Working as a freelancer has a lot of advantages, as well as its fair share of challenges. Sometimes a job will evolve after getting started. Your client may have hired you to “produce some blog content,” but in reality, they need a whole lot more than that in order to be successful. It’s your job as a freelance content professional to educate them on this.

This is what I have found to be what usually happens for freelance content pros:

The article you wrote goes up—and that’s the end of it. Your blog is now floating in the vast abyss of the web, and there is no way of telling if and how readers engaged with it. You’re left out of the feedback loop, and you have no visibility to how your content is performing.

This creates two big problems:

  1. Without having access to these key analytics, you’re unable to assess your own work and make the changes you need to improve your content.
  2. Without the capacity to improve, you won’t know how to make your clients more successful.

Communication between you – the freelancer – and your client is integral and needs to continue at some level even after a post goes up.

Analytics = transparency = stronger relationships

A friend of mine who is a freelance writer once submitted a blog post that went viral. His client was obviously very pleased, but they went one step further than just saying “great work.” They sent him the blog’s performance analytics so he could find out exactly why it was so successful. This enabled him to modify future posts to have the characteristics that made his viral post so appealing to his client’s audience.

This transparency benefits both you and the client. Say you’ve been working with a client for a few months. They keep accepting your posts and don’t seem to be unhappy with your work. Time goes by and all of a sudden they tell you they wish to seek other help—aka, “You’re fired!”-Trump style.

You later learn that you were let go because they weren’t seeing any significant positive change in their content marketing analytics. They assumed it was your fault, hence the sudden decision to let you go.

This situation could have been avoided if they had shared their data with you. You’re the writer. You know how to modify your work for improvement. You would have seen what content was generating a larger response and you would have focused your attention on producing that kind of content.

Sometimes, a client simply doesn’t know how to measure the success of their content. It’s up to you to teach them the content KPIs they should be monitoring to help reach their business goals and how to track them.

If you don’t have access to your client’s marketing analytics, you should ask your client for them, or suggest them to use one of these five metrics tools.

1) SumoMe

SumoMe provides excellent tools designed to grow your client’s website traffic.

The one tool you will specifically want to look at is called Content Analytics – it’s amazing. It shows you how far viewers are reading and where exactly they stop and disengage from your content.

Just click the “try it now” button on the homepage and enter your email. You will then be shown a box with an HTML code for you to enter into the <head> of your website.

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From there, you can run content analytics and start seeing your metrics in real time.

By being able to see where people disengage, this tool tells you what worked about your blog post and what people found boring, so that you can make changes for the next one. This is absolutely critical in understanding your client’s audience.

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In real time, you can get minute by minute updates and see the activity on your post.

2) Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics is great for measuring your success on – you guessed it – Twitter.

If your client has a small following on Twitter, you’re left without what can be a very powerful and effective distribution channel for your content. That’s why even if you aren’t a social media manager, it’s absolutely critical that you understand how your client is performing on Twitter and how they can improve.

These analytics help you track rates of impression, retweets, engagements, link clicks, favorited items, as well as the number of new followers. Focus on when new followers are joining, what content you’re tweeting during those times and why new followers are joining.

Once you’re on Twitter Analytics, the analytics are easy to access and understand. Clicking on the “Tweets” category from the menu bar will provide information about how many people interacted with your content.

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If you scroll down you will get even more specifics like these, mentioned in the bullet list above:

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This information should immediately allow you to assess the effectiveness of your content. You can then take the next steps to get more followers and create better content that more people will engage in.

Hint: if you find your numbers are anything like the ones above, you have a lot of work to do.

If you find that these numbers could use some work try tweaking suggesting that your client tweak their tweets with a couple of these simple tricks:

  • Add images
  • Ask a question
  • Tag influencers or relevant users with many followers
  • Suggest Twitter Lead Generation Cards to your client to increase blog traffic and build your client’s email list
  • Use hashtags
  • Tweet at optimal times — between 9am and 3pm Monday through Thursday

3) Buffer

Buffer is a great tool for scheduling and analyzing content on social media. It organizes when and where you regularly submit content, including Twitter, Facebook pages and groups, Pinterest and more.

Buffer will show you specifically what content and concepts are the most interesting to followers, and it provides a testing ground for you to try out new concepts.

In defining what the most effective concepts are, Buffer allows you to see what type of content (text, image, link) is getting the most attention as well as any trends within that content. It also gives you your top 10 best performing posts.

Once you sign up, finding the analytics is easy and can be found on the home screen of your profile.

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Pretty straightforward! If you scroll down you’ll see all sorts of yummy graphs and numbers with the information you need.

Screenshot 2015-08-14 16.42.24More importantly, you need to use Buffer as an area where you can experiment and try different ideas with your client’s audience to see what sticks.

Use Buffer to Tweet out your article with 20 different lead-ins that could each be a potential title, and then look at your analytics to see which performed the best. This will tell you the type of hooks used in your content that your audience found the most compelling, and should give you ideas on how to improve your next article.

4) HubSpot

Hubspot is a great tool because their analytics allow you to measure all your marketing data (social media, campaigns, landing pages, etc.) in one centralized location without having to pull stats from a million separate places.

Integrating Hubspot into your system involves a certain level of tech savvy-ness, but don’t let that deter you or your client.

Luckily, for new users, Hubspot offers a free demo and you can also check out this free manual that breaks down the steps to installing it on your website. These sources make the installation process clear and simple.

What you get from Hubspot will definitely be worth the time implementing it into your site. Hubspot’s analytics will show you specifically whether or not your content marketing is turning into sale leads and thus, conversions for your client.

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Conversions is the whole reason why your client has turned to content marketing and why they’ve hired you. They’re paying attention to these numbers; it’s imperative that you do the same.

The best converting content won’t always be the one with the most visitors. Dig in here, and you’ll be ahead of 99% of most of your freelancing counterparts. You’ll be thinking about the whole business, not just your piece of it, and that will endear you deeply to your client.

5) Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps you determine how customers are finding and using your site, which then helps you find better ways to keep them coming back.

One of Google Analytics’ most important features is that you can use it to determine the most successful articles on the blog. Access to Google Analytics or at least a list of your client’s top 10 performing blog posts is something you should always ask for.

You can run analytics to get key information on each top post including the number of page views, unique page views, the average time spent on a page, entrances, and more.

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This is important because it sets apart the post you should be striving for. The easiest way to create an awesome performing post is to play off of one that’s already been successful. You have a clear template of what really works and you can get started on creating that next best performing post.

The second great thing that Google Analytics lets you do is it allows you to see where viewers are coming from, which helps you understand why certain posts perform so well. You can track down what sites drive the most traffic for your content.

From your initial analytics page, select “Secondary Dimension” drop down → Acquisition → Source. And then repeat for each post.

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For more information, CloudPeeps ran this data for each of their top performing posts and offer a breakdown on how to analyze this data more efficiently.

Ensuring you and your client’s success

These are just some examples of software that I would recommend. Chances are that your client is already running at least one of these programs, but if not, recommend them!

Don’t be afraid to approach them. Your client will appreciate that you are equally as invested in ensuring the success of their company by improving their content. Remember you are both benefiting from this. You’ll keep your job, and your client will be overjoyed about the content you produce.

Do you use any content analytics tools you think should be added to this list?

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Walter Chen
Walter is the co-founder and CEO of iDoneThis, the easiest way to run a daily standup with your team. Follow him on Twitter at @smalter.
Walter Chen

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