Friday Q & A: How to Do Content Marketing on a Lean Budget, Where to Hire Remote Workers, and How to Structure Beta Testing Programs
Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.
In our new Groove Friday Q & A segment, we’re answering any questions that you have about, well, anything.
A huge thank you to Wootag, Harshal Katre and Brian Walker for this week’s questions.
Check out this week’s answers below, and jump in with your own thoughts in the comments!
How Do You Do Content Marketing on a Lean Budget?
This question was asked in response to last week’s breakdown of how much time we spend on content marketing.
Our posts take anywhere from 6-20 hours, depending on the length, depth and topic. That’s including time spent researching, writing, editing, designing, coding and promoting.
The breakdown looks something like this:
- 25% Research/Outlining
- 15% Writing
- 25% Editing
- 15% Design/Coding
- 20% Promotion
The battle for content marketing success is won at the margins. Those extra few hours you spend to make your posts truly great, versus simply good. That’s what makes them interesting, unique and useful, and it’s what will appeal most to the people you’re trying to reach.
Content marketing, when done right, is tremendously cost-effective, but it’s a misconception that it’s free.
We’re dedicating resources across our entire team to work on our content efforts, because when it comes to marketing, it’s the basket where we’ve been putting pretty much all of our eggs.
And between research, doing custom art for each post and coding each one by hand, it can get very time-intensive.
But you don’t need to do that, and I truly hope that it doesn’t deter you from getting started.
Hell, when we got started, we used a barebones Tumblr theme and our art looked awful. But we focused on delivering value above all, and people still read. It was only after our efforts were validated with readers and subscribers that we went “all in.”
It’s easy to start lean with low-cost tools like Wordpress for publishing, Canva for creating/editing images, MailChimp for list management and SumoMe for collecting email addresses. You can use UpWork (formerly Elance/oDesk) to find freelancers if you need custom work done.
You really don’t need any more than that. And frankly, there are alternatives to those tools that would all be fine, but I recommend them simply to make the decision easier for you.
Instead of focusing on tools, focus on the process: do lots of research on what your customers want to read about, and spend the time to make your content incredibly valuable, interesting and unique. That’s the most important part, it’ll get you 98% of the way there, and it’ll cost you nothing but your time and effort.
Where Do You Hire Remote Workers?
I love this question, because it hones in on an undeniable truth: not every good worker is a good remote worker (yet).
Successfully working from home is a skill, just like programming, designing or writing. It takes time and commitment to develop that skill, and the traditional office culture doesn’t give us any reason to do that.
We had some early hires – very talented people – not work out, only because they had never worked remotely before and we were unsuccessful at helping them develop that skill.
Now, we don’t just look for good startup employees, but we look for good startup employees with experience working remotely.
So, where do we find these people?
We’ve had three great sources of leads:
- WeWorkRemotely.com. I have yet to find a job board online that consistently attracts high-quality candidates. It’s simple and easy to navigate, and we’ve hired two full-time employees there.
- Networking. Building relationships (see my guide here) has a lot of benefits, and access to great talent is one of the biggest ones. Once you’ve put in the work to build a strong relationship, incredibly valuable introductions are often only an email away.
- This blog. We get 50+ emails per week from readers of this blog who want to work with us. That’s how Matt, one of our awesome developers, joined the team.
Everyone on our team has either worked on a distributed team before, or been a freelancer or entrepreneur in the past.
How Did You Structure Your Beta Testing Program?
This question stood out to me because it casts the spotlight on one of our biggest early fails: not having a strong structure to our beta program.
We did have on big win when it came to beta user acquisition – just in terms of the sheer number of signups – with our viral signup form that rewarded people on the waiting list for sharing Groove with their friends.
But when it came to actually gathering feedback, we didn’t have a “program” that consisted of anything more than our small team monitoring support emails for feedback, as well as me reaching out, one-on-one to each user. That worked fine, but we did end up with a lot of beta users who never really ended up using the product, many who didn’t really fit our ideal user persona (and so gave us feedback that wasn’t super helpful) and a good number who didn’t really understand the point of a beta program and were unforgiving of bugs. This was our fault, not theirs, for not communicating clearly enough.
If we were to do this over again, it would be harder to join the Groove beta.
I love what Zapier did with their paid beta program, charging a small fee for companies who wanted to join. The fee was a completely insignificant amount of money, but the obstacle was just enough that they:
- Only got people who truly wanted to try the product, and
- Signed up users who expressed an understanding that they were signing up for a beta program, and not people who thought they were getting a polished product.
As for data collection, check out our guide to customer development for how to get great feedback from your users.
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Your Turn: Ask Groove Anything
I’d love for this new weekly segment to be successful, and provide a valuable repository of answers from our entire community for entrepreneurs everywhere.
To do that, I need your help.
Here’s what you can do to get involved:
- Ask questions. Post them in the comments of this post, or Tweet them to us at @Groove.
- Answer questions. Every Friday, we’ll post a new Q&A segment. If you have anything to add or share regarding any of the questions asked, jump in! Many of you are far more qualified than I to speak on some of the topics that people ask me about.