How to Grow Revenue by Adding Content Creation to Your Website Care Plans

12 MIN READ
Posted By Andy McIlwain on

We all know what it’s like to wait for clients to get us content. It’s a bottleneck. It delays site launches. It throws timelines off track. It cascades into affecting other projects.

People smarter than myself have tried addressing the content bottleneck in many ways. Some have tried to solve it with software, like Gather Content or Content Snare. Some have tried to make content a requirement before the development begins. And others choose to drop heavy penalties on their clients if content isn’t delivered on time.

Whatever the approach, it doesn’t change the fact that we see content as a burden.

But what if we saw it as an opportunity instead?

Why Should You Create Content?

Businesses exist to provide solutions to customer problems. The problems we solve as WordPress pros are usually tied to building websites for our clients. It might be something as simple as a landing page or as complex as launching a new e-commerce brand.

Whatever we build, we can assume that content is going to be part of it. Why? Because content makes up the bulk of a website. It's the information presented through text, images, video, and audio. Everything else is packaging or infrastructure to make that content available.

Remember: WordPress is a content management system. So as a WordPress professional, doesn’t it make sense that our clients would turn to you as content experts?

Think of the upsides here.

For clients, it means you’re a one-stop-shop for establishing their web presence. You’re not going to stop at giving them a set of pretty boxes filled with lorem ipsum. You’re going to help them figure out what goes in those boxes. You might even create it for them!

For your business, this means a new offering to complement what you already sell. You could wrap content creation into existing services. It could be a part of new site builds. Or you could offer it as a standalone service on a monthly retainer.

Everybody wins here. Your clients don’t have to become copywriters. That lifts a huge burden off of them. And you've got a new, valuable service bringing in $$$.

What if You Hate Writing?

This is the number one objection I get about this whole idea.

If your strength is in design and development, why would you bother with content?

But here’s the thing: you don’t need to be the one producing the content.

Writing? Video? Photography? Illustration? There are plenty of talented creatives out there who already have those skills. Combine their expertise with yours to create a comprehensive solution for your clients.

Related: Outsourcing for Beginners - How to Outsource Remote Staff

This is exactly how ad agencies have operated for decades.

Ad agencies pitch their clients on strategic campaign ideas. After the client buys into a concept, the agency taps their network. They have freelancers, production houses, and other creative shops to produce the assets.

You’re already involved in this sort of digital supply chain, even if you don’t realize it.

Think about the WordPress themes, plugins, and third-party services you use every day. Those resources you use to build and manage WordPress websites? They're all created by other people.

You may not know how to create those things from scratch, but that’s fine. It’s not your job. Your job is knowing how to put those things together in a way that delivers a solution for your clients.

So think of content the same way. You don't have to be the one writing the blog posts or editing the videos. Why? Because you know how to leverage existing talent to pull that content together.

Related: The Web Developers Guide to Building Your Network

What Kind of Content Creation Can You Offer?

If you’re still with me on this, great! Let’s dig into the types of content you can produce for your clients.

For a business, an easy way to think about content is in relation to the sale. Every business is driving to a conversion of some kind.

So there's before the sale: Pre-Conversion. And there's after the sale: Post-Conversion.

I'm sure you're familiar with pre-conversion content already. It's the content marketing, or inbound marketing that drives traffic to a website. If all goes well it turns that visitor into a lead or into a paying customer.

Related: Content Marketing with Jeff Bullas

Then there's post-conversion. It's everything that happens after the sale:

  • Onboarding new customers
  • Handling support inquiries
  • Getting repeat business through new projects or maintenance plans

You can use content to help your clients with both sides. Here's how...

Before the Sale: Branding, Marketing, and Lead Generation or Sales Content

Brand content shapes your client's reputation. You can produce and publish social media content (off-site) and helpful blogging (on-site).

Marketing content segues from building reputation into offering solutions. It speaks to the goals and challenges of your client's target audience. As with branding, you can do that through social media (off-site) and blog posts (on-site).

A Word on Newsletters:

Monthly email newsletters are an awesome marketing deliverable for your clients.

I can’t over-emphasize the value of an email list. An opted-in subscriber is worth so much more than a Facebook follower.

Related: Your First Steps to Email Marketing

Lead generation and sales content gets straight to the point. It speaks to a specific problem that your client's potential customer is trying to solve, then it presents the case for a product or service that can resolve it. It answers expected questions and overcomes objections before they're made. It provides evidence of trust with social proof, credentials, warranties and guarantees.

Product and pricing pages are obvious deliverables here. You could also produce:

  • landing pages
  • FAQs
  • case studies
  • testimonials
  • and product demos

After the Sale: Onboarding, Support, and Retention

Onboarding content is what a customer needs to be successful out of the gate. Receipts; welcome emails; “getting started” documentation; webinars. It ensures that your client treats new and existing customers to an amazing experience.

Automate the heck out of delivering that onboarding content. Then charge a monthly retainer for managing, optimizing, and reporting on the performance.

Related: Wordpress Automation That’s Helpful for Bloggers

A quick follow after the onboarding content is the support content. Support content could be documentation in a self-serve knowledge base. It could also be reactive triage, i.e. customer service on social media.

Andy's Hot Tip:

The folks at Help Scout has built an amazing resource in HelpU. It's packed full of customer service best practices. (It's also a great example of educational content marketing in action.)

And last but not least is retention content. This is the stuff that keeps your client's existing customers coming back for more. Obvious deliverables include customer-facing newsletters or promotional emails with personalized cross-sells or upsells. Less obvious deliverables include high-touch content like physical mail or virtual "town halls".

Andy's Other Hot Tip:

Consider pitching a membership site to your client. Present it as a customer portal. This locked-down WordPress site would be a great place to publish customer-exclusive content.

The upkeep of the customer portal would be another maintenance plan you can sell. $$$!

That All Sounds Great, but What About the Metrics?

A key component to any good maintenance plan is client reports. This is where we remind clients of why they’re paying us. We call out all the great work we’ve done and make recommendations for improvements.

Related: 3 ways to prove to clients you’re actually working

Content creation is a perfect addition to this sort of reporting. You can report on what's done (qualitative), and what impact it's had on the numbers (quantitative).

For example:

  • Branding content drives reach, engagement, and sentiment.
  • Marketing content drives new and returning site traffic.
  • Sales and lead generation content drives sales and leads (go figure).
  • Onboarding and support content drives NPS and CSAT.
  • Retention content drives referrals, sales, and leads.

These are all measurable. Look at platform analytics, web analytics, customer surveys, and other tools.

Figure out Your Production Workflow

Most of what I’ve covered so far talks about the potential of what you could do. But what about actually doing the work?

Let's say you're outsourcing content production to a 3rd party. You're still responsible for ensuring the content meets a defined set of criteria. You're also responsible for ensuring it's produced on time and on budget.

Related: Creating business processes with Brian Richards

There are some handy tools for this:

Templates

I’m a huge fan of templates. Create them once to follow best practices. Then copy them and fill in the blanks.

I’m sure many of you are doing something similar with your site builds. For example, you might be using theme frameworks or pre-configured page builder layouts.


Checklists

I lean on checklists when I’m assigning content production tasks to other people. The checklists are a list of criteria, or requirements, that the content must adhere to.

Let's say I'm writing a brief for a blog post. I could specify a target audience; target keywords; and product tie-ins.


Automation

Automation comes in handy for things like notifications, reminders, and follow-up actions. It’s a boon for productivity and scaling up.


Task Management

This dovetails out of automation. But while automation focuses on productivity, task management is more about accountability. What steps or phases does each piece of content need to go through? What happens in each step? Who’s responsible? When does it need to get done? Map that out in a task management app like Asana, Teamwork, Trello, Airtable, etc.

Related: Project management for web designers

Guide to Selling & Delivering Your New Content Creation Services

1. Listen to your client's goals and challenges

I’m sure you’re doing this anyway as part of your due diligence in project discovery. You’ll need to articulate how your services connect to those goals and challenges.

2. Make relevant recommendations

What types of content will best address your client’s goals and challenges? Why? Connect the dots for them.

3. Define your deliverables

Based on your recommendations, exactly what will you produce? How will you measure the impact and performance of those deliverables? (See the section above RE: Metrics.)

4. Provide plenty of lead time

We tend to underestimate how long it takes to produce a solid piece of content. According to HubSpot, it takes the average marketer 1-2 hours to write a 500-word blog post.

5. Add content to existing maintenance plans

Include a block of hours in your maintenance plans for content creation. You could divvy it up based on client needs or you could itemize it. This is a good choice for simple deliverables like blog articles or social media posts.

6. Make content an add-on to your existing maintenance plans

Would you rather keep content creation as an optional “upgrade”? Come up with a variety of options for your clients to choose from. They can mix and match what they want, but you define the scope of the deliverables.

7. Make content creation a separate set of plans

If I were freelancing again or running an agency this would be my go-to. Why?

There are a couple of reasons, actually:

  • The first reason is that content creation is a strong enough service offering to stand on its own. Even if you're not maintaining the site you could still make decent MRR off the content retainer.
  • The second reason is that it could be a foot in the door to a bigger project or a site maintenance plan. If you're pumping out content for a client and the content is working, you could leverage that.

How much better would the content be performing if you overhauled the site?

8. Produce content as a one-time project to test the waters

A trial run is good for you and good for your clients. You never know. An existing relationship dynamic might be different for content production.

9. Do a three-month engagement producing a set number of deliverables

At the end of the trial period, you can do a post-mortem looking back on what worked and what didn’t. You can make a judgment call on whether to continue as a monthly/quarterly/annual commitment.

This Sounds like a Lot of Extra Work. Is It Worth It?

That’s completely up to you. But if you’re not sure, do the following check...

  • Can you source the content?
    Will you produce it yourself? Or do you have the necessary connections for content production?
  • Can you scale to meet demand?
    If your service takes off, do you know how you’ll keep up? Do you at least know how you’ll avoid over-committing to avoid burnout?
  • Can you prove your work is worth it?
    Do you know how you’ll track, gather, and report on content performance?
  • Do you know the scope of your offering?
    Do you have a tightly-defined list of what content services you can offer? Do you know what their benefits are, and how you’ll deliver them?

As you may have noticed, content creation is a significant undertaking. So if you’re happy doing what you’re already doing, then by all means, keep at it.

But if you’re tired of waiting for content loading from clients, or if you’re looking for new revenue sources, content creation might be exactly what you need.

Content is an opportunity, not a burden!

Content is a bottleneck because content is hard. As a WordPress professional, you're in a position to turn that pain point into a success story - both for your clients and for your business.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you work content creation into your business. Do you struggle with it, or have you got systems in place to make it an efficient process?

Tell us where to send your Prospectus