Bad news today.
I discovered that 52 of the top 100 highest search traffic articles on my biggest niche site were written by me.
I suspect I’ve only written 300 out of nearly 3,000 articles. Over the years I’ve used many writing services as well as freelancers and guest posters.
The good news is I’m not bad at writing content that can rank and perform well.
The bad news is it’s not possible for me to write everything across all my niche sites to meet my current publishing schedule.
Table of Contents
Why does the content I write perform so well?
When I order content from writing agencies or services and even freelancers, I end up relying on content ordering templates. While the templates are great for placing big content orders, the content won’t be as good as if you craft it with care and thoughtfulness.
I have a tendency to write and speak dryly. I love researching and publishing good information. And while this is great for niche sites, it’s better to add personality into the content. Now that I understand this, I strive to do it more often. I can’t conclude adding personality into content helps rankings in search engines, but I suspect it does a bit. Just a total wild hunch though. Don’t go back to all your articles infusing them with personality expecting them to blast to number 1 in Google.
Put in the extra oomph to make it interesting
Whether I’m editing an article or writing it from scratch, I get lost in it. It becomes an all-consuming project which means I enjoy it (I do enjoy it) and it results in good content (most of the time).
That extra oomph and desire to make it great is not something hired writers will do to the degree you or me, as publishers, will typically do unless you hire top-tier professional writers who have a reputation in the industry.
Much of it is fairly old
When I launched my biggest site, I wrote everything. I didn’t have the funds to hire writers. Much of that top performing content on my site is old content that I wrote. Therefore, while I think part of the reason it performs well is because I put great care into writing it, it also helps that content is several years old, has been updated a few times and continues to attract links.
I’ve updated a good number of those articles
I invest time each week to update and improve existing articles to boost performance. This has helped quite a bit, but it also gives the content I wrote years ago an advantage because much of it has been updated multiple times.
All in all, it’s very good compared to most content in the niche
Generally, I publish good content relative to what’s published in the niche. My stuff isn’at always the best, but it’s often good.
Why is this bad news?
Let me be clear. Hundreds of articles I outsourced also do well in search. It’s not as if only my content performs well and all others are duds.
Nevertheless, facing this situation forces me to at least consider adjusting my content workflow. The smart play is for me to be more involved in content output, which is what I’ve been doing lately. I have a good hands-on approach that is getting some good results.
Writing your own content is bad for the following reasons:
Scaling is more difficult
One person, no matter how fast they can write, cannot scale a niche site content-wise if they write everything. As for scaling the business by entering more niches, that’s nearly impossible.
Prevents other important tasks
Publishing a blog entails more than just publishing content. My weeks also involve:
- Ad optimization
- Formatting content (more time-consuming than you might think)
- Reviewing analytics and Ahrefs
- Keyword research (lots of this)
- Handling emails (I guess everyone does this, but I get quite a few)
- Dealing with guest post inquiries (loads of these come in)
- Publishing email newsletters
If I was solely responsible for all content, I wouldn’t have time for all of these other important tasks.
I enjoy writing, but I don’t want to do it 8 hours per day. I like doing other things such as keyword research, analyzing site performance and ad optimization.
If I had to write 8 hours per day, I’d get bored. Therefore, while it’s good to write some stuff, my interest in my sites would dwindle if I wrote all the time.
If I didn’t outsource most of my content, I’d work more hours. I put in a 40 to 50 hour week already. I really don’t want to do more.
What’s good about writing your own content?
I do enjoy writing some each day. I write much of the content here. I write some stuff for my other niche sites. By outsourcing though, I’m able to pick and choose what I write about, which is great and maintains my interest in writing generally. I outsource the topics I find boring and keep the stuff I find more interesting.
Save on outsourcing costs
Every word I write saves me $.02 to $.06. Just by writing that sentence, I saved $.25 or so. Writing this article will save me $30 to $50. Actually, this type of article is not one that can be outsourced since it’s me talking about the benefits of me writing content for my sites.
While I budget for content each month, it doesn’t hurt my bottom line when I publish a few posts each week.
This is the biggest benefit. There are some topics only I can cover and so I do. I’m particular about some things and prefer to do it myself.
Whenever I come up with a new topic concept, I write the first one entirely myself. I spend a lot of time on it because it will serve as a template for writers. Therefore, I like to make it really good and get it just right so writers deliver good work. I find that when writers have a live example to follow, they do a better job. That said, sometimes I’m stunned how writers do not follow the formatting requiresments I set out and that are clearly available as an example from my protoype.
What do I do? What will I do going forward?
I take a hybrid approach. I write the stuff I want to write. I outsource the rest. I also review most of the content that is published across my sites.
I’ve also been spending more time creating custom outlines and instructions instead of relying 100% on template instructions.
Fortunately, I don’t mind outlining articles. It’s time-consuming, but I enjoy it.
Why not strive for being totally hands-off?
Because taking content to the next level more consistently is necessary for faster growth. At this stage, I want faster growth, so much so, I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and take a more active roll in the content.
Once I’m in a position to hire a talented editor-in-chief, then I can step back. But I suspect a talented editor-in-chief, and one or two top-level writers will cost me at $10,000 to $12,000 per month. I’m not quite in a position to take that step, so in the meantime I’m the Editor-in-Chief and sometimes writer.
What does this mean for you? Should you be more involved?
This does not mean you need to stop outsourcing or that you need to be more involved.
It really depends on your current results.
If you’re in a plateau or traffic is going in the wrong direction, it’s something you might consider.
if you enjoy writing, by all means, write all day, every day.
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.