Red Robot Media Forms EU Company to Guard Against Brexit

Red Robot Media Forms EU Company to Guard Against Brexit

UK copywriting company launches EU company to maintain EU links

On the day the UK government triggers Article 50 to exit the EU, Red Robot Media has today formally applied for registration of a new Estonian sister company.

The new Estonian company will allow Red Robot to retain a presence in the EU after Brexit. For EU clients, the move will also guard against Brexit uncertainty and give the company more flexibility post-Brexit.

Red Robot’s director and technical writer Claire Broadley is a member of the Estonian e-residency program. The program allows individuals from anywhere in the world to set up an Estonian company and maintain close links with the EU after Brexit. There are currently approximately 1,000 UK citizens registered as Estonian e-residents.

Claire’s new company, Red Robot OÜ, will operate out of Tallinn, Estonia. It will offer the same services that the UK company Red Robot Media offers now, including technical blogging, business blogging, system documentation, and video production.

We produce content for clients worldwide. Estonian e-residency offers a simple way to maintain strong EU links after Brexit. 

ID card

UK Estonian e-residents are creating companies to guard against Brexit uncertainty and ensure they can access valuable benefits of EU membership. Red Robot OÜ will also be able to access all of the benefits of the Digital Single Market, a program which the UK intends to exit over the course of the next two years.

Red Robot OÜ hopes to accept payments in euro from June, direct to its Estonian bank account, which will help it to protect against any further devaluation of the pound. Customers of the UK company can still pay in pounds sterling.

All of Red Robot Media’s clients will have the open of transferring their business to Red Robot OÜ in Estonia if they wish. This will allow them to enjoy the same service that they currently enjoy, provisioned within the EU legal and data protection framework.

For micro businesses like Red Robot Media, Brexit presents challenges in terms of costs and legal compliance. In particular, it is difficult for a very small business to attract significant EU business in an unclear post-Brexit environment. The Estonian e-residency program allows micro businesses to put contingency plans in place.

Red Robot OÜ is being registered with the Estonian Business Registry by LeapIn.eu. LeapIn provides management services for Estonian companies that are administered by Estonian e-residents overseas.

For more information about Estonian e-residency after Brexit, please see our e-residency blog post.

About Red Robot Media

Red Robot Media is a UK company specialising in technical writing and business copywriting. It is located in Horsforth, close to Leeds Bradford Airport. The company was founded in 2010.

Claire Broadley started the company formation with the Estonian Business Registry in March 2017, on the day Article 50 was triggered by the UK government.

All media enquiries can be sent to [email protected]

Outsourcing Your Blog to the Perfect Writer: Part 2

Outsourcing Your Blog to the Perfect Writer: Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog post, we looked at some of the key reasons why businesses are hiring people to write blogs for them, rather than writing their own content in-house. If you’ve found a writer — and you’re outsourcing your blog — it’s time to look at contracts, payments, and working productively.

Sign a contract when outsourcing your blog
Sign a contract when outsourcing your blog

So you’ve chosen to outsource your blog, and you’ve found a respected blogger who specialises in your niche. What kind of service can you expect from a blog writer? How do you negotiate contracts, payment, terms and conditions? And how do you go about managing the service week by week, or day by day?

Managing an Outsourced Blog

One of the great advantages of outsourcing your blog is the level of flexibility it offers. Unless you choose to add blog writing to the services you are already contracting from a digital marketing or PR agency, most bloggers will be freelancers or micro businesses. These individuals and companies are designed to be dynamic, and adapting to suit the needs of their clients is a critical part what they offer.

Blog writing is one of a new breed of  professional digital services. It’s not the sort of service you need to hire someone locally for. Blogs can be written and delivered online from practically anywhere in the world, with the overwhelming majority of communication taking place via email, telephone or perhaps a web messaging or video conferencing app. This provides clients with a great deal of flexibility in who they hire.

If the best blog writer for your subject happens to live overseas, it need not be a barrier. But if you are used to managing supplier accounts through face to face meetings, this can perhaps require getting used to a slightly different way of working.

Blogging Contracts and Payments

The terms of service you can agree when outsourcing your blog are extremely flexible. It really comes down to how each individual blogger prefers to operate, and negotiation will usually be welcomed.

Most bloggers will be flexible when it comes to the number of blogs they provide. Monthly, weekly, daily,  and ad hoc delivery are all very common. The writer will simply negotiate a payment term, and invoice for however many blogs they write during that period. Try to negotiate monthly invoices to avoid being bombarded with payment demands.

Make sure you discuss and agree delivery dates and deadlines in advance, and write these into the contractual terms of service if necessary. This will protect you against your blog slipping to the bottom of the priority list if other work comes in. Bear in mind that the start of the week — and first week of the month — are often the most popular delivery deadlines. At Red Robot, we definitely find it easier when we can space out clients’ blogs through quieter times.

Typical fee arrangements include a fee per word, or — more commonly — a fee per article. Compare pricing for 500 words, and ask whether longer articles will be billed pro rata. The length of the article can be specified in advance by the client, or left to the writer to judge as they research the topic.

If you are looking for a high volume or writing, many blog writers will be happy to discuss being hired on a retained basis, or to negotiate an all-in project fee. This may be based on overall number of articles, or it may involve a switch to an hourly rate. The benefit of this is it will usually provide some level of discount compared to paying per article. It can also make it easier to control cost during complex content assignments.

Hiring a blogger on a retainer is also useful if you are looking for more than straightforward blog writing. For example, you may want someone to take over full management of your blog, including scheduling posts, responding to comments, and cross promoting content on social media. This all takes time, and most bloggers will seek to reflect this in the type of arrangement made.

Quality Assurance When Outsourcing

It’s important to discuss arrangements for re-drafting and revisions from your writer. A good professional blogger will welcome feedback and input on anything they write, and agree to alteration requests as part of their commitment to quality and customer service.

It is common, however, to ask alteration requests to be made within a specified period of time, to avoid unforeseen backlogs of work mounting up.

My blogging team provides free revisions if:

  • The blog doesn’t meet the brief (see below).
  • There are factual inaccuracies.
  • There are spelling and grammatical errors.
  • The topic does not fall within the guidelines agreed at the start of the work.

These terms should be fairly typical. If they are not written into your contract when outsourcing your blog, query what’s included.

Providing an Accurate Brief for Your Blogger

Day to day, the most important thing you will do is provide briefs for the blogs you need. What you ask for, and the level of detail you want, may have a bearing on the fee. Anything that involves additional research is going to bump up the standard price. However, it can be worth paying a little more for extra special, evergreen content.

The nature of the brief you provide will usually fall into one of the following categories:

  • Full, detailed brief: The client provides clear instructions on the topic and the angle for the blog, with a title and links to relevant material to research.
  • Title only: The client has a title or topic in mind for the blog, but the detail and the research are left to the writer.
  • Open brief: This amounts to not really providing a brief at all. The writer is left to come up with any topic they deem relevant, within guidelines agreed at the start of the service.

The amount of guidance you want to provide on a brief is a matter of personal preference, and depends on the level of control you want when outsourcing. A full detailed brief obviously takes more time and effort, but you can be sure of what you are getting – and if it doesn’t meet the brief, you can ask for it to be re-written. An open brief requires more trust in the quality of the writer, and gives you less room to ask for revisions based on the suitability of the topic.

Tip: If you need your blogger to do all of the research for you, it may not necessarily cost you more. Often, a full, detailed brief consumes the same resource as an open brief. So it’s really important to choose the briefing method that you are most comfortable with; this avoids the need to return the content for changes, which can delay the production process.

Authorship, Bylines, and Copyright

When a new client outsources their blog to us, they often ask who owns the content. In the majority of cases, the simple answer is this: if you pay for the content, it is yours, and you own the copyright.

Another issue that causes confusion is having bylines on an article. In most cases, if you are publishing a blog on your website, it is best to have the name of someone in your organisation on blog posts, even if a ghost writer supplied it.

If you have hired a writer with expertise in their field, you may want to use their name and byline. This can give your content a boost,because you’re associating your brand with the name of a respected blogger. Either way, you need to accredit the blog to a real person; in an age of fake news, readers need to trust your content more than ever.

Free Up Time By Outsourcing Your Blog

In business, delegation is the key to productivity. And in a small business, outsourcing are key to clawing back your time. Once you get the perfect blogger on board, you can focus on the tasks that matter. All the while, you’ll be boosting the quality of your content.

Sure, outsourcing your blog can be a new expense to factor into your balance sheet. But content pays for itself many times over when it’s done right. High quality evergreen and pillar content can generate traffic for months — even years — after publication. The trick is to invest in quality from the beginning, and find that one perfect blogger that can speak with confidence and authenticity about your brand. Outsource your blog to that writer, get the contract terms right, and relax: your content is taken care of.

Could Your Blog Be Flagged as Fake News?

Could Your Blog Be Flagged as Fake News?

We’re only a few months into 2017, but already, it seems that ‘fake news’ could be the phrase of the year. It started out as a catchphrase on Trump’s campaign trail, but it’s now morphed into a snap criticism of pretty much any kind of content. If someone finds your business blog to be lacking in authenticity, it could be flagged as fake news, along with some of the web’s least ethical publishers.

Fake newsFake news outperformed real news during the US presidential election. And we’re all potentially susceptible. Researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education found that young people are surprisingly bad at picking out truth from lies.

That’s why Facebook is introducing tools that allow content to be flagged as ‘fake’ by users. This content is then passed on to humans for review, and content that is deemed inaccurate will be marked prominently with a banner in users’ timelines. There are also browser plugins that do the same thing. But fake news spreads because of the kneejerk reaction to share it, and it’s going to take time before social media users change their habits.

For bloggers, this means accuracy and authenticity will be more important than ever, lest they be caught up in the fake news debacle. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to elevate the quality of your content and make it distinct from fake news websites.

How is Fake News Defined?

Fake news articles are defined as ‘non-satirical news stories’, or good, old-fashioned hoaxes. Websites publish fake stories to generate large amounts of traffic, then earn money from the adverts embedded around them.

Fake news publishers are not alone in publishing stories for clicks. But during a time of heightened political tensions — such as a presidential election — fake news can also influence public opinion. One prominent example is Underground News Report, which has a long disclaimer paragraph in its footer. But to read the crucial part about its ‘satirical’ content, you’ll need to scroll past dozens of fake news stories about the Clintons, Trumps, and Obamas.

Worryingly, the longer the phrase ‘fake news’ is in use, the broader the definition seems to get. Trump has been quoted as saying that any poll that isn’t in his favour is fake news, and the phrase also been used as a badge of shame when journalists make a mistake in an otherwise factual report. It’s a messy situation, and one that businesses would do well to steer clear of.

Authenticity is Key in Blogging

Thankfully, there has been a marked improvement in the quality of content on the web over the last 5 years. In our experience, businesses are prepared to pay more for content than they used to, and they engage professional writers rather than paying for cheap content spinners that wreck your rankings.

But if journalists are struggling with credibility, this should be a warning sign to bloggers as well. There is another step change coming. And businesses that think that a blog is ‘just a blog’ are going to fall foul of it.

There’s nothing wrong with posting 500 words a week to market your products or services, but you need to invest some effort into those articles and really hammer out an authentic narrative. In an age of increased scrutiny and a need for better accuracy, this is an area that businesses need to work on urgently.

If you don’t have the resources to produce this kind of content in-house, you must outsource blog writing duties to an experienced writer; someone that is committed to fact-checking and producing high-quality content. This frees up your internal staff to do the jobs they really want to be doing.

Readers are increasingly demanding better blog posts anyway, so it’s a win-win for everyone when this happens.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Accuracy and Authenticity

Fake news can be amusing, but it can also cause genuine harm. In some cases, fake news is actually propaganda. Now, more than ever, it’s important to put a little more effort into your content.

1. Increase the length of your blog posts

It’s quite easy to waffle for 500 words and throw the result up as a blog post. This is what many fake news websites do. They know that it’s easy to fabricate breaking news stories, because people who read them want to be the first to share the post with their friends. These posts are also very short and easy to skim-read. As such, those fake posts go viral very quickly, which is why they are so profitable for the writers.

But it’s incredibly difficult to write 1,000+ words of fake content fast. And most fake news websites aren’t interested in producing anything like that kind of length. They just fire out short blogs as quickly as possible. This is a really key way to set yourself apart.

From today, aim to double the word count of the blogs you’re publishing so that you can explore topics in greater depth, and make your content look distinct from a typical fake news blog site. Yes: that means doubling your investment in blogging. But read on to find out how you can easily double its value, too.

2. Choose the Right Content Types

Do you know the difference between news posts and pillar content? Is your blog evergreen, or going stale within hours?

Choosing the right content types can help you to get more from your investment in blogging. A mixture of pillar and evergreen content, with some news and reviews, helps to cover all bases.

Additionally, we find that a thorough, data-driven blog post or ebook might cost two or three times the amount of a throwaway blog post. But it will far more traffic over time than a cheap, basic post, and is a much better use of your budget. For example, a post that I wrote here in 2011 is still the most popular post on the Red Robot website, and it draws at least twice the amount of traffic of the next most popular piece.

3. Keep Popular Posts Current and Accurate

If you want your old blog posts to pay dividends for years, you need to spend time revising them. A highly successful evergreen post can be thwarted by broken links, outdated research, or new strategies that supersede old advice.

Optimise your old blog posts to maintain their accuracy and give your whole blog added credibility.

This can also help you to squeeze longevity out of posts that would otherwise wither and die.

4. Back Up Claims With Real Sources

It’s important to back up claims in a blog with recognised, credible sources. Ideally, every claim should be linked. Look for research within the last year, and link to the primary source.

This is journalism 101, but bloggers are different animals. They sometimes link to sources that are disreputable, and this can contribute towards your site being included in a bad virtual neighbourhood.

So whenever your writer makes a claim, there should be a source, along with a natural link to that source. Hopefully, it goes without saying that the link should not go to a fake news website.

5. Always Name the Author

Clients still ask us whether blogs should be posted under a real name, a pen name, or the name of someone at their company.

Without exception, we recommend using someone’s real name (and you can use our writer’s name if they produced the content for you). Naming a real person helps to create authenticity and create a narrative. It also gives you the opportunity to add a byline for the author, which is one of the best ways to fend off accusations of hoax news.

Avoid posting blogs under your generic WordPress username (such as ‘admin’ or ‘xyzseocompany’). Not only does this look unprofessional, but exposing an admin username on a blog can increase the risk of a brute force hack.

Is Trust the New Click?

We live in an age of unprecedented access to information. In 2015, around 2 million blog posts were being uploaded to the internet every day. As long as there is money to be made from fake news, it will be published and consumed, because posts that go viral quickly tend to rise to the top of the pile.

Michael Kuntz, writing for NiemebLab, says that “trust is the new click”. Authenticity is important, and as Facebook and other platforms start to fish for fake news, you need to avoid being caught up in the net. The better your content, and the better your authority on a subject, the better chance you have of building trust with your readers.

Outsourcing Your Blog to the Perfect Writer: Part 1

Outsourcing Your Blog to the Perfect Writer: Part 1

The way businesses market their businesses is maturing every day. Content is the undisputed king of online marketing. Instead of simply bombarding audiences with sales messages, companies are now advised that producing interesting, engaging content is more likely to gain traction with potential customers. Outsourcing your blog can help you to do that.

Team discussion
Outsourcing your blog can free up your time for other tasks

Blogging started out as a mode of do-it-yourself publishing for enthusiasts keen to share their passions with the world. But it’s now part of the digital marketing armoury for the majority businesses that are serious about building their online presence.

Blogs are a simple and cheap way to create content intended to interest the reader, pulling in traffic and marketing your company. And for many businesses, outsourcing keeps the blog ticking over.

Some business owners can be sceptical about the need to hire someone to write blogs for them. One of the most common misconceptions we hear is that the blog should be written by the business owner if it will truly reflect the ‘voice’ of a brand. Some businesses are concerned that third party content writers will struggle to write with authenticity, or will lack specialist knowledge. This is particularly true with IT blogging, where many content writers arguably don’t have the right technical background.

There are many compelling reasons why outsourcing your blog makes good business sense. Here are the key things to consider when making a decision.

Outsourcing Your Blog Makes Sense: Here’s Why

Even if you are confident about your ability to string a sentence or two together, keeping a blog up-to-date sounds easier than it proves in practice.

Here are four reasons why outsourcing your blog makes sense for all but the most determined to go it alone.

Creating the Right Impression

A blog is a window into your world for thousands of potential customers. What they read will significantly influence their opinion of your company. Coming across as professional and knowledgeable is essential, so spelling, grammar and punctuation need to be checked, as does the factual accuracy of what you write.

But to really stand out and grab the reader’s attention, you want your blog to have an added X-factor that is hard to define and even harder to achieve. This is where a professional, trained writer can really add value to your blog. A lively, engaging style is something writers develop through experience, and is what transforms good ideas into sparkling content.

Maximising SEO Opportunities

A well-written blog is a great way to get people returning to your website because they are interested in what you have to say. But it is also a great way to attract new visitors by pushing you up the search engine rankings.

Having a regular supply of fresh content on your site helps, but including key search terms relevant to your business is even better. The trick is using these terms in a natural way which doesn’t spoil the quality of the writing.

Keyword stuffing can get your site penalised by Google, so this is a skill worth paying a professional writer for.

Utilising Research Skills

Some freelance blog writers specialise in specific topics, which has its own obvious value. Writers with a certain area of expertise not only know their subject inside out, they also have their finger on the pulse of the latest developments and trends, and how to find out about them.

Equally, writers with a background in journalism, academia or other professional writing disciplines will have been trained in how to research a topic thoroughly. The ability to learn about any topic so they can write about it as an expert is part and parcel of the skillset they offer.

Freeing Up Your Time

By the time you add up research, drafting, editing and proofreading, writing a good blog is a time-consuming task. When you have to repeat that process every week or so, it becomes a considerable commitment.

Many business blogs are started in-house, with the best of intentions, only to start to dwindle in regularity when the demands on the writer’s precious time really starts to bite.

When you outsource your blog to a company like ours, you ensure a blog is written and delivered with mechanical regularity, while your time is free to focus on other areas of your business.

The Next Step: Finding the Right Writer

This article has explained why outsourcing makes sense. In the next article, we’ll look at ways to find the perfect content writer for your niche.

7 Ways to Cash In Your PAYG SIM Credit

7 Ways to Cash In Your PAYG SIM Credit

CIPSC

If you often switch phones, you’ll probably have ended up with a drawer full of old SIM cards. Some of these may have credit on them. We recently conducted a SIM card audit in our Leeds office and found more than £30 of unused credit on various cards.

Mobile phone networks often bundle pay as you go phones with a compulsory credit purchase. The networks know that people buy PAYG handsets with the intention of unlocking them and using them on another network; naturally, the networks want to ensure they make something from the transaction before that happens.

So how do you make the best use of that credit? Simple: reclaim it, spend it or donate it. Here are 5 ways to do that.

1. o2 Charge Your Mobile: Google Play, iTunes, and More

Charge Your Mobile allows o2 customers to pay for music, apps, and ebooks using their PAYG balance. This also works if you have an o2 Pay Monthly account.

The Charge Your Mobile service works with an impressive array of services. You can use o2 credit to buy content from Google Play, iTunes, the Microsoft Store, and other digital content providers.

You’ll find usage instructions on the Charge Your Mobile homepage.

2. Transfer Your Credit

No UK mobile operator offers cash refunds for credit that’s already been purchased. But you may be able to transfer your credit to another account with the same operator.

We’ve done this with EE when we accidentally topped up a SIM that was lost. EE customer service will also transfer credit if you purchase a new PAYG SIM card from them, but you have credit on an old card that you will no longer need. This transfer may be conditional on deactivating the old SIM once the transfer is done.

Some networks will add your PAYG balance as a credit on your first contract bill. Three advertises this service on its website.

Policies change all the time, so it’s best to call your provider directly and ask them. Remember: if you want to transfer PAYG credit to a contract, they may require that you buy the contract directly from them, so ask before making the purchase.

3. Spend Credit On Games

Facebook allows O2, EE, Three, Vodafone, and Virgin Mobile customers to pay for in-game items using mobile credit. When you pay for an item, add a new payment method, and select Mobile Phone. This option isn’t available for all games, and Facebook doesn’t accept mobile phone credit for other services yet.

You can also use mobile credit to pay for Riot Points in League of Legends, or purchase games for PlayStation 4. Note that SEN wallet purchases are limited to £30 a day, or the limit set by your mobile provider, if it’s lower.

4. Load a gambling account

If you’re over 18, you can sign up for a betting or gaming account, and then load your phone credit onto that. AndroidSlots has put together a list of betting and gaming websites that accept deposits by phone.

5. Look for a Payforit Vendor

Payforit is a service run by major UK mobile networks, and it allows users to pay for premium content on their phones. This includes adult content, gambling sites (including MobileWins), and recurring subscriptions.

This option is best used with caution. Some users have reported mysterious recurring charges from Payforit, which are usually caused by premium rate texts, so be sure that you want to sign up before you click any subscription links.

6. Donate to Charity by Text

You can donate to many UK charities by sending a simple text message. The JustGiving website explains how this works.

You don’t have to pay for the text, and you can choose an amount between £1 and £10 each time you donate.

To donate, you need the VIC code for the charity, and the number. The Cancer Research UK Text to Donate page explains the donation process in more detail. Most major charities have a text donation number.

7. Pay for Spotify Premium or Family

Spotify allows you to purchase a monthly Premium subscription using the balance on a PAYG account. If you’re on a contract, the money will be added to your monthly bill.

Payment by mobile is available on EE, Vodafone, O2, and 3. The monthly subscription is £9.99, or you can opt for the Family subscription for £14.99. The service will continue to bill you monthly until you cancel, or your SIM card runs out of credit.

If you already pay for Spotify, you’ll need to revert to a Free plan, and then set up your subscription again.

Any More Ideas?

Short of selling your SIM card on an auction site, these are the five best solutions we found if you need to use up your PAYG SIM credit. Our favourite option is charity donation: it’s hassle-free and far better than letting your unused PAYG credit go to waste.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2013. It was completely rewritten in February 2017 to bring it up to date.