Letter from Phil issue 393 – Improve your content

Thought I’d try a different day for mailing this out. So instead of Saturday here it is today. And here’s what’s in this issue:

1. Premise lives up to its promise

2. Why you need to improve your content

3. Dumb subscriber abuse

4. A quick mention of something you dont seem to like

I hope you find at least one thing interesting, or useful here. Let me know by commenting. You’ll also get yourself a do-follow link.

ok, let’s get on with it.

1. Premise lives up to its promise

Ever since I started writing this ezine/newsletter many years ago, I’ve been buying stuff to test. Some of it I end up using or learning from, but a lot of it gets pushed away into a folder on my hard drive and never sees the light of day again.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I picked up Premise 2, the all singing, all dancing, sparklingly new version of Premise (for WordPress)

Until last week, Premise (which is from the well known Copyblogger team) had but one purpose in life, and that was to build landing pages that could be used for promo’s, or getting optin’s, or everything else that you could use a landing page for.

Premise 2 does everything the old version did, but now it’s also full-blown WordPress membership site software, like Wishlist and Memberwing, and (at the moment) it’s far cheaper than both.

Something else too – not only can you easily build WordPress based member sites, if you’re just selling a report or ebook or video you can dispense with the member site setup and just protect and securely sell the product you’re selling. So it’s great for selling plr products, or content you’re created, or got resell rights for.

In my case it’s going to replace the hard-to-use Rapid Action Profits, with it’s multiple paid addons, which is far too complicated for a technical simpleton like me. Plus replace Memberwing which has an annual license/upgrade fee and doesn’t do as much as this brand new software.

Here’s exactly what it offers you:

  • Lets you build rock-solid membership sites with WordPress
  • Automatically drip member content out over time
  • It also lets you securely sell ebooks, software, and other digital downloads without setting up a member site.
  • Take recurring payments with automated access management
  • Easily build check-out pages for PayPal
  • Importantly Premise 2 works with any WordPress theme
  • You can build multiple types of landing pages
  • Lets you create private forum areas with vBulletin (other forum software being added)
  • You can quickly set up password-protected content libraries
  • You can use Premise 2 on an unlimited number of sites, and it comes with unlimited updates. So no annual upgrade fees or anything.

Right now it’s in launch sales mode. Meaning right now Premise 2 is heavily discounted. They haven’t given a cutoff date for the launch sale, so it could end tomorrow for all I know. And I certainly wouldn’t place a bet on the low price lasting much longer.

It’s got me quite excited ๐Ÿ™‚ And seeing it’s all point and click, and tick boxes stuff, it’s very easy to use. So if you’re a technical simpleton too, or you just want to do things quicker and easier and cheaper, jump in fast.

2. Improve your content.

Collectively and probably individually) the techies at Google are much cleverer than any Internet marketer I know, and that includes me. It ‘definitely’ includes me ๐Ÿ™‚

Google hire lots of really smart engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians with multiple degrees and PhD’s, and then they give them unlimited resources and support. They also work on growing their already big brains by continually bringing speakers and lecturers in to give talks like “Your Brain At Work – Optimizing (Internal) Data Processing

You can watch lots of other ‘training’ videos via the above link.
There’s some fascinating stuff.

Also, at Google, these big brained people are given massive amounts of freedom, encouraging them to share ideas with colleagues and maybe team up on projects. By getting these really clever people to informally interact they keep learning and evolving and working out new ways to do things like wipe out rubbish content from their search results.

What does all this mean for us? It means we’re not going to beat them.

Although I’ve more than dabbled in what used to be called blackhat (and perhaps still is) for years now I’ve been playing the game the search engines demand.

So Instead of trying to beat them with short term things like

  • sites stuffed with crappy auto written content
  • tricks and cloaked keyword rich pages that auto redirect
  • low-quality articles grabbed from article depositories and probably used by 100’s of other people
  • adding thousands of links from sources like forum profiles.

and half a dozen other things, you should simply give them what they want. Which is good quality content that people happily devour, and then tell their friends about on Facebook and Twitter, and Google + and all those other places where people share their thoughts.

Let’s look at my travelfoodandwine.com site as an example of how adding better quality content can add $ to your pocket.

I’ve had the domain for years (though never talked about it here until recently) and it used to be filled with junk articles and low quality content. Then the place I was hosting it went bust and the site got wiped. Next I filled it with low quality articles from various article directories. This worked for a while, and in fact if you scroll back far enough through the posts you’ll start finding quite a few added over several years with auto blogging tools.

But now it’s all decent quality writing and other content that’s not been used elsewhere, and is a notch up from the type you’ll find being offered on article directories. Some of it is several notches up and would happily grace the pages of printed magazines and newspapers.

Every day I get several queries from people about writing a guest post , but after I send them a reply telling them we’re after quality writing 95% of them never contact me again.

Here’s the email I send to people who contact us (though if their initial contact is badly written, full of spelling errors, and talking about SEO, or how many dofollow links they want to put in the article I just ignore them).


“We’re looking for posts 700 words minimum, preferably longer, that are well written, have not been published elsewhere, and are of a higher quality than the type found on article directories, or just written for SEO purposes. And they also need some personality rather than reading like something out of a travel brochure.

Photo’s should be 630px max wide and screen/email resolution, but if you can’t supply them that’s fine because we can source them elsewhere.

It’s the quality of the writing, and the subject matter that’s important. Perhaps a few touchs of humour. Keep it light-hearted anyway. And no sales pitches. Don’t make it like something you’d read in a travel brochure that’s trying to get you to book a certain package deal.

We look forward to seeing something from you, or hearing your ideas.”


By improving the quality of the content, and by using guest bloggers, the site has seen a massive increase in visitor numbers, and the figures are rising every week.

Quite a few of the recent posts have also had extra content added with Curation Soft, and that’s obviously helped a lot too.

As an ex magazine and newspaper journalist I’m a big believer in good quality content. It doesn’t necessarily have to be brilliantly written, or a hundred percent grammatically ‘correct’ but it’s got to be interesting and written in a ‘voice’ or style that connects with your reader.

The journalist’s and sub editors on some of the UK’s biggest selling newspapers (and I’m talking about them rather than USA papers because I’m more familiar with the British ones) are equally excellent on both The Times and The Sun. They’re both published by the same company, News Limited, but the tone and style of the writing, and the type of headline used, is completely different. They are written to appeal to their target audience. And both do a great job of connecting with that audience or readership.

You’ve got to do exactly the same when writing for your online audience.

* Who is your target market?

* Who buys what you are selling?

* Men or women? People with young children? Fans of a particular sport? People with a certain hobby?

You’ve got to profile them. You’ve got to know exactly who your typical reader is. And when you’re creating your content you do it just for them. Give them what they want to read or view or listen to.

If you struggle to write for a certain niche readership a quick tip is to find a photograph of the type of person who buys the product you’re selling/promoting, and print it out and tape it to the edge of your screen while you’re writing.

If you’ve got an affiliate site selling a certain type of motorbike helmet print out a photo of a someone wearing one. Become friends with that person inside your head, have a chat with them, get to know them, and when you’re writing your web content write just to them, no one else.

This is explained a bit simplistically, but try it and you’ll see a lot more success.

I’m going to be writing a lot about content creation over the coming months. Stay tuned.

3. Dumb subscriber abuse

A few days ago I logged into Facebook (a once a week thing at most. Usually I just look at Facebook using Flipboard on the iPad) and I had about 30 new friend requests.

After saying yes to most, an angry msg arrived from one of my new ‘friends’

“I did not ask to be your friend and do not want you on my Facebook. Please unfriend me. Get off my Facebook”

Normally this wouldn’t rate a mention here, but a few minutes later (just after I’d unfriended them) the same person sent me an angry email “I don’t think it is funny that you won’t let people unsubscribe from your idiot emails. Please take me off your list and get off of my Facebook page”

Then yesterday an email arrived from someone else “Why the (censored) are you sending me emails you (censored censored) I’ve never heard of you. Remove me from your (censored) lists before I (censored) report you.”

Apart from the expletives, if they’d subscribed while I’ve been off ill I could understand them having forgotten me. But they only signed up last week and it’s double-optin ๐Ÿ™‚

Talking of forgetting me, the open rate for the two newsletters I’ve mailed out has been terrible. So I guess most people ‘have’ forgotten me, which is understandable after so long out of the game.

So it would be great if you could help spread the word that I’m alive and in action again. Give me and my philwiley.com site a social mention or two, and I’ll love you for ever. If you’re reading this on my blog at least click the facebook like icon.ย Please.

Right, that’s it for today. If you haven’t already bought Premise, and you’re a WordPress user, here’s the link againย If you’re using a mishmash of tools to get the job done you’ll find that this one replaces them all.



  1. Hey Phil – this was a great informative article. Loved the bit of case history of your travel site and getting better articles. Thanks for that tip.

    I recently purchased Premise before 2.0 so I’m not sure if I get 2.0 or not…but I also have Wishlist so it would be a double up…although I really really like what they have in the package. So I would use your affiliate link, and if I decide to get it I def will ๐Ÿ™‚

    I read the email in my email inbox without clicking through normally, I like it that way – i find it more efficient to scan there than to have to click through to see the content – if i had to click through I probably wouldn’t read most of it….even though I know you have great stuff to say. It’s a time and efficiency thing. Just thought I’d let you know why you would normally not get a click from me, even though most times I appreciate your content.
    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks for saying you found the article useful Nicky ๐Ÿ™‚ and as a reward I’m fairly sure that Premise 2 is free to people with an earlier version. I read it somewhere on their site but can’t find it again….Oh, I just found it. It’s a free upgrade if you have the Ultimate version of Premise. So check which one you have. And you’ll probably find a way of upgrading it in the dashboard of whatever blog/s you have it on.


  2. Conrad King says:

    Nice Phil thanks for the information. Missed your stuff. Thought you crawled in a cave some where and went hermit. Picked up your mini site manual when it first came out, think it still holds truth today.

    • Did you see the previous 2 newsletters I’ve written in the past couple of weeks? You’ll find them lower down the blog if you didn’t ๐Ÿ™‚

      Wish I had been in a cave as a hermit. Much nicer then being ill.


  3. Hi Phil
    I actually managed to sit and read your whole letter today. It is so great to have you back writing again and good to know your health is improving.
    I have spent most of my time writing original content and in a day I might only manage to write two blog posts but I have always felt if a job is worth doing its worth doing well ๐Ÿ™‚
    It is impossible to try and fool Google and I decided long ago I wasn’t even going to bother trying.
    Looking forward to your next letter ๐Ÿ™‚

    Stay well

    • Glad you managed to read the whole thing in one go ๐Ÿ™‚

      I tend to make them a bit over-long I think. But I guess I have a lot of bottled up stuff to empty from my head, so they’ll probably get shorter as time goes on.

      >It is impossible to try and fool Google

      well if you do it well you can fool Google for a while and make some money, but they’ll detect it and ban your site/s and then you’re stuck on the roundabout of:

      # create some quick low-quality sites
      # make a bit of quick money
      # get banned
      # try and sell the sites for a bit of money to innocent naive buyers
      # start the cycle all over again.

      It could get fairly soul destroying, but I know people who actually operate this way.


  4. Always enjoy your newsletters, Phil, and this one is no exception. I’ll spread the word as requested ๐Ÿ™‚

    I also get regular requests from people wanting to guest post on my blog. Many are from writers working on behalf of third-party sites, trying to get SEO’d links for them. The quality of such articles is invariably poor, and on one occasion the article was plagiarized. I now have quite strict rules about what articles I am prepared to consider, but it doesn’t stop some people trying their luck anyway. I assume they must be getting paid a few bucks for any guest posts they can place via Elance or similar sites.

    Another blogger I know insists that the only self-serving links in guest posts should be to the guest writer’s own blog, and I can definitely see a case for that.

    • IHi Nick

      ‘ve had 5 requests today from people wanting to write for my travel site, and 4 of them were the kind you’ve described above. So I just trashed two of them, sent my standard reply to two others, and said an immediate yes to one of them who provided links to his quality guest posts on other sites.

  5. How could anyone be so mean? You’re one of the best internet marketers around?
    At first when I got to this page I thought I could only leave a face book response. I was glad to see you have another area for those who do not wish to use face book to respond.
    I loved this issue and I’m looking forward to the series on content. That’s what it’s all about: content. Could you cover bullets? using tips? and prose? (when to use and how much)

    • It seems to me it’s about Content + Social + having a way to monetize it. But content is where it all starts.

      You have to have something to say that people want to read or watch or listen to. And you have to develop your personal branding on social networks, get a buzz surrounding you where people talk about your products and you.

      I’ll do what I can with a content series, but I’m still working out just how I’m going to deliver it. I’m not sure I’m going to give it all away in my newsletter.

      By ‘it’ I mean the knowledge gathered and refined from a lifetime of newspaper and magazine journalism, and producing content for the Internet. So, I guess, a book or course or member site, or one-on-one coaching, could be looming.

  6. oops. You are one of the best internet marketers. Remove the question mark. There is no doubt about it.

  7. didn’t intend to put a question mark after my statement you are the best internet marketer; there is no doubt. You are in the topos

  8. Byron Welch says:

    Great email Ken. Can’t get over them other expletives not knowing who the hell you are, and what your about. Still looking forward to the next issue in
    April Barry, keep up the good work mate.

    • If anyone here thinks Byron is a bit strange, I quite agree. But he’s fairly harmless and has been allowed out of the institution now.

      He’s a UK film maker starring in his own version of a Ken Russell movie.

  9. Alexander says:

    Been wondering for a longtime, what happen to you, glad to have you back, keep getting better, kind of know what you are going thru ( my wife had a Brain Tumor has been a lot of work ) like all your writings, just wish i could
    get of my Butt & be like you & get a few sites going.

  10. It’s hard to get off your butt Alex when you’re looking after someone who isn’t well. I hope she makes a recovery, and ‘then’ you can concentrate on getting some sites going. I guess your life is pretty much on hold at the moment.

  11. Conrad King says:

    Yes had heard about the illness glad you came through something that sounded like a rather rare and hard to defeat illness. Glad to have you back. It seems like you and Marty Foley were the first people that I came into contact with in the start of my venture into the online arena. Way back in the early days of Allen Says WF 1998. And Marty has also delved deeper into his own thing and not been as viable as he once was.

    • I’ve no idea what happened to Marty, but a lot of people from the early days have gone quiet. Possibly because the got bored with it all and didn’t need the money any more.
      Re my illness – apparently, seeing there’s no cure, I will have relapses, but it could be years between them. At the moment I’m still improving daily, and not yet considered to be in remission. Just got to live with it.