When December of 2017 came to a close, I wrote my goals for the upcoming New Year down on my whiteboard.
One in particular was a big, bold goal for Express Writers, which I’ve been running for six years now (seven if you count my first year as a freelancer).
I’d never physically wrote this goal down before, although I’d been thinking of it for months.
In my goal list, I wrote down “new system launch” first. That’s because I truly didn’t think our $100,000 month would come before our new build of Express Writers teamroom and ecommerce client system, which has been estimated to take 5-8 months as a custom development timeframe minimum, over 2018. We have a development team in place for this new build, and Josh our CTO (my husband) is leading the initiative. It’s costing a ton, but it’s necessary as a smoother machine to run our growing business.
Well, in January of 2018, the little (big) goal I’d written down came true.
To my shock, we surpassed $120,000.
For the month, across all the content services we offer, our team wrote a collective estimated 1,851,200 words.
In this report, first, we’ll go into a visual representation of what our January content accomplishment looks like: next, three core reasons from me on why we were able to successfully take this on, and stay light and agile: finally, we have a client reminder on our policy, turnaround and communication. Let’s jump in!
The Data in Pictures: Express Writers vs. 1,851,200 Words (Infographic)
In January of 2018, our content creation agency Express Writers had its busiest month ever! We had over 282 orders placed, and we served more than 50 clients, focusing on repeat clients (many of our repeat clients placed 32-40 orders throughout the month).
We saw a 99% success rate on projects completed (we revise if our clients aren’t happy, and refund if the client is not a good fit).
Overall, we completed:
- 625 blogs and articles
- 606 expert industry-specialized blogs and web pages
- 1069 product descriptions
- 7 press releases
- 7 social media packages
Many of the blogs were long-form. If we average the word count at 800w to account for shorter items like social media copy, the total word count we wrote was 1,851,200 words. We even served customers in more than 10 countries!
Why We Hit 1.8 Million Words in a Month: 3 Cores that Took Years of Hard Work, Trial and Error
I know a lot of business gurus that say things like:
“Write it down, and the universe will respond and make it true.”
I’m going to get real for a second so I’m not misleading anyone.
Listen in closely…
Our major goal did not come true only because I wrote it down.
In fact, the underlying structures, years of groundwork that we’d been refining for months, are really what made this goal come true.
And everything just happened to fall into place finally in January, 2018.
1. We have the best staff I’ve ever hired finally in place, true role direction, and real capacity
A new move that took a while to work out was expanding our Editor role into a Quality Assistant role, a staff role I brainstormed in August 2017 to replace our struggling, low-success Editor role. We monitored, trained, and added new QAs, eventually, this role grew to have 300% more stability and success than our Editorial role that I had for five years prior.
Our expert writers, authority copywriters, content strategists, social media copywriters, continue to fall into place. Out of 200 interviewed writers in January, we added 15 new writers to our team. I live by the mantra “less is more” for our team, finding the right people and giving them full-time work is a winning formula. And the capacity we can take on with just one new writer is staggering: sometimes, 24,000 additional words/week. So, 15 new writers can mean that we can handle 360,000 additional words in a week, or 1.4 million words in a month. Because I remained focused on hiring this month (I interviewed daily), we didn’t even max out our writer team with the busy month we just had.
Because of our role structure, I’m free to do what I do best: write thought leadership blogs, run a Facebook group that links to our Twitter chat, share Instagram stories, refresh and update all our marketing strategies, run my course and write my next books.
2. Our inbound content rankings and industry trust is through the roof, a combination of a 1,000-hour project and 6 years of work
Industry positioning and organic inbound marketing takes time.
This month, our organic rankings are coming in at 12,600 keywords. We recently crossed the 1,000-published blogs mark. That took 6 years of consistent, in and out, day after day, content creation. We outrank our competitors on Google by an average 4-6% visibility. These are big reasons companies choose us to write their online content.
Next, my comprehensive course at www.contentstrategycourses.com and the accompanying book, Practical Content Strategy & Marketing, has been spreading like wildfire (89 copies of my book sold in the last few weeks with NO ads, and we’re nearing 40 students enrolled in the course). The course build took 1,000 hours of my time in 2017.
Through guest speaking appearances, my Facebook group, Twitter chat and organic connections, I’ve been spreading the knowledge of the course I created. The only paid marketing is $5/day for Facebook ad retargeting (through an installed Facebook pixel). This ensures people who visit the course site once don’t forget about it. Since Facebook targets people who are in my group, they get a double-whammy reason to invest in my strategic training.
The growth in trust has been confirmed every time I log onto social media. I received an Instagram story on my account at @fementrepreneur from a marketer who purchased my book, had his office read it, talked to JJ and bought $700 worth of content services within the same week.
It’s hard to track the actual dollar from organic positioning through inbound content, but trust me, it happens — and in a BIG way. (We’re working on industry resources to help define this better. Stand by!)
#3 is another example of this.
3. We were featured in Forbes the first week of January
Marketer Joe Escobedo featured a story on my company, which I sent to our list and we shared heavily on all platforms. This instantly grew our trust and had a great impact on our existing audience list. The tweet where I shared this article has over 104 likes. That’s with no paid promotion or ads. I’ve also been mentioned online quite a bit more frequently because of the Forbes piece.
This just went live via @Forbes.
— Julia McCoy (@JuliaEMcCoy) January 8, 2018
Strategic Thinking + Time + Perseverance = Pays Off
In a recent staff meeting, I asked our full-time executive Content Director, why she thought we hit our first $120,000 month, and she confirmed my thoughts: “We have happy clients… we are focusing on the kinds of clients we want… your book… we have a good system and can handle a lot… I think it’s a combination of things.” It’s a series of events, coming together. (Not unfortunate events, for my fellow Lemony Snicket fans. 😉
Client Policy Reminder, What’s Coming, & a Few Communication Rules
I want to end this report by reminding everyone who orders with us (thank you so much for trusting us with your content!), that when you sign our policy, which every client does before they pay for their content order, it binds you to our deadlines and rules.
Please stay familiar with our turnaround times, listed on the Policy page. Although most of the time we can get content done sooner, if that time frame is outside our specified turnaround times, it will qualify for a rush fee.
Once you approve an order, it’s hard for us to go back and ask the writer to make changes: be sure to send revisions in a timely manner (we allow up to two revisions for free, which is usually all it takes to succeed on a new client project). The cutoff time for asking for revisions is within 14 days once we upload the finished content to your account.
Next, please remember that emailing back to reply to a project status, or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, is not the best way to reach us. Use your account area to leave a comment on your project so our admins can see it right away, and email in to the right department using the Contact page. If you have direct staff emails, that is also a great way to reach us.
We don’t ask our staff to check email and voicemails 24/7 on weekends, so please don’t expect immediate Saturday and Sunday answers. It’s important to recharge our brains on those days, rest, and get ready for a full week of work.
In the Works: New Teamroom, Internal-Only Proprietary Training
Finally, we’re excited to share that the Content Shop will be getting completely updated this year, for an easier, better, more enhanced experience for our clients! Stay tuned for that. It’s a lot of custom development work, and will require time, effort, and investment for a company that’s completely bootstrapped.
Also, last weekend (February 2), I just launched an internal course on Teachable for our writers and staff only, training them in 2018 standards on SEO content, overall content strategy, and content conversion optimization basics.
We may be one of the only writing agencies that offers custom curriculum written just for their writers! This will continue to ensure we can serve our clients with the best service possible.
Video: My Agency Wrote 1.8 Million Words this January! 3 BIG Reasons Why We Hit Our Busiest Month Ever
Conclusion: We’re Excited for 2018, and Thrilled We Can Continue Serving You!
January 2018 was one heck of a start to a year!
We can’t wait to continue serving our clients with amazing content throughout 2018.
Here’s to your success in content marketing! You can count on us to always strive to have that at heart.