Content Creator Policy

Image of Mastermind Developer Logo

Content Creator Policy Definitions

The following definitions apply to this document:

"We, We've, Our, Ourselves, and Us" mean Formidable Masterminds and its affiliates.

"You, Your, and Yourself" mean You, the Developers Directory registrant.

Content is King!

Have you ever wondered where the phrase “Content is King” originated? On January 3, 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay titled “Content is King”, which was published on the Microsoft website. In his essay, Gates said:

Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.

Bill Gates, Essay "Content is king", published 1996

To further explain his then prediction, he adds:

When it comes to an interactive network such as the Internet, the definition of “content” becomes very wide. For example, computer software is a form of content—an extremely important one, and the one that for Microsoft will remain by far the most important.

But the broad opportunities for most companies involve supplying information or entertainment. No company is too small to participate.

Bill Gates, Essay "Content is king", published 1996

Hindsight certainly provides a clearer vision than prognostication. In the years since Bill Gates penned these words, there's no doubt he's became one of the most successful Content Creators in history. How many other Content Creators do you know that have built a 66,000 sq ft (6,100 m2) house, even if it is just only the 17th largest home in the United States? Do you think maybe he was onto something?

The phrase Gates popularized, "Content is King", is now a well-worn adage. Nevertheless, it still rings true!

Formidable Masterminds is proof that by creating excellent, relevant content, good things will happen in a business. Good things like growth, new clients, credibility, and recognition of your expertise can all come your way. Content may still be King, but relevant content authored by experts fills a King's treasury.

Four Rules for Writing Content that Converts

The goal of content marketing is to convert readers into leads and leads into ideal customers. We create courses, tutorials, tips and tricks, and code snippets. These are not usually thought of as content that converts, but they really do open up opportunities to engage with new potential ideal clients. We've achieved quite a few successes this way.

When creating content that converts, it’s important to remember four rules:

  1. Make it personal
  2. Keep things consistent
  3. Flex your creativity
  4. Relevancy is key

For as long as people have been selling stuff, storytelling through content has been a key to their success. As Content Creators, we tell stories with every tutorial we post. Our content is heralded for its clarity, completeness, and on-point solutions.

There's no secret to what we do either. When we write tutorials, we follow the tried and true PAS copywriting formula. We ask that you do your best to follow this formula as well when submitting content for publication.

Our Expectations

We are professional content publishers and when it comes to releasing new content, we follow rules that allow our content to work. In addition to the numerous articles we've published to global audiences through a variety of media outlets, we've also published over 40-books and have personally authored 20 of them. One of them has even been purchased as a college/university text at least three times.

Users Find Us Organically

Have no doubts about this. We know how to produce effective, audience drawing content. Our Google Analytics statistics display a high percentage of traffic to our site from organic searches with visitors staying for an average 5-minutes. We also have a very low, single-digit bounce rate < 3%. Bounce rates that low mean something right is taking place.

Organic search results: the unpaid listings on a search engine results page (SERP) that the search engine has determined are most relevant to the user’s query.

Do you know what users are doing when they're staying on your site for an average of 5-minutes, but frequently longer? They are ingesting your content. Masterminds visitors will also be ingesting the content you write and publish here along side of what we write and publish here.

By publishing your own content through Masterminds, you are advantaging this site's popularity to draw readers to yourself. Drawing readers to your content can bring you all the good things we've already mentioned. We can't guarantee you'll win new business because of it, but we can promise you'll be creating your own opportunities to do so.

You Own Your Own Content

As professional publishers, we want to make it clear that we don't want to own the copyright for any of your published content. Our belief is that you are the authors of everything you create, and entitled to submit your Formidable related content if you created all yourself or legally licensed it.

What do we mean by "legally licensed"? We mean that any images, graphics, videos, or any other content that you didn't create yourself that you use to illustrate your written content are properly licensed for publication.

In other words, please don't do anything that can potentially cause anyone to answer for content you publish that crosses the copyright law's fair use guideline boundary.

You Receive Full Credit for Your Content

To ensure you receive full credit for your content, we have a custom post template that automatically inserts your "Mastermind Contributor Attribution" in real time after your post title but before your content. Here's one that uses Formidable Masterminds as an example:

Your attribution will have the Mastermind Developer look and feel. The data is provided by your Developers Directory entry using Formidable functions.

A Word About Your UVP.

In our example, where it says Formidable Masterminds, this is your first and last names from the directory. The part in quotes is your differentiator. This is your UVP and one reason why a good UVP is so important.

Unique Value Propositions, or UVPs, are succinct differential statements. It tells a potential client at a glance what sets you and your business apart from your competitors. In other words, it’s the elevator speech for what sets you apart from the crowd.

A UVP is a high-value business asset. It’s an important marketing tool. It’s so important for marketing that every public facing website we’ve ever built for a client includes their UVP, even if we had to write it ourselves. UVPs are effective!

If you didn't read it when you registered for the directory, here's an article from about UVPs: 4 Ways to Find Your Unique Value Proposition.

A UVP is not a slogan, catchphrase or positioning statement., 4 Ways to Find Your Unique Value Proposition

After you've found your UVP, go back and edit your Developers Directory entry and edit the Unique Value Proposition field in the Marketing Details section. Because Formidable drives the data, your attribution will update in real time across all of your posts.

Your Developers Directory Contact Details

The post template displays the following Formidable View of your directory contact details to make it easier for your readers to reach you.

Since all of this information is displayed in real time, you can continue to tweak your Developers Directory entry and all of your posts will display your current details.

Again, using your Developers Directory entry data, the post template automatically adds your Contributed Content Copyright Notice after your content:

In the above example, the year is the year of the post's post_date field and the copyright name is the Contributed Content Copyright Name field from your Developers Directory entry. And if you've opened a Developer Digital Store, the link to your store will display in the view.

We Have Publishing Rules

We have rules that we follow for our own writing. We also have rules for effective SEO. We are sharing our rules with you with the expectation that you will prepare your tutorials for publication with the same level of care that we do.

We Have High Standards for Content Publishing

We have high standards for content publishing. It's not easy to get your listings on the first page of a Google SERP, but Masterminds articles are listed there regularly due to our standards. Please follow our standards and we'll approve your content.

Content Submissions Review

All content submissions are reviewed and approved by a system administrator before they are allowed to be published.

If your content doesn't meet our standards at first, don't fret! We'll tell you what needs to be fixed and guide you. We want your content to produce results for you and we'll do what we can to help you get there.

PAS Copywriting

Image of PAS Emoticons, Problem, Agitate, and Solution. Vector format image compiled by Victor Font with emoticons courtesy of artists.

PAS may be the most effective copywriting formula today:

  • PAS is an acronym for pain-agitate-solution or problem-agitate-solution. We prefer a variation of the latter, problem-address-solution.
  • PAS copywriting presents the problem to your audience, pokes it to the point of discomfort, and proposes a solution.
  • Problem involves translating a product's features into matters they address.
    • In this context, the products are Formidable and its add-ons, jQuery, PHP, and WordPress. Any or all may be in play when creating content.
    • Once, we even wrote content about executing python scripts through PHP so they could be integrated with Formidable hooks.
  • Agitation in the PAS formula requires exploring the negative feeling and pain that the problem caused. (More on this later...)
  • Solution entails linking individual product features to the specific issues solved.

Besides giving your content the power of persuasion, PAS also improves writing consistency and precision, which satisfies the second rule of writing content that converts.

The PAS copywriting formula's applications are endless. In addition to tutorials, these include creating sales pages, emails, blog posts, and Facebook ads, to name a few. By integrating the PAS formula with your personal style of writing, you'll be able to grow your audience in any direction because your content consistently teaches them something they need to learn.

To understand how PAS works in the tutorial context, let's consider the three components of the copywriting formula—problem, agitate, solution and how the four rules for writing content that converts apply to the formula.


The PAS explanation of Problem:

Problem involves translating a product's features into matters they address.

pas formula

The Masterminds definition of problem is a little more tailored to the needs of a tutorial audience. Audience needs frame our tutorials.

Understand the Tutorial Audience

The tutorial audience is coming to a site to learn something that will help them solve a problem they're trying to figure out. Based on our audience's feedback and questions, we know we receive the following visitor types:

  1. Codex searchers looking for specific developer level details about a Formidable hook
  2. Developers Directory searchers looking for Formidable developers they can hire for a project
  3. People who have already gone through support, but support doesn't help where custom code is involved. They're looking for help with custom code.
  4. People who no longer maintain a Formidable support license that are looking for a solution to a problem
  5. People new to Formidable searching for training and new user content
  6. Developers looking for more advanced tutorials and code examples
  7. People looking to expand their educational horizons by learning as much as they can about Formidable and its add-ons through our course assets.

Think about how many times that you, as a developer, have Googled a problem. Googling a problem may even be how many of you found this site in the first placed. We come up high in the SERP when you look for ways to solve a Formidable problem.

The tutorial audience is broad by definition, and by virtue of the internet, global. At Masterminds, we have General Rules for writing any content as well as rules for framing the Problem.

General Content Creator Rules

  • Write general public tutorials in a manner that is
    • conversational: If you can carry-on a conversation, you can write conversationally.
    • clear
    • understandable at a beginner level for someone new to development
  • Use as few words as possible to make a point
  • Don't use the same word repetitiously unless it's absolutely necessary to convey a point. The thesaurus is your friend, so wordsmith, wordsmith, and wordsmith.
  • Show all code for your article from a public gist.
    • Use a Custom HTML block with the link to your public gist file only and it will display the gist code on the front end in a gist embed.
  • DO NOT use videos hosted on YouTube, Vimeo, or any other hosting site that downloads advertising or tracking scripts when the video plays. We host our videos on Amazon S3 delivered through CloudFront. It's economical and does not expand script overhead to an end user. Maintaining site performance is critical.
  • Follow good SEO roles for maximum impact. This is your content and its SEO is your responsibility. The SEO Press Pro plugin is active and available to you in an editor panel.
    • Bold and/or italicize keywords you use within your content, and use those keywords as tags
    • Setup structured schema and data, if appropriate, for your posts.
    • Adjust the Rich Text title and summary for good SEO
    • Use your site's post's URL as the Canonical URL in your Masterminds submission if you also have the post displayed on your site. The Canonical URL is located on the post's SEO panel's Advanced tab.
  • Avoid duplicate content penalties
    • If your post appears in more that one place and Google assesses your content Masterminds is the duplicate, your content will be deleted.
    • Repeated duplicate content violations is grounds for revocation of your Content Creator privilege.
  • Accessibility:
    • Tutorial videos must be close captioned and a link to a downloadable transcript must be included with the video before any content that includes videos will be published. A reputable source for producing caption files is
    • Remember Alt tag contents when content include media content.
    • Remember aria labels in custom code and form HTML
  • Post Subtitles:
    • When writing a multi-part tutorial, add the "masterminds_subtitle" custom field to your post and you will have a SEO and Accessibility friendly subtitled displayed beneath the post title. You can see subtitle examples in the EDD FES Integration series.
    • Edit the post's slug to include part identifiers.
  • Affiliate Links: Are you a Formidable affiliate or an affiliate for any of the products you may write about in a tutorial? If so, feel free to use your affiliate links within your content.
    • This text appears at the bottom of every post: "Affiliate Disclosure: This content may contain affiliate links. Once in a while, Mastermind Contributors earn commissions from these links. All authors agree to only recommend products they like, with or without commissions."
    • By agreeing to this Policy, you agree to abide by this Affiliate Disclosure and only recommend products you use and like yourself.

Define the Problem

When you think about your own search habits, how long does it take you to determine if an article you visit by clicking its link on a Google SERP provides the content you're after?

If you're anything like an average researcher, you'll know after reading a couple of sentences. Either the content is going to appear to meet your needs and grab your interest or it's not. How long does it take you to read a couple of sentences? Not very long we imagine, maybe 4- to 8-seconds, perhaps?

Using your own search habits as a model, the main point of your content must be made clear within the parameters of your own attention span, which probably falls between 4- to 8-seconds. Your audience must understand the problem definition early in your content, otherwise they'll bounce away from your tutorial and try the next resource listed on the SERP.

Making it Personal

Making it personal connects the audience to your message early.

In a typical tutorial, the above the fold content structure is very much like this document's structure. We have the document title, a table of contents block that auto generates at run time, an opening h2 header, and an opening paragraph. We always use the table of contents block for all articles, except the shortest, like a code snippet.

In this document, there is a policy definitions block above the table of contents. In a Content Creator tutorial, this will be the Mastermind Contributor Attribution that is auto generated from content saved in your Developers Directory entry. This feature is built into the post template.

The words we choose for the opening h2 header introduces the Problem to the audience. What the message is we want to convey to the audience depends on the source of the problem that triggered us to write the article. What do we mean by the source of the problem?

Tutorial ideas derive from several places:

  1. Public sources such as Formidable and WordPress forums and Slack. We answer a lot of questions in groups like these. When we observe the same or similar questions posted by multiple requestors, we frame the answer as a tutorial. Since these tutorials directly address a specific problem, we use the word "Problem" as the h2 header. We also quote the posted question to help describe the problem.
  2. Direct emails and post comments. We receive frequent direct emails and post comments from users requesting assistance with challenges they face. We'll often use words like Summary, Overview, or Challenge to introduce these types of problems.
  3. Projects we work on. As enterprise-level expert business solution providers, we often tackle requirements that are difficult to satisfy without some innovation. Projects where we pioneer a solution often lead to tutorials more frequently for the Developers Corner rather than content for the general public. These tutorials take the deepest dive into code. They are fun for us to write and, as with any tutorial, provide the "how to" instructions for accomplishing such a task yourself.
  4. Because we perceive there's a need for the content, like the stuff we write when we produce courses. This is content that meets or exceeds a user's educational objectives.

We've said before that the Thesaurus is your friend. Don't be afraid to wordsmith. Other words that can be used to personalize the introduction to the problem are:

  • Synonyms for "Problem": Complication, Headache, Dilemma, Obstacle
  • Synonyms for "Overview": Analysis, Audit, Examination, Synopsis
  • Synonyms for "Challenge": Requirement, Inquiry, Objective, Investigation

When defining the problem, you are not locked into any particular word. Be authentic, embrace your personal writing style, and find words that fit the message your post conveys.


The PAS explanation of Agitate:

Agitation in the PAS formula requires exploring the negative feeling and pain that the problem caused.

pas formula

How do we Agitate a problem in writing? Doesn't the word agitate stir up negative emotions or thoughts about doing laundry ? Synonyms include meanings such as disturb, work up, confuse, perturb, etc. And the PAS formula says the agitate phase is where, as Content Creators, we should be "exploring the negative feeling and pain that the problem caused". It's enough to make your head spin!

It is true that tutorials alleviate the pain users feel that are caused by technical challenges they face, but exploring the feelings and emotions that the problem arouses really falls into the purview of more targeted types of writings.

Tutorials teach the audience how to address the problems they experience through technology, which is why we prefer the "A" in PAS to mean "Address".

Instead of agitating a problem, how about demonstrating the flexibility of your creativity to solve the problem? Flex your creativity is the 3rd rule for writing content that converts. Demonstrate your skills.

We often use the words "Approach", "Development Approach", "Solution Investigation", "Addressing the Problem", etc. to introduce the steps we undertook to foster a solution. Again, use the Thesaurus. Be clear and concise. The steps you document for resolving the problem should be understandable to the newest Formidable users.

Think about how you would explain a technical issue to someone with little or no development experience. Sometimes, you have to describe baby steps before running to the final solution. Did you ever have to handle a tech support call and ask the user to check if the computer or monitor was plugged in? Baby steps!


The PAS explanation of Solution:

Solution entails linking individual product features to the specific issues solved.

PAS formula

This is where we tie it all together and demonstrate the relevancy of your solution. "Relevancy is key" is the 4th rule for writing content that converts.

Demonstrate Your Solution

How do you demonstrate your Solution? Create a working example on your site, and display the form or view in your post on this site using the Form Webhooks API.

Demonstration Form Rules

  • Demonstration forms can be very simple or as complicated as necessary to demonstrate the solution
  • Disable and hide the submit button
  • Check "Do not store entries submitted from this form"
  • If demonstrating custom CSS or jQuery, use your form's Before Fields area for CSS and the After Fields area for your jQuery.

Final Thoughts

Creating content is a great and no-cost way to market yourself and your business, but not everyone excels at content creation. Many people experience angst thinking about writing their thoughts down on paper. Where do I begin? What do I say? How do I engage my audience?

These are common questions we all consider at times, but none of these challenges are insurmountable. If you prefer writing code as opposed to prose, then we want to share an authoring tip that may help.

As a consultant, you have to explain things to clients all the time. If you're making money in this business, then you already know how to convey a message that converts a lead into a client. Everyone that reads your tutorials is a potential ideal client and your content may be the first introduction they have to you. What will their impression be?

If you prefer verbal communication over writing, then here's the trick we promised. Invent an imaginary ideal client that you envision sitting across the desk from you and talk to them. This client has no knowledge of Information Technology or the industry's vernacular. Tell them what you are doing in a way they'll understand. Follow the PAS formula and write down what you say to your client.

Don't be too anxious to publish your post. After your initial draft, sit on the post for awhile before submitting it for review and publication. Revisit the draft content again and again to check for errors and omissions. Take time to wordsmith. Following this process will help you write that best content you can.

We've published many books and articles over the years and follow these writing rules ourselves on both the macro and micro levels. Do the best you can to impress your global audience and have them see your skill and care for your clients.