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  • Writer's pictureErin Ratliff

From Process to Perfection: The Key Project Phases Involved In Content Marketing, Copywriting & SEO Services




What goes into delivering fractional/freelance marketing services?


A LOT.


Behind every deliverable, there lies a wealth of hidden work, expertise, and overhead costs that must be considered. As a fellow soulpreneur, I believe in transparency, in everything from process to pricing because it sets clear expectations, honors the exchange of value, and reflects a commitment to authenticity and integrity in the entrepreneurial journey.


This post is all about my Standard Service Process. The Goal: to paint an accurate picture about what goes on "behind the scenes" in digital marketing work so that clients understand the actual cost and value of my services!


"Clear is Kind."

Brene Brown


The Why

It's important for clients to understand what tasks are involved in freelance work for several reasons:

  1. Transparency: Clear, honest communication builds trust and ensures that both parties are aware of what activities contribute to the project's cost and value.

  2. Expectation Management: To better comprehend the effort and resources required for each task, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings or disputes later on.

  3. Value Perception: To better appreciate and understand the investment and value provided by the services, recognizing that certain activities contribute directly to business objectives and align with strategic goals.

  4. Collaborative Decision-Making: With a shared understanding of billable tasks, clients and freelancers can work together more effectively in planning, prioritizing and executing projects, fostering a more collaborative and productive working relationship.


The Basics

It's easy to see the front-facing work a freelancer will deliver. But what about the non-revenue generating tasks freelancers are constantly completing behind the scenes?

To really make an impact you have to research and SYNTHESIZE a ton of information.


  • Understanding the audience

  • Understanding brand

  • Understanding the market

  • Understanding competition


Key Project Phases

Marketing is not just about a brand logo, font or color. The best marketing comes with a well thought out strategy, a creative direction, and intentional design process that sets the identity for your brand for many years to come. It takes love, time and dedication.


Take a look at my process for a project:


Phase 1: Brand Discovery & Assessment

We begin with a comprehensive conversation about your business, fully immersing in your world.


Purpose: To discuss value and investment, to build trust and rapport, to ensure we're all working smarter, not harder and getting to the root of your marketing needs without the guesswork or speculation.

  • Pre-call In-take form detailing their vision, mission, competitors, ideal customer current challenges, issues and goals. Note, if you havent thoughts of these before, that's ok. We're here to help.

  • 30 min Clarity Call to review form, needs, budget etc

    • Building trust by addressing FAQs, concerns and objections

  • Optional Upgrade: Strategic Direction/Roadmapping! An all-too-common scenario is when a client approaches with a project in mind but actually needs help addressing their deeper business challenges first. Roadmapping is paid consulting where I guide you through your problems and threats in order to develop a strategic foundation that aligns your brand with your goals. After this, you'll receive a detailed presentation of the brand strategy, outlining the key elements. This valuable document is a proposal of professional recommendations and resources (tailored services & solutions), and create actionable strategic plans, which may or may not involve the original projects they were interested in.

When a content writer says “I’m almost done“... it actually means, "I still have to..."
















THEN they're finally done.


Phase 2: Intake & Onboarding Phase

  • Presenting & signing official service contract outlining key deliverables, timelines, terms & conditions

  • Setting expectations: reviewing roles/responsibilities, project process & communications, work phases & milestones, requirements, preferences

  • Initiation & Conception: Collecting necessary information, materials, assets and resources required for project execution: business MVV, USP, ICP, etc

  • Defining content goals and objectives.



"Copywriting is 80% research, 20% writing"

Maribel Franchesca


Phase 3: Research & Development

  • Project Kickoff: Conducting market research and competitor analysis to understand the target keywords and phrases, target audiences, and industry trends.

  • Auditing of existing marketing channels for brand voice, visuals, language, etc

  • Project Planning:

    • Brainstorming content ideas - topics, formats etc

    • Creating content calendar to schedule posts

    • Crafting content briefs

    • To determine the creative direction we may ask you to create an inspiration board with colors, shapes, photos, fonts, packaging etc.... With that information we will continue working and present you with two mood boards from which you then select your favorite.

  • Synthesis of all collected info


NOT INCLUDED: Advanced research (interviews with SME's, survey creation or data analysis)


Phase 4: Execution & Implementation

  • Creative Production/Development: Outlining, drafting, writing, designing, updating as per the project requirements.

  • Controlling & Optimization: search (headings, tags, citations, links etc), content (image selection, featured text/quotes, formatting), UX (mobile responsiveness)

  • Publishing

  • Output & Delivery: Sharing deliverables with client

  • Brand Guidebook: making sure you have a full logo suite, unique color palette, selection of typography and fonts, mockups and determination of a visual style and aesthetic for imagery. -This corporate identity guide contains all elements of your brand identity and provides guidelines for consistent and effective implementation.


NOT INCLUDED: advanced graphic design


Phase 5: Revision & Refinement

  • Quality Checks & Assurance: Final editing and proofing for readability (accuracy, clarity, and consistency, and crawlability

  • Final client revisions (3 max)

  • Obtaining feedback


Phase 6: Distribution & Promotion

  • Determine the appropriate channels and platforms for distribution



COMING SOON: Monitoring & Measurement

  • Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the effectiveness of marketing efforts: traffic, search rankings, kw rankings, backlink profiles, click rates, conversion rates

  • Analyzing data and metrics to validate efforts, and identify areas for improvement and optimization.

  • Assessing technical issues (crawl errors, site speed, indexation) to provide clients with actionable insights and data-driven recommendations to continuously improve visibility, traffic, and conversions from organic search.


        NOT INCLUDED: A/B Testing/Experimentation


Phase 7: Project Closeout

  • Reviewing project outcomes, achievements and areas for improvement.

  • Documenting project results, including successes, challenges, and future recommendations

  • Final administrative tasks, such as invoicing, offboarding, orientation/training


"When your words pile up in silence, don't rush them. Something is stirring between the lines. Those unspoken parcels of the inexplicable crave time to soak and simmer. Sometimes, words want to roll in the dirt and sun themselves. Let them jump rope with the clouds. The writing process is a string of consonants and vowels that seeks dormancy and sunshine.


Words are plant-like. We can't rush their blooms. Words, thoughts, and feelings need to incubate. Words need stairs to lead us down to the center of our souls. Words need to ferment and funnel into liquid. So, when your words are quiet, continue with your days and nights. Turn them over. Tuck them in. Be kind to you. You'll know when they are ready to bloom."

Carolyn Riker


Wrapping It Up

The bottom line: The writing, the design, the deliverable are just the (visible) tip of the iceberg. So much goes on behind the scenes, from research and development to project closeout. Not to mention leaving time for all of the administrative work, scheduling, professional development and yes - personal wellness time needed to continue serving clients.


Details matter. Preparation and planning matters.  There is an immense amount of expertise, time, and resources invested in every project, small or large. Thus, the cost of marketing services is not just about assigning a number to a deliverable and implementing the work. It's also about the detailed behind-the-scenes process and of course, the final RESULTS.


Ready to invest in a comprehensive marketing package that sets your brand up for success? I look forward to working together soon!

 


Erin Ratliff is a holistic business coach and organic growth & visibility marketer serving energy-sensitive, earth-loving, heart-led soul-preneurs, self-starters, and founders with the mission of personal and planetary healing.


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