Episode 87: How Prerna & Mayank Malik Do $600k/yr – and Have a $1k/hr EHR – with No Full-Time Employees!

By Zach Swinehart

In this episode, Zach talks to Prerna & Mayank Malik from Content Bistro.

They run a small copy agency that does over $600k a year in revenue with just them and a small team of contractors.

They’ve worked with big names like Pat Flynn and featured on Forbes, SPI, and more.

One of the cool things about their business is how systematized it is — they pay all their contractors fixed rates for projects, and have their process so dialed in that Prerna’s effective hourly rate (EHR) for copywriting is about $1,000/hr.

Tons of great insights in this episode — enjoy!

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AI-Generated Summary:

  • 0:00 – 2:00 — Zach introduces Prerna and Mayank Malik from ContentBistro.com, highlighting their business success and diverse service offerings.
  • 2:00 – 4:00 — Zach sets the stage for the podcast’s focus: exploring different business structures and models. He points out that many freelancers want to transition from ad-hoc work to a more systematic approach.
  • 4:00 – 6:00 — Prerna explains their client base, emphasizing that they cater to a diverse set of businesses. They prioritize ROI for their clients and aren’t limited to a specific niche.
  • 6:00 – 8:00 — Zach inquires about the challenges of scaling bespoke services, and Prerna responds by emphasizing the importance of optimizing their process.
  • 8:00 – 10:00 — The discussion delves into the phases of their writing process, especially the significance of comprehensive research before actual content creation.
  • 10:00 – 12:00 — Zach asks about the research process at Content Bistro, and Prerna explains their method. She mentions they have a specialist for customer interviews.
  • 12:00 – 14:00 — Zach delves deeper into how the research interviews are conducted, while Prerna specifies the roles of their team members.
  • 14:00 – 16:00 — The conversation shifts to Prerna and Mayank’s program offerings. Prerna explains their flagship program “Ready to Sell” and its two tiers.
  • 16:00 – 18:00 — Zach inquires further about the program, and Prerna provides details about what’s included and where to find more information.
  • 18:00 – 20:00 — Zach asks about the team structure and roles, with Mayank outlining their responsibilities and how they divide tasks as a husband-wife team.
  • 20:00 – 22:00 — Prerna explains their team structure, including ongoing projects with a designer, a VA, and research specialists.
  • 22:00 – 24:00 — Prerna further elaborates on the roles of their team members, including the course concierge. Zach then inquires about the team’s pricing structure.
  • 24:00 – 26:00 — Mayank and Prerna explain their internal hourly rate pricing method, which includes calculating team hours and adding a markup.
  • 26:00 – 28:00 — Discussion on the importance of communication with contractors regarding rate increases and forecasting business expenses.
  • 28:00 – 30:00 — Zach reflects on his past experiences with hiring contractors and emphasizes the potential advantages of hiring skilled, albeit more expensive, consultants. Prerna emphasizes the value of prioritizing client experience.
  • 30:00 – 32:00 — Prerna emphasizes the importance of delivering quality work and hiring competent team members; discusses the prioritization of client experience over subcontractor costs.
  • 32:00 – 34:00 — Prerna and Mayank describe their subcontracting practices, emphasizing trust, due diligence in hiring, and ensuring mutual enjoyment in the working relationship.
  • 34:00 – 36:00 — Zach highlights the benefits of working with established agencies and inquires about Content Bistro’s profitability and operational costs.
  • 36:00 – 38:00 — Mayank breaks down their business expenses, revealing that they retain approximately 45-47% of their total revenue as profits.
  • 38:00 – 40:00 — Further discussion about the distribution of expenses, with subcontractors accounting for a significant portion and tools taking up around 15-18% of total costs.
  • 40:00 – 42:00 — Zach asks Prerna about their lead sources; Prerna cites referrals, podcast appearances, email lists, blogs, and social media as main sources.
  • 42:00 – 44:00 — Prerna emphasizes the importance of delivering high-quality work and ensuring an exceptional client experience to generate organic referrals.
  • 44:00 – 46:00 — Zach inquires about the process for collecting client testimonials; Prerna explains their two-tier approach, involving an initial request post-project and a follow-up for results.
  • 46:00 – 48:00 — Zach labels Prerna’s business approach as providing “exceptional concierge service.” Prerna agrees and expands on the value of intentional service and client relations.
  • 48:00 – 50:00 — Prerna recounts their early days of sending cold pitches and the hard work required to acquire their first clients, emphasizing perseverance and refining one’s process.
  • 50:00 – 52:00 — Zach inquires about Prerna’s cold pitching process; Prerna explains her personalized approach to outreach emails.
  • 52:00 – 54:00 — Mayank describes using data to improve outreach success; Zach asks for recommended databases for finding businesses.
  • 54:00 – 56:00 — Zach seeks an overview of Prerna and Mayank’s career trajectory; Prerna briefly recounts their journey from blogging to business development.
  • 56:00 – 58:00 — Prerna details the shift from social media and blog services to copywriting and the evolution of their services since 2016.
  • 58:00 – 1:00:00 — Prerna emphasizes the role of continuous learning and feedback in refining their business offerings and strategy.
  • 1:00:00 – 1:02:00 — Prerna discusses the importance of debriefing after projects both internally and with clients for continuous improvement.
  • 1:02:00 – 1:04:00 — Prerna details their processes for post-project reflection and feedback; emphasizes joy in business.
  • 1:04:00 – 1:06:00 — Zach inquires about challenges faced by international freelancers targeting U.S. clients, and Prerna shares insights on overcoming perceived disadvantages.
  • 1:06:00 – 1:08:00 — Prerna reflects on personal challenges and the significance of maintaining a positive mindset.
  • 1:08:00 – 1:10:00 — Zach and Prerna discuss the importance of English proficiency for non-native speakers working in non-writing fields targeting English-speaking clients.
  • 1:10:00 – 1:12:00 — Prerna emphasizes the importance of honing one’s craft. Zach inquires about the structure of their business offerings.
  • 1:12:00 – 1:14:00 — Mayank shares the benefits of their varied services, aiming for a balanced week. Prerna reflects on their initial goals and how they’ve evolved.
  • 1:14:00 – 1:16:00 — Prerna expands on the concept of “intentionally profitable life” and their business’s journey.
  • 1:16:00 – 1:18:00 — Zach asks about scaling and managing a lean agency. Prerna shares hiring and management tips.
  • 1:18:00 – 1:20:00 — Mayank and Prerna discuss the importance of aligning values and attitude within a team. Zach then asks about balancing their professional and personal relationship.
  • 1:20:00 – 1:22:00 — Prerna discusses setting clear boundaries between work and personal life and shares tips to manage work-life balance.
  • 1:22:00 – 1:24:00 — Prerna and Zach delve into their content creation strategy, touching upon SEO and tailoring content for client needs.
  • 1:24:00 – 1:26:00 — Zach probes further on the significance of key hires. Prerna and Mayank emphasize hiring based on time-saving and revenue-generating aspects.
  • 1:26:00 – 1:28:00 — Zach asks about potential missing questions from the discussion, leading to a talk about the choice of offering a mix of services.
  • 1:28:00 – 1:30:00 — Closing remarks, as Prerna gives a perspective on scaling businesses and addresses a question from the chat.
  • 1:30:00 – 1:32:00 — Prerna discusses the importance of guiding clients and reiterates her stance against using templates for their content.
  • 1:32:00 – 1:33:50 — The conversation shifts to social media platforms and the advantages of being active on platforms like Instagram, concluding with a discussion about the benefits of the Content Bistro newsletter.