A behind-the-scenes look into content marketing with Molly Conicella, Director of Community Management at Skyword, a content marketing platform that works with major brands around the world.
Twitter: Skyword Community (Twitter)
Welcome to episode 5 of the BlackFreelance podcast, hope you are doing well.
This episode is one I’ve wanted to do since the beginning, because it’s an inside look at content marketing with one of the platforms I’ve written for since really early on in my freelance journey.
If you’re even kind of a little interested in writing as a content marketer, take some time with this one because it gives an inside look into how one platform works, but more importantly helps you understand where content marketing really sits in the world of writing and content creation.
We cover a lot of ground from an explanation of content marketing to the topics and fields that get the most traction, what makes profiles stand out…even how to position your unique experiences as a candidate.
So not gonna keep you waiting, let’s get into it.
*note that time stamps will be off equal to the length of the intro
Molly. Thank you so much for coming on.
Hi, Megan. Great. Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited about this. You know, it’s one of those like long time-follower, first time -caller things where I followed your Twitter for years. I don’t even think I realized it was you at first and then I piece two and two together where I was like, oh my gosh, we are working with Megan on a regular basis and she runs the Skyword Twitter account. We needed to make that connection and then in the last year, I’m glad it came about, and I’m really excited about the combo today because it’s stuff that I’m constantly talking about and I can’t wait to make sure your audience hears it.
Okay. So, let’s get into this. So, what do you do at Skyword? What’s your background in content marketing? How’s that all work?
Sure. So, my name is Molly Conicella. I am the director of Community Management at Skyword. I’ve been at the company coming up on seven years now, which is a lot for the amount of changes that we’ve endured at the company. Essentially if you were to boil down the biggest thing that I do is I pair writers and creatives from our broader community with the actual projects that our clients approach us with. I also handle all the troubleshooting in between and I help coach people. And I do things like this where I spread the knowledge of how to get work with us, best practices for content marketing, all of that.
Beautiful. Okay. So, what do platforms like Skyword do? Because I know it’s something that unless you’re in it, you don’t really understand. So, what is Skyword all about?
So, we’re very known for, I think our new motto is ‘We make it easy to tell authentic stories with lasting results,’ but what does that mean? We kind of offer three big things. Primarily what I think people would know us for is our platform. We have technology that really streamlines the entire content marketing process start to finish. So, you know, onboarding our contributors, uploading information from our clients, coaching them, submitting work, SEO, editing, publishing payments. The other big thing we offer is our full services team. We have a full house of editors and strategists who understand the ins and outs of creating incredible content that will rank really well socially, not socially, really just on the web. Then the other big thing that we offer is our vetted community, we have several thousand contributors who cover everything under the sun who are really experienced writers and designers, videographers, photographers, and every little creative type in-between. So, my job is to really manage that part of it, but I work very closely with the technology teams and the services teams that bring everything else to life. So, platforms make it easy to publish those amazing articles that you’re constantly Googling; figuring out, how do I dye my hair at home? How do I decorate my apartment? How do I buy the latest ‘didn’t-need-to-be’ technology? All of that.
So, what kind of other- what kind of creative professionals, in general, does Skyword work with?
Well, primarily my job is to focus on the writers. I’m not going to say there’s nobody we wouldn’t work with. We have covered so much in my tenure at the company that I don’t want what I share here to exclude anybody, because we never know what’s going to walk in the door from our client’s side but primarily the buckets that we support fall under writer, designer, videographer photographer, but we ventured into audio and with video come scriptwriting, with infographics come copywriting, and then a video there’s actors. So, within those four pillars of writer, designer, videographer photographer, and I guess audio, any little creative type that trickles down into one of those cores creative. Memes are something we would support. It’s not always pretty because we have to kind of mold it into how our platform will be able to showcase them, but we’re really open to working with anybody.
Wow. Okay. So, when you’re connecting creatives with clients, like what kind of clients does Skyword working with, and how are they using content?
Historically, we are known for working with enterprise-level companies, midsize companies. They typically have several verticals under their umbrella. They cover-, if you’re talking about a major medical technology provider, they cover like all of the different subspecialties within a hospital, or if it’s a technology brand for a B2B tech brand, they create a variety of devices. So that we ended up developing partnerships with a variety of verticals within that enterprise. Beyond that, it’s not just limited to that we certainly work with very well-known needs across the nation and globally really. They span everything from B2B and B2C. So, business and consumer under technology, healthcare finance. And when we talk about finance, we’re talking about banking and investing, but we’re also talking about personal finance- filing your taxes, things like that. HR consumer tech, lifestyle, beauty, pet care, how to run your small business. We really never know what will walk in the door, but I would say it’s really everything, but if it falls under one of those big buckets, there’s also kind of a subspecialty within that too. One of the coolest things about my job is I never know what I’m going to be working on a certain day, which is exciting. It’s a good thing.
Yeah, taking care of finances.
It’s the truth though. It’s exciting. And then what they’re creating, that can also vary and even within the written content, I think you can speak to this as your own experiences. It’s not just a blog article. When we talk about articles, it could be anything from a really easily digestible listicle three to 500 words. It could be your average butter article that’s like a well-researched piece, that’s 500, 800 words. You’re creeping into that longer for 1200-word article venturing into eBooks, white papers, case studies. We also see on the writer side; we support the copywriting for infographics or website set up launch. There are so many other things than that, but then we- on a whole, what we call enhanced content, which I don’t think is known as an industry term. I know our digital producers are always laughing about this enhanced content is not like a thing. It’s our thing. But it’s not, I don’t think it’s an industry-wide term, but for us, what that means is infographics, micrographic, social graphics, animated, video, live-action, video podcasts, interactive websites, webinars, things where you’re getting a really visual component that involves a lot of moving pieces. And then oftentimes we’ll bring in a writer to make sure that the language we’re using on those assets helps bring them to life. And it’s well researched if it’s a super-niche industry, we’ll want to make sure that the writer or the script that’s going in behind it is really going to land with the target audience.
I love that because that’s something I’ve noticed just in my own work that has changed so much because I’ve been at it, I think seven years. And where my writing is being used has changed immensely from when I first started doing mostly blogs and case studies. So, like you mentioned webinar scripts, video scripts, and that kind of thing.
Yeah. And I’m sure for you, like, I mean, you could probably speak to this as, is it exciting and fun to be able to say, I know I can do this. I just haven’t had the opportunity to do it yet. And I love that. I’ve been trusted to venture with them in this department.
It totally is. I just started offering video and there’s so many tools that are available to people now. Of course, I was writing the scripts, but I can do a lot more just because of the way I’ve grown. Oh yeah. There’s very little that people throw at me at this point where I’m just like, oh, I don’t know if I can do that anymore. My confidence has grown across over time.
Yeah. That’s awesome and you’re not the only one to have said that to me. It’s cool because you have such a great relationship with many of the editors at our company and I think once you establish that bond, we can say, we know Megan really delivers, let’s give her a shot at this cool project we have coming up. We know she has the medical technology background, she’s a strong writer. I know she can do the script, or I know she can create this infographic for us. That’s going to be great. Once you really establish that bond, it’s something, you know, we’re definitely open to exploring.
That’s beautiful. So, you mentioned like B2B and B2C clients I’m a B2B person. I see them as two completely different worlds but from your perspective, how do those programs differ, if at all?
It’s funny too, because yes and no, I totally agree with you. Everybody has the same thing. What I find to be the biggest differentiators to help kind of explain how they’re different. Consumer accounts; they’re the more fun ones personally. Like I said, I get to be reading this stuff all day, which is very fun, it tends to be a little distracting but very fun where I’m reading about the best thing, leaving the leading writers in pet care or hair products, skincare, clothing, recipes, and often those are direct to consumer. Some of the things that our clients will come to us with that makes the writers and creatives different for those things end up being, not only the quality of the writing and maybe the brands that they’ve published for previously, but also do they have some social influence?
Do they take their own photos? What kind of personal brand are they presenting that we think will align with what we’re also offering?` Then on the B2B side, I feel like the subject matter expertise really comes to play here where the clients in this space are selling enterprise-level offerings. A lot of the time they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to not only create the content, but then their product offering is so expensive they want to make sure that the people who are buying it or the people who are reading, the articles they’re creating are going to get exactly what they’re looking for. So, when we’re hiring writers and creatives for B2B technology or healthcare or finance, we need to make sure we’re writing the cutting-edge stuff in that specific industry. So, we’re working with writers and creatives who understand the latest in investing or cybersecurity, medical technology, and think about how quickly those industries are progressing we need to make sure that the people we’re working with for that content truly understand it.
We’re not writing about things in 2014 anymore. You really have to know what’s coming next, not just what we already have so that can take a lot longer to find the right person for that. It’s definitely competitive. Many of the verticals within the B2B world are very competitive for that reason and it’s really important that if you work in content marketing or even journalists converting to content marketing, or you’re just looking to get into pre-meds writing in the content marketing industry, it is crucial to choose a niche for this reason. Because if you don’t specialize in something, I don’t know that you’re going to be able to establish yourself with enough to be certain subject matter expert to make your mark and you really want to be able to present that as that’s your thing, here’s your angle.
It’s just crucial. Then honestly, on top of that, it’s not just subject matter expertise these days. I think something we’re seeing is given everything I’ve explained so far, so much goes into creating this content. Sometimes it’s better to even have somebody who’s worked in that industry before. I know we work with plenty of people who were formally IT managers, they are actively doctors, people who run their own medical practices, people who run their own veterinary practice, people who are dentists or hygienists at a dental office. Sometimes I’m really surprised at what I’m going to end up searching for in a day from the requests our clients send us and sometimes I think is that really necessary? But then you’re talking about the latest in dental fillings and you think you think is that right? Can anybody just research that? I don’t think so because the people who are writing about, are who are living that day-to-day are at the latest industry conferences, they’re getting the latest research and they understand what it’s like to actually be a dentist. So, when they’re writing it, they can speak directly to that reader.
So, when companies are looking for- actually let’s turn it on its head when you are a creative and you want to step out into one of these spaces how do you want to appeal to the companies that are looking to build their writing teams?
We’re getting down to basics, like things that you have to have in order to stand out or to make yourself look like a professional within the freelance writing world. The number one tip I have is to find your area of expertise or your niche. And this is something you’re either incredibly passionate about or something you have a lot of experience with. So, whether it’s your past profession or something you really like doing in your off time, I would say choose to write about that because you really need to be invested in that area that you’re writing about and stay on top of it and know the latest things happening within that industry. And then from there, you really need to have some sort of profile page. And whether that’s something where- I recommend you sign up for Skyword, but there are plenty of other places where you could do that.
Go to LinkedIn and really create a robust LinkedIn. Medium has a really easy offering. Wix has an easy offering, WordPress has a really easy offering, invest a little bit of money. Get yourself a three-year license on a website and start building it out. It really does make a difference. If you have a place where you’ve established yourself, you could build an about me page, and this is not need to something elaborate, it just needs to be one place where you can host everything. I don’t need 20 high-risk photos of you posting around your house or anything like that. It’s not about the glitz and the glam. It’s about the content that you put on that page and then the next biggest thing is going to be the samples. As we’re talking mostly about writing today because that’s what I primarily work on at Skyword.
But if you can say- if you write about something, I need to see samples. I need to know that you understand the latest in that industry within the last few years. And a lot of people come to me and say, Molly, I’m breaking into content marketing. I don’t have samples. People haven’t given me an opportunity yet, or I used to write plenty, but those are like 10 years old. I have, I have Wall Street journal articles or New York times articles from 10 years ago. And I’m thinking like, all you need to do is start your own blog. Commit to writing twice a week, or once a week on that page, like an in-depth article that you would expect to write for me. If you want to work with one of our clients, what would you write to them? And it doesn’t necessarily have to be something we’ve assigned to you yet. You know, just if you like writing about B2B tech or the latest in dental care, do it on your website.
One of my first samples, it was for a trade magazine, but it wasn’t anything in depth. It was literally just, it was just curating and collecting the latest industry news in healthcare IT. It was literally nothing big, but it just, it was just a few samples that just said, Hey, I’m keeping up with the industry.
Honestly, Megan, that is exactly what that is. It tells me your invested in the latest of what’s going on and you’re passionate about it. Nobody had to decide that for you to get excited about it and to write about it at a high-quality level. And the one thing I would say, if you do plan to do that, source it and treat it as if you’re submitting that to an editor. Treat it as a really high-quality document, don’t just bust that out in an hour and press publish. You can get free photos to make it look quality. You can make sure it’s edited. You can add sourcing links so that any major facts you’re stating are backed up by industry proof. There are ways to establish it, the same way as if we were to give you an assignment that Skyword, we would expect you to do those things.
So that’s the thing, I feel like people sometimes are thinking, I don’t have an opportunity yet. I don’t know how I’m going to break in- start your own blog. It truly is as simple as that. And I realized that’s no way that, you know, I’m, I’m making it sound easy and it’s not, but it will get you in the door. If you plan on spending tons of time sending LOI’s out and pitching me that you should have something to show for it. So, start. Get those articles up on your LinkedIn plus or Medium page and have a little something to show for it. I have to tell you, this works, people do this, and it does work. It shows me you’re passionate.
Yeah, and just taking that little bit of initiative, it makes a difference.
Totally. It really does.
Okay. So, so how can a writer improve their- say they’ve gotten their portfolio started. How can they really improve their chances of being added to a program or getting the attention of a company? Especially very new. Are there any less conventional samples that people might be interested in?
So, yes, what I’m finding now is that people kind of get what the lucrative industries are. You hear me talk about B2B tech, B2B healthcare, finance a lot, because they’re really important industries in our world. And it requires a lot to know about them, but people know that they’re going to do well there. I think if you can find a subspecialty within those industries, you really start to carve out your niche a little more. It shows just how specialized you are. So, I feel like I’ve talked about this with you before, and I know you, Megan, you don’t just write about B2B healthcare, you specialize in technology.
Yeah, and look at how successful you are in that. You stay on top of the latest trends within that, so you’re not just talking about things that happened five years ago, you know, what’s happening next. And so, think about when you’re specializing, if you want to go into B2B technology, then write about mobile technology within that space. If you want to talk about B2B healthcare- talk about a specific medical specialty. So, oncology, pediatrics, OB-GYN, cardiology, and we have clients that fall under these and they don’t just want a healthcare writer. They want somebody who specializes in oncology. Personal finance- sometimes it will be where a bank coming to us saying, we want to specialize, our target audience is people who just graduated from college. So, we want people who write towards that audience and have things about how to get your first apartment or how to set up your first bank account.
I swear it doesn’t have to be anything crazy. Just think about the target audience that you most identify with or want to write towards, and then break it down to there. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Try to pick a niche within that broader industry and say, this is going to be my thing. And then after a while, you’ll realize if it resonates or not, and you can kind of shift from there. Don’t delete those samples, they might be helpful for you in the long run but shift to what really makes sense for you. Other things that I kind of was thinking about ahead of time, if people are listening and thinking, I don’t know, what else does she mean? Recipes. We get a lot of people who write about recipes. Veganism is huge or things that don’t have gluten in them. Organic farming.
HR is a huge one. We have a lot of B2B HR companies that work with us. DE&I is huge. Change management is huge. Technology within those verticals is huge. We’ve had a few furniture or lifestyle brands come to us and they- I know if you’re talking about Skyword specific, how do you want to make a splash with us in that? What region do you write about? So, we have different housing needs for people who live in California versus New York for Florida versus Midwest. Right? And so which specialty is yours, because what is the lifestyle like of that consumer and how does that reflect in how they buy furniture or how they outfit their home? Another big thing we’ve been seeing maybe less so, but it’s come up in a few different instances is like Christian colleges or Christian finance. If there are things about your faith that kind of reflect in how you spend money or how you live your life, sometimes that’s a factor. It’s never something we would discriminate towards but if that’s something a writer kind of touts as a niche they like to write about, and that’s certainly something we would want to align.
Alright. Let’s move on to the money question, which is the one I know everybody has a question about. How have you seen- let’s talk a little bit about how you’ve seen pay evolve in the content marketing space and what writers can expect. And I feel like this can be a really difficult, but it’s a really important conversation because there’s still a lot of people out there who think maybe a hundred to $200 for like a mid-level article is normal where someone else might think 700, 800 to a thousand dollars is normal. So, what have you seen going on?
Yeah, so it’s changed so much in my tenure. I’m seven years, obviously, seven years with every industry is going to shift a little bit. When I first started B2B tech articles, I don’t know that this was great, but they were making like $250.
I remember those days.
I would have a serious conversation with my sales team if that happened today. But where things shifted, I will say, you get what you pay for and so we have advocated. I’ve worked really tirelessly with my senior management and our sales team to say if we’re talking with meeting brands in the industry about creating cutting edge content with SMEs at their company, and we’re asking for hour-long interviews with their executives to create the best content out there, that’s getting thousands of views. We have to be paying for it. So, articles that may be paid 250 in 2014 are a lot closer to $700 these days. I’d like to think you can attest to that cause you’ve been in it for quite a while.
That’s exactly the spread that I’ve seen across the time that I’ve been writing.
And it doesn’t come just paying more for paying more sake. I’ve reached out to plenty of people throughout the years who say, oh, I would love to work for you, it’s just not within my budget and I never held that against anybody. If anything, I respect that and I learned from it. I definitely take note of, okay, I’m getting turned down a few different times on this vertical. Based on the expectations for the content we’re creating, I think I need to have a conversation with my team about what we’re advocating for when we’re making sure we’re getting the best writers for this content. I don’t want to be working with people who don’t understand things at the highest levels because we want to be creating the best pieces out there. So, we are constantly evaluating the quality that’s coming in, how happy our community seems with the rates we’re offering? And what the expectations are.
Sometimes our clients will come to us saying they want one thing- I know you’ve seen this- where they suddenly want to add another. We sit back and add this extra paragraph. Do you recognize scope creep? Like we see it and we talk about it and when things come up for renewal, we have that conversation again and say, Hey, your expectations have shifted a little bit. I have to say one of the things I’m very proud about the work I’ve done at Skyword and how they’ve responded is they respect my opinion when I say we need to pay people more. Here’s why, and, you know, maybe I come with some proof, but I make sure I back it up and they hear me, and we fight for it. So, I’m really proud of that. And then not only that, some things that I think are worth recognizing about the work Skyword done, and I think I’ve seen a lot of other companies in our industry do is making sure we’re paying for things like PayPal fees or money withdrawal fees, depending on how payments are made.
We can’t be charging you to withdraw your funds in that way and making sure we’re providing a way for you to track your funds in the platform, so you know what you’re able to budget each month. I always think like dinner on the table. This sounds so crazy, but I just talked to somebody about this today. I know you need to know when you’re going to get paid. I need to know how many articles you’re getting a month, because there are people that, that depends on, how much they earn depends on whether or not they can feed their family. And I truly think about our community like that. They are people, they are a team, they are an extension of what we offer, and I see them as that and so we’re constantly talking about communication, transparency being able to track. Then the one last thing is making sure all that tax stuff is squared away. I know that quarterly earnings are a big thing. So not only do we provide them those breakdowns in easy export to Excel stuff that our platform offers, but you know, 10 99 is going out to you come February for tax stuff, that’s all really important to us.
So, what’s just a general range on the Skyword platform, I know it’s changed. What does the range look like that a writer can expect when they’re coming on and writing articles that are mid-length range?
Mid-Length range, this comes with a little asterisk, like I said, of course, right. But I’m going to say something around 400 to a thousand dollars depending on what you’re getting asked for and that will also depend on the industry. I think some lifestyle content can be a little easier to write in some circumstances versus B2B tech. Are interviews involved? Is there a tight deadline? Is it Christmas time or New year’s where everything’s shut down and you have to do this on your own holiday? Like we see that. And so, there are little things that get factored into how we’re able to advocate for higher pay. So, if we’re talking to an article 500 to 800 words and usually that 800 words is the average, I’d say it’s somewhere between 400 and a thousand and that really can just depend again on what the client’s asking for and what the expectations are including that.
Yep. And that’s what, that’s what I’ve seen. So, let’s talk process just like what it’s like to work in a Skyword program? The interesting thing for me is I think it’s improved, but it’s also remained pretty much the same. It’s been pretty consistent for me from program to program over the years, like with just adding new and enhancements and that kind of thing, but what is it generally like?
So, everything will revolve. This is Skyword specific. I think.
I will say it is, whatever you’re about to say it is, but go ahead.
Everything revolves around our platform for the most part, but I will say we take pride in the relationships, our editors form with our community as well. We spent so much time working with our editors to understand writer needs and so they’re a huge component here too, but our platform streamlines the entire workflow, start to finish. So, before we even send an invite to our platform, usually an email will come from somebody, either from me or an editor saying, Hey Megan, would you be interested in this opportunity? I make sure in that intro email, because you’ll notice it’s a little formulaic, but I have core things I know that you want to know. So, what are we offering for pay rate? When are we getting started? What is the word count expectations? What kind of turnaround time? What am I missing there?
We cover all the good stuff in that intro email. And so, at that point you can say, yes, this sounds like a good opportunity for me. I’m ready to get started or no, this isn’t. No harm done; I’ll keep you in mind for future projects. If this is something, you’re interested in moving forward with, I’ll send you an invite that gives you access to a specific dashboard for that client channel. Within that channel, we’ve kind of cleaned it up so that there are a few different tabs you’ll have access to. The biggest one I’d say within that that is super important to us is the content creation guidelines. We work very closely with all of our clients to create brand guidelines that capture all of the editorial citations.
From core audience needs, you know, who exactly are we writing towards? What are their key objectives? What are we hoping to get across in the content? How will we know we’re successful? Who are the competitors in that industry? What resources to avoid, who we’d like to lean on for resources, et cetera. Honestly, I don’t understand how some clients don’t have those in other content marketing companies. I only recently found out a little bit of a tangent. We did a little round table with freelancers, and I learned that like 10% of content marketing brands that create content have brand guidelines. Is that true to your experience?
Yes. Yes, it is.
That is intriguing.
Yeah. It’s one of the reasons that I would say that the majority of my work is probably- I would say Skyword is one of the few platforms I work with, I’ll put it that way. For that reason, just because there can be so much variation in what a brand is looking for and it makes it so much easier when you have the guidelines to not have to go back 800 times because somebody doesn’t like the way something feels or doesn’t like the way you use commas or doesn’t like the language or something like that.
It honestly feels like throwing darts in the dark.
And that’s what it turns into.
Yeah ’cause in the conversation I was having, where I learned that apparently all that information is readily available to the brands they’re working with but it just this guessing game of, oh, do you happen to have information on your audience? Oh, do you happen to have resources you like, or don’t like? There’s always, yes hold on one second, let me get back to you. It’s like, why don’t you just have that compiled in one place? Anyways, like I said, that’s a tangent, but it frustrated me so I’m asking. it’s an important one. What we offer
And I’ll say it’s an important one because I feel like if you come from, because I’m not trained. I’m not a formally trained writer. I started doing this like we talked about before the call in Brazilian jujitsu and there’s like no style there, but I think like a lot of people when they come in, you have to kind of learn to write to a style guide and to brand guidelines. And I think that can be new for a lot of people so I can understand why a lot of platforms might not jump at it, but at the same time, it just makes life so much easier as you go along.
Megan, can I tell you? It’s not just not trained writers, it’s oftentimes journalists or more editorial writers like to use their unique voice, and as much as I encourage this and we certainly try to maintain that, you know, that you’re not always writing in your own voice and you’re writing for a corporation. You want to write in their voice. They have a very specific way things are supposed to sound in a way that they want. You know, it’s marketing content at the end of the day and they want to make sure that they’re getting a specific tone of voice across and so being able to capture that and coach your team of writers on that. An easy way is, I feel essential and that’s when my jaw literally hit the floor when somebody said 10% and they all started bobbing. I was like, you’ve got to be kidding me. Yeah.
You know this brings up actually a completely different conversation. I don’t know if we want to dig into it. One of the things that I found that a lot of writers are maybe surprised about or don’t see coming, is that a lot of your writing isn’t credited. Yeah. And it’s kind of like the nature of the beast, right? You know, you are writing on behalf of whatever platform or whatever company, you know, your name may or may not go on it. I know in my situation is sometimes a client does want my name on it because I have experience in the industry, and it adds credibility. Sometimes they just want my skill as a writer. So, it’s kind of like-
Or you’ll be interviewing, it’s not even just ghostwriting. Sometimes it will be what we call executive byline, or maybe I’ll interview somebody who’s really high up at a specific corporation and you’re writing in their tone of voice making them look awesome, which you do. But yeah, having to actually emulate somebody else’s voice in a piece,
That’s the flexibility that, that again makes those guidelines so important because you’re not just writing as yourself all the time. Yep.
Yep. Totally. Ghostwriting is a big thing.
That’s a whole I could do and maybe you’ll have to come back on for that. That’s hey,
I have so many editors I could connect you with that probably understand the ins and outs of that.
Yeah. That’s a whole world on its own. Okay. Let’s go. Let’s talk about COVID.
Because that’s the practice are we going to oh,
No, I’m sorry. I,
I honestly, I’m going to go quick and I get this, I get this spiel a lot. I’ll do it quick. Honestly, I got lost on guidelines because it’s such a key piece. We actually don’t assign pieces to writers until they review those guidelines because that’s step one. And I know, you know that our platform makes it, so you have to get through the entire set before we can start. From there we have kind of two main routes that I’d say 90% of the time we work really closely with the brands we’re partnered with to assign you a specific topic, especially when we’re kicking a project off where we will have a very specific idea in mind for what we’re trying to create. So, we’ll send you an assignment summary, that’s like a robust outline for the article you’re going to write.
And then from there, you’ll create your piece. Each piece is also assigned a keyword to make sure it’s optimized for web, for when it eventually publishes. And once that piece is written, you’ll submit it through our platform, using an SEO scorecard that makes sure the piece is optimized by working it into the title, the first couple of hundred words, et cetera. And once it’s submitted, that’s when it will enter the editorial review workflow where we have that amazing team of editors that will first give it more of, I think what they call it, dev edit. the broader one to say, oh yeah, your general piece looks good. Let’s work on your title heading, maybe restructure the piece, add some resources, et cetera. At that point, it might come back for revision. Key piece- revisions are part of every editorial workflow.
Sometimes your piece is going to completely ace it and there won’t be one, but that’s rare. For the most part, the piece will go back to you with some critique, some feedback, and then comments, and then once three submitted, it will go through a line at it to make sure it’s polished and ready to send to our client team. Again, our platform really streamlines this whole process. Once we think it looks good, it gets sent off to the client team for final review. At this point, it might come back one more time, especially clients and you can attest to this in the medical space. Maybe the finance space, they’ll have like regulatory teams to make sure things are really looking good from a medical review or financial review. Everything kind of stands up.
And at that point, it will get published. Once things look really good, the client team likes it. At the end of the day, the brand team really controls publishing and I’m sure this is another topic for a rainy day. Brands really control that process. So as much as I love every single piece that we create to get published, we’re, we’re constantly making sure that Hey, is it time to publish? Like, let’s get that up there. We obviously want to see what the engagement levels are after things go up too. So yeah, that’s the really quick and dirty explanation. And then our payment process, we primarily use PayPal. That’ll actually allow us to pay things at scale and pay globally because we create content all over the world. We pay in a variety of currencies depending on where we’re creating and kind of what the client team is interested in. And we also make sure we pay as quickly as possible. We have a pay cycle on the 15th and the last day of each month. So, when everything’s really visible, I think through our platform once things enter the editorial review phase. Again, that stuff’s all really important to us to make sure it’s transparent.
if there are any questions, I’m sure we can circle back around and then dig into that later. So, COVID I will say that at the very beginning, things were kind of rocky, especially cause I’m in the healthcare space, but since then, I have seen, of course, an uptick in content marketing because so many conferences are going virtual. And even now that things are opening back up, that there is the prediction that there will be more virtual components, which of course along with that comes the need for more content that people can access and not necessarily as many face-to-face interactions. But where do you see content marketing heading as a result of the pandemic?
I definitely see it going up. I definitely- we have the law that I know you probably felt a little bit too. I know a lot of freelancers reached out to me, but we are on the upswing for sure and I think the biggest thing we see changing is people are interested in a mix of formats. We’re seeing a lot more of that enhance content, a lot of visual aspects to what we’re creating as well so that if we’re publishing a piece, it might be embedded with a video infographics. It will have social graphics tied to it for social engagement. It’s kind of like this little content package. That’s one thing. Another thing I’d say is the topics we’re writing about. It’s not all about going in through your healthcare appointments anymore. A lot of talk of virtual, everything, not only medical stuff, obviously. Work from home, what you know, what our HR policies are obviously changing, but also just promote work in general.
Or when we’re talking about, I think I mentioned home design earlier home office is a huge thing. Personally, I’m buying a house and there are all these furniture websites where I didn’t think that used to have home office. You know, junk pages. That’s a thing I think I think the world, I mean that this might just be my crazy perspective, but I swear I think people are starting to realize that it’s not all going to snap back to normal and that life is changing for people. So, what is the work-from-home lifestyle? Clothing choices are also changing. I can personally attest like the way we live is changing the way our brands have to see us and audiences, everything. So, when you’re writing about a certain audience, how is their life being affected?
And is that changing the topics you’re writing about beyond, you know, I think I’ve given that work home thing, plenty of explanation. But the other thing that we can’t ignore it- diversity. The importance of diversity and inclusion has shifted entirely in the last year, in the best way. It’s so important. I’m honestly really proud of the work our team- my personal creative ops team has put towards this and Skyword, in general, has put towards this. But the work we do with the client teams too, it’s not ignored. So, you know, it’s obvious to say that our HR content that we’re creating for those, B2B brands, that’s obviously changing, making sure we’re covering DEI topics, but that’s not it, we create kinds of lifestyle content in the skincare hair care space. And I love that they’re interested in learning about a whole different haircare and skincare types and that I’m not going to say it wasn’t that way always, but it’s especially the case now.
And I’m really proud of our teams making sure we’re bringing it up, but also the client teams being so receptive and be like, yeah, that was on our minds too. Let’s do it and I mean, there are so many examples of that. And I mean, those are only the clients that I’m aware of that we’re working with and it’s pretty exciting to see that content brands know that they can’t ignore this right now. And I think that’s awesome. It’s important, not awesome in the best ways, but you know what I mean? That they’re paying attention, right. And that’s one of those things I know a lot of writers are looking at or trying to figure out where their personal experiences fit into the idea of content marketing. And I will say that when I first started, people were not really interested very much at all in my personal experience as a black woman, but I am seeing more interest in that as we’re moving forward. And I think you’ve mentioned that you kind of are seeing the same thing at Skyword. Yeah.
Yeah. I mean, we have not only are we making sure that we’re presenting lists that are racially inclusive, but our clients are asking for it too. They want to make sure that they are covering topics that hit on really specific racial topics. But that they’re having people who also match that identity created. They don’t want anything to come authentic. Authenticity is just huge right now and I love that we’re living in that. And I also follow- this is a little bit of a tangent, but I follow a Twitter account. I’m blanking on a specific name, but their whole tagline is don’t tell us you couldn’t find us or something like that. Do you know what I’m talking about?
it isn’t a test. You can’t find this is a coding. It’s not necessarily tech. It’s more like freelance writing, you know, and it might take longer to find a medical specialist writer who is nonwhite, who is person of color, but I’m going to spend the time finding them.
We take the time we need to make sure we’re exploring all avenues so that when we’re talking about Maternal Infant Health or OB-GYN topics that the nurses, writers, and mothers were engaging with represent everybody and not just white people. That’s so important to me and so important to my company and I think the brands that we’re working with and we actually had done. We’ve done a survey recently, I think the research is coming out in the next month or so keep an eye out for this but one of the survey questions that our team asked, had to do with how important are going to- I’m going to get in trouble for not getting this wording right. How important are the cultural beliefs and meanings of the brands you work with and the values they represent and it’s so important? It was like 80, 90% important that if a brand asks you to write for them and you don’t identify or believe in the values they represent people won’t work with you or they don’t want to create content for you. I believe that so wholeheartedly. Is that true to your experience?
It’s a little bit more of a stretch in yeah. The people I talk with because what I do, it’s pretty. The idea of like individual perspectives isn’t as important but I am seeing more of that. I am hearing about more of that across the board.
I think it’s pretty cool because honestly the people who end up actually creating that content, I think the passion and just the emotion behind the content resonates, I think it comes through. Yeah.
And I’m honestly glad to see it in the content marketing space versus say just general content generation because I feel like those are- I personally see those as two very different worlds. So I am glad, to see it emerging on this side of the content coin or dice or whatever you want to call it.
Yeah. That’s right. Anybody who brings up that whole content farm thing. You don’t know Skyword. No, no, no, no. That’s not us.
Yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever written for a content farm. It’s a whole, it’s this whole, like just the idea of understanding the different ways that you can approach content marketing is again a whole different conversation. But yeah, it is very important too. And it’s one of the main reasons I wanted to have this conversation is because just understanding what’s going on in the world of content marketing is really critical to making sure you get the most out of it as a creative.
Yeah. And I mean, to tie back to your original thought here in like, how much of your identity, or, you know, personal values and things like that, should you potentially showcase as a freelancer. I think right now is that moment to say, this is who I am, and I like writing about these topics or if I haven’t yet. Here’s my specialty and this is also who I am. If you think it could value if it’s something that you would want to inject in your content as well. Like I said before, we recently started working with a more regionalized furniture brand and they wanted to write about regionalized home decor that showcases culture of the people writing about it. And I thought that was so cool. It’s interesting that it was like, how does yeah. How to XYZ cultural aspects of the writer kind of translate into how they decorate their home. I don’t know. I personally truly enjoyed researching that stuff and you would not believe the number of people who write about it. Yeah.
My brain is spinning right now like how does that, how many people out there. But you don’t know who’s out there until you look. I know because I searched.
It’s very cool. I mean like a really obvious example because I live in Boston, like people who live in New England, Rhode Island, Boston area, they have that more either colonial style home or they love using-what are those? Ocean style?
Yes. Brownstone Style score. Like there are just certain things in certain regions of America that kind of translate into decor. I don’t know, honestly, it’s a really interesting subject and I remember I was thinking this was going to be a breeze initially. It was not necessarily a breeze, but it was incredibly cool to see how people around the country decorate their home based on where they live and what their cultural background is.
For that reason, look completely different in South Florida. And now it’s just saying.
Don’t be afraid to share little pieces about yourself and maybe it’s not entirely what you write about, but in your about me section on your website or your bio. In a Skyword profile, say like, here’s my background and I enjoy writing about this stuff too. There are little things here and there that are pretty cool to inject into the writing that we create. So, don’t be afraid of that. Yeah.
Is there anything else, any extra tips? Anything we maybe didn’t cover that you’d like to let people know?
Gosh, if there’s, I remember there was one thing I was laughing about in kind of working through our conversation prior to today, but it was like the Golden takeaway- if you mentioned it in your bio, make sure you’ve touched sample to support that. I think where I work, we see so many people that I get really excited about when I read their bio and they’ll say things like, oh, I’m a former CPA, 20 years in the industry. I’m certified in XYZ things. And I’m like, oh my gosh, I cannot wait to put them on our upcoming tax program. And they’ll be like, oh, I love writing about basketball. Come on. So, if you talk about having experience in a specific industry, make sure you attach samples that support it because my clients are going to want to see alignment in those things and I can’t really get people work without seeing relevant samples. So,
And you never know, I think people tend to discount their background and they go, this isn’t interesting, nobody’s writing about it. Somebody is writing about it,
But does this not go back to starting your own blog? Like even if it’s not what you write about today, if that’s something you have tons of experience about lean on it and if it comes to you really easily write about it. It’s so true. It really is. And I see I’m telling you; I see that thing a lot where people like write about one thing that’s totally different than their background. And I’m like, ah, missed opportunity.
And I hope people get a better understanding. I always say that in your job anywhere you go, if you’re reading about it, that’s content marketing. You do not understand how big this world is and how big it’s getting. And there’s just more being generated. So, don’t discount any of your background.
And it’s not all just sales, promotional content. You can attest to this as well. It’s often like what would people Google and how can I create an educational article to answer that question? So, it’s often more educational than it is buy this product.
Yeah, definitely. I would say that my work is like 90% educational and then on the side I do some sales, but it’s very much educational.
Yeah. The last thing I’ll leave you with is everything 90% of what we talked about today is just the written world. Yes.
Yes, we are going to talk more about the enhanced content because there is just so much more to cover. So
We work with a whole team of digital producers who are literally wizards at creating the coolest visual stuff and are able to take all the big ideas from our brands and actually turn them into things where we can publish. And so, I’m excited for you to explore that side of, of all the things we work on as well.
That’s going to be our next episode. Molly, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me today.
Absolutely. Honestly, such a pleasure and if people have questions about, you know, how to work with Skyword, they’re always welcome to email me, and my team firstname.lastname@example.org is like the main handle. Depending on if people want to email, we’re also available at Skywordcm on Twitter. But feel free to reach out with any questions or just, you know, if you’re interested in working with us, I’m always happy to connect.
Awesome. Thank you again.