Recently, I had the privilege of working with a brand new marketer referred to me by our very own VP of Marketing, Kelly Shelton. Being part of a small business, my new marketing friend had lots of questions. In fact, he had some really amazing questions! As we went through our little interview over email, I thought I would turn this Q&A into a blog post as I’m sure many new marketers have these exact same questions.
In fact, if you have more questions about online marketing after this post please ask them in the comments. I’m happy to help!
Q: How do you start if you were looking at a blank page? With the number of pieces of content you think need to be posted? Do you start with the focused subject?
I recommend starting with a weekly topic. After half a year, you’ll have analytics that will show you what your most popular posts are which will help you spin more topics based on the top keywords you want your site to be searched for.
Q: How many times is a piece of content edited and read before it is sent out? Do you make the final approval?
A: This is a tough one! In simplest form, my answer is that it will ebb and flow. Do your best. Always put out the best. Great topics are going to take you farther than being too staunch with your editing. That being said, the Internet has some serious grammar crazies and blatant mistakes will earn some bad marks for your business.
As you grow, you have to learn to let go a little. A lot of people make the mistake of approaching a blog (even a professional one) like classic journalism. This isn’t The New Yorker. When people read this type of content online, they expect it to be completely relatable. Speak naturally.
The current process we use is:
- The content strategist issues a brief draft with proposed title, description, and three main points or questions that should be discussed in the piece.
- The writer writes based on this topic and should turn in something already self-edited and considered a final draft.
- A final editor will review the topic for things that aren’t necessarily just grammar edits.
The final editor will do everything he or she can to meet the Yoast SEO requirements – no super long sentences, no overuse of keywords, deriving a focus keyword, filling out the SEO, formatting the H2/H3 headers correctly.
Q: How often do you use freelancers? What are the top two tips you would have for hiring freelance copywriters?
A: All of my regular writers are freelance! My top tips for hiring freelance writers is to find someone with proven experience, high ratings, recent work, etc. Then, my number one tip from there is all about the balancing act. The trick to getting the best out of people is to give them consistent, expected work. However, that doesn’t mean full time work either!
I also like to pay my writers hourly rather than by piece. That way I get better articles from someone who feels like they’re being paid for their time and research. Also, in the end, it often ends up costing less than people’s per word rate!
Q: How detailed is your content calendar? How soon do you have the finished pieces of content before they are ready to post?
A: I’ve never run a super detailed content calendar. Things change, especially in the marketing business! One minute we’ll be focused on a small business series and then Google, Facebook, and Twitter will all release huge updates in the same week. That’s the aspect where blogging is like a newsroom. You have to have planned topics, proposed topics, topics on hold, and always be ready to squeeze in the “now now now” topics.
For our content calendar, I keep a running list of ideas I come up with when I do my own weekly R&D to keep up to date with the industry. I get a lot of inspiration from the articles and books I read on any topic, not just other marketing blogs. In fact, most of my ideas come from just daily life as I don’t want to copy what other people are already doing.
Also, I train my writers to be on top of what’s happening in the industry based on the type of writing they are doing so they are always proposing topics of their own. This lends itself to more topics that truly inspire the writers and therefore come across as just that, inspired.
We also pay close attention to what the core of Boostability is doing so that we can create new FAQs, blog topics, and downloadable content that will support every internal initiative. For example, we just recently upgraded the Boost website scoring system so we’re going to adjust our immediate future content to be about analyzing your website, the importance of regular website maintenance, and revisit the topic of why SEO is an ongoing thing.
Q: Do you often promote/boost content?
A: We promote all our new content. For most, your promotional budget will be the core of what sets the tone for how frequently you post. While you can post 3-5 topics a week, the truth is that people aren’t engaging with that much information and it is hard to create truly engaging, unique information at that high of a rate.
Over many years of managing PPC accounts, I have found a maximum focus of three posts per week is the sweet spot for optimal clicks and engagement. Even then, you’ll find two posts will usually have far greater results than the third post. Still, three posts is where the magic happens.
Q: What is the most common mistake novices make when trying to build a content calendar?
A: Sticking to it. That is, sticking too closely to their content calendar. As funny as that answer sounds, in order to be truly engaging, relevant, and relatable in your content, you have to be flexible above all else.
My other answer would be that too many blogs out there are reading other blogs just like theirs or competitors’ blogs and just regurgitating topics they like rather than taking on their own, unique approach. Even if 10 sites out there are reporting on the same breaking news algorithm update, you can find a way to make it unique to your readers and your business. That’s the only way to build trust in the overwhelm of today’s Internet culture.
Q: What is one thing you wish everyone could understand about content marketing?
A: The regurgitation thing. That’s probably my biggest pet peeve not as a marketer necessarily, but as an Internet user! I hate researching a topic and clicking through every article on first page results only to see more of the same and nothing I’m actually looking for. Don’t you?
Often with small businesses (by that I mean 500 or fewer employees), all that is expected is that a blog has “what the competitor has.” And, it is true that “spinning” topics is the easiest way to significantly reduce blog writing time and save on the budget.
In many of my first career steps in marketing, I was literally given other blog topics and simply asked to rewrite them. Research is great. Basing your blog post on several other posts is fine. Regurgitating something from someone else’s words into your own words paragraph for paragraph is the kind of transparency you don’t want to have. Your readers are finding you from their own research and they will see right through you when your topic looks and sounds exactly like ten other links they just clicked on.
Personally, I have always found that our timeless topics that get the most reads, the most time on site, the lowest bounce rate, and the highest engagement. These are the topics where someone takes the time to become an expert in something and then writes the entire thing from their own words and perspective. It just flows. That’s how you relate on the Internet. That’s how you be unique when everyone else is just reporting on something.