This is a follow up story for Scribly.io. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello! My name’s Dani and I’m the founder of Scribly.io.
In a nutshell, Scribly is a done-for-you content marketing service. We help businesses unlock the power of content to generate traffic and leads by taking care of the end-to-end process — from strategy right through to planning and production.
So many businesses feel a bit bamboozled by how to ‘do’ content marketing properly, or they simply can’t find the quality of writers needed to execute their strategy well.
Our goal is to fix these core pain points, by bringing together exceptional strategists and writers into an affordable, scalable monthly service. We want to support businesses with limited resources and budget to invest wisely in content as a growth tool.
At the same time, we’re focused on building a sustainable, well-paying stream of work for writers, who are often on the receiving end of exploitative rates and ad-hoc work.
As someone who’s worked both writer and client-side — it’s so rewarding now to be building a business that genuinely adds value across the board.
This month Scribly just reached a huge milestone of $30K MRR, which is a monumental turning point for both the business and me as a first-time founder.
In this interview, I’ll be walking through the steps that took Scribly from $14K in my first interview exactly one year ago to where we are today.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Changes to the business model
Scribly has been through so many iterations and pivots since I wrote my first StarterStory interview.
You might not need to onboard new people into your processes right now, but one day you will, and it will be so much easier if you plan ahead for this right from the very beginning.
Last time I wrote, Scribly was an Unlimited Copywriting Service.
I thought that the unlimited angle was my hook, but it’s actually not what people wanted. It was only when I paused to reflect on my current clients that I realized that almost every sale was a fixed custom package, and 99% of the time it was for a blog content only.
Realizing this was a lightbulb moment at the end of a very busy, unfulfilling week filled with lots of sales calls but few converted customers. That night, I decided to officially shift from a focus on unlimited copywriting to done-for-you content marketing packages.
Effectively we shifted the core value prop to a growth service rather than writing service.
The results of this shift were huge. I did a soft launch with old clients and managed to sell four packages after emailing six people. We generated $5,000 in new sales in month one, and that figure has steadily grown since.
We've also seen huge improvements in our churn rate, as we are now able to sell recurring subscription packages much more easily (by the way, we use SPP.co as our sales platform and it’s brilliant!)
Churn rate has reduced from 15% to 2% since the change, which has a huge impact on our MRR (monthly recurring revenue). It’s so much easier now to establish long-lasting partnerships with businesses, as we can plan so much further into the future with our content plans.
Growing the team
None of the growth that Scribly has seen over the last year would have been possible without growing the core team. At the time of my last interview, it was me running everything pretty much single-handedly, but now we have a full-time Head of Content, a Head of Growth, and a Content Strategist who are all absolutely critical parts of the team.
Investing in the right hires
Last August, I hired our first full-time employee Lauren who is our amazing Head of Content.
This was a game-changing hire, as it enabled me to step away from the day-to-day running of Scribbly to focus on other growth activities.
Taking on the responsibility of another full-time salary was something that caused me a huge amount of anxiety at the beginning. But as time has passed, I’ve seen just how much Lauren has enabled the business to grow. Not only because she ensures that everything we ship is incredible (word of mouth referrals are still our biggest source of growth), but she also gives me the headspace to figure out how to scale the business in other ways.
People often tell me that they can’t find the right hires for service businesses. And it’s true, it is tricky.
But I knew that if I was going to hire someone that would add value and not challenges, I needed to find someone experienced and pay them well.
Hiring the right people is an investment (often a big one), but it pays off in bounds. I attribute a large part of Scribly’s growth in getting Lauren on board.
Building out the editorial team
Another huge focus this year has been to build out a more scalable editorial team. We’ve now hired 4 editors and Lauren’s role as Head of Content has shifted from editing pretty much everything herself, to coordinating a much bigger team.
This gives us so much more scope to scale and is something I’m super excited about! This month alone we’ve delivered over 180,000 words, so we need as many fresh editorial eyes on board as possible to make sure that quality remains consistently high.
Documenting everything & creating scalable processes
Over the past 6 months, I’ve been focused on ensuring that each and every one of our processes are properly documented so that I can continue to grow the team as needed.
This has allowed me to outsource so many time-intensive tasks that I used to do myself, again, turning the business into something that’s much more scalable.
Referrals & PR continue to be key acquisition channels
I still haven’t spent any money on advertising other than getting blog content produced for the Knowledge Hub.
The majority of new leads come from either word-of-mouth referrals, but the cool thing now is that we’re being referred by people who aren’t even clients!
This interview I did in the Makerpad blog unexpectedly generated tons of new leads. I think the reason for this is that it’s an opportunity to get a sense of the person behind the business. Founders genuinely want to connect and support other founders, so I’ve always found these types of interviews to be so great for expanding my network, which in turn often leads to new clients.
Taking time to plan for the quarter
I have a habit of being a bit scattergun. I tend to start many things, but not necessarily finish any of them.
This year, I wanted to do things differently. So I began 2020 by dedicating an entire week to creating high-level goals for the whole year, as well as specific objectives for the first quarter.
This has helped so much in ensuring that I’m focusing only on the things that actually take me closer to my Q1 goals. There’s always a thousand different things that I could be doing, and this week of planning has massively helped me to prioritize.
I put a lot of this year’s growth down to this planning process, I genuinely don’t think it would have happened had I not done this.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Without a doubt, it has to be that it’s so important to take care of your mental health as a founder (especially a solo founder).
Last year around August I got so burnt out that I literally couldn’t function. I had gotten into some really bad habits (checking emails all evening, working at weekends, etc), and at some point, it inevitably caught up with me.
I had to take an entire week of zero work before I could even think about sitting at my desk again. I shouldn’t have ever let it get so bad, and now I’m so much more disciplined about taking care of myself. There’s always more you could be doing, but the truth is, it can wait.
I think so many founders are guilty of kind of always working, but there’s only so long you can sustain this for. So I would definitely encourage everyone who’s building their own biz to be extra mindful of this, and establish the right habits to make sure you’re fresh and well-balanced.
For me, that means having a daily to-do list (and not sneakily adding in extra tasks), and not checking emails in the evening to give my brain a chance to rest. I’m not great at sticking to the latter, but I’m getting better.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Honestly, I genuinely don’t know. Things have changed so much over the last year, and it wasn’t really planned for, so I find it hard to imagine where the business will be in 5 years. ??
That said, I’m really excited about the journey ahead. I now have an amazing team and I really do feel like the sky’s the limit!
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I was massively influenced by Never Split The Difference by Chriss Voss. It’s an amazing book about the art of negotiation.
As someone who’s really uncomfortable with anything that feels remotely confrontational, this book helped me so much to find actionable tactics to positively influence challenging situations — very helpful when building a service-based business!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Build your business with scalability in mind from day 1! You might not need to onboard new people into your processes right now, but one day you will, and it will be so much easier if you plan ahead for this right from the very beginning.
If you’re about to launch a new operational process, write it down and create clear SOPs (standard operating procedures).
You should be doing the same tasks in the same way, every time. From billing, to onboarding, to project management, to client communication: create one way of doing things and roll this out consistently. I didn’t do this for the longest time and it just made me a blocker.
It can be hard to justify the time to create these processes and accompanying documentation, but I can’t stress how important it will be in the long term.
Once you’ve created these standard practices, you’ll find it so much easier to sell and scale your services.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes! We’re actively looking for new writers now, especially writers who can handle technical topics.
We’re also looking for a freelance content manager to help us create briefs and support with some project management responsibilities.
I would love to hear from anyone who’s interested!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.
Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:
- Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
- Step by step guides on how to start and grow
- Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
- And much more!
Are you ready to boost your revenue?
Using Klaviyo will open up a massive, untapped sales channel and bring you closer to your customers!
Level up your email marketing with Klaviyo!