Masters of Content
Masters of Content

Episode · 1 year ago

Creating Content that Converts: Start by Hiring the Right Freelancers w/ Zack Holland


Sourcing, hiring, and managing freelancers for your business is a frustrating task.

You want to invest in the right people who will help you craft messaging that actually fits your voice and drives results.

But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

In this episode, host Josh Van Dyk interviews Zack Holland, CEO & Founder at SelectFew, about how to hire the right freelancers that produce content that creates connection and drive the business results you care about.

We also discuss:

  • How leaders can encourage ethical behavior in their organizations.
  • How they discover their freelancers and determine pricing.
  • The best way to measure content marketing results.

 For the entire interview, tune in on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get podcasts.

Welcome to masters of content, where we discussed the experiences and ideas behind what's working in the marketing, content and creative operations space. Here you'll discover new insights from thought leaders with compelling stories about brand management, content production, new insights surrounding the digital customer experience and more. And now let's dive in. All right, welcome back to the masters of content podcast. I'm your host, Josh Van Dyke. Super excited today. First off, it's just an amazing day and we've got we've Got Zach Collin with us, who's the CEO of select few, and, by the way, you may have not heard of select few, but you will soon. And I was just fascinated when I was talking to Zac around his concept and I think it's so valuable. So, Zach, welcome to the show. Thanks for thanks for coming on today. How are you feeling? Feeling Great, thanks, sir. Thank you very much for having me. Yeah, I know you mentioned as in one of the first seventy degree days in New York, so that's always lovely. You know, Zach, you know we spoke a couple weeks ago. You were telling me about, you know, before we dive into you kind of your professional journey. But you were telling me some fun stuff about when you were growing up. You didn't even grow up in the states. You grew up tell the teller listens about that a bit. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I was born in Boise, Idaho, and then when I was just five years old with two little siblings, both my parents decided they wanted to go do something different, try to help people, and so we moved to the Amazon rainforest and a place called Shell Mera, Ecuador, and lived in the mile by miles square radius where more fatal snake bites take place in anywhere else in the world, and my dad specialized in in trying to find a new snake by anti venom that did not yet exist. Wow, that is awesome and I know that you know things, for your past always shape your future. Just tell us a little bit about your journey, you know, how did you get to the point of finding select few, and what is like few all about? What are you guys up to? So you know, start starting all the way back then in Ecuador. I think we always had a different perspective on both work and and life. You know, you learn there that things like, you know, authenticity and and honesty aren't just buzz words or traits, but they're things that really should help shape who you are and what you do at work. And and also when you live in a place like m'son rainforest, everyone there is entrepreneurial. Everyone there is coming up with different ways to help the community, different ways to, you know, to expand. Nobody's just one job there. And so from a very young age I was obsessed with with entrepreneurship, with with starting businesses that could bring genuine value to people. My at my dad ran a Bible study and while he was doing the Bible study, I would shine everybody's shoes at eight years old, right and and and so it was always something that I wanted to work outside the usual systems because that's how I grew up and that's why I thought was normal. So you know, when we moved back to the state that that continued. I started this company called neighborhood knowledge, which was a really basic online website that was a neighborhood directory for people in the neighborhood. You have kids that can babysit, that can make leaves or do anything like that. And then it was just five bucks of family a month to be on there and we ended up getting thousands of families signed up and ended up selling that company to the local newspaper company there, which helped pay for college nice. That's huge. So No strangers through the entrepreneur world, you know, and select few. I know you started that during the pandemic. So you know, I think being able to sell your own company, Your First Company at Sixteen gives you probably some courage to be able to start a company during a huge pullback, recession and pandemic. Yeah, absolutely that. You know, having having family members that are just nothing but constantly encouraging and you know, I know some people. You know the parents. It's you know, it's you have to be doctor, you have to be a... You know, mind knew that I would never fit in one of those molds and always were so encouraging about that. And and yeah, I mean to, I think, to embolden to the point of starting to company the pandemic. There's definitely been a couple of failures too. Sure you know I've I've talked extensively on podcast and stuff about how I think the emotional roller coaster of entrepreneurship is an underserved topic. You know, the how much you tie your whole personality to a brand and then when that brand fails, you feel like you failed, you feel like you're a failure. Sure, sure, and yet you talk to any successful high level entrepreneur and those failures are were the most important pieces of what would eventually got them to where they were. And so definitely a lot of failures to also in bold and, you know, continuing to try and try, and and and and luckily be be enjoying a lot of great growth at at selecte right now. Yeah, yeah, and so for listeners who aren't familiar with select few, maybe could just tell them a little bit about what you do, because you're not quite a marketing agency, but you're also not really like fiber up work, and those are kind of the two ends of the spectrum and I I love what you're up to. So maybe you could just shed a little bit of light on that for for our listeners. Definitely. Yes, in my experience past mears as a founder, you know you you spend money on marketing agencies. There's obviously a bunch of amazing marketing agencies in the world, but the system is a whole relies on high retainer fees and using small amounts of those fees to actually fulfill services, because the margin in the middle is where revenue comes from. And so, as a system, a lot of times clients and agencies are at odds with priorities from day one, right. And so when your budgets bloated and you want to try something new, a lot of companies then go to the freelancer networks, right up work and fiber and things like that, to try and find freelancers to fill the gaps. And there's a ton of amazing freelancers in the world. In fact, we confidently believe that the best people in the world, that what they do now, especially in a World War marketing so specialize, are freelancers, bootique agencies, people who work for themselves. And and yet we found a lot of gaps in in the system there as well. You're trying to manage eight different freelancers, you're trusting ratings instead of real recommendations. It was a mess on that side too, and so what we decided to do it select few, is we match new clients with a selecty strategist who's internal full time member of our team. That person's an experience marketer. That helps clients figure out what they need to be doing, you know, helps with the day to day marketing and then works to activate and manage a totally flexible team of freelancers from our vetted network. And so the team can look completely different from one client than another, right, but the strategist is always going to be there to manage those freelancers for you make sure that they're all on brand and talking to each other and synchronize right and in a team that can change month to month, instead of trying to sell six month contracts of one service. You know, marketings all about testing and iterating, and so you know, in a system like this, through a strategist, you can really test. Hey, let's let's try tick tock ads this month, or know, let's let's let's put some money aside for a new vide real production and flex your marketing system month of month. Yeah, yeah, and you know, I feel like there's a probably a pendulum that swings a bit right, and you tell me if I'm wrong here, but you know someone it goes how we need to work with this agency, right, and then they work within it didn't work out. Maybe, you know, they felt like if you cost them too much. Maybe they any get the results. So they the the penem swings the complete opposite, right, right. So they go all, we'll just go to UPWORK, we'll go to fiber, will do this, and then they're like ash, that was impossible to manage all that. Right. And so I feel like, are you guys kind of somewhere in the middle there? And then do you do you? Do you see more people coming from one area or the other side? Yeah, so, yeah, we're definitely right in the middle there. It's the advantage is of flexibility, cost efficiency of a freelancer network, but the guided strategy and the point of contact and and the day to... of why people stay with agency so long it with that strategist and and so I definitely see where do we have them coming from both sides? But definitely marketing agencies, because after you've just been burned by your third agency that had a really talented salesperson as a strategy director, right then you got past to you know kind of you know, right out of college, account managers, and they had freelancers white labeling, but you don't know who's getting paid what, and so your budgets get all bloated and confusing and I think after that you you desperately seek out something new and different than in that exact position. And and that's and that's where we you know where we come in, because working with us is it's always month to month. Yeah, and so it's low risk to get started and it's a instead of just going out and go signing for your Sixth Marketing Agency, why not try something completely different for a month? Right on, right on. And you know what I what I kind of what I like about what you're describing as well as it kind of supports this marketing leaders who really value transparency, right, and I think that's pretty courty what you're up to as well. You know, what are some of the ethical issues that you believe that you know we can face head on? Yeah, I mean I think marketing is one of those industries that you almost up there with the used car salesman or something like that, that just it almost is instantly correlated with a lack of transparency and honesty in business practice. I think a lot of that comes from the need for agencies to continue to use less and less of what you pay them to fulfill services so they can keep growing and managing bigger overheads. It's so naturally there are just a thousand opportunities to do things in as not completely dishonest but not fully honest fashion. And you know, I think when you're running a business and you need to know what's going on inside the business to such a degree that you can make quick changes and Save Your Business and pivot, that transparency and what's working and what isn't in your marketing is so important. But unless you're just managing a huge internal team, you're not, you're normally not going to have that. And so, you know, in an effort to allow people to you know, with that transparency comes accountability to the right people. You know, when you know, okay, this person, this freelancers running our facebook ads and they start to down perform, well, we you know who to talk to, instead of just one big agency that you don't know where who is doing what or what what's going wrong right now. It doesn't give you the ability to be a flexible right. Yeah, yeah, I totally get that. And you know, I think as some of the the senior leaders that you're working with and in some of the ones that listen to this pond, is there something that you think you know, how do you think senior leaders can encourage ethical behavior within their own organization around this? Yeah, I mean I think it's tough because, you know, as marketers, I think fake it to make it is like one of those models that are just so ingrained and how our business works and it's, you know, it's taking the the difficult chances to be overly honest and transparent, even when it doesn't seem like the right business opportunity. And that in the short term, and you know, a hundred percent confidently feel that over the long term, you know, being being yourself and being honest about it and your business capabilities will always end up being better than that kind of fake it to make it and overstow yourself sure end up getting in a situation. Shouldn't man. Yeah, and you know, I'm sure you you've you know along that along this journey you've had a lot of different resources, may be different mentors, is, are some resources that have helped kind of shape the way that you view that rule of transparency and marketing. And you know, how anything you would recommend out there to our to our listeners? Yeah, definitely. I mean John Mackie, the federal whole foods started this kind of movement called conscious capitalism. Yeah, that you know, and that really that makes the argument really for it's not it's not either do good business or be ethical and business. It's good business to be ethical and business. And and that there is you know, that that capitalism and its best form isn't just unbridled and and anything goes to...

...make a buck. And so like that entire concis capitalism movement, I think, did a lot to effect how I think about business early on. Yeah, and you know, for the from the workers that are out there listening and you know, how are you helping them when they come to you? Helping them kind of identify some of the first things they need to be doing? I'm sure people come to you with a bunch of ideas and how do their marketing strategists help mold those ideas and maybe share new ideas with them? Yeah, that's a great question and exactly one of the first things that when you start working with a strategistic select few they're going to do. It's not okay, let's do everything all at once, it's it's you have to take the you know, take its step by step. And for us that all functions on a pyramid. You can't build the top of a pyramid on day one. You have to start on the bottom and build that wide foundation. And for us that wide foundation is all about content. It's all about up, like, do you have the messaging in the voice and the you know, the you know, the look that is going to build your build everything else on top of right. Some people oftentimes just want to run facebook ads. Stay one sure, and if you you know, what are your facebook at saying? What is Your Business about? You know, what is it really doing for people, and so you know. So for us it's like that. It's that bottom pyramid, you know, getting people to maybe spend a little more time on design and on content. Then I think they would like sometimes. And and then that second is community. Before again, before adds. It's do you have? You know, are you building a community on email or building community on social that offers real value to your target customers? You just posting photos on Instagram with your logo because you think that's what you're supposed to be doing, or is it that you're actually trying to provide real value to who is your target customer? Right, you know, and then at the top it's okay, great, now let's go out and do PR and run ADS and, you know, and scale our business. But unless those bottom two are are secure, that the top is going to be nonsense. It's gonna be a waste of money. Yeah, and how are you, you know, what type of things are you looking at kind of measure those results? I'm sure that can vary, you know, different from different companies, but based on what their goals are. But what are some of the metrics you're looking at? Yeah, I mean I think if you're if you're talking about, you know, how the content is connecting with people and in your audiences click, you know, things like click through rates. But at the end of the day it's all about conversion, and so it's what's happening on your website doesn't convert? When people are getting there, they spending a lot of time on it. Are they reading four or five different pages and and actually engaging in what's going on? Or and if not, if there's getting your site and leaving, then you probably have an okayad. But what's on your side is not connecting people. Yeah, yeah, and you know, I know many of our listeners use freelancers to create content what's kind of some of the problem? Mars you see that you've identified with, say, like a fiber up work, and how does select few do that differently? Yeah, I think the big part that that's missing and working with freelancers in general, is that full time management and guidance on this is the brand, this is who we are, this is what we're about. In constantly coming back to that, freelancers have, they can of twenty thirty clients at once, and so expecting them to really care about your brand and and understand what's going on in the bigger picture of your business is asking too much, right and so that's what that strategist is there for, is that person in the room to say, okay, Hey, look like this is you know, this is what we really care about as a brand. This, this is where we need to go with our writing, with our photography, with the our influencers, with you know, in all these different things, and they all have to sync up right, I think, to get a good view of what's going on with your marketing, you can't just look at facebook ads in a silo or Google ads in the silo. It's as a whole system. What's working and what's not. And what can we what can we flex and improve on? Yeah, and you know, that's where that tragist, I think, really helps. Right, you know, someone that really understands, you know, that company's brand, their message, what they're...

...trying to get across, and then actually working with the freelancers to be able to make sure that it actually happens, versus somebody that's in marketing at a company and getting very busy, you know, throws it over the fence to the freelancer and sometimes you almost you're almost too busy even adjusted on the back end and you just go with what you got back right. So that and and I think activating the right freelancers is I mean you can have you can have a freelancer has a thousand five star reviews on upward right, but they're going to be but they're wrong for your brand, but they're never going to tell you that most of the time they're not. Could tell you that because they you know, they because they want the business. And so, you know, having these strategists who know our network of freelancers of boot agencies like the back of their hand and know who would be a right fit because they're in your business. There they laudited your ads. They you know, they know what's going on. Can Save you so much time and money by not wasting time on a freelancer who could be very, very good at what they do but not right for your business. Sure, and you know, I think one of the things we talked about in the past, sac what I thought was just really cool was the way that you work with your freelancers and how they get paid in order to retain those best freelancers, because you know, it's select view. That's what you're doing. You're trying to find the select few that are really amazing at what they're up to. All right. So how do you keep those people from just saying well, that was nice, Zac and now I'm just going to go work for that other company and, you know, work with them directly, right. So I thought you kind of had a really neat approach to that. So when you could share that with our listeners? Yeah, definitely. Yeah, our pricing model is a little unique and it really is to kind of combat that classic up worked dilemma of I worked with the freelancer, I like, I'll pay you less off of upward right and then moving people off the flat right, right and and again and in the efforts of being totally transparent across the whole system. For us, we work the same way for every client and with every freelancer, and it's that the freelancers have agreements with us that they charge our clients, selectually clients, the exact same as if that client found trained and manage them on their own in a wild there's no markups, right. And then when we built through select few, we pay that freelancer out there their normal rate, a flat twenty two percent fee for bringing them the client and managing the business right. And so everybody knows who's getting paid what. When you look at your network as a your system, as a client, you can say I know exactly how how much bob the freelancers getting paid and it's the same as if I went and and did all that work of vetting him and managing them on his own somewhere else, right on. Yeah, I love that. I love it and you know, because it really for there's you know, some people might have been thinking I could just do that on my own and that's a that's a headache and that's a challenge and you never know who you're going to get and you're still paying them, you know, even if the work is in that quality. So versus like Hey, these are vetted and we work with them all the time and based on your needs, we know the exact right person that we're we can plug in here and everything's transparent. Everything is that's cool. Everything is like I can see everything that's going on and I and I have the value for it because it you know, I'm getting the results and I'm not paying the agency price, right, so that's great. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I mean we have we have an amazing hard working small operations team here and all they do all day long is find an interview and that freelancers. So it's as if you hired someone at your company to just interview freelancers all day long for you and only work with that kind of one, one percent of one percent that are actually legitimate in figure business. Hmmm, right on. You know you, like I said, you started this business during the pandemic. So over the over the last year and you've had really amazing results. As there some maybe things that you were like, Oh gosh, that was that. There were some tough things there. That happen, but I'm sure there was also some silver lining of working during a time where everybody's slashing budgets, and so tell me about some of that experiences, some of the things you've learned there. Yeah, definitely great question. There's there's definitely been huge positives and and some...

...challenges are about starting the pandemic. Yeah, I mean our business models meant to save people money and still have the same performance or better than a big loload marketing agency. And so in that respect, you know, a lot of our new business were great large companies that normally just would have kind of suffered for another ten years with with with Selfar marketing agencies, but instead were forced by the pandemic to look at new and new and creative solutions, and so in that respect it's great. You know, I would say in the chat on the challenge side, you know, so much of a start up at our size is about that tribe, early closeness of a group, and and we definitely have a really close founding group. But when everybody's just a face on a screen, on a zoom call it, it's different to build team chemistry than you know then it is sitting in some little office over a pizzeria or something like that. You know, in those really critical, early, early years. Yeah, yeah, looking forward, you know, over the next year's or something that you really excited about, instead of looking back, looking forward. What's something that's on the horizon that you know, you think is cutting edge, that you think is really cool, that you guys are going to engage in? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, well, one we're just we're will be excited to get an office that will it will always be a flex office whenever it's say you have to come in and sit here at your desk at nine am, but for people who who don't want to be in their apartments anymore and want a place to come and engage co workers, will be open in an office in Brooklyn this year, which will be really excited about. And then we're only the next stage of select few is is moving into building out this system of guided freelancer networks as a platform and building the tech behind what we're doing. So you know, it's great as a system, but really that next step for us is enabling that system to be even more efficient with with a tech platform that will buil about this year Nice. A huge, be huge and you know, for those listening, you know they're trying to first identify which type of marketing services they should prioritize to kind of grow that brand. What would you recommend? Content? Always it's go, but it go back to the core of I mean first, like who you are as a brand. Is that? Is that authentic and and actually needed? And then does it speak to the right people? And then, and then how do you bleed that into your writing, your photography, your video? Yeah, you know, your ads. It's so much, so much more time is needed on content that I think is spent. It's it's kind of let's get one or two pieces of content and then let's go run ads, and it's just so backwards. Nice. Is there something that you know happened over you know, like some that kind of stands out in your mind over the last year that you're really proud of? Hmm, I mean that's there's there's a ton of things. I mean, as you know, as a company, when we first kind of crossed that, you know, the one million mark is always a big piece to you. Is that you know, as a startup, that you know that's that's under a year old. Having you know, we are favorite number is we we've never had a client leave Nice, despite the fact that we're month a month, and so you know that. You know that the ability to continue working with and and it's not that we get it right every time, but it's that will continue to flex and to change things around and iterate until something is right right, which I think is very different in the marketing world. And so you know the fact that we still get to work with all the amazing companies that we started working with. Yeah, it's something we're super proud of. Yeah, I mean customer intention on a month to month basis that way is almost unheard of. I think that's really it's rights volumes to the work that you're doing. You know, fantastic. You know. Some final thoughts here. You know, what do you want to leave our listeners with? What do you know to be true? You know, I think, going going back to in every business, but in marketing especially, how can you be more authentic? How can you be more transparent? You know, I think nowadays, even in ads and performance marketing, being real and being human is as never been more important. With everything going on in the world,...

...being honest and transparent human is now has never been more important, and that doesn't just mean, you know, having you know it did. It doesn't just mean having some some real conversations going on every once in a while on your instagram. It's it should be a poor part of who you are as brand. Yeah, that's huge. So for listeners that want to connect with you, they go Cheez, it's like a few. Seems Great. I love to talk to Zact a little bit more. What's the best ways for them to reach out to you? Exact and death? I'm in. We always learn about more about select few at select few dot CEO, and I'm Zach Ze ack at select few dot CEO and I always love chat with anybody. So that's awesome. Well, you know, I I love what you're up to. I think it's really cool. I can I can see there's, you know, so many marketers out there that would want to be on your type of platform, but I even more so for the marketers you know that listen to this and say I will work creating content. We use some freelancers, but gosh, that's tough. But I still need to use them, you know, I still need to create that extra content. We can't hire another person right now. I just think you know what you're up to. Is is such a nice fit for those types of companies. So thank you so much for being of being a guest on the show. Absolutely it's been a pleasure. Fantastic, fantastic. Will have a wonderful day and thanks for for joining the master's content. You've been listening to masters of content. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Like what you hear, tap the stars to leave a rating. To learn more about marketing and tools to help you nail your digital customer experience, visit sendsharecom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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