Episode Number 79 is posted under Content Marketing

How To Build A Scalable Content Strategy & Team – A Writer’s Perspective

content strategy
Entrepreneur Ignited Podcast by Derek Gehl How To Build A Scalable Content Strategy & Team - A Writer’s Perspective
00:00:00 00:00:00

Summary:

Rebecca Livermore is the writer behind the scenes for many well known bloggers including Michael Hyatt and Amy Porterfield. In this interview she shares the steps you need to take to build a reliable and scalable content strategy and team.

Transcription Episode 79: How To Build A Scalable Content Strategy & Team – A Writer’s Perspective

Welcome to the Entrepreneur Ignited Podcast, a podcast designed to skip all the hype, skill all the BS, just give you the real, actionable tips and strategies you need to grow your digital business.This is your host Derek Gehl and today we’re going to dive deep into website content strategy and more specifically how to scale and grow your content creation.

Today’s guest is a bestselling author, blogger, and owner of Professional Content Creation, a company focused on helping business owners use content strategy to market their businesses.

She’s worked as a freelance writer since 1993 and has served as a content strategy manager for a lot of very well-known bloggers such as Michael Hyatt, Amy Porterfield, Marcus Sheridan, and she’s passionate about helping you create content more strategically so that you can get the results you desire with your content strategy efforts.

Without further ado, I’d like to welcome Rebecca Livermore to the show.

Rebecca, thanks so much for being here today to discuss content strategy.

Thanks so much, Derek, for having me. I really appreciate it.

Awesome. Now, before we get started, take a second and just expand on my introduction. You’ve obviously been writing for a long time, but share your path to becoming the content strategy and creation expert and how you garnished all this knowledge. How did you become this content strategy resource for so many well-known bloggers today?

Okay, sure thing. As you said I’ve been writing for a really long time, which dates me a little bit, but that’s okay. If those people who are listening are younger, be encouraged that life continues on in a very fantastic way, even when your kids are … I’m actually an empty nester.

My husband and I had 2 kids who are now grown and married and out of the house and all of that. It’s actually an amazing time to be in business, to be writing and all of that because I have a lot of freedom and less responsibilities than when they were younger.

Anyway, I have a really interesting story about how I got started with working for people like Amy Porterfield and Michael Hyatt and all of these other people that I’ve been privileged to work for.

I just want to share the story because there’s a couple of lessons there that I think people can draw on and we can get into that in a little bit. I was working a regular job, and this was after 17 years of being a stay at home, home-schooling mom.

I ended up getting a job that was supposed to be temporary and I ended up being there 7 years. It just was a good fit. I loved the job, I loved the people, but I started feeling like I wanted to do something different.

I had been writing during this time. I wrote for companies like Yahoo and just did some other things. I had written for magazines back before the internet was a huge thing like it is now. I didn’t really know that I wanted to write full time. I wasn’t sure that that was what I wanted to do, but I just started having that restlessness in spite of loving my job like I did.

Somewhere in the process of that, I started following Social Media Examiner and at the time their main lead magnet was a video or maybe even a series of videos, I don’t remember, by Amy Porterfield on Facebook. I opted in and her videos were fantastic and so I ended up getting on her email list because I thought, “Wow, she really knows her stuff.”

She sent out an email promoting these Facebook strategy sessions. She had at that time just finished writing Facebook Marketing for Dummies, or Business for Dummies, one of those Dummies books on Facebook marketing.

She was freed up to do some other things, so I went to the sales page for this service that she was offering at the time and I noticed that there was … Well, it was more than a typo.

You know how when you’re editing your stuff and then you forget and part of a sentence doesn’t quite make sense? It was one of those kind of things. I was like, “I wonder if I should say something?” Not everyone responds when you point out a mistake.

I would never do it publicly but I just thought, “I’m going to just reach out to her and let her know.” I felt prompted to offer to do 50 pages of free editing for her. I reached out, I told her the mistake. I said, “I think what you meant to say is this and I would love to do this free editing and really the only reason is I know I would learn a lot from you.”

That was really true. I didn’t have any ulterior motives. The thought of working for her hadn’t crossed my mind. It was just something I felt like I should do is reach out and offer to help her.

She wrote back very graciously and says, “Agh, I hate it when I do stuff like that. I would love to take you up on your offer, but how about if to make it worth your time, I do a free Facebook strategy overhaul for you?” I said, “That would be great.”

Keep in mind I didn’t have a Facebook page. I didn’t have a business. I was working a job, but for whatever reason I said, “Sure, that would be great.”

The first part of that was a phone call with her so she could ask questions about your business and what are you doing and all that because she needed to know that stuff to then put together a strategy for you.

We get on the phone and I’m just telling her, “Yeah, I’m thinking about quitting my job and here’s what’s happening and here’s my skillset.” We were just talking. Again, the thought of working for her hadn’t crossed my mind at all. She said, “Well, when you’re ready to quit, I’ll be your first client.” I was like, “What?”

As it turns out she had a virtual assistant, and that’s actually how I started was a virtual assistant and then writing on the side, but she had a virtual assistant at that time that she was not happy with.

My skillset just happened to fit perfectly with what she needed, there was good chemistry between us, and all of that. Three weeks later I started working for her while I was still working my full time job, and that wouldn’t work for her at this point because her business is a lot bigger.

This was about five years ago and she and I were both in very different places. I still kept working my full time job. I’d get up in the morning, check stuff of hers, do it on my lunch break, check things. When I got home I’d work on stuff. It started off really just five hours a week and then it grew over time.

About five months into that is when I quit. Five or six months in is when I quit my job. Thankfully because of working for her, and she did have already at that time a good reputation and was pretty well-known, knowing I was going to quit my job I started reaching out to other people, basically just getting to know them and letting them know, “Hey, here’s what I’m going to be doing,” as it got closer.

One of those people was Marcus Sheridan. He was my second client. My third one was a guy that basically was one of Amy’s coaching clients. Amy was teaching on Facebook marketing and I used to help her with her webinars. I’d get on, I’d be the person behind the scenes responding on chat to people and helping troubleshoot and all this.

She just happened to say, “Hey, my assistant Rebecca is needing more clients.” That led to my third person.

It just went from there. Obviously once you have a good reputation, then it’s much easier to get clients. The way that it worked with Michael Hyatt was interesting, and again it was funny because I had not considered working for him. I hadn’t even thought of working for him.

When he was about to release his book, Platform, he decided to form a book launch team. At that time he was only taking 100 people. I ended up applying to be on the team and as it turns out they got so many people applying, I think something like 700 or something like that, that they just drew names and I happened to be one of the people that they drew their name.

One thing that they did is they had this private Facebook group and with it being just 100 people, we were interacting a lot. He was very involved. He did a fantastic job of making his launch team feel special and all of that, but I think because of being in that I was on his radar.

The people in the group were very helpful with each other. If somebody posted a question, like a writing related question, blogging related question or website content strategy question, I would get in there and help and that type of thing. That was just the nature of that particular group.

It was maybe six months after that, that he put something on his blog about looking for a podcast producer. I had at that time very minimal experience with podcasting, but I had helped Marcus Sheridan with his podcast. I was like, “Well, I at least know something.”

I definitely wasn’t very experienced, but I’m the type that if I’m sure I can do something, I go for it even if I know the odds maybe aren’t that great that I’ll get the job.

What ended up happening is I applied and I think because I was active in that Facebook group, his manager saw my name with the application come in and she replied back saying, “It’s nice to see a familiar name.” We started talking and all of that. Come to find out I ended up being in the final 3. That meant an interview, a phone interview with Michael.

Anyway, bottom line is the interview went very, very well but they selected somebody else so I didn’t get that position.

Then when Joy, his manager, emailed me to let me know I did not get that position she said, “But we were really impressed with you and I have a feeling that we will work with you in the future. Would you be open to that?” She said, “I don’t know what, I don’t know when, but would you be open to talking about that at some point in the future?” I said yes.

Maybe three months after that she reached out to me because she was writing, or together they were writing a job description for a content strategy manager for Michael. When they were writing it they thought of me and so reached out to me and at that time I didn’t even have to compete with anybody else. It was basically if I wanted the job that it was mine.

Anyway, that’s how that happened and then naturally there’s just a snowball effect because then these other people that I’m working for recommend me and generally speaking I had to turn people down rather than looking for work. That’s a story of how that all happened.

The lesson that I want to convey is if you really have a heart to help people, the doors will open for you.

Content strategies

With Amy I hadn’t even thought of working for her. I just saw a need and I had the ability to help her, so I reached out and offered. Then with Michael I was in his book launch team and was active in the community and all that so they got to know me. Even though I had not thought about working for either of them, they both ended up hiring me because of that.

You know, it’s interesting. I’ve interviewed so many entrepreneurs and I know so many entrepreneurs now, and it’s funny how many stories start similar to yours with not any specific intention other than to offer something good to somebody and a relationship forms because of that, and then it’s amazing what that can turn into.

I think that’s a really valuable lesson for everybody listening, and also connecting with the right people that effectively can open those doors for you, which is really fantastic.

I was really looking forward to this interview because it’s timely for me since I’m in that point in my business where I really want to scale up my content and focus more on content strategy. I’ll be honest, it can be a little difficult.

As I was saying to you before we got on the call, I used to have an office and in that I had a couple writers that worked for me full time and I had a lot of very close interaction and oversight.

You train them up over time, but now I’m at this point where I’m like, “Okay, I need to scale. I don’t have the bandwidth to create all the content. I need better content strategy.”

I want to find a team or build a resource of people that I can scale at a price point that makes sense as well.

Let’s start right at the beginning because I think most bloggers and digital entrepreneurs are like myself. We know quality content and content strategy is really the foundation of a good website, but we quickly realize that creating good consistent quality content is a ton of work.

What do we do to implement our content strategies? We head over to Upwork, we head over to Fiverr, we hire a writer, and we’re quickly disappointed with what we get back. Let’s start here.

What are the top mistakes that you think people are making right now, bloggers are making, digital entrepreneurs are making when they’re trying to outsource their writing? What are the mistakes we’re making with our content strategy? Let’s start there and then dive into more of the process.

Okay, sure.

I think that one content strategy mistake that comes to my mind immediately is expecting somebody to be able to come in quickly and know how to write content in a way that you want it written. Especially if your name’s going to be on it.

I’m personally not a big fan of hiring a ghostwriter, and by that I mean hiring somebody who is just going to do research and write stuff without your input necessarily and then slap your name on it. That type of thing. It’s not going to sound like you and it’s not great content strategy.

There’s a content strategy process that I have found that is very, very helpful and it’s what I call blogging your voice. It’s a service that I used to offer and may offer at some point in the future, but I’m going to just explain the process to you because you could use the same content strategy process with somebody other than me.

The way that it basically worked is that I got on Skype with somebody, the person who needed the content written, and ahead of time they had thought of what post they wanted to have written. We decided on, let’s say 4 blog posts or whatever that we were going to cover in one recording session. I had them outline the post.

They obviously didn’t have to write it or that would be pointless, but outline it just to have the talking points in front of them. Then we would just hit record. I would just say the title of the post so they would know which one we’re on and then they would start talking.

All the while it’s being recorded and I would sit there and I would make some notes like, “Ask them to explain this term,” or, “Can you tell a story? Do you have any illustrations?” That type of thing. Or if there was anything that they said that didn’t make sense, I would ask them to clarify it.

Then what I did is I handed that to a transcriber, somebody to transcribe it, and then I took it and wrote the post. I called this content strategy blogging your voice because as much as possible I use their words, but obviously it was cleaned up a lot more than a transcript.

It was well written. I might shift the order of things around to make them flow better and that type of thing. That, I think is a really good way of doing it and you can have one person … Well, you could even record without another person being online with you. I did have some people do that.

You lose the value of another party listening for things that maybe aren’t clear and asking questions and pulling out some of the good content, but it’s definitely possible to just do it on your own, to record it and then pay for somebody to transcribe it and then hand that to a writer.

The reason why I like this content strategy method is, first of all like I mentioned before, it’s your voice. It’s your personality. It’s the way that you would say things, the terms you would use and all of that, but then somebody’s taking it and turning it into a well written post.

You can definitely hire a transcriber inexpensively. It could be somebody on Fiverr, someone in the Philippines or something like that, so no need to have the writer do that because they’re probably going to charge more for their time than a transcriber.

Then hand that to the writer and have them take that information and create blog post or other written content for you.

If you have a lot of content on hand already, so for example you’ve done videos or webinars or things like that, you can also start with those things that you’ve already done and use that same process to where your content strategy is just basically repurposing the content but pulling in a writer who can take that content that you’ve already created in a different form and write some solid blog posts for you.

Okay, this is really interesting content strategy. Let’s dive into voice a little bit because I think voice is something that … In so much content I read online, there’s no voice.

You can tell that somebody’s hired a generic writer to go out there and just create an article. Although there’s information in it, there’s no voice. This is content strategy I try and communicate to my students, that your content needs to have your voice, but then I try to explain it and it falls flat.

As a writer, how would you explain voice?

To me, voice is how you would speak normally. A lot of times people get into writing mode and it’s almost like … I think it’s probably because we all were in school and had to write papers, and you didn’t really write with your voice typically in school.

You were following a list of rules and there were all these requirements and all of this, so I would say is just to really be yourself.

A great example of this is Marcus Sheridan. Marcus has done an amazing thing with content, but he never considered himself to be a writer. A lot of the people who are doing a lot of writing don’t consider themselves to be a great writer.

Marcus uses things, like he says, “Dang,” and, “Crapola,” stuff like that and that is how he talks and so that is how he writes. I think that’s the key. If somebody reads something that you’ve written or that somebody’s written for you, they should be able to almost picture you saying it if it’s somebody that knows you at all.

It’s funny because I used to do some guest posting for some different sites and I wrote for this one, and one of my friends, when she started reading it she hadn’t even seen my name and as soon as she started reading it she goes, “Oh, this is Rebecca that wrote this,” because I was just myself and my personality. I wasn’t trying to be anybody that I’m not. I think that’s really the key.

If you’re, let’s say, hyper-educated and your audience is super educated, the medical field or something like that, sure your tone is going to be different. You’re going to write in a very professional way.

For most people it’s going to be like you’re sitting down and having a cup of coffee with somebody and talking about whatever it is. Or let’s say you got an email from a friend and they asked you for advice, like in your case about being an entrepreneur.

They might ask a specific question about being an entrepreneur. How would you write to them? You probably wouldn’t use formal stuffy language or be super technical. It would just be like you’re having a conversation with them.

I think that that’s the best way to write with your voice, is to shut out that critic, stop trying to be professional or sounding smart or impressive or anything. Just be yourself.

Yeah. Going back to the content strategy mistakes, I think from my perspective the biggest mistake I see online today is content without a voice.

I feel that, I go to somebody’s blog … If I go to microsoft.com, you’re not expecting much voice. It’s a corporate voice, but when I land on somebody’s blog and I read it and it’s textbook, it’s like somebody wrote an essay, you don’t feel that same connection.

I think that’s a huge content strategy mistake that you’ve hit on that I think people need to be more aware of.
Something else I want to highlight there is writing conversationally.

It’s funny because we go to school and we’re taught this is the proper way to write grammatically and sentence structure and paragraph structure and et cetera, et cetera, but then if you ever want to write anything that is meaningful to communicate with people, you basically got to throw all that out and just write like you’re speaking.

If you go to Copywriting 101, if you’re writing sales copy which I’ve done a lot of, that is hands down so important.

Okay, let’s shift gear again. Let’s talk a little bit about when to outsource content, because this is another content strategy question I get.

There’s lots of people starting out, I’ve got lots of new entrepreneurs and they say, “Should I start to outsource content writing right away?” When do you think a blogger should look at outsourcing their content?

First of all, I say pretty early on. I would even say before you feel ready. The reason for that is whenever there’s anything big in life, we can often put it off. People will put off getting married until they’re ready. Maybe they want to have more income. Same thing with kids. When we’re ready.

Well, when are you ever going to be really ready? When will everything be perfect? It probably won’t happen.

I would say to go ahead and start before you feel ready, and the reason for that is if you wait until you’re desperate, that’s the worst time to hire somebody. When you’re desperate, you’re stressed out, you don’t have time to invest in training somebody and all of that. I say before you feel ready.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you need to run out and hire some full time person or an expensive person. You can start on places like Fiverr just for small jobs, because then at least you’re shifting your mindset to where you’re not doing everything yourself.

I think a lot of entrepreneurs, especially solopreneurs, are into that mindset of they want to bootstrap content strategy, and they don’t want to spend money. I totally get that because we’ve all been in that place, but the sooner rather than later to start getting help with your content and figuring out how to outsource content writing.

Some ways that I would say that you can tell for sure that it’s time is that you have tasks that you dread doing. We all have certain things, like let’s say for blogging. Maybe you like to write.

Let’s just assume somebody likes to write, but they hate formatting. They hate putting in SEO stuff. They hate finding an image or creating an image to go with it. They might write a post and then it takes a long time before it’s published because they keep putting off doing certain aspects of it.

That would be a huge thing, is knowing that you have things that you need to do but you dread doing them.

The second would be that customer service isn’t what it should be.

Let’s say that you are starting to monetize your platform in whatever way, whether it’s digital products or what have you. People reach out with a question about your product or they have a problem and you take 3 weeks to get back to them. Well, that’s not a good thing obviously.

That’s a sign that man, your business is going to die if you don’t improve customer service. You really need to hire help if you’re struggling with that.

Another thing is what happens if you take time off? Would your entire business fall apart? Is it totally 100% based on you doing everything? If you stopped, like if you took a one week vacation, everything would fall apart. That’s another sign.

If you’re too busy to take on new clients or to do other things to grow your business, because otherwise if you’re too busy to take on new clients or create content strategies or whatever it is that’s going to grow your business, then your business isn’t going to grow unless you hire somebody. That’s another huge thing.

I actually learned about this one exercise through Chris Decker. I don’t know if you know Chris and Pat Flynn, but they had done this in-person one day mastermind kind of thing and I signed up and I went to that. It was 25 people there.

Anyway, one exercise that Chris gave which I thought was fantastic was called Your 3 List to Freedom. Basically here’s how that works. You grab a pen and a paper and you draw 2 lines down the middle, so you end up with 3 columns.

In the first column you write down the things that you hate doing and most likely you procrastinate on those things. That goes with my first point of the stuff that you dread. You just hate it.

The second column are things that you can’t do. For example for me, I’m horrible with graphics. I’m an author but I would never design my own book cover because I just can’t do it. I mean, I could do it but it would look horrible, and I don’t know coding. If I have a problem with my website, I can’t fix it myself. I have to hire someone.

In the second column you’re going to write down those things that you can’t do. You just don’t have the skillset to do them.

Then the third column are the things that you can do and you might even like doing them, but as the business owner you shouldn’t be doing them. Basically what that means is that somebody else could do those things for you.

As an example for me, I write books. I like to format, like do the Kindle formatting and things like that. I’ve done that for clients. People have paid me to do it, but I could easily hire somebody else to do them and then instead of spending the time formatting, I could start writing my next book.

That’s the type of thing that goes into that third column.

Then once you do that, you look through that for a list of things that you can outsource. Obviously you may not be able to outsource everything, but look at the stuff that’s in the dread column and the can’t do column and start with those things to make a content plan and one at a time start hiring people to do those task for you.

That’s a fantastic exercise.

Mm-hmm, it is great. That’s why I wanted to share it, but I can’t take credit for it because that’s … Chris is the king of outsourcing with his virtual assistant agency and all of that.

He obviously has a ton of experience, but a lot of times people think, “I don’t even know what to hire somebody to do.” You’ll have a whole list if you do that exercise.

Absolutely. That’s so key too. Once you overcome that mental block of having to do everything yourself and create a content plan to begin outsourcing those things you don’t want to do, you’re going to watch your business take off.

I can’t tell you how many of my students, how many entrepreneurs I’ve worked with, started off trying to be the superhero and do everything. Then all of a sudden the light comes on and they start outsourcing and just boom. They just watch their results take right off, which is fantastic.

Once you figure it out, “I need to outsource this,” the next most common content strategy question that I get is, “What should my budget be? How much should I be paying writers? How much should I be paying transcriptionists? How much is this going to cost me?”

Help us out there. How do you budget this?

Okay, sure. First of all I want to share a resource, a book that I read that really helped me out. It’s called Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. I don’t know if you’ve read that, but he’s written some other books as well, I think The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and some other things.

Mike shares his story about how he was making a ton of money and ended up bankrupt. That’s the short version.

This book is all about how to handle your business finances and it’s actually very simple. If you’re not the accounting type or really into numbers and all of that, you can still take what is in his book and use that.

A basic breakdown that he does is taking all of the income that comes into your business, all of the money that comes in, and putting 50% towards owner’s pay. That’s your paycheck. 15% to taxes, 5% into a profit account, and 30% operating expenses.

Those are just guidelines. You could change it up but that’s a good starting point.

Let’s say that you had $1,000. $300 of that could go into your operating expenses account. That means that’s money to run your business. There’s going to be certain things that come out of that, web hosting and whatever. The nuts and bolts things that you have to have.

Obviously if you’re ready to hire help, hopefully you have more than $1,000 a month coming in. If not, it’s still a good place to start because you’re still paying yourself and you’re still putting money aside for taxes and things like that, and you’re putting money into a profit account so you’re gradually building the profit of your business.

That’s a starting point is to have a certain amount of money that you set aside for your operating expenses. He actually has you put it into different accounts so that you don’t just have all this money in one account and then you just spend it because it’s in there. That’s what unfortunately human nature, you see it and you think, “I’ve got this money. I can do whatever.”

What I would do is whatever’s in your operating expense account, look at that and then look at your cost, the actual cost of running your business and what do you have left? That at least gives you a figure of how much wiggle room you have, how much money you have to spend on hiring people.

That is definitely the starting point, and then looking at what’s the going rate for whatever it is that you need to have done. There’s going to be a huge range depending on quality, where the person’s located and things like that. Make a budget from there.

Think, “Gosh, I can afford to hire a transcriber.” Maybe you’re great at speaking and you could hire a transcriber but you might have to still edit it yourself because you can’t quite afford a writer to do it. Or maybe you can afford a writer but you can only afford to have them do two posts a month or one a week or whatever it may be.

That is definitely a great place to start. Again going back to that list of that exercise, is you can also look at all of the different content strategy things that you have on the list and some of them are going to be more expensive to outsource than others.

Anyway, I hope that helps with giving an idea of a place to start with just figuring out a content strategy budget so that you can hire someone while still having the money to pay your web hosting or some other necessity.

Yeah, of course. That’s a fantastic framework for now, coming up with a budget. I think that’s a very valuable process for people to go through.

Now, one of the big content strategy challenges though that people run into is once they’ve figured out the budget, they don’t even know how to pay a writer or what they should pay, what’s a fair amount to pay. Should they pay per word? Should they pay per article? Should they pay per hour? How do you pay writers?

That’s a great question and I know the answer. “It depends” is the answer everybody hates, but there is such a broad range with experience and where somebody is living and things like that. Again, everybody has a little different way of doing it.

Some charge by the word. Some will charge a range, like for a 400 to 600 word blog post I’ll charge this much, for 1,000 words I’ll charge this much. If it needs research and things like that they’re going to charge more. All of that.

What I do when I first have somebody approach me, and if somebody doesn’t offer this to you here’s what I would recommend. Recommend you having them do a practice one for a decent price, whatever they feel that decent price would be.

For example if somebody says, “I want you to write content based on my videos,” I’ll listen to a video and I’ll think, “How fast do they talk? Do they have a heavy accent? How much work is it going to be for me?”

I basically evaluate and then I give a price quote based on how much work that I think it will be. For somebody else they might have a flat rate.

What I would say if your content strategy budget is tight, there’s a couple of ways that you can go. One is hiring somebody like a college student, because there’s a lot of very talented, very quality people that are still in college and yet they don’t have a lot of experience.

It’s a win-win because they might not charge you as much as somebody with a lot of experience, and yet it’s a win for them also because it beats working fast food or retail or something like that. They’re building their resume and they have a job, if you hire them, that’s flexible and all of that. That’s one way that you can hire somebody that’s on the lower end.

The other of course is hiring somebody from the Philippines. You do have to be careful with that, simply because there’s culture and there’s other things that come in and it could make where the quality’s not good or it doesn’t sound like you. That’s two things there and I’m sorry I can’t give you a more definite, but there’s a broad range.

I’ll give you a couple of writers that I was in touch with just recently. One charges 50 cents per word, so that could be quite a hefty price but she’s an excellent writer and does really in depth research and things like that.

She writes for a lot of big name blogs like Kissmetrics and different things like that. She’s at the high end. There’s another lady that I talk to and she charges $85 an hour, so that’s not cheap either. Either of those didn’t always charge that and yet they were good writers.

Like I say it’s really, really difficult because it’s finding somebody who has the ability, who maybe needs a little bit of feedback or that type of thing but overall they are a good writer and willing to take instruction from you.

Like I say if you could do something like the blogging your voice option that I mentioned earlier, chances are if somebody has writing ability they’re going to be able to take that transcript of something that you’ve done and create quality content with it for a pretty reasonable price, even if they’re not super experienced, as long as they have the talent to do it.

Right. Okay, so two content strategy things to drill into here. First, any tips on where to find good writers? When you’re recruiting are there any websites, any particular places that you like to go and look?

Where I would go and look first of all, word of mouth. That’s always a good thing. If you know somebody who is using a writer and they’re happy with that person, then I would obviously start there.

I just happen to have somebody come to mind that might be a good fit for you and so I can tell you afterwards. I don’t know what he charges, but from what I know he’s very reasonable. Another one of my clients that has hired me for coaching has this guy write his content and I don’t think he charges a terrible amount.

Some of that is just that whole word or mouth thing. Ask around like, “Hey, do you know anyone who’s a writer that I could hire?” Then getting a referral.

The other thing that I would look at would be places like Upwork. Obviously there’s a whole range of prices and different countries, different experiences levels and all of that.

With a site like that you want to look at things like their rating. How many hours have they put in? Upwork will show how many hours they’ve worked through Upwork and what is their rating. You can even sort it where it’s 90% and higher or things like that of satisfaction. Then you can read the reviews just like any other site nowadays. People will review people.

What I would do then is start really small. Give them one assignment that is like, “Write a 500 word blog post.” You give them the specific instructions for it. You’re not saying, “I want to hire you to write content for my site.” You’re basically saying, “I want to hire you to write this one post for me.”

That’s what I’ve often done when I’m hiring someone. I’ll give them one thing to do. I might even, and this costs a little bit up front, but I might even give that exact same assignment to, say, three different writers that I’ve found and then see whose I like the best.

Sadly one thing you do need to do is run what you get through something like Copyscape because sometimes, especially if they’re a low cost writer, some of those will rip content off. Sadly that’s just a reality.

When you’re first starting with them and especially if they’re cheap, they’re looking for ways to cut corners and make more money per hour and so they might just rip it off or rip off big parts of it from somebody else or whatever.

That would be what I would do, is give them an assignment for one thing, maybe give it to three people, evaluate which one you like the best, and then give them a slightly bigger assignment. Let’s say four blog posts or that type of thing.

Once you feel like they’re doing good work and a good fit, then you can talk about then, “Hey, I’d like to make some kind of an arrangement with you where you write this much content for me every month for this flat fee.” That type of thing.

Then you get away from the whole nickel and dime kind of thing where they’re charging for every little thing, and you know exactly what your budget is and they know exactly what they’re going to get paid. It’s good for everybody, so just going from there.

Right, okay. One content strategy question for you. When you’re hiring a writer, are you expecting that writer to send you something that’s fully edited and proofed as well or would that be somebody you would send to do it separately?

Generally speaking, I expect a writer to have good enough skills that you shouldn’t have to pay somebody else to edit. That’s just my opinion on it, is that’s part of being a good writer is writing and then maybe putting it aside for a day and then proofreading it to make sure that it’s good.

With all of the people that I’ve done writing for, nobody else looked at it after I published it.

That’s a content strategy key too is give them time to proofread. What I mean by that is it’s not good to write something and immediately proofread it. Chances are you’ll miss mistakes just because you’re too familiar.

People need to have at least a few hours and even better a day or two after they finish writing it before they go back and proofread it. Now, obviously if they procrastinate, you don’t have any control over when they’ll get it done or when they’ll start on it, but if your expectations are reasonable, they’re going to have time to do a better job for you.

They’re going to have time to write it and proofread it, whereas if you give something to them at the very last minute and you’re like, “I need this to go live tomorrow morning,” and it’s 10:00 at night that you give it to them, they’ll maybe meet the deadline but they might have more typos and that type of thing in it.

Fair enough, yeah. I guess the only content strategy exception would be is if you’re hiring somebody to write on something because they’re the topic expert but writing’s secondary for them. Then I guess in that case it would be reasonable to expect editing.

If you’re hiring a professional writer, I tend to agree that they should be able to proof it. What about additional services? For example when you’re working with writers, would you expect that if you gave them keywords they’re going to be able to optimize it for keywords, image suggestions, formatting? What’s the expectation there?

Again, it depends a lot on the person’s skillset. Let’s say for example, I’m assuming you use WordPress, you would want to hire a writer that has WordPress experience, because then they’re going to be able to … They’re not going to just email you this thing that they wrote and you have to deal with it.

You can set it up where they can log in, they can upload it, they can format it, they can add in the keywords and all of that.

Now, one thing that I will say is that it pays to take the time to train somebody properly when you’re hiring someone to help with your content strategy plan. I’ll give you an example. Someone that is fantastic with this is Michael Hyatt.

Website content strategy

Michael, when he has somebody work for him, he creates these incredible step by step process with screen grabs, with everything. “Step one: do this, and here’s the screen grab of exactly what I want you to do.” He’ll give tips, like let’s say for keywords or that type of thing.

Anyway, obviously you don’t necessarily have to go that far, but it can really pay off in the long run if you know how to do something yourself, like you’ve been doing this all along and you’re up on SEO and that type of a thing.

The person that you’re hiring maybe doesn’t have that same level of experience but they can learn. If you take the time and you create a process and all they have to do is go through and follow the instructions, and then you can give them feedback on what they do.

Assuming they have the ability to do it, in no time they’ll be able to do everything on their own.

Fantastic. All right, so last question for you, Rebecca. If people want to connect with you, if they want to find out more about what you’re doing with content strategy, where can they connect?

Sure. My website is professionalcontentcreation.com and that is by far the best place for people to connect with me. There’s my blog there and I try to obviously keep my own content updated regularly.

People can also connect with me on Twitter, @RLivermore and on Facebook at facebook.com/contentcreation.

That’s awesome. Well Rebecca, thank you so much for your time today and for sharing so much on content strategy. I grilled you.

Well, I enjoyed it.

That was awesome. You had answers for everything and you went way deeper into content strategy than I expected so that’s great. Thank you so much for being here today, Rebecca. I do appreciate it.

Thank you, Derek.

Fantastic. All right, everyone. That was writer and content creating expert Rebecca Livermore and as always any links mentioned in the interview will be included in the show notes along with the entire transcript of this episode.

You’ll find all of it at entrepreneurignited.com/podcast.

Now it’s time to take all the tips, tools, and content strategy you learned here today and apply that final essential ingredient, and that is take action.

Take the content strategy, start looking at ways to outsource your content so that you can start freeing up your time to scale your business and focusing on what you’re good at.

Go forth, take action.

This is your host Derek Gehl signing off.

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