This is one of the most important posts I’ve published on this website. The reason it’s so important is it sets out how to ramp up website content production from a solo writer to building a team without losing money.
One of the most common questions I’m asked is how to economically scale content production for a website. It’s not an easy thing to do if you want to maintain high standards for your site.
A year ago, getting 2 posts published per day on my biggest niche site was a good day.
And that was with some serious outsourced overhead costing me on average $26 USD per hour. You can imagine the costs piled up. Some articles took 10 or more hours to produce. That’s very expensive.
Granted, for $26 per hour, I didn’t have to do much. The project manager handled everything It was kinda nice except the problem was the output was simply too expensive. That said, I did also pay for the project manager’s time.
I figured there had to be a cheaper way without sacrificing quality.
I approached content production as if I were manufacturing widgets.
The end result: I more than doubled the amount of content I publish each day at less than half the cost.
Here’s what I did.
Table of Contents
- STEP 1: Changed the format of my site
- STEP 2: Identified 8 types of articles I wanted to focus on
- STEP 3: Gathered Reams of Data in My Niche
- STEP 4: Published high quality examples of each type of post
- STEP 5: Hired 2 full time Filipinos
- STEP 6: Compiled a list of 90 article topics
- STEP 7: Hired 3 writing services
- STEP 8: Re-launched my guest post invitation page
- STEP 9: Set up Wordable or Mammoth .docx Converter Plugin
- STEP 10: Edit
- STEP 11: Promote
STEP 1: Changed the format of my site
This was huge. This spanned many months.
Please note that this is not necessary for you to do. My niche site is unique and so it needed some retooling in order for me to get it to do what I always wanted it to do. If your site is working the way you want it, you need not do this. Proceed to the next step.
The reason this step was important for me to being able to publish more content was it involved tagging and categorizing 40,000 images. By tagging and categorizing all images, I’m now able to produce differently themed photo galleries in seconds with the Content Views Pro plugin.
This entire process took many, many months. I tested many plugins and themes. Once I settled on the tools, it was a matter of setting up taxonomies and planning out the site.
The final stage was hiring Filipinos to tag and categorize.
However, the effort paid off because I can now generate galleries very quickly. The only thing left to do is write the content. BTW, that’s the thing with image rich sites… you must manage both photos and content.
If you have a text-heavy site, obviously this whole process means nothing to you.
STEP 2: Identified 8 types of articles I wanted to focus on
Since content is my “widget”, I needed to streamline content production. Part of that included identifying a set number of blog post types I would focus on .(i.e. fewer options makes training easier and higher output cheaper).
It’s like manufacturing; it’s easier to scale and reduce cost per widget when you have one model compared to 20 models. Same thing with content.
That said, I don’t want to pair it down to just one type of article either. It’s a balance. The key is to come up with articles for which the format and concept will be similar so that your writers can efficiently write them knowing exactly how you like them.
How did I choose article types?
I chose based on what types of articles in the past have performed best. That’s what I went with.
Each type is designed to attract different types of traffic.
- Some is for Pinterest and Facebook
- Some is for Google search
- Some works with both.
- Some are designed to attract photo submissions and guest posts.
Another aspect of identifying 8 types of articles was taking it a step further and identifying universal sections in each article so that each article, regardless of topic, could be written based more or less on a template.
STEP 3: Gathered Reams of Data in My Niche
I’m still gathering data, but am getting to the tail end.
While retooling my site, I knew that the new format would result in a much better user experience. However, I also wanted the actual content to be unique and better than anything on the web in my niche. This is not so easy.
This meant I need to up the ante and come up with ways that I could make my content truly stand out.
While I’ve incorporated many “content enhancers” in most of my content, the biggest enhancer I’ve deployed in a lot of the content is data. By data, I’m referring to statistics, numbers, volume, colors, percentages, averages, etc. within my niche in the form of charts and tables.
The interesting thing about using data in your site is you can tweak data presentation so that it can be used in many articles. And so that’s what I’m doing and so far it’s a huge success.
In fact, now I can easily add tables and charts to guest posts and outsourced content in minutes because I have folders of this stuff.
What does this mean for you?
It means that if you can collect data in your niche, do it. Then create as many variations and presentations of that data as you can so that it can be helpful information in a variety of topics.
STEP 4: Published high quality examples of each type of post
What I mean here is that I find writers and guest posters benefit tremendously from checking out examples of the type of articles I’m asking them to write.
Accordingly, I wanted to ensure I had high-quality articles of each type on my site to point to as examples of what I expect.
This was a lot of work because I had to do it all myself. I put my all into each post because I wanted these to serve as examples to all writers and guest post contributors.
In fact, I didn’t just write one for each type. I wrote several because I find that the more articles of a certain type I write, the better they evolve. I figure out additional content enhancers to include, formatting concepts and organizational methods.
STEP 5: Hired 2 full time Filipinos
I love working with Filipinos. They’re smart and hard working. They usually know quite a bit about online marketing since they have a nice growing industry there for outsourcing.
At $400 to $450 USD per month, Filipinos are a very good hire if you hire them for the right task and train them well.
I hired Filipinos to manage all photo tagging and categorization. They also do outreach (inviting professionals to contribute to the site). These are very defined, relatively simple tasks that they do very well and fairly fast. Some days I’m amazed at how much they get done.
Should you hire Filipinos?
If you have any recurring tedious tasks, yes, hire a Filipino. Even if it’s for 10 hours per week, that’s ten hours you have for something else. At $3.00 per hour, 10 hours per week is $30. That’s not much given the amount of additional time you’ll have for other tasks.
But, if you have no recurring, tedious tasks, then don’t.
STEP 6: Compiled a list of 90 article topics
I knew I was going to outsource a ton of content. In order to do so, I need topics to provide. Fortunately I know my niche so well coming up with 90 articles only took about 2 hours.
My first order was huge because there is a one to two week lag before content is returned. I wanted to build up a solid inventory of content so that I can publish 4 pieces every day.
STEP 7: Hired 3 writing services
I hired 3 distinct writing services. Each one for a specific purpose. I assigned each the topics and provided detailed video instructions.
In fact, your instructions are very important. You need to be extremely specific. You can read exactly how I order content here.
STEP 8: Re-launched my guest post invitation page
This has been an absolute smashing success in helping me ramp up my content production while keeping costs low (as in no cost… free content).
My guest post page sets out, in detail, all my requirements for submitting a guest post. Despite being fairly demanding, I get anywhere from one to four guest post inquiries per day. At least one to two of those inquiries turns into a free, high-quality article.
I wrote all about how to get loads of free guest post content here.
STEP 9: Set up Wordable or Mammoth .docx Converter Plugin
I’m not going to give away his name because I keep people who contact me anonymous unless they expressly tell me otherwise, but once I again I have a big thank you for a reader for suggesting Wordable. I now specify all guest post content to be fully formatted with images in a Google Doc. Wordable takes that doc and imports directly into my WordPress website with one click. It’s amazing.
I’m also getting all outsourced writing returned in Google docs, which means now I don’t need to pay for outsources to work in my sites’ backend. They just send me a Google doc and I can have it imported fully formatted in about 2 seconds.
Go with the free Mammoth .docx convert plugin plugin to import .docx. Since this post was published, I switched to Mammoth and really like it. It’s fast, the resulting code in WordPress is clean and it’s free.
STEP 10: Edit
I’m quality control. I hit the publish button. That means I have to take time to ensure each article is up to my standards. This takes time. If I just had to click publish, I could publish 12 articles per day, but that’s not my style.
I spend about 2 to 4 hours editing the days’ content. Some days it’s a light load because the articles just happened to be spot on; other days they require plenty of editing.
The important thing is quality is paramount and so until I hire an editor (next stage), it’s up to me to ensure what gets published is excellent.
STEP 11: Promote
My post-publishing promotion is pretty half-hearted; something I’m rethinking. I do the usual social media stuff, but am really lazy (as in I don’t do it at all) when it comes to outreach link building.
However, after seeing how relatively easy it is to get guest posts published since I accept guest posts, I’m rethinking my “no link building outreach” mindset. I’m considering incorporating it into my work flow. I’ll see how it goes.
Doubled Production for Less than Half the Cost
The end result of this very long process is a doubling of production while cutting costs by more than 50%. It wasn’t easy, but I now have processes in place to grow at a faster rate for lower cost.
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.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
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.