Iris Content Is Two Years Old: A Story Born Out Of Passion And Respect
Iris Content is celebrating its two-year anniversary, so we felt it would be a good time to review the road so far and our hopes for the future. As a team, we feel like we’ve been working together for ages, but we realize that you, our readers and clients, cannot know that.
We thought a sneak peek behind the curtains may give you a better perspective on how we think, work, and function, on what Iris Content is all about. To create it, we’ve gathered a list of 15 questions our clients and writers have asked throughout these two years. The interviewees: Annie and Alecs Ianko, two of the agency’s co-creators.
Annie and Alecs Ianko are sisters and have a combined experience in content creation of more than 35 years.
The Past, Present, and Future of Iris Content in 15 Questions & Answers
Q: Why the Name of Iris Content?
Annie: We initially considered The Content Fair as a name, but our colleague and partner, Diane, thought it was somehow too common and sounded too commercial. We wanted a feminine name since we were all women, something meaningful and representative of who we are and what we want to accomplish, something complex yet short, memorable. Iris fit the bill, from several points of view:
- The iris, as an eye structure, controls the amount of light that reaches the retina and defines the eye color. At Iris Content, we shape visions, we bring our clients’ businesses into the light, and we paint them in attractive colors, so the name seemed to fit perfectly.
- Iris Murdoch is one of the female authors, philosophers, and critics all three of us look up to. Naming our company after her seemed a great way to pay homage for the inspiration she has been to us.
- In the Greek Mythology, Iris is the name of the goddess of the rainbow and messenger of the gods. At Iris Content, we try to write colorful, inspiring content that conveys deep, inspiring, and relevant messages. Iris is also the name of a beautiful and delicate but resilient flower named after the goddess of the rainbow that the three of us love.
- Finally, Iris Oratoria is an insect native to Europe that has conquered North America, Middle East, and Asia, due to its incredible survival abilities. At Iris Content, we believe we have the ability to adjust and survive in any environment. No matter how the content industry will change, we will adapt, survive, and expand with it.
It seems our choice was inspired because many of our clients now refer to us generically as Iris rather than using our individual names. The name seems to convey vision and trust to those who hear it, so we are very happy with our decision.
2. What Are Your Company’s Core Values?
Alecs: Quality is what we strive for, first and foremost. We believe that quality is paramount in the journey of both our writers and our clients. As writers, we need to become better every day, to learn continuously and bring something new to the content table. If we fall prey to routine, it will soon turn into bad routine. Our clients need quality, and we need to provide it in order to survive and help our clients survive and prosper in a world where everyone is creating and distributing content.
Flexibility is another core value we are proud of. We offer our clients a place where they feel safe to order quality content, without breaking the bank. We like to consider ourselves a boutique agency, a place where you can shop for as much as you want or as little as you want, without being rushed into a consumerism pattern. Our clients are the ones who set the rules for the relationship and, within a few deontological limits, we are happy to adjust to their needs.
3. What Sets You Apart from Your Competitors?
Annie: We prefer to think that each content agency is unique in its own right. Therefore, we don’t really consider other agencies as our competitors. When we started Iris Content, all three of us were fed up with content businesses that spread lies everywhere and were ready to sell their very soul for more money.
We couldn’t accept to see writers treated as napkins after being in their shoes ourselves. There are some ruthless, heartless, and cruel content mills out there, and we had the misfortune to work for some of them. The lack of professionalism and sensitivity, the hypocrisy and the sheer rudeness of “growing as a business at the expense of other people’s hard work” became hard to handle at some point.
We decided to stop and breathe, rethink our priorities and start again. Yes, we were accused of a lot of things, by people we worked for and built a fortune and a solid business for. One of the things we were accused of was that we “mimicked their business”. This makes us laugh to this day, when we look at the relaxed atmosphere we have created in our business, at the string of communication with the writing team.
People can still be professional without feeling like tools. On the contrary, when they feel safe, respected, and heard, they manage to give their best, and they have beautiful thoughts, wonderful ideas, and incredible resources.
We are unique because we allow our writers to be free and unique. Our team members do not have to confine to narrow rules and mindsets. They receive the time, support, and resources they need to grow as writers and create better content every time, for every client.
4. How Do You Choose Your Writers?
Alecs: Diane, our partner, recruits them from universities, graduate programs in Wisconsin and the whereabouts. Some of the writers we had worked with decided to follow us and are still members of our team. Many writers find us on social media and express their desire to join the team.
We believe everyone can learn to become better, so we don’t discriminate. We give everyone willing to learn and grow, able to work hard and, sometimes, for long hours, young at heart and curious what makes content tick, a chance and the tools they need to succeed. It is then up to every writer what they do with their chance. Some stay and grow while others get lost on the way.
5. How Do You Create Your Content Strategies?
Alecs: For Iris Content and our writers’ blogs, we have a calendar to which we add ideas continuously, sometimes after long brainstorming sessions. However, we see content as a living, breathing organism, so we allow it to become spontaneous. Everything that is newsworthy in the world of content marketing will find its way on our websites.
We also like to infuse a pop culture personality into our content deliverables, so you’ll always find posts starting from movies we’ve watched, songs we’ve listened to, or books we’ve read. Recently, we decided to give everyone on our team a chance to express their content vision on our site. Our Content Creators series has actually garnered a lot of good vibes and social media likes, so we intend to continue with it every month.
6. Where Do You See Iris Content in 2 Years?
Annie: It will surely be a place where there is a lot of online noise ????, a place where clients come in bigger numbers, like what we create for them, and say thank you. Our writers will write even better, earn even more, they will be happy with their work and confident in their future.
I think we are on the right track, almost there. Unlike the content mills described above, flexible structures need a little more time to grow, but they do, and we will, too. Here, at Iris Content, we have promised ourselves to continue growing in a natural, happy, and clean way: no intoxication, no lies, no grunts. We want to remain the place where people know what they have to do and why they do it, where everyone is respected and treats others with respect.
7. What Was the Biggest Challenge You Faced Since Starting Iris Content?
Annie: When you start something from scratch, every day can be a challenge, it’s part of the journey. At Iris Content, the biggest challenge seems to be to get clients to open up about their needs and expectations. Some clients know they need content for various purposes, have their own vision of what that content should look like, but they never take the time to share their vision with us.
No, we are not wizards coming up with words out of thin air: quality takes time, research, and a minimal amount of information. Our writers, no matter how experienced and skilled, cannot get into our clients’ heads and know the specifics of their business if the clients don’t give them a minimum amount of information. We cannot improve something if we do not have access to it.
We are here to help our clients grow, connect with their customer base, and spread their message, but we cannot do that in a consistent matter if our clients do not allow us to get to know the basics of their business.
Alecs: Just like sales agents need to know their products and services very well in order to sell them, content creators need to know the business they write for. By providing us with the information we need, our clients are not doing the work for us. They simply give us the necessary tools and enable us to do the best work possible for them.
Another challenge we sometimes face is the clients’ rush to obtain the content they need immediately. The market is invaded by writers or agencies with low quality standards that will not hesitate to use spin or plagiarize content. They promise to deliver immediately, and many clients buy into their promises.
Quality requires research, originality, and attention to details, and delivering it takes time. We cannot just snap our fingers and let the words flow. We always set and request reasonable deadlines, to allow our writers to create the quality content our clients need without delaying the delivery.
8. If You Could Turn Back Time, What Would You Change?
Alecs: We wouldn’t change a thing! The team is strong, and we are growing every day, in a good, natural way, without stepping on corpses. We are civil and friendly with the team and on good terms with our clients. Iris is in a good place and a good place to be in right now, so everything that happened had a purpose and was for the best.
9. What Was Your Greatest Achievement?
Annie: Creating Iris Content was and always will be our greatest achievement. It was created in three days, with minimal funds and a lot of passion. We have gone a long way since then, and we now have a steady, growing base of clients that we have built without using any of our previous connections. We are really proud of this.
10. What Aspects of Your Activity Need Improvement and What Are You Doing About Them?
Annie: We all wish our days were longer than 24 hours. There are many things we need to do, and one of the most important ones at this point is to learn to delegate. The client base has grown, so has the writers’ team, but the persons managing them have remained the same.
Since we created Iris Content from scratch, paying attention to every single detail, we see it as our baby. Just like mothers need some rest and someone to take their babies from their arms for a little while but they find it difficult to let the little one go and trust nannies, we know we need to delegate, but we cannot find the heart to do it ????.
11. What Is Your Message to Iris Content Clients?
Alecs; First of all, we would like to thank you for trusting us! We are professionals, we know what we are doing, and we are here for your needs. All we need is your patience and cooperation. Good quality content cannot be written in 24 hours and without some preliminary information. While we are all incredibly fast, awesome, and dedicated to your needs, give us the time and the basic information we need to meet them!
12. What Is Your Message to Iris Content Writers?
Annie: First of all, thank you all for being here and for putting your talent to work for Iris Content! We appreciate you and we are proud to have you on our team. The fact that you are still with us means you are smart, awesome, and talented. The only advice we can give you is to continue growing, you already know how to do that, and to let us help you. We’re here for you!
13. Who Were the People or Companies That Inspired You the Most?
Annie: Inspiration is a funny thing, and you can sometimes find it in the most unlikely places. We weren’t inspired by a particular person or company, but we learned from everyone around us, and from every situation we have been through. Sometimes, we saw good things but most of the times we saw mistakes and strategies we decided to avoid at all costs.
If anything, most of the companies we, the partners at Iris Content, worked for before 2016 “inspired” us to be different and not follow the same toxic patterns. Thanks to them, we don’t even believe in the term company, not for the work we, content creators, are doing. We see Iris Content as a partnership, a place where writers have equal rights, where they are heard and valued for who they are, and where they can contribute their unique voices.
As far as content creation is concerned, a name worth mentioning would be that of Tony Robbins. We see him as a unique individual who has found a way of being himself while building an immense following and gaining the hearts of millions of people in the process.
14. What Are the 3 Most Important Qualities All Content Writers Should Possess?
Alecs: It goes without saying that content writers have to be skilled researchers, excellent psychologists, and even better communicators. Those who have these skills and want to build a career as content writers will also need Patience, Resilience, and Diplomacy.
The content industry is highly competitive and subjective. It will take time before the world finds out about and acknowledges your value as a writer. Sometimes, you write excellent content and clients criticize it to justify their refusal to pay. Other times you simply cannot relate and make ends meet.
All writers face challenges and rejections. The secret to succeeding is not to give up when things get tough, but to hang in there, to try harder than ever, and to handle every writing project and every negative feedback with diplomacy.
15. How Will Content Look Like Two Years from Now?
Annie: Content is growing tremendously and it changes at the same pace. We don’t think written text can ever be fully replaced by visuals or audio, but the importance of audio and video content is growing by the day.
Within two years, content will still rule, but, probably, instead of a monarchy, it will resemble a democracy, with several parties (content types and forms) fighting for supremacy and forming coalitions in order to garner enough support to tell their story and see their plans to completion.
We will see shorter, more insightful, more personal, and more interactive content, to keep up with the rapid shifts in reader interest. One thing is for sure: written content is here to stay, and since the reader will always be the center of its attention, it will have to be exciting, insightful, and useful.
This is Iris Content, from its beginnings to date. We began turning our vision into reality two years ago. Although the picture is not yet complete, and we are proud to say that we like what we see. We are not perfect, and we have a long way ahead of us. We learn from our mistakes and we get better with every piece of content we write. We do everything with passion, with our writers’ and clients’ best interest at heart. We strive for perfection and we will not rest until we achieve it.
Until then, we thank all those who made our professional life so difficult that we decided to take matters into our own hands, all those who believed in us and gave our services a chance, and all those who worked with us and helped us deliver quality at an affordable price and into a flexible manner.
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