After blogging for the last 10 years, I feel like I finally have a decent process in place for outsourcing content creation.
I still write a lot of my own stuff (like this article), but over time I’ve realized I don’t need to write every word of every article that gets published on my sites.
There are other writers that are better, faster, and cheaper than I am!
Content creation is critically important to my businesses. Depending on the site, 65-85% of the traffic comes from organic search.
(And Google tends to rank pages, or articles, instead of homepages.)
So how do I go about outsourcing content that finds its way to the first page of Google?
Here’s my general process.
Figuring out What Keywords to Target
The first step is figuring out what to write about. I do this in a number of ways:
- Suggested search terms in Google auto-complete. Type in seed keywords and then hit the space bar. Then try it again going through the alphabet letter by letter.
- Site search results in Google Analytics for queries on my own site (what are people typing in but not finding great results for?).
- AnswerThePublic.com. (Punch in your topic and watch all the related queries pop up.)
- Competitive site research in ahrefs.com (a premium tool but well worth it).
- Customer questions.
One thing to keep in mind is to NOT simply create content for the sake of maintaining some sort of arbitrary publishing schedule.
A friend of mine put it this way: “if you’re going to spend time creating something, you better have a plan in place for how it’s going to generate traffic (and income).”
Sad to say, but I’ve written hundreds of articles that almost no one read. Doing the keyword research upfront, and creating content with intention, helps avoid that.
Estimating Search Volume and Competitiveness
Before I decide to create an article targeting a specific keyword or phrase, I want to know if that keyword or phrase is something people are actually searching for.
You can get this metric from ahrefs, the Google Keyword Planner inside your AdWords account, or from a free tool like the What’s My Serp Everywhere browser extension.
For me, keywords that are searched 500 times a month or more are generally worth going after, but for certain “buyer intent” keywords I’ll go lower.
Perhaps the more important consideration is competitiveness of the keyword. Ahrefs will give you an estimate of how hard it is to rank for that keyword.
The lower the number the better, and I’ll prioritize articles that have higher search volume metrics and a KD or keyword difficulty score under 10.
Research and Outlining
If I have a general knowledge on the topic, I’ll create the outline myself. Normally this involves writing down the common questions the article should answer.
If it’s something I don’t know much about, I’ll assign it to Fancy Hands for research. I let the assistant know they can spend up to 3 tasks (about an hour) on the research. (If you’re on the “Professional” plan, that’s about $15 worth of research.)
They deliver this back to me in a Google Doc, which I pass along to my writer. For certain routine articles, I can just add the outline/research doc to a certain folder in Dropbox, which will automatically trigger an email to him thanks to IFTTT.
Getting the Content Written
The next step is for the writer to draft the article. I provide the outline and research, along with the keyword to target and the desired word count.
I have a few writers I work with. A couple I connected with through my network but the other I found on FreeeUp. For the sake of reference, they charge anywhere from $12 to $100 per 1000 words.
Related: Here of some of our top-rated content writing services.
When they’re done, my writer will add the content to WordPress in draft form.
Then, my assistant (from OkayRelax) goes in and formats the article based on our process, adds images, and adds the title, meta description, and categories.
Before hitting “publish”, I give the article one final review. This includes editing for voice, proofreading for any typos, and occasionally adding internal links to related content.
This follows the 10/80/10 rule of outsourcing I’ve discussed before. I do the 10% of work upfront in the form of keyword discovery and research, Fancy Hands, the writers, and my assistant do the 80% in the middle, and I do the final 10% review before publishing at the end.
Following this process, I’ve landed several new “first page of Google” articles in the last 12 months, worth thousands of visitors every month.
I’m sure this will evolve over time, but I’m feeling pretty solid about this outsourced content process and wanted to share.
How do you tackle content marketing? Are you writing everything yourself? Do you have a similar process in place?
Let me know in the comments below.