authority site business. You want to hire out content writing first.

This may mean that you're still doing keyword research, providing outlines based on that research, receiving the written content back, formatting it in the editor, sourcing images, doing the rest and pressing publish, then promoting it.

In my mind, the obvious next step is to hire a manager that can act as the content editor & content formatter. They should be able to take keywords for an article, check the SERPs for intent, and form an outline to provide to the writers. They should be able to source and photoshop images, find internal and external links to use, publish the content, and push it out on social media.

They should provide input to the writers and take the writers' output and turn it into a finished product. All of this can be done without your input (though I recommend providing the keyword research which can be done in batches).

Once you are free from doing these tasks, you're free to do marketing, to replicate the system on another website and diversify your income, to perform link-building tasks, etc. Most of that can be delegated to another tier of manager, too, or purchased from existing companies.

That's the landscape for scaling and doing it in a way to keep a consistent, predictable, and dependable level of quality.

Of course the challenge is getting to the cash flow so that the system is self-sustaining, breaks even, and turns a profit.

If you can afford to do it, maintaining a baseline level of expenses, even if you dig deeper and deeper into a hole, will save you an enormous amount of time and move you towards the break even point and profit much faster. The alternative is to not invest until you have cashflow and only invest a percentage of the cash flow. This might keep your financial statements in the net positive, but you're losing tons of time, and ultimately will end up spending the same amount of money either way as you then ramp up your system and move towards scale.
 

bernard

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I'm currently working on finding a content formatter in the Philippines through a web dev company.

I have found a content writing company, that though expensive (1.5x standard), have proper editing included and have a very professional Podio setup.

My goal is to make the content formatter get on the same Podio workspace as the writers, so that when I make a content order, the content formatter will receive notice when it's ready and upload, then let me know.

What then remains for me is to insert affiliate links, which I don't trust to outsourcing. I plan on importing these affiliate links in bulk, so I can just add shortcodes. Should not be more than 10-15 minutes pr. post.

I'll stick to keyword research and content planning myself as I consider it a main competetive advantage.