Content Creation and Running a Writing Team with Lasso

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In this episode, Gaby Galea talks to Sean Brison, Head of Growth at Lasso, about content creation and running a writing team. Lasso is an all-in-one affiliate marketing plugin for WordPress.

Episode Highlights and Topics

  • Lasso: Built out of necessity based on trials of working with other plugins.
  • Content Creation Fundamentals: Know your target audience and company’s principles.
  • Key Ingredients: Impartiality, authenticity, and conversational makes for good content.
  • Selfless Mentality/Ethical Marketing: How much value can you provide to customers?
  • Affiliate Content: Search queries, product reviews/comparisons, how-to guides work best.
  • Buyer’s Journey: Content sparks interest in specific products to meet specific needs.
  • Boxes, Buttons, Tables, Lists: Add these to posts to help produce content that converts.
  • Link Real Estate: People click different things, give them more options/places to click.
  • Lasso’s Roadmap: How to order, group, and put content into pillars using keywords.
  • Affiliates: Take care of those people who actively promote your product.
  • Mediums: Get good at one before moving on to another to repurpose content.
  • Giveaways: Create buzz, increase views. People love freebies, discounts, and coupons.

About Sean Brison

Sean Brison

Sean Brison is a dad, writer, business owner, and Chief Growth nerd at Lasso. He’s spent the past several years in cahoots with Lasso’s founder, Andrew, creating awesome things for people. He’s also addicted to perfectly-balanced cocktails, the outdoors, and John Mulaney’s stand-up comedy.

Resources/Links

Transcript

Gaby:
This week’s episode is sponsored by Castos. Castos is a podcast hosting platform that helps you grow your audience through public podcasts, and offers exclusive content through private ones. The WP Mayor Podcast is actually hosted on Castos and our whole process has been great from the very start. Check them out at castos.com. 

Hi, Sean. It’s nice to have you on the podcast finally. How are you?

Sean:
I’m doing really, really well. Thank you for having me on. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Gaby:
It’s a pleasure to have you on. Today we’ll be talking about content creation, specifically affiliate marketing and content creation for that. Just a bit of a background as to what I do, I’m actually the Content Manager at WP Mayor. I’ve been doing it for around one and a half years now.

I came from a very different background. I basically had to learn everything from the ground up. I’m still learning, so I’m very excited about our conversation today. I’m excited about learning new things from you. I always like to start off with a bit of an introduction. Just introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from just for us to get an idea of where you’re coming from.

Sean:
Yeah, absolutely. I started as a freelance writer several years ago and then I found a job working for Listen Money Matters. That was one of my gigs. Then they just kind of brought me on and asked me if I would love or like to run their writing team and help them build a writing team. I said, sure. A lot of the progress, I just attribute to saying yes to a lot of the opportunities that were offered to me as just a testing ground and as a way to learn, grow, and things like that.

There was always a little bit of discomfort that I felt, just a little bit with everything going in. I came from there and writing for Listen Money Matters. It’s a very successful personal finance affiliate site. I learned a lot going into there and working with the founders over there, Andrew and Laura.

From there, it was just like a side project of, I believe, Andrew and Matt. They started building this affiliate marketing plugin for WordPress called Lasso. They built it out of necessity just based on their own trials working with other plugins. They just wanted something for themselves so they built that, and then that has blown up into this whole thing.

Anyway, I’m rambling but long story short, Andrew said, hey, do you want to come over and help me with Lasso and just grow Lasso? I’m just working on the content side of things over there, and it will be very much more about online business and affiliate marketing versus personal finance with his other finance side. That’s where I’m at now. Now I’m there and just helping him and our team just grow, educate, and all of those things through writing and most recently, Twitter.

Gaby:
You’ve got a pretty good background in affiliate marketing. From my end, I guess, one of the first things I really learned were one of the fundamentals of good content creation, be it regular content or even affiliates, is I guess knowing who your audience is and then also knowing what the company’s principles are and the blogs principles are, and bringing that out through the content itself.

For instance, here at WP Mayor, we do a lot of reviews. We give a lot of importance to being honest, pointing out the good and the bad things when we’re reviewing WordPress products or WordPress services. I feel like even transitioning into affiliate marketing, it’s very important to keep these things in mind. What do you think are the key ingredients for a good content creation?

Sean:
I think one of the things that I’ve always had in the back of my mind is just to really—you hit on some points already where impartiality is a big one because you’re educating people about these things, whether they’re a product, a course, or whatever. So there’s a lot of authenticity that I think should come out in your content. Also keeping it conversational is another really, really great one. I think it helps pull people down the page a bit.

You can dive into the aesthetics of what a good blog post looks like and getting into all of that with quotes, bullet points, and all that stuff, and breaking it up into smaller chunks. I think keeping a conversation is really, really great. You touched on another really great point, I thought, which was knowing who your audience is and what they want because you’re creating for them.

It’s never really about you, it’s about them, what they want, and really how much value you can provide for them. It starts with almost a selfless mentality where it’s like, how can I help you get better and get what you need? Perhaps, in the process of all of that, someone will click an affiliate link, they’ll sign up for a trial, or something like that. That’s the whole game, I guess, if you want to call it a game.

Gaby:
I think you touched on something important because I’ve been doing a bit of research. I came across people like Pat Flynn, for example, who speak about affiliate marketing, which is super important. You don’t want to be promoting products that you don’t believe in, for instance, leading your audience, and so on. I think that’s one of the things to look out for, I would say, when you’re starting your affiliate marketing journey.

Sean:
Absolutely. Another really great point to tackle on to that is base it off of your own experiences if you can. Because I think it’s easier to create content for things that you’ve either already done or that you are just insanely curious about and you really want to learn about it. I think having those two factors at your side really will just serve you and it’ll serve your audience as well.

Gaby:
Yeah. I try to do this with all our affiliates. Even Lasso, yourselves, we’ve signed up to your affiliate program, but the first thing I did was get your product, try it out myself, and write a review about it, which should be out soon now.

Sean:
Oh, fantastic.

Gaby:
Yeah, it’s always my go-to thing to do—starting with a review. I’m really interested in digging deep with you into what types of content work best for affiliate marketing. Is there a specific roadmap that you normally go through when promoting a specific product?

Sean:
Usually, with a product, a lot of times—like you had mentioned, a product review, that’s one. I think there are certain search queries as well that are going on where I think there’s more of an intent to make a purchase. Reviews are obviously one of them, product comparisons are another great one. Also, I think, how-to guides where you’re just breaking down how to use a product because I think all of these have that commercial intent or commercial investigation where they’re more likely to buy.

I think you’re attracting more of a qualified user base with people searching for those terms. The Lasso review, like you said, is one or just the best product X versus Y kinds of keyword searches. 

But then I think also, hitting on those more of the informational side of content as well because not everything is about making a purchase or making a sale. You also have to just educate people. I think that’s the guiding principle that strikes through the cord of everything that we’re doing is to really educate and to help. I think having the content fall into two different two buckets, I guess. One is more about informing them, and then what is X versus product review or best product X, Y, Z kinds of things.

Gaby:
Yeah. We’ve seen a lot of those, but we’ve done it ourselves in the past where we have the best X plugins for affiliate marketing, for instance.

Sean:
Right, yeah. Definitely written my share of those as well.

Gaby:
It’s a bit of an older way of doing things, I feel. I think people have noticed that they are useful in certain cases, but they’re not always the most trustworthy, I would say. I think people have started to move away from that. I’m seeing a lot of, as well, comments on Twitter, for instance, of people talking against such posts. I see the point there, but I do believe it would be a good idea for affiliate marketing is also considering, like you said, the buyer’s journey.

I guess targeting, like you said, the people who are readers and who are starting to look for their specific product to help them with a specific need and then moving on from there. How do you split these up? Would you have content direct to the people who are just starting on their search journey and others who are digging maybe a little deeper?

Sean:
That’s a great question. I think there’s more of the surface level or very broad-strokes type of approach. That could be qualified as one bucket when you’re creating something. That’s something that really peels the layers back, I would think of it as for someone who’s really well-versed in something and then you’re just adding another layer of depth to that. I think those are probably the two really general ways that I think about it. I feel like I didn’t answer your question. After that, I feel like I just got lost in my own thoughts there.

Gaby:
I was pretty much just summing up what you said. So really considering your client, your reader, and where he is in his or her buyer’s journey into buying that particular product or service. Like you said, start with a review, get people interested, and then for those who are further down the journey, reinforce why that specific product is good for them. I think it’s a pretty good way of doing things.

Sean:
Yeah. Sometimes too, I’ll think about posts. I’m always reading over other content just to look for, perhaps, an alternative take or an interesting way of presenting the information. Sometimes I’ll even think about really old school, direct response copywriting where they’ll take you from the top of the post where it’s like, no information at all, totally unaware of anything. Then the post will just take you all the way and lead you. By the end of it, you’re ready to buy, click the link, or whatever the call to action kind of thing is.

Which shows really difficult to write content like that where you take them all the way through the buyer’s journey in one one piece of content. But definitely a challenge and definitely great when you can pull it off. But that’s another approach to also consider when you are creating something like that.

Gaby:
Would you have one long post, or would you rather have them split up and then linking to each other?

Sean:
Typically we’ll do not necessarily some sort of 5000-word epic posts. Usually, they’ll fall within the 2000-word range. In our experience too, you can cast a pretty wide net with a word count coming in around 2000, maybe 3000 words, and then I think you can really make your piece pretty informative and detailed with just about that. So it doesn’t have to be like something insanely long because I have come across those and I think I’ve written a couple.

It’s going to be too long, I don’t know. I think this needs to be shaved down just a little bit, especially when you think about your audience who is most likely consuming it on the internet. What am I talking about? Of course, it’s on the internet. It’s very skimmable, basically. So sometimes, too detailed could be disturbing.

Gaby:
I think the search intent is super important here. If they’re looking for a quick fix, having the right button at a specific position would totally help in that case. Moving on to a lot of the different things we can add to posts, what are your takes on CTA boxes or buttons? How have you found these help best in producing content that converts?

Sean:
That is an excellent question, Gaby. It’s funny because I think sometimes CTA buttons can be overlooked because we focus so much of our time on crafting the perfect headline, which is important. Within a blog post, everything has one job, I guess, is what I’m trying to say. The headline’s job is to just get clicks so you get into the post.

The intros, its only job is to pull you right down to read the second paragraph and so on. I think sometimes people overlook call-to-action buttons and things like that because I think they’re really important because that’s where the conversion typically occurs. I think there are really great points to add like when you are just creating a call to action button where obviously one, you want it to be noticeable, but two, I think the copy there should sort of—I think about it more like a call to value, I guess.

There’s a really great example I think about with Crazy Egg because their call to action button, I believe, still says, Show me my Heatmap. I think communicating what’s in it for the reader, your chances of them clicking and making a conversion is higher if you’re answering the question, what’s in it for me?

That’s just one example that comes to mind or using the word get my ebook, get my $1000 discount, or whatever because people like to get things because we’re all a little inherently selfish a little bit. So it’s like, ooh. I think it just stems back to answering the question of like, what’s in it for them and showing them what they stand to benefit by clicking that button.

Gaby:
I’d say there are a lot of buttons now using the first person. Like you’re saying, Show me my Heatmap.

Sean:
Yeah, I’ve seen that. Again, when I first saw that I thought, oh yeah, that’s actually a really good idea that seems to draw in more people and just make them want to click more. There’s a lot of persuasion principles and psychological tactics that have also been written online about ways to present offers so visually or mentally it’s just more appealing or more attractive.

At the end of the day, everything’s all about sales. In a way, not to make things sound shallow, but I think, just with everything that we do, just in our daily lives as well, we’re all kind of salesmen to a certain extent. I think that’s definitely relevant when you’re creating content, whether you’re trying to educate, to get them to sign up for your newsletter, to click the link to listen to your podcast, or just anything.

Gaby:
Another thing I’ve noticed is—someone had mentioned this to me—to have further than just a button, for instance, you’d have the link, the text link, the button, and then the image, all pointing towards the same product. Different people click on different things, right?

Sean:
Yeah. It’s a great point because that was something that I learned when I started writing for Listen Money Matters. I remember Andrew and I were on a call and he was like, okay, so we did—I think he was using Hotjar or Crazy Egg, but they had like a heatmap I think it was. I believe that’s what he told me. But I remember, specifically, he said, I don’t know why, but people are clicking on these images like gangbusters. I don’t know what that’s about, but people just love to click images.

That’s actually one of the things that they brought into Lasso. Everything is linked together. So you’ll have the product description, the call to action button, and the image, and it all leads to your affiliate link, your course link, or whatever you want people to link to, but it’s so true.

It goes back to increasing your link real estate, for lack of a better expression, but like you said, you give them more places to click and chances are, you’ll get more clicks because you’ve given them so many options. Like you said, people click on different things. Images, it’s funny. People love to click on images, not just the call to action button, but the image.

Gaby:
I notice it on our Hotjar heatmaps too where you see a bunch of clicks.

Sean:
Yeah. I’ll be like, what is it? Is it the image?

Gaby:
What I’ve learned is that you have to make it super easy for them to get to the product. Recently, we’ve added a button at the top, just below our title. We’ve started to see a bit more conversions that way and also in the sidebar. Whereas before, people had to scroll to the bottom of the article to find the button. People just weren’t scrolling and they were missing the whole…

Sean:
Yeah. Sometimes, I know a lot of people like the too long, didn’t read at the very top. That’s actually a fair point. Sometimes, people don’t want to scroll all the way to the bottom for whatever reason. Like you said, just putting it in different places. At the top is really like, hey, if you don’t want to scroll to the bottom, here’s the link, and then here’s the rest of our content right here for you.

Gaby:
Another thing we’ve tried out are tables, especially when we’re talking about different products. So putting a table up top, just a bit of a summary of what the products are. We’ve seen lots of links that way too.

Sean:
Yeah, I think it’s interesting too because it’s like you had everything in one location. I think of tables as like a link cluster. Everybody talks about content hubs, pillars, clusters, and things like that, but I also think about tables that way as well where if you can cluster a group of products together, specifically if it’s for your affiliate side, for example, and you just have maybe three or four products that are all right there.

They can just go like, oh, yeah, boom, because I’ve seen them a lot too like Wirecutter. That’s a pretty popular review site. They’ll do that same thing too where they’ll have the best overall, best budget, runner up, and things like that. It’s just all right there and it’s just a beautiful way to layout all of your affiliate links or your course links in one spot. So stop talking. I just obsess over these things. Sometimes I’ll just start talking. You’d be like Sean. Sean, stop.

Gaby:
You mentioned comparison posts. Have you found that having the pros and cons lists? How do you find that? Do you think that works or is it too simplified?

Sean:
Honestly, I think it’s good because it distills everything you just read. Personally, I will read the pros and cons in a post. I view those as the greatest hits of what’s good and what’s bad about a product. I would do it. I think it’s just a great way to really distill down everything that you just wrote into the greatest hits, for lack of a better expression. I say, yes. If we’re giving the thumbs up, thumbs down, I would give a thumbs up to pros and cons.

Gaby:
I was just going to mention that I sometimes see, let’s say, 90 out of 100, the score that that product has achieved. I feel like those, I’m not so keen about. The pros and cons are something that I do look out for personally. Also, I’m a bit of a lazy reader, so I just look for the summaries. But the overall score, sometimes, as a writer, it’s tricky to give a score. I’m not sure about those.

Sean:
You know what, I’m with you there. My perspective, it’s almost like they’re unnecessary evil in a way. I still feel like they need to be there, but I don’t put a whole lot of stock in just looking at the score until I’ve actually skimmed through the post. Then I’ve read through what the product is, its sticky points, its highlights.

In my mind, then I’ll reevaluate the score, and then I’ll say, oh. It’s almost like I look at the score as a challenge to me. I dare you to contradict this score. I’m like, fine, I will. You say it’s 90 out of 100. I’m going to read this and I’m going to see if it’s really a 90 out of 100. I guess I just divulged a weakness. If you want me to read your post, just put a score there at the top and I’m going to consume it.

Gaby:
You mentioned pillars earlier. I’m always interested in this. I don’t know much about it. How would you go about putting content in pillars and where would you start basically?

Sean:
That’s a great question. We’re actually in the process of doing that right now on Lasso’s blog because we were looking at everything that we have and we’re like, there’s a lot of stuff here, but there’s no real roadmap, especially for new visitors to the site to find their way around. Because at the moment, the way things stand is if you click on our blog post, it’s just in order of most recent to the very first ones from a year and a half ago or almost two years ago.

There’s no real order there. Really, you just take a seed keyword. In our case, it’s affiliate marketing and then you just look under, what have we written that falls under that umbrella? We have content that’s more of like a beginner’s guide like what affiliate marketing is, choosing a niche, and things like that.

For example, affiliate marketing mistakes, traffic sources, how to boost your affiliate income. So these are all blog posts that we’ve written that just don’t really have a unified home yet. So just grouping those things together. Actually, we have two. None of this is done yet. Everything’s like a work in progress.

If you look at my to-do list or Andrew’s to-do list, it’s just like, see all this. He showed me his phone the other day. He’s like, look at all of these things that I have yet to do, and I’m like, I get it. It’s crazy. We actually have two. So we have one that’s affiliate marketing and then we actually have a second hub that we’re also working on that is just Amazon-specific because Amazon is such a huge ecommerce store and affiliate marketing.

It’s a very beginner-friendly type of program to start with as well. We’ve written content that is just Amazon-specific that’s just related to Amazon, earning on Amazon, and things like that. We have these two really broad keywords. I’m thinking keywords. It’s like my keyword research nerdery coming out in me. We just look for the things that we’ve written that fall under that really broad category and then we just group them.

Gaby:
So it’s essentially grouping up into categories. I have to say, […] WP Mayor has been around for 10 years now. You can imagine the amount of content we’ve got. It can be daunting to have a content audit there. It’s definitely something we need to work on. We have done a bit of that. We’ve split them up into categories or what we call topics, but I think what we might be able to do is also subcategorize those even further to make it easier for the reader to navigate, I guess.

Sean:
Yeah. I think of it like bread crumbs a little bit too where you’re just like leaving a trail for them to follow. You start really broad and then you can just really niche it down. In a way, it’s kind of fun. It’s almost like you’re putting on your inspector’s cap and you’re like, okay, let’s forge a roadmap for our visitors. I nerd out about those things too. I’m like, oh, roadmaps. Let’s talk more on that.

Gaby:
You guys did very well with affiliate marketing too. So if you’re working with specific products or one of your affiliates, I feel like communication with them is super important to really create the pyramid-like you’re talking about. It’s going on, starting with a very broad topic and then going deeper into that. From ours, as a blog, I feel this is super important when it comes to affiliate marketing to have good relationships with your affiliates and keep the conversation going too.

Sean:
Yeah, absolutely. Also, I think of, when you think of your affiliates, they’re your brand’s cheerleaders in a sense too. Those are the people who are actively promoting your product. I think it’s really important to take care of them. It’s super important and I think it’s a key component of any program that has its affiliates. It’s like you want to make sure that you give them what they need to help you in a sense, I guess. Yeah, super important point.

Gaby:
You’re coming from the product side. Apart from written content, do you feel like videos are very good at helping conversions or other things like social media?

Sean:
When you say videos, do you mean more about say like a YouTube channel or?

Gaby:
Exactly.

Sean:
Yeah. We have dipped our toes in the world of video. That’s one of the things on Lasso’s to-do list actually is to start making more because we have a few. We don’t have a dedicated YouTube channel yet, but we know that there’s a lot of potential there, and actually Matt, with the other co-founder, he’s had remarkable success with his YouTube channel for one of his other affiliate sites. We’re like, yeah, that’s something that we need to do. 

We are hardcore advocates of video. We just haven’t full-on dove into the deep end of the pool yet. It’s more like we’re dipping our toes and like, oh yeah, okay, here’s a video we got done. Then something comes up and then there’s like a content hub that we’re working on. But long story short, yes, video.

Also, I think when you can repurpose content too. So when you have several mediums, I think that the trick is to get good at one before you move on to the next one. Otherwise, I think you will fall victim to spreading yourself a little too thin. For us, we’ve always focused on organic search, SEO, and Google. That’s been our number one focus.

Then now with video, like a snail crawl pace getting into video. Also now with our Twitter account for Lasso that we are also in the process of just really creating awareness at this point because it’s not like we have thousands upon thousands of followers there. We just crossed like a hundred. It’s a really new account.

I think knowing your status, where you’re at in each medium is also important to know. Twitter is just one example where we’re not necessarily trying to make a sale. It’s more just about letting you all know we’re here. Hi, this is what we do, versus writing for the blog where it’s like, we’ve been there for a little while. We have all types of things that are going on there.

I think definitely, different mediums are good to explore. I think just seeing where your audience hangs out. Sometimes you don’t know. Sometimes you just have to go in there and sniff around a bit.

Gaby:
Yeah. We’ve been talking about starting YouTube videos for quite a while now. I know it was done in the past, but we never really started it. It’s a bit daunting. Do you do your videos in-house or do you get external?

Sean:
No, we have done everything in-house so far. It’s, as you said, daunting, yes. It definitely requires more time. So sometimes that is a roadblock in itself like inertia or whatever. It’s like, I’m not moving forward because I have to make a video, and it’s easier if I can just type on my keyboard and write up a post. The videos require more effort. Yeah, it just takes more time. So I think allocating your time for that is also a part of the challenge.

Gaby:
I think one of the easier ways, perhaps, would be newsletters, for instance. You can easily go from a post to emailing it as a newsletter. There are so many tools nowadays, so that’s maybe an easier way to do things, I guess.

Sean:
I would agree.

Gaby:
Although it does take some time.

Sean:
Yeah, it does.

Gaby:
Another thing we’ve tried out recently is giveaways. Those seem to be working too.

Sean:
I’m stealing from you now, but what types of giveaways are you guys doing? What have you found?

Gaby:
The popularity seems to vary between products, as is always the case, I guess. But I remember we had the other team, for instance, which did super well and we got hundreds of people tweeting as part of the entry to the giveaway, which created a lot of buzz. We get a lot of page views through that and also our clients got a lot of promotion that way. So that’s another thing you can do. If you’re doing affiliate marketing, that’s another road you can go down.

Sean:
Yeah. I think that’s also one of those because people love getting things for free. That’s definitely one way to go. We were looking at webinars. It’s another thing we’re considering for the future. I wasn’t actually involved with this one. This was before.

I know there was one that was pulled off with great success. It was for Lasso, and the audience was super engaged and had all kinds of questions. I know Andrew and I chatted on that. I think we should probably revisit that because you kind of hit a nerve. Because really, you’re also just looking for engagement too with your audience, and what’s really going to resonate with them?

Like you said, giveaways. You guys have been doing some giveaways. One of the challenges is finding the things that will resonate. Sometimes it’s not a home run. You just have to experiment and see what they like.

Gaby:
That’s true. Another thing that’s worked for us was coupon codes, for instance, or discounts that our affiliates give us for our readers. That’s also another one that’s been working pretty well. I’ve also noticed that some people also do like bonuses. If you click on their affiliate link, they can give you a free ebook or something of the sort. That’s also something readers are looking for—free things.

Sean:
Yeah, they are. We started adding some little lead magnet. That’s another term I’m tired of saying out loud is lead magnets. If you ask my team, it’s like, oh God, […] lead magnets again. But that’s something that we just started implementing into blog posts as well. It was like, okay, well, they’re on this page that’s showing them how to write for example or how to write a review.

So maybe we should have a lead magnet there that might help them write better even more. That’s like a horrible expression. That will just serve them. I guess the idea is just keeping it on topic.

Gaby:
Do you provide something through these? Is it the pop-up, for instance?

Sean:
No. Sorry, no. We just have a little display box in the middle of the post. I can’t remember the copy word for word, but it’s basically like get your content creating toolkit kind of thing. Because the post itself is there, I think it’s how to write a product review. So we just thought, oh, what if we had maybe some copywriting formula, like a toolkit, maybe a checklist? We just combined some of these things into a single PDF that they can just link to and get, but yeah, free, like you said.

Gaby:
You’ve seen conversions that way and you get leads through that.

Sean:
Still yeah. It’s still new as well. So we’re testing things as well, but yeah.

Gaby:
That’s interesting. We’ve never actually tried that, but it’s been on our to-do list.

Sean:
The to-do list just never runs out. I feel like there’s just always something new because the internet is just infinite. You can just scroll for days, basically.

Gaby:
Another thing I noticed on your website, the Lasso website, was the alternative posts, like an alternative to your CSV leads, for instance. I’m seeing a lot of that crop up on a lot of product sites. I think that would be a good option for affiliate marketers too.

Sean:
Yeah, absolutely 100%. I think that’s a really great strategy for any website owner to implement onto their own blog or their own post because people are always looking for alternatives. I think that was the idea behind why we started doing it because we have a WP alternative and because these are all terms people are searching for.

So we just thought if we could capitalize on a little bit of that search traffic and perhaps introduce people to our brand and what we’re doing, then that could bring in new traffic, new leads, hopefully, new trials, customers, and things like that. But that’s, I think, a really great strategy to employ where it’s applicable is to have those product alternative posts. Definitely, a good idea.

Gaby:
Do you have any experience with pop-ups? I haven’t made up my mind yet. I don’t know where they’re going or they actually work

Sean:
You know what, actually, I don’t. I haven’t used pop-ups. Andrew and Matt, I believe, have […] with pop-ups, but ultimately, we don’t use them on Lasso’s blog. We keep things pretty simple, and I think that’s just tested in our experiences with our audiences and what we found to work.

I think each website is different because I’ve been on websites where there are pop-ups. I don’t find them annoying per se, except when it’s in excess because I think you’ve probably visited a site or two in your time where there’s just a lot that keeps popping up at you. You’ve barely been on the website for 30 seconds and 3 pop-ups have already just been deployed. So I think there’s definitely pop-up etiquette that people should address.

Just be wary of when they’re using them because people are using them to obviously capture email addresses or to sign up for something. I think the temptation is there to become a bit spammy at times. We’ve tested a little bit. I know Andrew has tested a little bit. But we’ve just found that just keeping things simple. At least with our audience, we’ve just left those things alone for now.

Gaby:
I think the key thing for us would be to always keep emphasizing that you’re trying to help the reader get to the product they’re looking for. So as long as you’re helping someone, the reader outs rather than using it for your own […] lead capture and all this, I think, they could work in every case.

Sean:
Yeah, definitely. I think so too. Like I said, I think it’s more just about the etiquette, just the placement of the pop-up itself, and then just the copy in the pop-up as well. Like you said, you’re here to help them. So I think conveying that in the pop-up also goes a long way. When you’re communicating that value or that benefit, that’s in it for them for that. Definitely, I think it makes it probably a higher converting situation.

Gaby:
Let’s talk a bit about the backend of affiliate marketing. We’ve seen loads of tools out there to help you—Lasso being one of them. I guess the main reason to use these tools is one, to get your cloak links, which is a great way to have your website looking really professional and it cleans up the clutter of affiliate links, which most of the time are super long.

It also helps you track conversions, which as an affiliate marketer, it’s one of the most important things you’re looking out for, at least from my perspective. One thing I’ve struggled with mostly is, okay, you can use these tools, you can get the number of clicks, and the number of views. But then actually getting the number of converted clicks is a bit tricky because different affiliate programs use different plugins so it gets a bit messy sometimes.

What I like to use are campaigns, usually. Let’s say I use a particular post ID as a campaign to see if that article is converting or not and appending that to the affiliate link. Let’s say you’re using Lasso and I’m using affiliate links with campaigns, what do you think is the best way to keep things organized?

Sean:
In terms of just the URL, like how you said, just appending the affiliate URL itself for perhaps the slug of the specific post, where the campaign just depending on what it is you’re tracking, whether it’s a broader campaign or a specific page. Another thing that I found helpful is attaching that slug so you know where the higher converting posts would be.

Gaby:
I guess my question is, let’s say, I’m signed up to Lasso as an affiliate partner and I’m using all these campaigns for all my different posts, is there a way to have these organized within Lasso itself under one bracket?

Sean:
Yeah, actually. You could actually organize your links in groups. That’s another thing that I think is helpful for me, or not just for me. But groups, I would definitely suggest doing that. Depending on what it is you want to track, but you can just create these groups for the different types of affiliate links.

Gaby:
Okay. I think another thing I’ve noticed—I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve seen it on your website—is that you can override certain links sometimes. You can have a CTA box for productive X, and then you can override the link for each article, but it would still have the same CTA box, same description, and everything, and keep things organized that way, I believe.

Sean:
I just want to make sure I’m understanding as well because we do have a shortcode reference guide that allows a lot of flexibility. I think that’s what you’re speaking to. I just want to make sure that I’m understanding. You can override specific elements to your displays.

If you created a display, which typically would just appear as that display across your site. But if you’re creating something for a specific post and perhaps you wanted to tweak a copy or link to some other place, then yeah, you can override that. So it’s only for that specific post or page that they would say or do those things.

Gaby:
I think that simplifies things for us because we do have a lot of these displays. Sorry, I mentioned CTA boxes. It’s what we’re used to calling them, but their display’s on there.

Sean:
No. I’m sorry. I’m thinking of just the whole box itself, but then also the CTAs, yeah.

Gaby:
Because at the moment we’ve got CTA boxes all over our website, we have no way to track them. Looking for them and changing some copy is super tedious. It’s one of the things that I like about Lasso. You’ve got the dashboard, and you can just mess around in there and then all your displays get updated straightaway. I think the overriding of the affiliate link using the campaign would then work out quite well, in that case.

Sean:
Yeah, absolutely.

Gaby:
Okay, we’ve talked a lot about the content creation side of things. I’m really interested in discussing running a writing team because it’s one of the things that I’ve started to do now. We recently started expanding our team a bit more. It’s a learning process.

Sean:
Yeah, it is.

Gaby:
Finding the right writers is quite tricky, I would say. Do you have any pearls of wisdom there?

Sean:
Obviously, you want to see examples of their work. You want their writing to be grounded in their experiences, or at least grounded in their curiosity. But then, also, one of the things that I look for is also about their personality. In our hiring application, we also have a link to something or talk about something that you find funny and why.

So we’ve gotten people linking to YouTube videos, or most recently, we hired an affiliate manager, Gene. He linked to this hilarious stand-up comedian that Andrew and I were like—it was a hilarious video and we’re like, oh my goodness. Okay, if anything, he has a great sense of humor. But I think there’s a certain likeness factor that comes into play as well because nobody likes to work with a disagreeable curmudgeon. I didn’t think I was going to say curmudgeon today.

I know there’s a lot of remote work these days. Lasso’s team, we’re all remote, but we still have to communicate and even hop on calls with one another. I think part of it there is will you be able to work with this person comes into play. Not only can they do the job and how was their writing, things like that

I think another question we ask people is, what’s something that you’re just super curious about or recently taught yourself? Because we just want to get to know the person as a person as well. So I think that helps us filter. I think it’s helped refine our filtering process, our hiring process if you will.

Gaby:
To go one step before that, also, simply putting out a call for writers. We’ve done it on our own website, on our blog. We’ve got a few responses, but recently, we found that even by word of mouth, people have used specific writers and passed them on to us. That’s been very helpful. I wonder if there are other ways that you found, maybe job boards?

Sean:
When we were hiring, the team at Listen Money Matters, we had emailed our list, but then we also reached out to our Facebook group. I would say that’s another place to look. If you have a social media group of any kind, I would definitely tap them on the shoulder and say, hey, guys, we’re looking for a writer, or do you know anyone who might be interested in X, Y, or Z?

Because word of mouth, I think it’s easier to find someone that is already familiar with you or a friend of a friend—referrals help. Job boards or the last resort where it’s like, if just nothing’s coming in and it’s like, okay, maybe we’ll pay to place this listing for a month or something and see what comes up. 

But yeah, I would definitely recommend starting internally when it comes to just hiring, when it comes to looking for someone because chances are, your audience will probably find someone for you, or one of the audience members itself are like, hey, I can write, I can shoot videos, or whatever. If there are already fans of yours using your products, then I think that’s probably the best place to start.

Gaby:
Yeah, that’s true. Also, one other thing we’ve been doing is the test posts just to start off. I don’t know if you’ve done this before yourselves. We felt like it’s been a better way to determine whether or not they’re a good fit for the company or the product that they’re writing about, asking them to write a test post, which we always pay for anyway. It’s not for free, but the first initial post is very important. It gives you a sense of what they write about.

Sean:
Yeah. Actually, that’s something that we’ll do as well. Thank you for reminding me. Not only is it their earlier work, but here is a topic that we’re looking at. I think it’s probably the same as you probably found. You’ll give them something that you’re looking to publish soon for your blog. So it’s like, here, let’s see how you would respond to writing this topic if you had to.

Gaby:
Another thing we’ve tried is giving everyone the same test posts. We’re not going to use it probably, but we’re very familiar with, for example, a specific product. We know what we’re looking for, so we give everyone the same title and then see what they come up with. If they fit, also, all the right things. They can proceed to the next article. That’s something we’ve been testing out for a while now.

Sean:
How do you find that going, pretty well?

Gaby:
I think it’s a good idea because it’s easier to judge since you already know what you’re looking for. It’s not some new topic that you haven’t really thought about. Let’s say one of the company’s products is Spotlight’s social feeds. We get all our writers to write a review for that and then we can easily tell if they’ve missed something in the product, for instance. It’s easier to weed out the people who are not really looking into the details, for instance.

Sean:
Right. That’s where the devil is. The devil is in the details. Yeah, that’s a great idea.

Gaby:
So then once you’ve got your writer on, it’s all a matter of getting them to write with your same style and have the same principles while writing. That’s super important, especially when you’re doing something like affiliate marketing and having other writers who aren’t part of the core team do your content.

Sean:
Yeah. It was a challenge for us taking that task in the beginning, but things make it easier. They kind of smooth out along as you go. It’s almost like you’re quarterbacking—American Football expression. If we already know what you want them to touch on, then a lot of times, I even may have just said, here’s a rough (perhaps) outline, but only use it as a blueprint. Not necessarily verbatim, what I just listed here, but I think it kind of helps keep them focused on where you want it to go.

I found that to be also a help. Because sometimes, if you just give them just a random keyword and just go, you might get something back very different than, perhaps, not what you want or not what you want to publish. So I think giving your team an idea of what you’re looking for, short of writing it yourself, obviously, but just giving them the idea of like, this is what we’re looking for. Here’s a rough blueprint, and then handing it off to them.

It also creates less work for me or for you, I would imagine, when they hand back something to you. They hand back something to you and you’re like, great, this is pretty much where I wanted it to go. So you don’t have to spend as much time with rewrites, edits, or things like that.

Gaby:
Yeah. Do you always stop at the outline, do you provide keywords yourself, or do you let them do that?

Sean:
Usually, we’re pretty SEO-focused with most of the things that we do create. We try to be mindful of, is this something that people are actually searching for?

Gaby:
[…] from there?

Sean:
Yeah. Every now and then, it just might be something just to keep the narrative going. So perhaps, it’s not necessarily really written for SEO, but 95% of the time, most of our posts anyway are coming with that in mind and what people would actually be searching for. So we try to pair that with an appropriate keyword.

Gaby:
It makes sense. I think we’ve covered a lot about running the writing team and content creation itself. Where can our audience reach you?

Sean:
They can reach me on Twitter, @heyseanbrison. I can just use Sean Brison because that was taken apparently, so I had to add a word to throw in there.

Gaby:
Actually, I googled you and an actor came up. I wasn’t sure if it was you or not.

Sean:
That was my previous life.

Gaby:
Okay, I didn’t know that.

Sean:
Before all of the fame and notoriety with Lasso, affiliate marketing plugins, and writing, that was something [….].

Gaby:
So it was you.

Sean:
That’s funny. That’s something that Andrew mentioned to me too. It’s like, we googled you when you started working for us in Listen Money Matters. You did acting work? I’m like, you saw that? Yeah.

Gaby:
All right. So our audience can reach you on Twitter and also on getlasso.com, where you can check out Lasso. We’ll also be uploading a review pretty soon, so you can check that out too.

Sean:
Great, lovely.

Gaby:
Sean, it was great speaking with you. I look forward to chatting again.

Sean:
Yes, likewise. Thank you so much for having me again. It was a pleasure to be here.

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About the Show

Join us as we introduce you to some of our friends in the WordPress community.

Learn all about their products and services and discover business techniques to help you enhance your WordPress business.

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Meet your host

Gaby Galea

Gaby is the Content Manager at WP Mayor and your new host on the WP Mayor podcast! She is passionate about learning how to start, maintain and grow a WordPress business. Follow her on Twitter @GabriellaGalea.

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