It’s easy to get carried away with success and forget our roots.
By roots, I mean the work and strategy that resulted in success in the first place.
It’s so easy to veer off the proven path.
I’ve done it several times over the years.
For example, there was a period of 6 months or so where I abdicated the running of my niche sites. I seldom checked up on them. After some time, I dove in to see what was going on and while it wasn’t a disaster, it wasn’t quite up to snuff.
I don’t forget that. I monitor every site weekly and my bigger sites daily. I check it to make sure titles, images and content is as it should be.
I also still write for my niche sites. While not necessary with capable editorial oversight, it was my writing that grew them to decent levels in the first place. Many of my articles from years ago continue to perform very well.
“I write for the reader but optimize for search.”
What this means is I write the article that I would want to read as a visitor but I also do basic keyword/topic research so that it has the most potential for search traffic.
You need to explain this to your writers and/or embrace it yourself if you write.
I loathe the term “SEO writing” because in my experience that’s akin to lousy writing. I do not hire any writer who has a bio that includes “SEO writer”.
If oversight is so important, how do you scale?
Scaling is hard. I’ve still not perfected it. I’m in a scaling phase and continue ironing out wrinkles.
A good starting point is hiring writers or outsourcing content but only do so with instructions that result in the exact content you need. That content needs to echo the content that got you to this point or be better.
You still need to review the work at this stage. Don’t be shy asking for revisions. In time, your writers either understand your needs or you need to find other writers.
The next phase is hiring an editor who 100% understands what you want. It may take plenty of back and forth with them, but if they’re good, they will get it.
This content publishing isn’t rocket science.
They just need to get in sync with what you need.
At this point, you still want to keep your eye on things. Check in daily or weekly and review recent content. If it’s not up to par, say so.
What does that leave you to do?
It gives you time to run your business working on things like monetization opportunities/testing. It also takes off the pressure to crank out content. Instead, you can write on the topics you want to write about. That’s what I do.
Yesterday, I penned a 2,000 word hotel review from a recent trip for my travel blog. I enjoyed our stay and loved the hotel. I had 30 photos for the review I took while staying at the hotel. It was fun to write about the short trip.
It was the easiest thing to write because I lived it. I couldn’t outsource it unless I found someone who stayed at the same place and even then it’s not likely they took photos.
When to stray from your roots
On the flip side, things evolve.
We have to adapt.
For example, ranking content in search is a more involved process than it was 10 years ago. Google’s requirements and ranking factors have evolved. Link building alone has changed dramatically, so much so, I don’t bother. I prefer attracting links naturally.
Generally, content must be better today than years ago in order to rank. Keyword stuffing is pointless and even detrimental.
Organic Facebook traffic is not nearly as easy or plentiful as it was 6 years ago. I know some folks are still killing it on Facebook, but it’s not like it was. Publishers either evolved or went out of business.
How do you know when to stick to roots or evolve processes?
On the surface, this seems like a difficult question to answer, but it’s not.
Looking back, I wish I had built and grown my first niche sites as I do today with a sole focus on publishing good content targeting obscure, low competition keywords.
This strategy worked great 10 years ago. It works today.
The only reason I didn’t do it 10 years ago is that there were many shortcuts such as spammy link building and ranking thin content was possible.
Had I focused on publishing in-depth, well-written content within a broad niche, I could have an industry-leading site today.
Fortunately, I saw the writing on the wall 6 years ago and since then I haven’t looked back.
These days I stick to publishing good content. That model isn’t going to change for the foreseeable future. It’s been a viable model for many years.
Whether I outsource or write it myself, the key is that the content is good. That’s it. In fact, I continue striving to make it better. It can always be better.
Another area that we need to quickly evolve in the online publishing sphere is site speed. I believe this will become more and more important.
It’s something I’m working on and investing in currently.
This wasn’t much of an issue 8 years ago, but it sure is now.
Improving site speed doesn’t change the need for publishing good content. The two work hand-in-hand.
So while I stick to my roots, I must evolve the tech side of things. As much as I loathe dealing with tech, I’d be a fool to ignore it.
If you like the simple strategy of building up a long term online content business and need some pointers along the way, check out my batch of courses on blogging.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.