Editor’s Note: This post is co-written by Kali Greff, Verblio’s marketing manager and Molly Krumholz, Verblio’s head of freelance content writers. We teamed up because we think we have, together, a unique perspective about both a) what businesses & marketing agencies need from their content and b) how to quickly forge meaningful, successful relationships with outsourced freelance writers to get the content needed.
Verblio (formerly BlogMutt) is very excited to announce a brand new product (the first of many!) that carries out the vision and framework for the Verblio of 2018.
What is this product, you ask?
Something that content marketers clamor for and that has been requested countless times by prospects and current customers.
Something that, up until this point, we’ve advised plenty of customers to “hack” in the Verblio system & helped writers to piece together in workarounds. So, even though we’ve been writing these for some time now, it hasn’t been convenient.
Something that, to be frank, is beyond warranted in this saturated, engagement-obsessed, voracious-for-high-quality-content landscape that we all now operate and market in.
Starting January 3, 2018, Verblio now long-formng form posts at 2,000-3,000 words. Long-reads, rejoice!
Now, onto the really important stuff—the whats, whys, and hows:
What sorts of content are typically 2,000 words or longer? How long is that?
Excellent question, and as you can expect, the answer to this question is highly personal and dependent on your content needs. We work with companies who are in the business of creating very digestible ebooks at a brief ~1,000 words each, others that are interested in developing lengthy brochures that exceed 2,000 words, and others yet who believe anything less than 2,000 words is a sorry excuse for a thought leadership piece. So, it just depends!
As a general rule of thumb, and the main reason why we rolled out this offering, was to support HubSpot’s major new findings that structuring your content around lengthy, foundational pieces called ‘pillars’ is both more user-friendly and SEO-friendly. Read more on that here. We’ve also amassed a knowledgeable writer base to support this, too—who are either HubSpot Inbound- or Content Marketing-Certified—or both.
You can find more information on the original research/methodology of the pillar content strategy in this blog post, or you can get a sense of the high-level concept from these images (both courtesy of blog.hubspot.com):
At its core, the 2,000-word post product is to help business and agency customers start this process and begin developing these all-important pillar pieces from which they can pull material for blog posts and other associated “clusters” based on shorter subsets or peripheral, related offshoots of this larger topic pillar. Once you have your content strategy surrounding the pillar architecture, you can only build up from there! (So many architecture puns, I just couldn’t resist.)
Apart from the user-friendliness of this model to help website or blog visitors know which posts are related to one another, the rough equivalent of presenting the visitor with natural “You may be interested in…” recommendations, it’s an effective structure to communicate to search engines what your site/content’s main topics are (and that you’re authoritative on those topics, to boot!).
But besides these pillar pieces, there are plenty of other great uses for a robust, deeply researched post like this:
- White papers
- Meaty thought leadership pieces
- One-off, long content projects for specific marketing campaigns
How does this work with Verblio writers?
Another excellent question. My, you’re full of them. You may be a current Verblio customer, you may not. Here’s an overview to help understand how this is different than the main Verblio model.
In most cases, we believe that the power of crowdsourced writing lies in… well… the crowd! Most customers spend some extra time upfront building out the perfect crowd to meet all of their content needs and to deliver content fast. We find that for shorter pieces, we see better results when writers are able to match themselves to the clients who best fit their style, knowledge, and experience.
For 2,000-word posts (and up), however, we think that the matching process needs to be a bit more “hands-on,” so when you select this length, we’ll be hand-matching you with a writer from our crowd who best suits your needs and who is interested in your topics. Once we’ve found a writer for you, we’ll send you their writer profile so you can read their sample posts and read a little about them. Additionally, you’ll receive an outline for your first topic from your writer. This will give you a better sense of if this writer is a fit for your content. You’ll also be able to give feedback on the outline to ensure your writer starts out on the same page. If you like their first submission, you’ll be able to work exclusively with this writer going forward.
Let me explain briefly why we’re doing this, and then I can answer some questions about how exactly this process will work.
For shorter posts, our customers create company profiles, add topic descriptions, and receive submissions from writers who compete to give them the best posts. Over time, the customer finds a small group of writers who just “get” what they need, and any time the customer needs content, they can just sign on and add a topic description to get more posts.
However, we know that some things are just different for long-form content:
- First, most companies don’t publish a 2,000-word post every day. Or even every month! These projects are special, and so their quality and execution need to be top-notch.
- Second, long-form posts require a lot more time and effort, both from the customer and from the writer. The customer needs to dream up and explain what they are seeking, i.e. Is this a blog post? A white paper? An e-book? How should it be organized? What keywords should be targeted? The writer, on the other hand, needs more time to do the deeper research required for these posts and to carefully organize those 2,000 words. We also expect that these pieces will require a couple rounds of edits.
- Finally, we know that it’s important to get the match right on the first try. It’s easy to review 300-word posts. It’s quick! And the posts are relatively simple. They’re good, or they’re not. To create a 2,000-word post for you, we understand that the writer needs to be a good match in many ways. They need to:
- Know your industry
- Match your brand’s style and voice
- Understand your business
- And, on top of that, they need to have top-notch grammar and organizational skills.
We know that you are busy, and when you take the time to review 2,000 words of content, it needs to be worth your while!
Recognizing these differences between short- and long-form content, we’ve designed the matching process for 2,000-word posts to utilize our knowledge of our crowd, but also give you the final say in which writer best matches your unqiue needs.
Here are 5 key ways that we do this:
- LEARN: When you first sign up, we’ll start reviewing your profile and any topics you’ve added to learn about your business, your brand, and your content needs. We may reach out to you for more information.
- LISTEN: If you’re already a Verblio customer and adding a longer post here and there, you may already know who you’d like to work with. Feel free to request a specific writer! We’ll reach out to that writer right away and help them get started on your project.
- MATCH: Don’t have a writer in mind? Don’t worry about it. As soon as we have the information we need, our head of writers (me!) will begin matching you with a writer who knows your industry, fits your brand’s personality, and who is excited to carefully craft the best post for you. We only select elite-level writers who have proven that they can create exceptional content.
- CHECK IN: Once we match you with a writer, we’ll send his or her profile to you. You can review their bios, read their sample posts, and check out their Verblio “stats.” You’ll also receive an outline on your first topic. You can make comments and edits before the writer tackles your first piece.
- CUSTOMIZE: Didn’t love working with this writer? Let us know! We want to make sure you feel like you’re getting a great match, and with 3,000+ writers in our crowd, we’re pretty sure that writer is someone we work with all the time.
Once you’ve committed to working with a writer, they’ll be hard at work creating your post. You can specify a deadline, if you know when you need the post finished. Generally, we find that posts at this length are submitted within about a week.
What else is included in choosing a plan of 2,000-word posts?
As explained above, this entails an entirely different process from the normal Verblio system. It also comes in tandem with some uniquely high-touch, high-collaboration features to work more closely with your chosen writer.
These extra perks include:
- Intake survey and personal assistance in the setup process
- Writers handpicked just for your industry and specific content needs by our industry-savvy, discerning head of writers
- Fully customizable content
- Deeper research included
- More flexible ability to complete one-off projects
- Work with your chosen writer(s) exclusively as reliable extensions of your content development team
- Coming soon: More direct communication with your writer. For now, we’ll facilitate more open communication through our support team to get a piece of content exactly where you need it before you publish.
Interested in learning more?
- Read some more on pillar/cluster strategy from HubSpot:
- Beginner: What are pillar pages, topic clusters, and subtopics?
- Intermediate: Why do pillar pages matter for your SEO strategy?
- Advanced: The Future of Content Strategy
- Want to run your industry by us and view some related samples on how we’ve written for similar folks in the past? Click this banner. —>
- Read up on how we write for those really niche or really boring industries here. (Spoiler alert: We don’t consider any niche too niche or any industry boring.)
- Book some time to chat with our Sales team to learn more about our HubSpot-certified writers, or to talk through how we’d work for your upcoming content projects. We’d love to get those long-form posts off your plate and into the hands of capable writers for you.
Nice! What else is included in Verblio’s 2018 plans?
Well, you can read up on the comprehensive rundown in this mega-post.
But if you’re just not willing to dive in and read all of that (I sure can’t blame you), here are the highlights of what this year has in store for BlogMutt to inform you wonderful prospective and current customers out there:
- New default content lengths. Given the changes in the exponentially growing content marketing landscape and keeping expert recommendations in mind, content just needs to be longer and more thought-through in terms of its placement in a marketing campaign than ever before. Plus, high-quality, valuable content reigns supreme more than it ever has.
- As a result, we now offer content at the following post lengths: 300+ words / 600+ words / 1,000+ words / 1,500+ words, plus the aforementioned new 2,000-word offering.
- Customized lengths available. Have a content need falling in between the word-length buckets as laid out above? No problem—you can now easily toggle in 50-word increments between the default lengths and select just the length you need—i.e. 500 words, 1,250 words, etc.
- PayPal now is a payment option. This was mostly a proverbial hat-tip for all our international customers out there, though having greater flexibility to choose than just a single credit card has, and still will, undoubtably benefit hundreds of customers.
- New content types besides just blog posts. Even though we’ve been writing all sorts of content for years now, including longer form as we’ve spoken about ad-nauseum in this post, as well as shorter social media posts, website copy, product descriptions, press releases, and many, many more, we will finally provide templated topics depending on the type of content you need. [Coming soon]
- More control of the writers in your curated crowd. Need a hyper-local writer to your neighborhood in Minnesota? Or need a licensed architect to work on your industry-specific content? Or, as an agency, would you like to work exclusively with HubSpot Inbound Certified writers, for example? You betcha. [Coming soon]
- This will extend into forging closer communications with your chosen crowd, as well as enabling you to “assign” certain pieces to those writers you know will execute on the specific needs for that piece the best.
- Choose-your-own onboarding. Give your Verblio experience the kick in the pants it needs to get fully up and running by choosing a good ‘Kickstart’ program for you and get rocking on topics, expert setup, and content strategy. [Coming soon]
- Improvements to the user experience. We’re aiming to make the most convenient, the most efficient and, yep, the user-friendliest platform out there. No less.
At Verblio, our goal remains the same—to help you create content that generates more traffic, more leads, and more customers for your business or your clients, and to do so in a way that makes us a seamless and powerful extension of your internal team.
We’ll be continuing to make improvements (even beyond these! ^^) and adding new, exciting services throughout 2018. Stay tuned…