In his book The Millionaire Fastlane, best-selling author MJ DeMarco told a short parable about the power of automation.
An ancient Egyptian pharaoh summons his two nephews, Azur and Chuma, and tasks them each with building an enormous pyramid. The prize for the fastest builder? Being named the new pharaoh. The only rule: they must build their pyramid without the help of anyone else.
Azur begins work right away, hiring physical trainers to help him develop his muscles to carry the monumental boulders required for construction. He quickly begins building the base of his pyramid, lifting and carrying each gigantic stone piece.
Chuma appears to do nothing. As the weeks go by, all Chuma seems to do is fiddle with pulleys, levers, and ropes. Azur mocks Chuma; Chuma continues to work on his complex contraption.
Azur is making progress, but is getting dreadfully tired — the higher he builds his pyramid, the longer it takes to carry each boulder up the steep incline of his creation. His response is to train harder and build his muscles even more. All day and all night he works, exhausting his body from manually carrying boulders.
One day, an enormous explosion comes out of Chuma’s camp: his machine is complete! He successfully created a crane that lifts and moves the boulders for him, and easily catches up to Azur’s progress in a matter of days.
Chuma finishes his pyramid and becomes pharaoh; Azur eventually gives up from exhaustion and discouragement.
There are countless ways to build your site; some are better than others. Better to create systems and tools that can do some of the heavy lifting for you, giving you more time and energy to work on other parts of your site.
Here are four tasks every publisher should automate, outsource, and delegate as much as possible so you can get back to building a truly great site.
SEO is a particularly difficult problem for a few reasons:
- Google and other search engines don’t tell you what they’re looking for (except vague generalities like “good content” and “satisfying search intent). It’s impossible to know if you’re hitting the mark or not.
- SEO rules are always changing, with Google making hundreds, even thousands of algorithm updates each year. What worked even yesterday might not work today.
- There’s massive competition from the millions of other content creators in your industry all vying for the same keywords.
SEO is complex and difficult to understand, let alone master. You can spend years learning about it, and still be confused about how it all works.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an SEO expert to get a lot of organic traffic; you can use other people and tools to help you while you continue working on the stuff only you can do — writing great content and connecting with your audience.
There are plenty of SEO tools you can use to automate your site for better search engine optimization. We recommend using NicheIQ, Ezoic’s free SEO toolkit that automates tasks like researching strong SEO topics, conducting site tests to determine what tags perform better on your site, etc.
You don’t have to master everything there is to know about SEO; you can (and should) automate complex SEO research with tools like NicheIQ.
Years ago, it took a truly enormous amount of resources to make online videos. Just for starters, you needed:
- Expensive equipment (cameras, lighting, microphones, etc.)
- Expensive video editing software
- A team of professionals to run and coordinate everything
- A speaker very comfortable with public speaking and being on-camera
Even if you had all this, it could take months (or years!) to actually master this process. And even then, there were still no guarantees you’d ever even reach anyone or earn revenue from these expensive videos.
Now, you can almost completely automate this video creation process. You can even create entire video channels without ever showing your face, and still give yourself the chance to earn enormous revenue.
One way to do this is by using a tool like Flickify, which converts your text articles into high-quality videos. Simply plug in your article, customize your video, and you’re done — you don’t even need a camera!
You can also use your older text articles as scripts for new videos — no need to write brand new blog posts and completely different video scripts. I saw a funny Instagram video of a tired parent on his hands and knees, cleaning up the toy kitchen his child had destroyed. The parent was lamenting that their nice gesture to buy their kid a model kitchen meant they now had to clean up two kitchens in their house!
If you’ve never made videos for your site before, it can feel like you’re adding an entirely new headache to your plate. If you’re not jumping to get on camera or figure our a brand-new video strategy, you can automate the entire process by using a tool like Flickify to make videos for you in a matter of minutes.
If there’s one thing I’m not good at, it’s graphic design.
After publishing and blogging for over ten years, I’ve had to make plenty of my own graphics — PDFs, logos, blog pictures, thumbnails, color schemes, etc. It took me a long time to finally realize: spending ten hours manually creating my own designs for free was way more expensive than just paying a professional to do it for me in 20 minutes.
If you’re anything like me, you’re not a natural artist or designer. Your biggest talents might lie in being a publisher, creating great content your audience loves. The more time you spend on that, the more revenue you’ll earn; the more time you spend trying to learn how to design graphics probably equates to less revenue, more stress, and less energy for your site.
If you study top performers from any industry: entrepreneurs, athletes, actors, coaches, singers, writers — you’ll quickly see that these individuals don’t do everything in their business, they outsource the difficult/complex tasks to trained professionals so they can focus on what got them successful in the first place.
For me, I simply hired freelancers and other professionals to do this work for me. As you can see from some work orders I did a while back, I hired a lot of designers:
I saved an enormous amount of time and money just by automating this process, sending an email asking for what I wanted instead of trying to do it all myself.
This is high-level thinking, and it takes some guts to start seriously investing in your business on tasks you could probably do yourself for free. But as a publisher, I learned my greatest strength and revenue sources came from my ability to create better content; the more time I spent on that, the more money I got.
If you’re not a designer, then simply automate the process by reinvesting your site profits back into your site to deliver a better user experience and give you more time to create better content.
4. Market Research
Like SEO, investing in market research is one of the best uses of your time as a publisher. It’s an investment in your site that will yield clarity, focus, and data to help drive your site moving forward with real proof behind your decisions.
Running a site is a bit like rowing a boat across the sea; if you don’t stop and make sure you’re still heading in the right direction, there’s no telling where you might land!
Understanding your market and conducting research is critical to being a well-known, successful publisher. Your audience’s interests change over time, trends come and go, algorithms adapt to reward publishers who truly have a finger on the pulse of their audience.
All this takes time, and you’re never really “done” conducting market research. You can conduct your own research, or automate the process by using data scientists, industry insiders, and site tools to give you the information. As Zig Ziglar famously said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”
As we wrote in our article about conducting market research, “The more you can outsource and automate core functions of your site, the more time and energy you’ll have to create content and build a successful site.” Conducting market research to learn more about your audience takes time, and you can gather an enormous pile of data and still feel unsure about what to do with it.
Automate as much of this work as you can. You can streamline the process, too:
- Directly ask your audience through surveys and questionnaires about their most pressing needs
- Find your top-performing posts and write more posts like that
- Find your lowest-performing posts and stay away from that topic/article structure
- Use tools in NicheIQ like the Tag Tester and Topic Suggestions to quickly determine what data/content you should focus on
Large companies pay enormous salaries for smart data analysts and market researchers to give the decision-makers real data that helps them grow the company. Treat yourself and your site the same way; you’re a professional publisher who can make real money, and it’s worth the investment to secure solid market research. Just don’t spend all day doing it yourself!
In his book The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, best-selling author Darren Hardy popularized the concept of “power activities,” identifying the most important activities you can do each day that truly make a difference in your business.
When you take a brutally honest approach to your site, you’ll quickly discover the tasks that attract traffic, earn revenue, and make you more successful…and the tasks that can be delegated to others that don’t really deserve all your time and attention. The more time you spend on your power activities, the more successful you’ll be. This means the more you can automate core functions of your site, the more success you’ll be able to build.
That means cutting out, outsourcing, and automating as many difficult, time-intensive, non-essential tasks to others. Yes, this might mean learning a new automation tool, or investing in experts to do it for you. But it also allows you to focus on the parts of your site that only you can do, the tasks that directly lead to more revenue. Speaking as a ten year publisher who was able to build a 6–figure business from my writing: automation is a worthy investment if I’ve ever seen one.