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The Power (and Ease) of Professional Copy

The Power (and Ease) of Professional Copy

How often do you work with a professional copywriter? If you’re like me, finding a great copywriter can be like searching for an awesome Indian food restaurant in Houston, Texas. You know one exists but you eventually give up and settle for Chipotle.

Not long ago I was referred to Chad Fisher, Founder of ContentRunner.com – a no-nonsense marketplace to search for, hire and work with professional copywriters. I took some to chat with Chad, learn more about his pragmatic approach to his startup and hear why professional copy is a must for any business.

PS. Chad has graciously offered a $30 credit to any new clients. Content Runner is free to sign up – and $30 can go a long way with how affordable the platform is. Just email him at info at contentrunner.com after you sign up to get the credit applied!
 


 

Transcript:

 

Russ: All right, well, let’s get going here. I wanted to welcome … There we go, Chad. What’s going on, man?
Chad: Perfect, Russ.
Russ: All right. I wanted to welcome everyone to another private webinar. Today we have Chad Fisher, who is one of the Founders, or the Founder, or one of the Founders of Content Runner?
Chad: One of the Founders.
Russ: Okay, cool.
Chad: That’s right.
Russ: Yeah, so we’re really excited. As anyone’s who’s watching this, knows, copy and content and all of that is a huge, just part of business. Sometimes, one of the ones that, I think, next to design, one of the ones that people neglect quite a bit. My name is Russ [crosstalk 00:00:43]. Yeah, exact. My name is Russ Perry. I’m the Founder of Design Pickle. We do these webinars, about twice a month.
Chad, I wanted to briefly introduce you, but I’d love to hear in a second, about your journey to Content Runner. What you were doing before it? The need and the fit you saw. The story behind it. Then we could talk more about that. I think … I can’t remember who came across who, first, with our stuff? You or me?
Chad: I think it was Jack. I found you through a mutual contact.
Russ: Oh yeah, through Jack, Jack Smith.
Chad: Yeah.
Russ: Yeah, so it’s funny because I’ve used services like yours in the past. Not at all, as we’ll see, like how you guys have done it, though. I actually made sure to sign up and use it, before our call here. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. Chad, welcome. Let’s hear about you, man. Where were you before Content Runner? Give us the quick prequel to Content Runner?
Chad:

[00:02:00]

Yeah, absolutely. Starting off, after graduating college, I went into corporate America. Worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, did consulting, IT Auditing. After 9 years in, I got tired of that life. Decided, “Hey, I want to go out on my own.” I got in randomly, to a couple … This is probably about 10 years ago, construction businesses. As I was in them, I started to realize, I really am interested in building the site, learning about marketing, understanding how to put all the pieces together, to build a site and really attract customers.
Every time we’d hire a contractor, I’d learn, “Okay, I want to teach myself, a little coding.” We’d hire somebody for marketing and AdWords, and I’d teach myself a little bit about that. As I kept going on, I realized, this is what I want to get into. Got rid of those businesses. Then, over probably about 6 years ago, started a full-service writing agency. We did all types of content. Everything from blog posts, white papers, newsletters. I still do that. That was one of the impetus for the creation of Content Runner.
When you’re managing, maybe 3 clients and you’re doing just a handful of blog posts or writing projects in a month, using Paypal, spreadsheets and email, that’s no problem. Very easy, it’s not overwhelming. If you’re an agency and you’re starting to manage it across 15, 20, 35 clients. Even if you’re a large company that wants to connect with writers and understand, and take a lot of that pain out of the writing process. That’s why we started to develop Content Runner.
As you mentioned, we used some of the competitors that are out there. Everything from Textbroker, WriterAccess, Scripted. Every time we would try them out, we figured, there was always a fundamental flaw or issue for us that, made it very difficult to use their platform.
Russ: Let’s back up.
Chad: That’s a bit of my background.
Russ:

[00:04:00]

Yeah. No, I love it. It’s so awesome to see people go out and solve acute problems. My background, as you probably know is, I used to run creative agencies. I saw an acute problem, when it came to the day-to-day graphic design. Not the big time stuff, like the huge website infrastructures or apps or brands, but “Hey, I just need Instagram images every week, to post on my channels.” It’s cool to talk about that.
Before we get into the tool, because we’re definitely going to talk about that, look at it. Get a glimpse under the hood of, what you’re doing. I always like to think about, why traditional resources don’t cut it anymore? Think about Copywriting and content writing, the typical thing as a business. Let’s just put ourselves as the business owner’s shoes as like, “How? We need to get blogs. Let’s go, find a writer.” Walk us through the normal process of that, and some of the bigger pain points, now it is, with content.
Chad: Right. A normal process would be, if you’re getting into this. Whether you’re a brand or an agency, you’re going to, maybe talk to friends, going to look for a referral and say, “Who are you using, for writing? What’s a good recommendation? I need some help with this White Paper.” You may branch out, a little bit and you’ll go to Craigslist. You’ll say “Hey, that’s where I hire employees. I’ve been looking for a writer. Let’s try Craigslist.”
Then you may … That may not work. Then you may go to some of the other platforms. I named a few of them, earlier. You can go to places like Upwork. You can try some of those. The problem, like I said is that, there’s always … There’s the onboarding. There’s the, finding the writer and then figuring out how to pay the writer. Going through all this … Creating that and establishing that relationship. Not only just, [sort 00:05:38] of the, “How do you doing” and the personal side of it. It’s really, the business and professional side of it. Putting all of the pieces in place, to organize it.
Russ:

[00:06:00]

I’ll add, too. How often do we go and hire writers? It’s not like going to buy groceries where, I know, if I go to buy sausage or eggs. I know if it’s a good deal or not. I know how to evaluate the quality. I’ve done that, dozens or hundreds of times. In creative services, it’s this paradox that I’ve discovered in writing and in all creative services is, we are unskilled. Traditionally, business owners are unexperienced purchasers of creative services. They’re going out to, try to hire or evaluate somebody, in which they have no experience.
It’s like guesswork or the lottery. “I don’t know if this person’s reliable.” The skill itself is what usually, we hire. We see a cool portfolio or we read a cool blog post. We say “Ah, this person must be awesome.” We hire them. Yet, we don’t know about their ability to communicate, their reliability, their availability, their rates, their process. All those other things end up burning this whole experience down, because we just were “Ah, their work looks great. Let’s hire them.”
Chad: Yeah, no, that’s right. You have no insight. If you’re going off a Craigslist, if you’re going off a friend’s referral. It may have worked in a particular project, but you don’t know the vertical that, that writer may specialize in. You don’t know other user experiences they’ve had. You don’t know what they expect to get paid. You don’t know their timeliness. Just the PM aspect of writing is a big part of it, too. There’s a lot of writers that may be fantastic writers, but it may take 4 weeks. If you have a deadline and you want something in 4 days, that’s a whole other side of the attributes that certain writers have. You’re right. Diving into the surface of, what are the things that I need to understand about this writer, before I hire him.
Russ:

[00:08:00]

Yeah. I want to share with everyone watching this, my very first experience with Content Runner. I’m not going to go into the demo of the service, or show the copy, but I’ll just … I actually, I didn’t notice this, until we started. I forget to erase my white board sometimes. Previous guest on our interviews was, Molly Pittman from Digital Marketer. She has a new system to develop Facebook ads.
I recently used Content Runner to develop the copy for all the headlines, because her system is basically, “Who your target audience is? Here’s your pain points. Then, each intersection is a different ad.” There’s a lot of headlines to write. This grid is 2 by 4, but the one I had you guys do was, I think, 5 by 7 or something. There was 35 headlines I needed to write. What I did is, I built out this grid in a Google Doc. I copied the link. I sent the relevant experience. I put it all into the post.
I didn’t really know where I was … It was pretty straightforward. I just post, add some credits, post the job. Then literally, that was, I think, a Wednesday. On Monday, it was done. There was one little edit that I needed, not on the copy itself, but just how it was organized. That I understood which content matched on my grid. That was it. It was the easiest experience ever. It was really affordable. I had a first time user credit too, which was awesome. It cut the price in half.
Chad: That’s right.
Russ:

[00:10:00]

That, to me, has never been done before. No, I will say it, full transparency. Was every headline perfect? No. There’s definitely edits and revisions and fine-tuning, and things that only I know as an expert in the field. To get that initial bunch of content done in such a quick and easy way. Then, I can fine-tune and manipulate and use … There’s just certain terms and things that I, only an expert would know. That was such a weight off my shoulders, versus sitting at this empty, 35-grid square …
Chad: Right.
Russ: Being like, “Where am I going to start? What am I going to do?” Now, loaded question, is that the experience, because I’m only 1 sample? I have 1 experience, man. Did I luck out, or is that how it is?
Chad: Yeah, and the funny thing is, is this … For your audience here, this isn’t staged. You and I had not even chatted about your experience. I know that we had talked about getting set up and having you start. That’s fantastic to hear that, it all worked out well. Like you said, it’s never going to be 100%, especially the first time, to what you want. As you go over time and you’re very clear on the instructions and you work with particular writers, you can really get it honed in to, exactly what you’re looking for.
Regards to your question is, as the first time experience, there’s a lot of things we try to do. Without going through all the features on Content Runner, one of the big ones though, is the Writer Profile. We have transparent and a very public writer directory, where you can take a look at any of the individual writers. See what’s their background information, writing samples, other user reviews, statistics that we track in terms of their revision rates, drop rates. Lots of different metrics that we look at. It’s really the mini LinkedIn profile for each of the writers.
Russ: Yeah. I love that too, because when you think about the other marketplaces. I would say, an Upwork has ratings, sort of, but you don’t get to the granular level, like speed and revision rates and things like that, which I think is a really telling indicator, right? If you’re going through tons of revisions …
Chad:

[00:12:00]

Yeah, you nailed it. The thing is, is Upwork is a marketplace for the masses. They’re handling programmers, designers, writers. They cannot get specialized in a vertical, and measure all the metrics that we are. When you’re looking at it from a writer’s standpoint, like you said, it’s revision rate, it’s the drop rate, it’s just user reviews. It’s also, we’re looking at Copyscape, we’re checking the content, make sure it’s unique. We look at the Flesch–Kincaid grade level scores for certain levels of content. We’re looking at syllable count. Syllable per word, sentences, sentences per paragraph. This is the type of detail that we’re really driving in on, for content because we can. It’s all we’re focusing on, unlike Upwork, who’s focusing on 27 different verticals.
Russ: You’re a nerd tech guy, it seems like. Those things …
Chad: Right. That’s right. No, I like that, yeah. I really enjoy looking at those types of things. I come from teaching myself about content, SEO and that background. Knowing, these are a lot of important things to creating great content. You need to go through these steps and metrics and measurements. I enjoy … Definitely. I’m an Analytics, numbers guys. Even though we’ve gotten into a, completely opposite side of the skill set, with writing, where it’s not … We’re trying to apply a lot of those metrics to the writing process.
Russ: How powerful is that, though, because again, I don’t want to … I think our business has a lot of parallels. Most clients don’t realize, on our end, we’re tracking completion rate, revision rate, time, from when a request is submitted, to when it’s closed. Granted, our experience, you don’t choose your designer. We assign it and manage that. Putting those measurements and metrics in place, which is totally normal for most businesses, has just completely been absent in the creative space. When you …
Chad: That’s right.
Russ:

[00:14:00]

Start to do that, what I’ve seen is, you see a backlash, initially. “Oh, we’re creative, you can’t hold us down. You can’t commoditize us like that, and make these things work.” I found, there’s a whole other side of the market, of the people doing the creativity, that love it because it’s like using a system. Working within a system like Content Runner or Design Pickle, what the designers and the content creators can do is, just designing and create. They don’t have to worry about everything else, of managing a business, which some people enjoy. For a lot of people, they don’t want to do it. They just want to do their creative thing and have all of the management side and the details and everything, taken care of.
All the metrics themselves, are nice because it rewards and shows, those who are performing versus those who aren’t.
Chad: Yeah, that’s it. You nailed it. Yeah, go ahead. What were you going to say?
Russ: I was just going to say, you can’t hide behind writer’s block or whatever.
Chad: Yeah, that’s right. It rewards the exceptional and the really professional writers. Not only the ones that do and deliver and create great copy, but the ones that can adhere to a deadline. That have the project management side of it, because I think that’s one of the most frustrating things on the creative side, like you said. Not only just coming up with the great work, but it’s coming up with it in a timely manner, that you can use for your brand and for your agency.
Russ: Awesome. One big picture question. Then I’d love to share the screen with you and just show everyone, the tool because it is very cool, very different. Why do you need professional copy? Why is that important?
Chad:

[00:16:00]

A lot of reasons. You can start from regular blog post management, keeping your site fresh. You can think of it from an e-commerce perspective. If you’ve got product descriptions, if you’re working with different manufacturers, you need unique product descriptions, because otherwise you’re not going to rank for those. If you’re looking to establish your brand or your company, and you want to create a white paper, a report. There’s so many different types of content. You can do How-To guides, to your business. With the Facebook ads, we get a lot of that. We have social media content.
Really, what I would tell these agencies is, “You’re, in a way, limited by your creativity. The different ways that we have the agencies and the brands work with our writers, it’s very much unique.” I’d say, of those, maybe 6 or 7 areas that we just mentioned, that’s probably 80% of the project that comes to the type. There’s always different, unique ways to …
Russ: Let me take it higher, let me take it higher.
Chad: Sure.
Russ: I’m an okay writer. I’m not the best. I write too fast. I don’t proof things very well. Why am I not good enough? Why should I take it to that next level and find a professional? Sell me on this.
Chad: Yeah. Okay, no, you’re right. There’s a few different ways. There’s a few reasons. There’s everything from the SEO aspect. Coming up with quality content. You can look at the way Google’s moving their algorithm and all the different things that … Everything from Panda to Penguin to Hummingbird. All the different roll-outs they’ve had. Clearly the message is, quality content, not just mass produced garbage content that’s just spewed out there. There’s, that aspect.
Then there’s also the, “I want to establish myself as a reputable company. When I have people come to my site, whether the information I’m putting out there is informational or educational, I want it to represent my company and inform my potential customers.” You know it from your site, whether it’s managing your blog and helping create some of your own, personalized content. There’s also, lots of areas where writers can help you out.
Like you said, it can be very daunting. If you’re sitting down and trying to write, and you’re staring at a blank Word screen. Coming up with that latest blog post or coming up with that, How-To guide. Helping you create a series of Drip emails that you want to hook your customers with, and continue to interact with them. Like I said, even coming up with that report or that white paper. It can be very, very helpful, to have an exceptional copywriter get started.
[00:18:00]

Russ:

I’m going to give you 2 more reasons. The next time someone asks you this question, you can use these reasons too, and you put it in your back pocket. Number 1 is that, Copywriting usually isn’t the highest strategic thing, people should be doing, themselves. Not to say, it’s not important, but for me, sitting down to write 30 Facebook headlines, there’s a far more important things I need to be doing, than that, with my time.
Not to say that, those who copywrite are less important. My strengths, you need to be aligned. People, if you’re not a copywriter, you shouldn’t be doing copywriting, not because you can’t do copywriting. It’s the same thing of me going to build a cabinet. I could probably go and build a cabinet, if I have the plans and the tools, and I can figure it out. Should I do it? No, I’ll just go buy one at Ikea for $100 and be on my way.
That’s number 1. I see that all the time is, especially in growing businesses or smaller businesses, people just try to hold on to too much, thinking that “Oh well, we can’t afford to have a professional do it.” Not to say, you guys are cheap, but I was blown away by the value and the speed and the experience, to where it’s like, I’m now, “I should have, not waste my time.” You know what I mean? It’s, there’s just far …
Chad: Right.
Russ: More strategic. Here’s the other thing, and this is something that I preach a lot, about. It’s the same with visual branding. Copy and content that you’re using as part of your brand, if it’s not done professionally, people will notice. People will notice, both consciously, if you misspell something, as I occasionally do. Unconsciously, and just the sense that they get that feeling like “This is just, isn’t someone I know or can trust.”
[00:20:00] We’re being bombarded by the Apples and the Microsofts and the Googles of, billion dollar branding. The least that we can do with our small businesses is, do it professionally because your audience will know. They will absolutely know.
Chad: Yeah. No, you’re right. When you think of yourself, all the different professionals that are out there. Whether it’s a lawyer, chiropractor, dentist, doctor. Should they be spending time on their profession or should they be spending time, writing copy. Should they be spending time, designing, programming? The answer’s no, to almost all of those services because their best value is in delivering their core service and continuing to expand on that. Then, outsourcing some of the things that they need help with.
Really, I think copywriting, like you said, it gets forgotten because a lot of people think, “Well, I’m a great writer or I can write.” Yeah, you may be one of the unique ones who can. Just like with programming, just like with design, you’re probably better off, leaving it to the experts. Especially somewhere where you can find some value and have some usefulness.
Russ: Hey, whenever I’ve written something that I’m really proud of, it’s a multi-week process with many edits. External editing, revisions, revisions and revisions. To put that amount of energy into everything, I would become a copywriter. That’s all I would do, all day long.
Chad: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, that’s right. It’s a profession. If you have to hone your craft, it takes a lot of work, lot of effort.
Russ: Cool. All right, Chad. I’ve made you the presenter. If you want to fire up your screen, I’d love to get technical and see and share the Content Runner tool with you. Just make sure to turn on your screen. Good, I can see it. Looks good. Take it away.
Chad:

[00:22:00]

Let’s get it back there. There we go, all right. Let’s do a walkthrough of Content Runner. We’re here in the homepage. You can see, very first thing which we put front and center is, our Find Writers button. I’m going to go through a lot of the different features. I really want to point out this one to start with, because it’s so paramount to the different … Core tenets that we wanted to highlight on Content Runner. Actually, even before I jump into that, let’s slip down really quickly here, because these 3 ideas here, these 3 concepts, are why we created Content Runner. It’s really our fundamental differentiating factors, in how we organized and built Content Runner. Really, why we built Content Runner.
The first was transparency, and we’ll get into that, when I show you the writers. Really, all that goes into that. Everything from the Writer Reviews to the fact that you can message and send direct orders to writers. We even allow agencies or brands to call writers, have conversations with them on the phone. There is obviously, the risk of disintermediation, and we understand that. We built everything in place, so that we expect … Because of the fee. We’re going to get into the fees here, in a second. That most of our agencies, most of our writers will work together because it’s so painless that, the whole point of it is, to continue to work on the site. Transparency is a big part of it.
That really runs counter to a lot of the other marketplaces where they try to wall things off and say “Okay, you can’t talk to a writer. We don’t want you to send direct order, direct messages, you can’t phone them. You can’t look at their social media profiles. You can’t understand who they are, as human beings.” That’s been some of the greatest feedback we’ve had from, both the writer side and the agency side. That, “We want to work with a real person, we want to know who they are.” That’s just really helped facilitate …
Russ: How many times have you used one of those marketplaces, only to get frustrated with the marketplace tool itself, and just go offline with the contractor directly? Just say “Hey, let’s just work directly because this is a pain in the butt, to try to manage this relationship through it.”
Chad:

[00:24:00]

Absolutely. Yeah, it was so critical to us. We knew the risks, when we went that route, but it’s very much, paid off. We’re very excited to keep moving forward with that, with one of our core tenets.
The second is, flexible working arrangement. This is also a bit unique because most of the other places … When you think of Upwork, it’s unique because it’s a marketplace for the masses. They do have that concept of setting your own price. If you look historically, at the other writing marketplaces, everything from TextBroker, WriterAccess, other ones that are out there. They’ve grown up in that world where, “You want a 3-star writer, you pay X amount per word. You want a 4-star writer, you pay Y. You want a 5, you pay Z. You want a blog post, it’s going to be this amount. You want a white paper, it’s going to be this amount.”
To me, it just was broken, it doesn’t work. The real world, the way you work with somebody is, you say, “Here’s what I’m willing to pay.” The writer or whoever you’re working with, says, “This is what I expect to get paid.” Then you have a bit of a negotiation. Yes, there’s a bit of friction upfront, as you work that process out. After it’s established, everyone feels a lot better. The writer feels like they’re getting fairly paid. The user feels like they’re paying the fair amount.
That’s the whole thing is, in marketplaces in general, you hear that derogatory term that gets thrown out there, Content Mills. That’s not what we aspire to be. We want to be a place where you can work and find somebody that you know. You can set your own price. All we’re providing is, the structure and the framework.
Russ: Yeah, you’re not trying to guess and/or set value for your writers or your clients. You’re allowing the value itself, to organically emerge within the marketplace or within the tool …
Chad:

[00:26:00]

That’s exactly it, that’s it. Yeah, that’s right. It allows us to attract a higher caliber writer. Someone that says “Look, my service is worth X. If you’ve got all these low paying projects, why do I want to even bother, if I can’t set my own price or get paid what I think, is a fair rate?” Just like with any professional services, you see it on the design side, you see it on the programming side, there’s definitely a wide spectrum of pricing. The agencies, the brands, they understand that and they’re willing … Some are willing to pay, what you’re willing to pay for a report or white paper from, maybe an industry expert or a writer that’s had a lot of professional experience in that area, is going to be a lot different from somebody who’s just approaching it as a new project and never worked there before.
Russ: Totally.
Chad: The third area is, we wanted to have low fees. We felt like, it all played together. If we’re going to be transparent, we have to have low fees. If we have high fees on the site, that will encourage the disintermediation. Having our agencies and our writers, take products offline. We said, “Okay look, we’re going to only set a 15% fee. We’re going to tier it down, all the way to 7%. What we’re going to do is, if a writer and a user work together. The more often they do, we’re going to pay that writer, more money.”
We’re incentivizing that writer to deliver great service for that user, because they know that if that user becomes, starts ordering a lot of projects. Wants to work with that writer directly, that we’re going to pay that writer, more money. It’s really helped. That’s been a big part. That’s very much unique to … I know the other writing marketplaces or really, just a lot of the marketplaces that are out there.
Russ: Yeah, well, and what I see too, on the other marketplaces is, they’re just trying to get as much volume, regardless of the experience. They don’t care if your match is good. If the person you find, is good. If they deliver or not. They just want to see increased volume of dollar transactions going through. That leaves you on the hook, if you’re trying to manage this on your own because they’re just going to “Here’s people, here’s people. Here’s people who are paying us more, so that you pick them.”
Chad:

[00:28:00]

Yeah. Yeah, no, that’s right. We need volume, to make this a viable business. It’s grown because of that, but we’re not trying to sacrifice quality. That’s the difference, I think that, you’re getting to there is that, a lot of the early marketplaces, they’re just interested in volume. When the reality is, if you get the quality and you get that right. You establish the framework and the parameters for quality to blossom, really, between the agency and the … Really, the user and the writer, that’s what our goal is.
If you just churn out low quality garbage, then nobody’s going to be happy. It’s not going to be … The writers don’t like doing that. The agencies aren’t going to find it useful.
Russ: Totally.
Chad: Those are our 3 big core differentiating factors. Really getting into transparency here, to the Find Writers tab. You can see right away, the way it’s structured is that, you can look at the writers. You see a short little snippet about them. Everything from the article they’ve written in the last 30 days, total articles they’ve written, their drop rate. That just means, they haven’t worked on … They picked up a project, they were not able to complete it in time. They dropped it. They’ve got user reviews, we have their revision rates. We show you the sitewide revision rate. Then the rejection rate, which we’re really proud. It’s very, very low. It may be 0.05. We’ve rounded it down, there.
The way we structure the entire site is that, there’s so much transparency. You can message a writer upfront, about a project, before you even talk to them. Because of that, that really helps set the parameters for the project and it really makes it, so that there’s very few rejections.
Russ: Very cool.
Chad:

[00:30:00]

You can scroll through and you can see writers. Lisa happens to be one of our most … Not only, one of the most prolific, but one of our most popular writers. She’s got a fantastic review. You can send an order, directly from her profile page. As I mentioned earlier in the call, you can think about this as a mini LinkedIn profile. You can see their social media metrics, if they’re on Twitter. They happen to be on LinkedIn, on Facebook. You can see writing, you can see her background, there. You can see the niches, where they’ve spent time, writing. Their education, if they have a blog.
Russ: Wow.
Chad: Their CV, their different certifications, if they’ve received. Then you get in there, and you can see reviews from other users. This is very powerful, if you want to spend, just a few minutes, trying to connect with the writer. As I said, the offline corollary would be, going to Craigslist, where you’ve got no background. Maybe, a referral from a friend. It’s really, we’ve tried to flush out the profiles, to allow the writers to put forth their best foot and give a ton of information about what they do.
Russ: That’s fantastic. I really love the fact that you’re giving writers themselves, too, a real place to find quality clients. I think that probably, the profile of the client. Finding Content Runner, setting it up, going through the processes is, they’re going to care more, than the guy who was referred to so-and-so. There’s just, the whole experience as working within your ecosystem, is probably better for them as well.
Chad: Yeah, you’re exactly right. They enjoy that, because they can put themselves out as a professional copywriter and they can add all the different information that shows, “Look, their “… This is something that they do on a regular basis. They’re not moonlighting, it’s not a hobby. For some writers, that is the case. There’s lots of professional copywriters. That’s what we’re most proud of is that, we have this core group of writers, and we’ll get into that, in a little bit, that we’ve tried to reward on the site, by bubbling them up to the top and calling them our sitewide favorites. I think that’s what you utilized in your original project is, you just put the project out there, to our curated list of writers. One of them grabbed it, and they worked on it. In your case, which is most of the case, it was a fantastic experience.
[00:32:00]

Russ:

I’ll admit, I actually didn’t even think to look in the directory. I just went to post a job, and followed the process that you navigated me through.
Chad: That’s fine. There are 2 forks that we expect users to go down. The 1 is, they’re going to spend time, doing a little research and homework of finding that perfect writer. The second is, “Hey, let’s just get going. I’ve got a project, I don’t want to go and spend time, reviewing writer profiles. Let’s get it out there and let’s go.” That’s what you went for, and that’s great. We do have a process built in, for that. You leveraged it. For most agencies and users, it does work out really well, because of the way we’ve structured it. They can just jump in and get going.
Russ: Yeah, awesome.
Chad: This tab right here, this is your Projects tab. This is where you organize all of your orders. This is one of our masters accounts. We’ve got some projects that are already listed in here. You can expand and you can see, “Okay, I’ve got an article here, about Seattle this summer. Cities in Western Washington you should visit. You’ve got the writer name, you have the price. You have the status, the deadline, the vertical that it was written in. You’ve got all these filters you can play with, up here. I want to show a couple of projects that are completed because I want to see if I can find … Let’s see, find a Copyscape. There we go.
Copyscape is a third party tool that we use, that matches … It takes the content that’s written on our site, and matches it up against the entire web, to find out if a copywriter was actually copying content and putting it in for your article.
Russ: Oh, cool.
Chad: In some cases, if you’re quoting or sourcing facts and figures, you’re going to get a little bit of, higher than a 0% match, but we show that score for every piece of content that comes through the system.
Russ: What happens if there’s a high match? Can you flag it, or what do you …
Chad:

[00:34:00]

Yeah, the system will reject it, if it’s over a 30% match. We’ll just flat out say, “Hey, you can’t submit this,” to the writer. If it’s less than that, we show this. It’ll turn orange or red, if it’s higher. Then, as a user, it may be acceptable because you may have said “Hey, I want you to source a lot of these statistics and these quotes that are readily out there.” It may just come back that way, as a matter, of course. You at least, get that option.
Russ: Gosh, that gives me a flashback to my senior year at Arizona State, where I almost failed a class because we were in a group project and 1 girl plagiarized. It was a team project. We had to go to the Dean’s office and plead our … Show, what parts we wrote and show her part as the plagiarized part.
Chad: Oh, wow. Yeah, it’s a big deal. Not only, just for the reputation of your company, but also from an SEO standpoint. If you have copied content, it’s not going to rank. It’s not going to do you any service. You definitely want it to be unique, and that’s a critical thing that we built into it.
Russ: I have a …
Chad: You look.
Russ: Oh, go ahead. Sorry, I …
Chad: Oh yeah, no, go ahead. No, go ahead with your question because I’m going to pick a different article here, anyway.
Russ: Let me give you a use case. A “What if” scenario is, a lot of our clients are small businesses. They’re looking for ways to improve online marketing and be generation results. They are frequently building, what’s called, a Lead Magnet-type of content. Some guide or some email series, teaching something of value that, people would sign up for. Usually, it also signs you up for their newsletter or whatever.
[00:36:00] In a case like that, where there’s clearly a more technical … It’s not just “Hey, pick the topic du jour and write about something interesting.” It’s like … I’m trying to think of an example of the fly. Something that would require a little more meat and teeth. What would be the typical process with Content Runner, because clearly, there need to be some sort of meeting or conversation or an outline? What have you seen with a job like that?
Chad: Most of the time, if you’re doing that level of, like an in depth report. You said, more of a higher-level piece of content that’s not just a blog post, like 500 words. It’s something that might be a couple of thousand words to 3000 words. What I tell the user is, “You don’t have to flesh out the full outline, but at least have an idea of, okay, here is the 4 or 5 things I want to cover. Put it together in a paragraph, and then start a dialog with a few” … Now, if you’re new to Content Runner, you can just do outreach to some new writers, and I’m happy to give recommendations. In fact, that’s what I do. Close to half of the users that come on now, that end up using Content Runner, I always offer to do a personalized writer recommendation.
I’m finding that, I’m doing more and more of that because it really helps with the onboarding process. If can figure out that perfect writer, and match it up to that user, their experience is going to be a lot better. In that case that you’re talking about, it’s just a matter of fleshing out that outline. Then, communicating it to the writer, so they understand it. It’s really, the same process. There’s revisions that are allowed. You can go back and forth, to really make sure you come up with what you’re looking for.
Russ: It seems to me, that’s pretty open-ended and flexible.
Chad: Yes.
Russ: You just go start where you’re at, and allow the process to manage itself.
Chad:

[00:38:00]

That’s right, yeah. You can go through the order form. We’ll go through that, in a second. That’s absolutely it. You can just go through the form and fill out what you need. You have to do a little homework first, on your side. The one failure point that we find is that, if the user has not taken the time to fully understand, what it is, they want. They write a 1-sentence description, instead of instructions to the writer and say, “I want a social media post about what’s happening in social media, in 2016.” That is so vague and open-ended. You might find some writers that can it and run with it, and deliver what you want. You’re asking the writer to guess and get in your head, and that’s very difficult.
Russ: Yeah.
Chad: If you take that, and make it even 3 or 4 sentences and say, “Oh, here’s some examples that I like. Here’s a URL of a couple of posts that really look good. It doesn’t have to be exactly like this, but here’s something for inspiration. By the way, here’s our site where we’ve written about this previously. Here’s 6 or 7 things I’d like you to cover.” If you can do that, it goes a long way in helping create fantastic content because the writers need instructions. They’re humans and they need to understand, what it is, you’re looking for.
Russ: Yeah, that’s awesome. I always say, what the creative process on our end is, if you don’t provide that level of detail, your person’s just guessing.
Chad: That’s right.
Russ: Guessing, sometimes works out, but it’s most often, wrong. If you’re okay with the guessing process, and the time it takes for them to repeatedly guess, to try to guess correct, then cool. If you’re in a rush or you want to condense those timelines, then let’s not guess. Let’s start from somewhere of a real foundation.
Chad: That’s an important point. It’s amazing … Like I said, it’s in design, it’s in copywriting, it’s in programming, it’s in a lot of the web services that are out there. It’s amazing, how many users don’t want to take that time. It can take minutes, it doesn’t take a lot of effort, but you need to at least, communicate, what it is, you want. Then you’re going to get way better quality.
Russ: Cool. What do we have here?
Chad: Yeah, real quick here. This is the Article Detail page. You can see how the different metrics I had mentioned earlier, where we’re looking at the Flesch–Kincaid. This is the grade level of the content.
[00:40:00] Interestingly enough, I don’t know if everybody heard about this, but when Trump … They took all his speeches, and they ran it through this same Flesch–Kincaid grade level score, he came out at a 4th grade reading level. He’s an intelligent … It’s odd and a funny little anecdote because he’s smart enough to clearly communicate at a much higher-level. They said, they looked at all other politicians over the last, maybe 15, 20 years. The low-end of a politician was a 7th grade or 8th grade. Most, 9th, 10th. It’s just a funny little anecdote that, someone used the same grading metric to look at his speeches. Then, that’s the same thing that we use on every piece of content that comes through the system.
Russ: Which could be a pro or a con, depending on your political …
Chad: Right, right, exactly. We’ll save that debate for another webinar. This is getting into the geeking out part of it, that you’d mentioned earlier that, I want to see sentence count, average word per sentence. Average sentence, average syllables per word. Another one of mine that I really like is, most used words … A pet peeve of mine, writers would absolutely duplicate certain words. I’m like, “Come on, let’s use some synonyms here. Let’s not repeat the same word, over and over.”
Russ: Those look like perfect words to be using for SEO rankings.
Chad: In this case, yeah, that’s right. You got it. It is one way, that’s exactly it, because that’s another thing that some agencies will ask about. Everybody’s got their own SEO secret sauce. They may just say “Hey, I want 2% of the keywords to be this particular word.” This is another way that they can do a little rough, back of the envelop calculation on, what’s the keyword density, if they’re interested in that.
Then, the rest of it, here. We’ve got a Style Guide, you’ve got your instructions. The instruction set was very simple in this one because the account here, and the writer, have a previous relationship. They didn’t have to provide a lot of instructions. That’s not the ideal set that you’d see there, just to point that out.
[00:42:00] Then, you got here, you’d recognize this as TinyMCE, if you’ve ever worked on WordPress before. This is what our writers can write in, this is what our users receive the content back, in. They can take this and export it. In fact, we have a partnership with Act-On, which is a marketing automation company, similar to HubSpot or Marketo, where they can push this content directly to their Act-On account. You can export it, download it as an RTF, it’ll show up in a Word document.
You can also get our WordPress plugin, and the WordPress plugin is White Label. You can install it in your WordPress site. It will allow you, at the push of a button, to drag your Content Runner content over, into your account. It will maintain all of your formatting. Yeah, it shows up as draft page or a post. This is definitely helpful for agency accounts that are managing lots of clients. It’s really, super simple.
Russ: Wow, wow. Yeah, we have a lot of agencies on board, that I’m sure … This is like, you just revealed the most powerful part of the entire platform. The ease of getting this into, wherever they need to go.
Chad: Yeah, that’s it. You think about the entire ecosystem of writing. There’s the matchmaking process, upfront. There’s the communicating your instructions, there’s writing it, there’s the revision process. There’s a project management aspect, when you get more than 1 piece of content. Then, there’s the export and the distribution of the content. We’re taking that entire ecosystem and helping you, from the matchmaking to the writing, and then getting it out of the system. We even have an API that’s really … I’ll just click on it, quickly here. I’m not going to go through all the details of it.
We have a lot of functionality, here in the API, where you can set it up, so that you can query your account to get your status. You can get your articles, you can set up new orders. You can actually retrieve the content from Content Runner and put it into, if you had custom dashboard or another way that you wanted to get it out of our system.
[00:44:00] Going back, let’s actually, really quickly go through the Order form, so I can show you how that works. You’ve got a big, Post Your Oder button here. It’s very high-level, here. You’ve got some add-ons. We’re going to be putting in a few different things here. End topic is, a Content Grading Algorithm, it’s third party tool that we’ve integrated into our site. It scores your content and gives you a percent score, depending on the keywords or the phrases that you’ve entered. There’s certain users of ours, agencies that really like it. It was originally developed by an agency called Veronte. Then, they’ve rebranded, renamed. They’ve still got this service that we’ve integrated into our site.
Russ: Cool.
Chad: The purpose, tons of reason why you might to create content. Everything from Facebook content like Rusted earlier, to creating an eBook, direct mail. Maybe, you want a writer to come up with ideas, product descriptions, radio script, resume. We find, this is a lot of the types of content that are created on our site.
Due Date, this is when, how long you want the writer to actually come up with the content. Do you want it done in 2 days, 4 days? We find that, if you give 4 to 7 days, you’re going to get the best content back. You can do it in a day, but you’d probably want to communicate with that writer, upfront. That’s a tight time frame, depending on what they’re working on.
Style guide, what’s the tone? What’s the formatting you want? Project notes. How do you want to organize your content? Is this for a particular client? Is this for your blog post? Whatever you want. Then we’ve got the metrics which I showed you already. Copyscape, which we’ve talked about. You can add an attachment to the order. Go to the next step. You can do an upload, if you’re doing bulk content. You’re doing lots of product descriptions, you’ve got a huge eCommerce site. You can download a CSV template, upload your orders that way. It’s really quick. We’re going to just go through the form here.
[00:46:00] A lot of people are used to thinking about, what do they pay, per word? On our site, you pay per unit of content. If you’ve got a blog post, and you’re going to price it at $50. You feel like, “Well, I want to figure out. Look, I’m used to paying $0.06 a word.” You can go here and say $0.06. It’s going to be 700 to 1000 words. Then it’ll show you “Okay, your suggested price would be $51.
Russ: To help people compare what they’ve done in the past.
Chad: That’s right. Let them do the math, instead of having to think it through in their head that … Here’s the really important part, the Order Type. You switched to default initially, which is fantastic. You went to the sitewide favorites, and you went into a writer pool. A pool, the concept is that, a group of your favorite writers. The sitewide favorites are a list of maybe, 40 or so writers that we curate, constantly on the site. If you assign a order to, what happens is, an email goes out to those 40 writers. First come, first serve, any of them can come, pick it up. That’s the really, most frictionless way to get quality content because your working with a curated list of writers that we have on the site. The other …
Russ: I liked that because it was just, I don’t even need to … I don’t even have time to go and look at ratings and revision rates. It’s like, just do it.
Chad: That’s right, get started. Just get going. Jump out of the box and go. That’s how you do it, and a lot of our users find success, that way. The second most popular is direct, where you just find a writer and you start saying, “Okay, look, I want to work with Lisa on a regular basis. She’s a fantastic writer.” You type her name in, and then you can assign it directly to a writer, that way.
Russ: Very cool.
Chad: You got your word count, your price, your title, your instructions, your niche. Then, you can add additional titles. It’s very easy. It’ll … Yeah. You can keep adding information. Then, you can proceed to the third step, which is really just a review of your content’s order. Then, submit. Then, once you do that, then we fall all the way back to the Products tab. It’ll show up here, in your dashboard.
[00:48:00]

Russ:

Huge, that’s awesome. Yeah, it was weird, using this tool for copywriting because I never … This is not complicated, but I’ve never used it for hiring a writer before. It was like a dating site or something, where you’re just going through it. “What do you like? How do you want to” … You know? “Where are you at?”
Chad: Yeah.
Russ: Yeah, it was awesome. I think, what you’ve done here is, you’ve given control to whatever … You can have, whatever level of control you want. For me, I’m the kind of guy who’s just like, “Let’s get started and see where we land.” If you’re the type of person who really, really wants to dial it in, of who you want, working on your thing beforehand, you can spend an hour, searching through every profile and cross-referencing and finding that perfect person. It caters to both ends of the spectrum and everyone in-between, with how you like to manage your external teams.
Chad: Yeah, exactly. It’s a great segue here into, this is the Writers tab where you can get super granular about how you want to work with a writer. You got your writer name here. Your limit, which is how many articles a writer can work on, at any given time, from you. One of the biggest problems I found with other services. Let’s say, I needed 5 blog posts for 1 client, and I posted that order. 1 writer went and grabbed all 5. That’s an awful … It could be a great experience, if it’s a fantastic writer. If it’s not, it’s a 0 for me, because I’m like, “Oh, I have 1 writer do all 5?”
We intentionally set it, so that by default, a writer can only work on 1 project at a time, from you. You have to reward the writer by changing their limit here, and bumping it up and saying, “I like this writer. I’m going to let them work on 3 at a time.”
Russ: Got it, got it. It manages that. Also, I assume, in terms of style and everything, it keeps it fresh.
[00:50:00]

Chad:

Yes, exactly. Staff Order, which is a really abridged order form. I’m just going to show it to you real quick, and the bounce back. If you don’t want to go through the 3-step order form and you work with a writer all the time. You put your notes in and you put your price, you put your title, your description, and then you submit. There’s your order.
Russ: Got it.
Chad: That’s the way. If you really get in, tie with a couple of writers, you can just say, “I’m just going to keep assigning staff orders. I don’t want to go through that 3-step order form.” That’s been a big hit with some of our agencies that really have their go-to writers, and want to use them on a regular basis.
You can favorite, you can block writers. Favorite just means, add them to your favorite list here. You can block, so they won’t work with you anymore. Here’s your pool which I had mentioned. There’s the sitewide favorites. You can create your own, new pool. This is a huge hit as well. If you want some legal writers. You say, Look, I need 6. I’ve got 6 legal writers I work with, all the time. I don’t want to go and ask each one of them, are they ready, are available to work on a project, that’s maybe, due tomorrow.” I can just submit an order. It goes out to all 6 of those writers. First come first serve, they can come, pick it up. That’s a very powerful tool that a lot of our agencies are using.
Russ: Awesome.
Chad: Then the Writer Directory which we’ve already taken a look at. We’ve got the Export tab. I’m not going to go through that. I’ll just, really quickly show you. You can zip up your content, and export a lot of it at one time. You can get the plugin. Then we have a full email messaging system. You can send attachments, you can message writers directly. It’ll get pushed to your personal email. We also send status reports on a weekly basis as well, if you’ve got an ongoing project with us.
[00:52:00] Then last, yeah, last little thing I’ll show you here is, we have an idea engine. This is, if you’re looking for help with just ideas and you say “Oh look, I’ve got a lawyer as a client. I want to know, what are some of the keyword phrases in Google, that are related to lawyers? How much do lawyers make? What do lawyers do? I want to take a look at Twitter and see, “What are last tweets, real time, that have the word lawyer in them?”
You can poke around and say, “Oh hey, wow, there’s an article that I might want to write about or whatever.” It’s a great way to do a little brainstorming.
Russ: I love it, that’s awesome.
Chad: Yeah, that’s the long and the short of it, for Content Runner. There’s a few other things. There’s, the setting up real quick, the account, and then billing the account. User credentials, the API, we talked about that. You can refer a friend, getting into billing. You can load funds. One key thing to remember is, you can send a bonus to a writer. You do have to have the funds in your account, prior to placing an order. We will Escrow the money. We only release it to the writer, when you’ve marked it complete. If you do end up having to reject the article, the funds will get returned to your account.
Russ: Got it. I like that too, because everyone’s on the same page. There’s no question about getting paid, and you’re committed as well.
Chad: Yeah, that’s right, that’s exactly it.
Russ: Awesome.
Chad: Yeah, that’s the walkthrough. What else would you like to …
Russ: No, that’s great. Chad, you mentioned a lot. I don’t want to, at the risk of sounding redundant, but clearly, it’s a good fit for agencies. Anyone can use this tool, right? This is not just for mass content …
Chad: Definitely.
Russ: Production. Even if you just need 1 blog post a month, this is a great platform to get that done in a really streamlined and reliable way.
Chad:

[00:54:00]

Yes. Yeah. You’re right. I default to talking about agencies because early on in our lifespan, even the ones that have adopted us. We’re finding more and more … For example, I call them retail users, but an Orthodontist called me, the other day. We walked through, how to use the site. I’ve done it with lawyers, I’ve done it with dentists. You name it. If they are more hands-on, as we talked about, at the beginning of the webinar here. How they theoretically, probably should be outsourcing some of that. If they really are hands-on, and you want to do this for your business, there’s absolutely not reason you can’t.
That’s a … You can jump in and get started, and you can 1 post a month, you could do 1 post a quarter. There is no cost. That’s the other thing I want to make sure, is clear is that, it’s absolutely free, to use Content Runner. You can use it today, you could use it, a year from now. We don’t have a monthly fee. There’s nothing like that. The only way we make money is, where we take a percentage of the transaction, when you actually do post an order.
Russ: That’s huge. To get started, just contentrunner.com. You can set up a free account. You can look through the writers, you can use the idea generator, all that kind of stuff. Then, like me, I signed up, it was about 2 or 3 weeks before I had that acute need. I had my stuff in less than 4 days. It was 4 days, from when I posted. I think that is the default.
Chad: Yeah.
Russ: Cool.
Chad: Yeah, that’s it. You know, one other thing … Oh yeah, go ahead with what you were going to say.
Russ: No, no, go ahead.
Chad: One other thing I want to mention, before I forget is, any Design Pickle users that want to take us up on the offer, I’m happy to extend them a $30 free credit. All that you do is, email me their username, and I’m at info@contentrunner.com, is the main email that I manage. If they email me their username, I can give them $30 credit, so they can test us out and see how they like it.
Russ: I’m going to put you on the spot, Chad. Can I also, can we also offer, for those who are just getting started in their outsourcing content, your curation advisement service that you mentioned?
Chad:

[00:56:00]

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, no, I have no problem giving that out. I find that, it just really helps on the onboarding process. Yeah, most definitely.
Russ: Awesome. I might even take that up too. I’m thinking of 5 other projects in my mind now, that I need to get rolling.
Chad: Yeah, yeah. No, I’ll help you out for sure.
Russ: Fantastic. We’ll post all of that in the follow-up content. Chad, killer, dude. This was awesome. I’m a tech guy at heart, so it’s great to see behind the scenes. I love the tool. As you may or may not know, we do these webinars, completely no referrals. It’s not an affiliate system, this is tools we use and we love, and we highly recommend, here at Design Pickle. Content Runner is one of them. Definitely, check them out. Chad’s offering an awesome … $30, you could get a blog post, you could get some headlines. You could use that, to make more money, to reinvest back in Content Runner, and just have a perpetual cycle going, of …
Chad: Absolutely. Yeah. No, that’s right.
Russ: Thanks for your time. You mentioned your email, info@contentrunner.com.
Chad: Info@contentrunner.com. Yeah, that’s the … You could do chad@, but yeah, that’s info@ is probably the best one.
Russ: Cool. If people have, just questions, they can reach out to you too, on the service and everything?
Chad: Definitely. Yeah, that’s right.
Russ: All right, Chad. That’s it for today. Thanks for participating. I had a great time. Loved the tool. Best of luck out there. Excited to see where you guys are going with it. Just, thank you so much for taking time out of your day, today.
Chad: Thank you, Russ. This was great. Really enjoyed it.
Russ: All right. Take care.