How to Hire Content Creators

Creating content can be a challenge when you’re single-handedly trying to run your own business. If you’re not organised you can end up neglecting your main money making activity, falling behind with producing content, or even having to sacrifice your personal life. However there are some solutions. Instead of creating content yourself you can hire someone else to do it for you.

They may be a ghostwriter for written content, an editor for your videos, or someone with graphics skills to produce your bespoke images, logos or infographics. They take your ideas and guidelines, and create the content to your specifications and deadlines. Once you’ve paid for the content, you own the rights to it and can do whatever you want with it, including putting your name on it as if you had created it yourself.

However, before assigning work to someone, it’s important to understand how to ensure you’re hiring the right person.

Ask for recommendations

Consider the forums, Facebook groups and mastermind groups you are in. You could post a general request for recommendations which includes details of the type of work you are looking to be done. If you have a business relationship with others who also produce content, ask if they produce the content themselves or if they use outsourcing to get the work done. If they use someone else, ask if they would recommend them.

If you cannot get any recommendations look on outsourcing sites like Fiverr and Upwork. They will have a system which grades the content creator based on statistics and/or the feedback of people who have already used them.

Ask for references

When you first contact a new writer or other content creator, ask if they have any references or testimonials they can share. If they provide testimonials ask if you can contact the person who wrote it. If you can communicate with that person directly you can ask about issues that are specific to the work you want done as well as any general questions not addressed in the testimonial, for example whether the writer met all the deadlines or if the work needed an excessive number of revisions.

Ask for samples

Ghostwriters sometimes post examples of the work they have done and graphics providers may display images and logos they’ve produced in the past. If there are no examples or the ones given are not relevant to the work you want done ask if they can provide some. If your hiring a ghostwriter ask how well they understand the subject matter, whether they have produced similar work in the past, and whether they know how to conduct research as well as writing in the form you require. The skill set needed to produce a good sales page or press release is not the same as that required to produce an ebook.

Clarity and agreement

Whether the content creator has set up their own business or works within a service provision site like Fiverr or Upwork, it’s important to be clear about the work you want done, how you expect it to be delivered, and how much you will pay when it is completed to your satisfaction. There should be a formal statement of both your responsibilities and theirs. It sghould be clear who owns the work once it is completed and whether or not the content creator can reuse or keep any of the work produced, including derivatives. If you want a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) applied to the work you should check that this is possible and that it specifically states that your content creator cannot disclose the nature of the work they do for you without your permission.

Start small

If you’ve worked through the above steps and have a content creator who has passed all of them the next step is to give them a small project. This will help you discover if there are any issues when working with them while keeping your risk small. You could start with just a couple of articles or a few images for posting on Facebook. If you have a larger project you should break it up and distribute it amongst several content creators that you want to try out.

As the work progresses check the quality, how well they meet deadlines, and how closely the work produced matches the brief you provided. It’s important to understand it can take a while to establish a working relationship. Give your content creator feedback, both positive and negative, and give them the opportunity to deliver the type of content you want. The clearer you are about your needs, the more chance you have of gaining a content creator who is an asset to your business.

Multiple Niche Marketing: 3 Basic Mistakes

Releasing products in multiple niches is one way your business can spread risk. Instead of relying on one source of cashflow, multiple streams of income can make your business immune to any adverse changes within one niche. However trying to have a presence in multiple niches also has its challenges. Here are three basic mistakes unsuccessful niche marketers make.

Lack of Research

Before you enter any niche it’s important that you perform research in two areas. You need to research your audience so you know what they want to achieve, the problems they face, and how you can reach them. You also need to research the products and services that are already available to them and decide if there are any opportunities you can take advantage of. Lack of research will delay how soon you can make a profit or may even cause you to enter a niche with a plan that will not work.

Continual Learning

Ideally you should have some expertise related to the niche you plan to enter. However being present in multiple niches means it is likely your level of expertise will vary with each niche. To be able to offer something of value you need to study and work on increasing your niche-related knowledge. This is where you can make the mistake of spending too much time studying and too little time monetising what you have learned. If you have researched your audience you will have a better idea of the problems they face and should be able to identify the solutions they need. Concentrate on these and learn how to implement them, test them, and then build an infoproduct around the methods that work.

Diversifying too soon

From a purely business point of view you should start with the niche that offers the quickest profit. Establish a presence, release a product and reach the point where you have a sustainable, consistent cashflow in this niche. Only then should you look to repeat this process in another niche. Unfortunately, if there are delays to becoming established in a niche or your product underperforms it can be tempting to abandon or sideline this part of your business and try again in another niche. Resist this course of action. It’s more likely that you will make better progress working on making your first niche profitable than devoting your efforts to a new venture.

If you make any of the above basic mistakes it’s likely you will find yourself with a number of unprofitable websites. To be a successful multiple niche marketer you need to know how to identify a profitable niche, be able to offer products your audience finds useful,and have a process that enables you to continue making money from a niche once you have moved on to another.

Affiliate programs – The Elements That Can Help Boost Your Sales

Affiliate Program diagramMarketing your products by yourself can become expensive and overwhelming. one solution is to recruit affiliates who will put in the effort to expand your marketing.

An affiliate is a person who earns money promoting your products and/or services to their audience for a percentage of the sales. To recruit these people you need to offer incentives and support, and that is often best done based around an affiliate program. Some of the most effective programs have the following features:

  • Attractive income

This does not just mean paying out a high percentage of commissions. An affiliate will also be interested in other metrics, especially earnings per click (EPC). If you can reliably present this information to your potential affiliates it is more likely you will recruit them if the figures are favourable.

They will also be interested in how much of the lifetime value of the customer they will receive. An affiliate program usually uses cookies to track sales and commissions. The longer these cookies are in effect the more likely an affiliate would be interested in joining your program. Some cookies only operate for a month whereas others allow lifetime commissions and award the affiliate if a customer buys different tiers of products or services.

Speed of commission payout is another important factor. An affiliate would rather be paid weekly than monthly, and monthly rather than quarterly.

  • Easy to sign up to

The signup process should be straightforward and easy. The program should generate an affiliate code that they can use simply by copying and pasting.

  • Good quality marketing materials

Your affiliates should have access to good quality graphics, banners, infographics, sample blog posts, email sequences, and other marketing materials. These should be easy to use and easy to personalise so that your affiliates are more likely to use them.

  • Good communication

Set up an email list just for your affiliates. Keep them informed of your latest offers, products or services you are planning to introduce, and anything else they would find of interest or help them as an affiliate. If you decide to run an affiliate contest when you launch a product have all the latest details available for them on a dedicated webpage.

  • Provide incentives

Launch contests are a common way to incentivise affiliates. You can award prizes based on their position in a league table of affiliate sales or for reaching a certain level of sales. Often the prizes take the form of money or physical products, but they can take other forms. For example you could work with affiliates who reach a certain number of sales to plan an exclusive webinar or other event where you will speak directly to their audience, promote your product, and help them get more commissions.

  • Offer training

Some of your affiliates may need training to help them learn how to market your products. This is especially true if you don’t have the online presence or offer to attract the interest of bigger, more experienced affiliates. Nurture your affiliates and they are more likely to stay with you longer and generate more sales for you.

Good affiliates will also be influenced by other factors outside your affiliate program. Your reputation, the quality of your products and/or services, and your customer follow-up will help them decide if they are willing to help you promote your business.

Can PLR Products Help You Accelerate Your Business Growth?

Private label rights (PLR) products offer a tempting opportunity to gather content that you can use in your business. It is content you can purchase that usually includes the rights to present it as your own work. They are usually in the form of ebooks, images, slideshows, and even video. The quality of PLR material has improved greatly over the last ten years and at first it may seem a great way to almost instantly have your own products to sell and hence grow your business. But it’s not as straightforward as it may seem.

The Right PLR For The Right Need

Even if you are not using PLR you still have to identify a niche you can serve and come up with ideas for content that the niche will be hungry for. Most PLR producers keep to the most popular niches like weight loss, making money online, and dating. Even when you find material you can use you still ahev to fit it into your marketing and present it correctly to your audience. If you want to work in a more obscure niche it’s less likely you will find much PLR material.

You also need any PLR products you find to be of good quality. There was a time when most PLR was poorly written, with awful grammar and terrible formatting. Today these English-as-a-second-or-third-language written products have been replaced by better quality material. However they may not cover content that matches the product ideas you want to sell, or they may be so affordably priced that a great number of publishers in your niche also purchase and use it. You either have to find PLR that has a limited availability or is so expensive that it disuades others from buying. If the PLR is expensive it may be better to pay ghost writers to create your product.

Repackaging

Once you purchase the PLR material it’s important to package it in a new way. Don’t use it exactly as it is supplied. Most people are lazy. The largest group of people who buy the same PLR content as you will probably not even use it. The second largest group will just put it online as quickly as possible with no alterations, hoping to make a quick buck. To make it unique to your business you have to reorganize it, add to it, and personalise it. This will take time, but it does mean you will have a product that is more suited to your business and your audience.

Use as research material

Instead of creating a product directly you can use PLR material as the starting point for your information product. Used as research material it is much better than a blank page and can help get the creative juices flowing.

In conclusion PLR content can speed up the process of product creation, but not as much as some may think. It can be really helpful if you are currently spending all your time creating content and have little opportunity to work on other areas of building your business. It can save you time in research, writing and editing, but it certainly is not a push-button get rich quick method. It can be a starting point, but there is still work to be done if you want to create a good quality, unique product that can hold its own in the market.

Metrics To Measure Your Marketing ROI

CVP-TC-Sales-PL-BEP
All marketing incurs expenses in some form. Often it’s in terms of money, but even free marketing requires an investment in time and effort. To determine your marketing return on investment (ROI) you need to understand what your goals are. It’s important when setting your marketing goals that you are very specific about what you want to accomplish overall, as well as what you want to accomplish with each individual marketing campaign.

Ensure The Metrics You Measure Match Your Goals

Whatever of your goal, it’s important that you have a corresponding metric that you can measure. For example, if you want to measure whether you have generated leads from a particular campaign, you will have to be able to see where the leads came from, which of your efforts produced the leads, and which did not.

Review Your Numbers Before A New Campaign

Check your metrics before you start a new campaign. You should know how your business is doing before starting a campaign and how well any previous campaigns worked. For example, if you want to get more subscribers and you have a campaign planned to do that, look at where you are right now regarding subscribers so you know your starting point. Look at how many subscribers on average you gained each day, week, or month in the 90 days prior to starting the campaign. This way you will be able to tell how effective the campaign is.

Check Basic Metrics on a Regular Basis

The basic metrics you should always be looking at are: number of unique visitors, bounce rates, click-through rates, and conversions. For social media accounts like Twitter you should monitor retweets and click-throughs, and for Facebook track your reach, likes, shares, click-throughs, and comments. If some of these metrics are stagnant it can indicate the types of changes and marketing campaigns you should be addressing.

Understand Changes in Your Numbers

By tracking metrics even when you are not running campaigns you will be able to spot changes unrelated to campaigns. You may find that a certain type of blog post increases interactions and leads to an increase in subscribers. You may find that an event that spreads as a topic on a social media platform leads to more subscribers. If you are tracking and monitoring all the time you’ll know whether improvements in results are due to specific marketing efforts or come from elsewhere. With this insight you can allocate your efforts to the most effective methods.

Understanding your real return on marketing investment depends on you understanding all the factors that go into each individual campaign. You can only do this by tracking all the relevant factors, including financial costs, the time and effort it takes, and the results you obtain.

8 Tips For Creating Your Action Plan

Planning process diagramHere are eight tips for creating an action plan. Having an action plan and following it consistently means you are more likely to focus on the right things in your business and get things done according to a thought through, structured timeline. The different elements of your business will be more likely to run smoothly, impressing your customers and growing your income.

  • Keep your plan focused

Thinking and dreaming big is one of the first steps to achieving something worthwhile. However don’t try to run before you can walk. Decide on what is appropriate to where your business is right now and the path it should be taking next. Letting your focus wander and allowing ‘mission creep’ to set in can spread your efforts too wide and result in you making little progress.

  • Have short term and long term tasks

Split your tasks into short-term and long-term ones. Both will need addressing consistently so make sure both types of task are clearly identified and included in your plan. For example, a short-term task would be to buy a specific piece of software and a long-term task would be to improve your website traffic.

  • Break down your larger tasks

It’s a cliched saying that you can eat an elephant one bite at a time. However if you can break down the bigger tasks into more manageable ones you’ll be able to get the big task done without it feeling overwhelming.

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses

If you are aware of your strengths, weaknesses and the time available to you you are more likely to realise when you cannot do everything all on your own. Identify the parts of your action plan that can be delegated and decide who you can delegate to.

  • Have a realistic timeline for each task

Create a timeline for each and every task and make sure completion dates are realistic. If you aim to complete a task too soon it may set you up for failure. If you don’t already know how long a task will take you should time yourself the next time you do it. If you have never performed a task before ask someone who has to give you an estimate. Having realistic timelines is an important part of setting yourself up for success.

  • Decide when to measure your progress

Build checkpoints and milestones into your plan so you can regularly measure your progress. Comparing where you actually are with where you expected yourself to be gives you important feedback which will help you adjust your plan and keep your business on track.

  • Build in buffer time

There are many reasons actual progress may not match the progress anticipated in your plan. If you are doing a number of tasks for the first time it’s almost certain you will take longer than average. If you delegate you may find others may not be as efficient as you expected. To cope with the unexpected and other factors outside your control it is important that you build in buffer time. This could be a set period included as a final step in each task and you could also make extra allowance for the tasks or steps that are most likely to be delayed.

  • Have a written plan

However you put your plan together, whether it’s on spreadsheets, timelines, flowcharts, or notes, it’s important to put your action plan in writing. It doesn’t have to be a formal document but it should be a point of reference that clearly states what you should be doing, when you should be doing it, and when it should be completed.

Follow these tips and you are more likely to stay focused on your plan and stick to your timeline. It’s tempting to let tasks go and timescales slip when there are so many distractions in business. Having a realistic plan with plenty of opportunities to check your progress as you work the plan is one of the secrets of success.

7 Advantages Of Having Business Plans

Business plan diagram
Running your own online business can give you a great sense of freedom. However this freedom has to be based in reality. It may seem you can get up each day, do whatever you want within the business and have no one to answer to. While it’s not impossible for you to be successful this way, it is very unlikely. Many businesses, whether they are large or small, fail due to a lack of planning.

You need to have plans. They don’t have to be in a certain format, like those a bank asks for when you apply for funding, but they should help you run your business. If it seems like planning is a lot of work, don’t focus on the effort involved. Think about the following advantages planning will give you.

1. Planning answers questions

As you research for your plans you’ll find yourself answering a lot of questions that will help your business. You will work out who your target audience is, what their problems are, how you can help them, the most efficient ways to provide your products or services, and the best ways to market them.

2. Help you create goals

Creating your plans will help you define the goals for your business. You will become clear about the journey you want your business to take, points along the way your business must pass through, and the timescales for reaching those points. Knowing what you are aiming for will help focus your commitment and organise your efforts.

3. Better decision-making

Having a set of plans for your business will help you make good decisions on a daily basis. You will be able to focus on what will move your business forward and ignore potential distractions. Almost everyone in the online marketing niche has suffered’shiny object syndrome’. Having a clear set of plans can make you immune to this malady.

4. Identify your USP

Your unique selling proposition is what makes you different from your competition. Researching what your target audience is looking for and what is already on the market will help you work out how to stand out from the crowd.

5. Help set budgets

Planning will help you identify what you need to do. This will help you determine what you need to invest in your business, and when you will need to invest it.

6. Help you build your business

As you plan and research you will become more familiar with your market. This will give you the opportunity to identify gaps in your products and/or services which you can fill as your business grows.

7. Help you react to changes

If you have the future course of your business laid out and regularly compare reality with your planned journey it’s more likely you’ll spot changes that can affect your business. These could be changes in the marketplace, technology that offers new opportunities, or under or over performing with  respect to your plan. Spotting these opportunities and deviations early will help you react, either by making adjustments so you get back on course or by changing the plan.

Planning takes time, thought and effort, but if you want to know what you should be doing, where you’re going and how to get there you will need a set of plans. A plan to help create your product or deliver your service, a marketing plan and a budget are the bare minimum you should aim for. Even if each one is just one page long, writing down the steps you plan to take and how you plan to take them will make the success of your business more likely.

Is Your Online Business Model Profitable?

If you want to have a viable business you have to work out how you are going to create a profit. Are you going to sell reasonably priced (don’t say cheap) services or products to a large group of people, or are you going to sell high priced services or products to a smaller group?

You’ll need to know who your prospects are and how to reach them. If you are just starting you may find it difficult to reach a large number of prospects, only a percentage of which will become customers.

You’ll also have to decide on the service or products you will offer and work out how many sales you will need to be viable.

Let’s deconstruct the ‘six -figure’ business, so often promised by coaches and mentors online. Let’s keep it simple by assuming you are only going to sell one product. To get $100,000 in sales you’ll need to make

  • 14,286 sales of a $7 product
  • 3,704 sales of a $27 product
  • 1,031 sales at $97 per product
  •  337 sales of a $297 product
  • 202 sales with a $497 product
  • 101 sales if your product is $997 per unit
  •  just 51 sales if you sell a product at $1997

If you’ve been online long enough I’m sure you can match the above price points to common types of products. Short reports tend to be about $7, ebooks may go for as much as $27. Above this price you’re into courses of varying complexity and perceived value. So you should have an idea of the type of product you’ll need to create and how many you’ll have to sell.

But wait a minute. This is revenue. You have to subtract your costs. Physical products have fulfillment costs and so do digital ones when you think about it. Charges from payment processors, autoresponder costs, costs associated with online sales pages, etc. If you are getting traffic via affiliates there’ll also be commissions to pay out. Advertising has costs too.

Whichever model you intend to use to make money online make sure you know where you are going to get your customers, how to contact them, the price points of your first and next products, the number of sales needed and costs. Only then will you be able to decide if the model is one you can make work.

Your Mission Statement As A Way To Focus

Mission statement

One of the secrets to success is to focus on a limited number of things at any one time. The secret to focusing is to know exactly why you want to do something and how you are going to do it. One way you can get this done is to go through the process of creating a mission statement.

If you think this is a poor suggestion, hear me out. I know there are many examples of useless mission statements. The image for this post shows one. Having worked in the education sector I’ve come across institutions with rather poor mission statements. Phrases like “the best for every child”, and “to their full potential” trigger more questions than certainty and leave you with the suspicion they’re just the results of a box ticking exercise. However working through the process of making a mission statement can be useful, even if a final statement is difficult to define.

A good mission statement should help clarify why your business exists and what its purpose is. It should also help you define the appropriate products or services to offer your target audience and what differentiates you from the competition.

If this seems a bit of a challenge start by thinking about the good you do. How is your customer’s life improved because your business exists? Focus on a specific problem if it helps and ideally set a big goal, something you can strive for.

To be honest getting clear answers to these questions should be your most important objective. It doesn’t matter if you can’t summarise them in a couple of succinct sentences. It is important that you know why your business exists, for whom, what you deliver, and how you differ from the competition.

Work on your answers until you have something that can help guide you forward and inspire you to create the business your answers point towards. Don’t make your mission about making money. While this is vital for any business to thrive, it should not be the mission.

You may be able to express your mission statement in a sentence or it may take a couple of paragraphs. Ben & Jerry have three separate mission statements, one for social, one for product, and one for economic. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter how you express your mission statement. The important thing is to identify a reason for your business to exist, to know what you do, who you do it for, and how you do it differently. Get these clearly defined and you’ll be able to focus and move forward without distraction.

If you need some mission statement inspiration Google the search term ‘company mission statements examples’. I’ve also listed some examples below.

“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Google

“We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators.” Amazon

“To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.” Twitter

“To care for the world we live in, from the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society.” Aveda

“To satisfy curiosity and make a difference in people’s lives by providing the highest quality content, services and products that entertain, engage and enlighten.” Discovery Media

“Makes the world a more caring place by helping people laugh, love, heal, say thanks, reach out and make meaningful connections with others.” Hallmark

“To rid the world of corporate babble, one concise sentence at a time.” YourBrandVox.com

“Spread Ideas.” TED

A Quick And Easy Way To Plan Your Funnel

Sales funnel diagramOne of the fastest ways to increase your income is to build a sales funnel and send people down it as fast as they are willing to go.

For this to work you have to realise it is much easier to sell products to your existing customers than it is to sell to someone new. The moment after buying one of your products, your customer is the most interested they are ever going to be in what you have to offer. Which means that then is the absolute best time to sell them something else. But how do you decide what to sell them next? How do you set about planning your funnel?

Your aim should be to help people achieve some kind of goal. Whatever niche you’re selling products in, it’s your job to help people further their abilities or solve their problems. Your funnel should be built with this process in mind. Each successive product helps them with the next step of their journey. You have to decide what stage your customer is at and create a product to help them get to the next stage. Then sell them the next step, and the next, and so on.

Your first product has to achieve two things. It has to meet their need to improve or solve a problem while convincing them you are an expert who can help them go further. When they buy this product they are in a buying mindset and people love to spend their money on things they want. Offer them an enhancement or upgrade. This should be designed to make things easier, better, faster and/or cheaper for them. As they progress down your funnel keep selling them something else that helps them further along on their journey.

For example, if you are in the podcasting niche you could offer a free report as a lead magnet. The free report would teach the basic steps in producing a podcast and getting it online. Next you could offer a course that teaches the steps laid out in the report in more detail. Follow that with another course that teaches the process for ranking podcasts higher in Google. Another product could teach how to script podcasts so they include tactics that result in higher conversions, enabling the podcaster to act as an affiliate for products or even sell their own. The next step would be a course that explains how to improve the quality of podcasts and have guests that would help spread the appeal and reach of the podcasts.

Thinking of your funnel as a progressive journey also helps you decide how to offer a downsell. For example you may offer information on getting online traffic via Adwords and Facebook ads. If a potential customer cannot afford both you could offer just one of the methods as a downsell. It would help them progress with the remainder of your funnel still relevant to them.

You can also use this approach to plan your email sequence content. After they purchase send them emails helping them use the product, then start promoting whatever follows the product they have just purchased.

So if you don’t already have a funnel in place get to work on a sheet of paper or a whiteboard and break down your customer’s journey from where they are now to where they want to be. Regard each step as an opportunity to create a product that helps them along their journey and your funnel will start to fall into place.