Have you ever felt concerned that you’re only focusing on one way of marketing, such as content creation? But what if that one way has grown your email list and pageviews exponentially in the last 4 years?
On this episode of the podcast we’re joined by long-term client Natasa Lekic of NY Book Editors. A couple years ago on our blog we highlighted the growth NY Book Editors had seen in their mailing list by using lead magnets. We caught up with Natasa about why content continues to be their primary marketing strategy and how their pagevies and list have grown exponentially since we started with them in 2015.
If It’s Not Broke, Why Fix It?
Natasa was a bit embarrassed to admit that content is the company’s only focus when it comes to marketing, but as we discuss: it works for them. NY Book Editors helps independent authors tell their stories by facilitating extraordinary edits. Their clients (and potential clients) are writers who enjoy reading; it makes sense that the company focuses on content and it’s not surprising that the content has brought their mailing list to over 40,000 (and that’s with good list hygiene!) and their monthly pageviews to 65,000/month! They’re also launching a YouTube channel, so they’re now expanding their content and marketing.
Know your Clients and Speak to Them
Natasa has great insight into the importance of knowing your clients, no matter what your industry. She also reminds us that even if you know concepts and ideas well, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to communicate those ideas effectively and in user-friendly ways for your readers. Natasa also reflects on working productively when you outsource content creation (and four years in, we’ve got a good flow going!).
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Transcription of the Episode
Have you ever felt concerned that you’re only focusing on one way of marketing such as content creation? But what if that one way has grown your email list and page views exponentially in the last four years? On this episode of the podcast, we’re joined by Natasa Lekic, founder of New York Book Editors, who shares all about how focusing on content creation has really paid off. I’m Sara Robinson, a manager here at Audience Ops who has worked with Natasa since 2017, which was two years after we first started working with her. When Natasha founded the company in early 2013 the goal was to help independent authors tell their stories by facilitating extraordinary edits. Natasha had left her role as the managing editor at another company and started with just one editor, but now she has 37 editors working with her, and they have helped over a thousand authors create work they are proud of.
Not to mention the fact that they have helped three first time authors become New York times bestsellers, a self-published authors book is becoming a Netflix series, and they have another author who has a movie in development with Paramount. To say they’re doing their job well is an understatement. On the episode Natasa shares about why they focus primarily on content creation and how this form of marketing really resonates with their clients. She shares about how we had such a successful working relationship for so long and why she’s willing to let go of writing content even when writing is their thing. We wrap up with tips for founders in any industry, about how to connect with your clients. Check it out. Natasa, I’m so excited to have you on the podcast. How are you doing today?
I’m doing really well. I’m so excited to be here and to see you as we discussed, after so many years together.
Yes, I know. For our listeners, Natasa has been a client of Audience Ops for a very long time, before I joined the company, and I’ve been here almost two and a half years, that we’ve been working together and have never even spoken. So this is exciting for both of us today, to have this actual conversation.
So let’s get into it. Your company productize book editing services. Why do you think that has done so well for you?
I think it’s done well because we really stuck to the traditional methods of editing that the big publishers use, that they’ve refined over time. And so by really aligning our system with that I think many of our authors saw the kind of success that kept them coming back, that got them to talk about it with others, and so we really rely on that.
Yeah. And so as you told me, you started the company in early 2013, so you have been around for quite a while. What do you think you can attribute that longevity to? Maybe aside from doing that core thing well, really being extraordinary with your editing, what else has kept you around for so long?
So apart from referrals and word of mouth, the marketing has really been I think a key asset. And as you mentioned, we started working with Audience Ops in 2015.
So and we’ll talk a little bit about how that’s contributed to our growth, our readership, our subscribers. And I would really attribute our longevity to that partly.
Well good. Well we’re glad we could help with that. So mentioned marketing. What are you doing marketing wise right now that is working for you? We’ll get into the content, but are you up to anything else in marketing?
So this is a little embarrassing, but really we’ve stayed with the content marketing as it’s been, just maintain the status quo for a very long time. We’re just about to start something new and launch a YouTube channel and bring video in. I’ve been interviewing people in the industry, authors, and hoping that that will do well too.
Yeah. Well I think that’s not embarrassing, that’s kind of inspiring, that you’ve been able to do so well and grow and focus on one main area, which is the content creation and content marketing. So that’s amazing. So my question was going to be, well how does content creation fit into your marketing plan? But it sounds like that really is the marketing plan as of now.
Right, that is the marketing plan.
Awesome. Okay. So you’ve been working with us for a very long time, which we love. So do you recall how or why you decided to work with us all those years ago on your content?
It was so long ago. I’m sure that I was overwhelmed, that’s certain.
And that I would have all these plans about, this is my list of topics, a gargantuan list of what I wanted to have blog posts written about. And I’m sure that I would constantly come up with deadlines for myself and not meet them.
So really when Audience Ops came along, I was excited because it just seemed to really address such a need that I had. And I felt like it was something that I should try, simply because of the overwhelm. I felt like I was spread a little too thin. And when it comes to something like, especially for us, our audience consists of writers, so when it comes to our blog posts, we have to be, I think, especially careful more so than other people. And you know this Sara-
We get ripped apart if there’s a grammatical error.
If there’s a typo.
I get stressed every time we send these, I’m like, “It’s got to be perfect guys.” We always want to be really great for everybody. But yeah, your audience is, yeah, it’s writers. It’s writers reading writing, which is a little bit different than someone who maybe is in the tech world reading writing.
Absolutely. There’s, yeah. So for me as well, I would take far too much time composing an article. And I was, I’m sure that when I started working with Audience Ops, it was a little prayer that you guys could take over for me, but I didn’t know whether you’d really be able to pull it off. I mean, it was a new company, and really, really grateful that you did. You absolutely did. We tried to have editors write our posts before we started working with Audience Ops and the blog posts were very technical. I mean, the relation of poetry to how you can write, so talking about assonance and alliteration and it didn’t appeal to people. It was just far too technical compared to the blog posts we write now.
Yeah. That’s so interesting that, I don’t want to say that editors should only edit, but that’s just interesting that they weren’t as able to take their information and make it applicable to the readers.
Right. To make it very-
User-friendly. Exactly, that’s the word.
That’s the term.
That’s interesting because you would think, yeah, that an editor would be able to do that. But again, we get stuck in our role and our worldview, and it can be hard to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and share the information in a way that that other group of people will respond to.
Well, we’re sorry that the editors didn’t work out, but we’re also happy that we were able to come in and do that for you and your readers.
Yeah, me too. Me too.
Well, we’re glad that it has worked well for so long. And yeah, I find that really interesting, that you as a founder who worked with writers, letting go of such a critical piece of your business. So do you remember what that was like for you to let it go? And maybe even still to this point of entrusting someone else to something that is so important for your business, and also again, is so meaningful to the people reading it because of the industry?
You know, to be completely honest, at the time it didn’t feel like it was as big a trust factor because we didn’t have that, so many eyeballs on the side. We didn’t have, I mean I think we had how many subscribers? Probably two thousand, three thousand it wasn’t, I mean it’s not nothing, but it was this part of the business that wasn’t going to get all my attention at the time.
And it didn’t have as much attention on it. So yeah, I can see that because there weren’t as many eyeballs and people reading it, that it maybe felt easier to let go versus if the numbers were starting with where they are now, that might feel a little, a little more stressful.
Yeah. So we actually featured you on the blog a couple of years ago, highlighting how your mailing list had grown and the visitors to your blog increased. And so we looked back at this, so when we wrote this article, your list had grown by 100%, to almost six thousand contacts.
And in terms of your visitors, in October 2015 you were averaging about 11 thousand visitors a month. And then that had grown at that point in time to about 17 thousand. So where are you at now, several years later? What has the growth been?
Yeah, so three years ago, just to repeat that, you were saying we had six thousand subscribers.
We are now, I should say after having, we practice a lot of list hygiene. So if subscribers haven’t opened it in a while, we do delete them from our database. But even taking that into account, over the past three years, we’ve gone from almost six thousand to now 40 thousand, we’re at 39 thousand 700.
Wow. Which I think would be huge growth, even if you hadn’t been taking people off your mailing list.
So to account for the fact that you like to keep your list engaged and clean, and you’re still at 40 thousand people, that’s huge growth.
I think we were actually at 60 thousand, I can’t exactly remember, before. I made a lot of cuts.
Yeah. Well I think other founders can really relate to that, right? You don’t just want to have the numbers on your list, you want to have people who are engaged and really want to hear from you, and who are opening those emails.
Exactly. Yeah. It’s not a vanity metric if they’re not actually using them. And I certainly don’t want to contribute to spam in the world.
So if people aren’t opening it and getting value, then it’s better that-
Yeah. And what about your traffic? What have you noticed about the traffic in the last few years? How has that grown?
Right. So as you mentioned, after starting to work with you, we were at 17 thousand a month. We’re now at 65 thousand a month.
Wow. That’s huge.
That’s huge growth. That’s exciting.
It is. It is. So-
And so that’s a lot of eyeballs on our writing.
That’s a lot of eyeballs. Marketing is important guys.
Yes, it absolutely is. So, yeah. So content again, that being your core marketing strategy, is really contributing to this growth. So this is kind of a silly question now, but why do you think it’s a good idea to continue to focus on content creation?
Well, the beauty of, I said I was embarrassed about the fact that we’ve just continued playing the same one notes when it comes to marketing with our content. But clearly the advantage of that is we know that we only, there’s only one variable that we can attribute all this growth to. And so we know the value of the content marketing.
And that’s why, yeah.
Yeah. Well, and I think it also probably speaks to the clientele that you’re trying to reach. They are writers, written content makes sense for them.
Yeah, that’s true.
But also, because there are a lot of people who write for writers, and there are writers who write for writers. So there’s also a lot of competition in our industry, so it’s a testament to how good the content is as well. And the fact that what you do really well is you zero in on how you can get the most value across in the most efficient way possible, and I think people really appreciate that.
Well good. Well we like that. We always like hearing what we do well, I mean you can share that at any point in time. So you’ve worked with us for so long, and we touched on this before we hit record, how do you work productively with a content partner like us? Because right now we are pretty, you’re pretty hands off in this. I think you trust us. We know the types of topics that you’re looking for, but you do give us input, or your readers will give you feedback and you’ll let us know, “Let’s do a post on this.” But we work really smoothly together. So how did, from your perspective, how do you work productively with us?
So it’s, as you said, I think it’s just been a matter of, what four years now? Where we’re really in sync and things just happened without my involvement at this point. But I think that it, we got to that point actually pretty quickly with you guys. I think you are really good at, and maybe my gargantuan wishlist of blog posts initially contributes to that, I’m not sure. But I think it was, it didn’t take too much time for you to really understand our sensibility, and what we wanted to convey, and how we wanted to educate and inspire people, and you really adapted the content to that.
Well God, well I’m glad. And it’s interesting because yeah, I wasn’t around in the beginning, but I feel like I’ve, we’ve worked together for so long that it really is like this well oiled machine. And certainly there’s times where we need to check in, or we don’t get something quite right, and then we do what we need to do to make it better and to fix it. But yeah, generally you’re able just to trust us, which is so nice, we love that. And not that we don’t want more interaction with our clients, we’re here for you all, but it’s also, I would imagine, nice for you to just know that it’s running. And you see what we’re up to, and you get the information, and you can just check it off mentally off your list and move on to other things.
Yes. It is so nice. It is so nice and I really appreciate it.
Good. So it sounds like benefits include growth, but also less time from you having to manage these things. Any other benefits you’ve seen from working with us at Audience Ops?
I think you’ve hit on really the top two. And I would also say that I, and sometimes I’ll share these with you, but I don’t think I share the positive emails enough with you. You know, to hear from people who have been engaged with the content for so long, and they’re so appreciative. I often get these emails about how part of my day is dedicated to saying, “I’m happy that our blog is so helpful to you. Best of luck with your writing.” I feel like I say that a lot.
Yeah. And sometimes the email is just so heartfelt that I put more time into the response. And this is, that’s a great thing. So people really do genuinely appreciate what they’re learning from us through you.
Right. Well then, that makes me think too, they’re benefiting from it, they’re enjoying it, they’re connecting with you to tell you that they appreciate it, you’re responding. It’s really building those relationships.
I think especially in the work that you’re doing, it’s very high touch. They’re working directly with an editor, that that building of the relationship is also so important. That might not be the same in every single industry, but yeah, I see the content as part of that too, which I never really thought about until you just mentioned it.
Yeah, definitely. Definitely it does. And it’s a way of reaching out at scale and feeling like, obviously over time, especially the subscribers who’ve been with us over a period of years, there is that familiarity that comes into play.
Yeah. And also amazing too when you think of those people year after year, they just keep getting new and hopefully great content that continues to help them, and ideally inspire them. So that’s exciting.
So to finish up this conversation, for other founders who are listening, do you have any tips or thoughts as they’re entering that next phase of growth or continuing to maybe consider their marketing? I know you’re going to add in a YouTube channel. Any final thoughts for our founders?
I would really, and I know that everyone says this, but I think it bears repeating, I would really focus on putting yourself in the shoes of your, whether it’s a subscriber or a prospect or a client, and really thinking about what their needs are. And sometimes it’s a matter of, sometimes people take a lot of their knowledge for granted because you’re presumably the expert, and people are coming to you for information. And I think really going back to basics sometimes, in terms of what people need to know in order to be successful in whatever area you’re in, is important. Rather than, simplifying things rather than taking it to the complex level, that maybe you know. Does that make sense?
Yeah, absolutely. Really understand who it is that you’re reaching with your content, and making sure that the way that you present the information is going to land with them.
Yeah. And I think that information, no matter what industry you’re in, that’s applicable, which is great.
Yeah. I hope so.
Well, thank you so much, Natasa. This has been fantastic. I know I’ve really enjoyed this conversation after all these years of just email interaction, so we’re so glad to have you on the podcast. Where can our listeners find you if they’d like to learn more?
So hopefully our YouTube channel will be up by the time, and that’s NY Book Editors on YouTube. We’ll also have, also on Facebook we’re NY Book Editors, and Instagram @nybookeditors. And of course nybookeditors.com.
All over the place.
NY Book Editors, you will find them there. Well Natasa, thank you again so much for joining us, and we look forward to continuing to work with you.
Thank you so much for having me. And really it’s just such a joy to work with you, and I really, really appreciate all your help over the years.
Well you are very welcome.
Bye. Thank you so much to Natasa Lekic from New York Book Editors for joining us on the episode and sharing insight into how they utilize content marketing so effectively. If you have questions about done for you content, check us out at audienceops.com.