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The customer is not always right. Why we’re ditching trials for our premium long-form writer + more about V3.

Julia McCoy
Thursday, 30th Nov 2023
Julia McCoy
5 min read · Jan 11 2022
no free trial for you

None of this post was generated by AI. 😉 It’s our rant on how we’re serving the customer best by removing low-commitment entry points that require no real time, thought or care; which is anti-content creation.

Apple made $383 billion last year.

But Steve Jobs, the original inventor of the revolutionary “1,000 tunes in your pocket” – the human being solely responsible for lane and category behind an entirely new level of innovation, known as the iPod, iPhone, iPad…

Didn’t actually create products for the customer.

In fact, he said:

“Some people say give the customers what they want, but that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d ask customers what they wanted, they would’ve told me a faster horse.” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

He also said:

“We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.”

steve jobs

So, you’re telling me a $300+ billion/year company was built by someone who said not to give the customer what they want, but instead, to simply work in a vaccum and build the best product you could ever build?

Doesn’t this go completely against everything we’re taught about identifying markets, solving existing problems, and focus groups? 🤯

At Content at Scale, we recently launched Version 3 of our entirely new product suite.

In this post-V3 livestream, our leadership team heads Jeff, Ben, and John join myself and members from the marketing and success team to break it all down. Tons of fun. 👇


But the consensus so far from our existing consumer base has been…

I’m confused.

Where did the trial go?

You mean I have to pay more to access premium posts?

You mean extra projects cost more?

We get it.

Content at Scale V3 is a completely different experience.

There’s new technology suites. There’s something called “Gen AI” that doesn’t mesh with the long-form “create posts” our user base has seen for a year now. The cost of premium long-form posts went up and into another access level. There’s a Content Intelligence tab with all-new Content Briefs, Topic Reports, Optimization Audits you can run now.

And the cost of our product – went up.

But so did the cost behind the depth of the AI models we’re training, to power up how exact our long-form AI writer writes according to your voice. A direct AI training model is getting built into each project, for the ability to mimic that website’s exact style and tone of voice. We’ll ingest that brand’s style from the website provided, and train the AI on it, without you lifting a finger. Direct Google Search Console integration is coming where we directly integrate to your GSC and read your data, suggesting what to rewrite or update next; automating the entire process of content maintenance. A content planning calendar is coming soon to tie your entire content production together where you can click-n-drag to assign, manage, and delegate to the humans optimizing your AI-generated content (aka AIO writers).

We’re automating everything. We’re bringing #StraightOuttaAI, our tshirt slogan, vividly to life in the best of ways. And it’s nothing short of revolutionary – aka, wet clay revolutionary in the making.

Laying the Bones of The Future of Content Production

What we launched with Content at Scale V3 are the foundations, the bones of what we see as the future.

Necessary in our huge move to creating a functional future with AI content production tools.

At BrightonSEO in San Diego November 2023, during our V3 launch, I revealed some of our vision for a bigger, better future in AI. It revolves around the idea of creating something beautiful, useful and functional for those that work in everyday jobs and need a usable content solution. (Grab my Brighton slides here.)

Not the gimmicky future marketed to you by dangerous AI tools whose only real shtick is their marketing, but in reality generate detectable, robotic content that only adds to the sea of undesirable content.

But a future where AI is revolutionizing your entire process by replacing or augmenting entire teams of humans, producing content written exactly in your tone of voice that rivals the best human writer.

Because that is something worthy of marketing, worthy of painting a future around.

brightonseo 2023

We believe the future of content is functional AI, and we’re building it.

Not generalized, sloppy, over-marketed API calls to ChatGPT.

Not single LLMs that you have to prompt a bajillion times, or teach your team to become a prompt engineer to know how to work.

AI is a wild west.

And it’s a dangerous wild west that could get you banned – if you accidentally end up sharing proprietary data with the entire general public (observe Samsung vs. ChatGPT).

I’m proud to be a part of the side of AI built for marketers and employees to use. Truly functional AI, that makes the life of a human writer 10x better, reducing content workload drastically and well.

So why are we ditching the “trial”?

If you’ve ever read stories about the trials of SaaS freemium, like this one by the guy that spent nearly a decade building Intercom (h/t to our Head of Product Chris Craig for sharing this with me), then you know how painful this process really does get.

And Intercom went from less than $1M to over $150M ARR. They know what’s up.

Free trials, according to the Intercom growth hacker, are a crock and create terrible customers.

I’ll admit SaaS is new for me in particular, yet here I am.

I’ve built human, service-based businesses and followings over the years; not a SaaS.

After a run-in building my own consumer-facing technology database, I swore to myself that I would never be a part of SaaS. This was directly after launching our custom e-commerce product shop back in 2021 – a process that took blazing through $250,000 of carefully earned business profits to get to launch and MVP.

Death first. SaaS after. Dear God, no. You can take me first. ☠️

That’s how painful launching a strong SaaS that actually serves a market, makes money, and is profitable enough to sell one day, actually is.

Truth is:

For every strong, incredible SaaS brand like Intercom, there’s 10,000 failed ones.

So why are we banking on us being a non-failed one? I’ll tell you. 👇  Then we’ll finally get to why we’re ditching the trial. Hang with me. 😉

Hitting The Right Market at the Right Time

I was cruising through 2022.

Had just sold my agency, saw a lifelong dream achieved (millionaire by 31).

And I was writing – 10,000 words a month.

3 books that year.

Getting paid to write, consulting on it, teaching; but also – researching. Learning. Eyes wide open.

And then, AI hit.

Our world responded with a resounding bang as ChatGPT came to life. 100 million users joined in a mere matter of weeks.

I watched, a snobby expert writer with too many words and books under her belt; and I saw a million clones of “AI writing products” come along.

Each just as abysmal as the last one.

That’s why I was on stage December of 2022, declaring each one rubbish. (Truly. I was. Photo proof.)

ai is garbage

Then, I found Content at Scale.

In it, I saw a glimmer of something that was far more than a shiny clone of ChatGPT.

I saw something that wasn’t the same-old, icky content. A workflow tool. Something that stacked up to all of the steps I did myself, humanly, when creating a piece of content eligible for the masses to read, consume, and for Google to rank.

And I was intrigued enough to give Content at Scale to my blog writer.

With it, she reduced 7 hours of the 8-hour blogging process we followed for Content Hacker, my blog all around the topic of building an online business sustainably & without breaking.

It generated content I could use:

  • Original
  • Non-detectable as robotic
  • Research-backed
  • Real-time facts and data
  • Formatting, table of contents, interactive social sharing clips added
  • SEO recommendations & optimization all done in-app

This was the world I lived in. The world of good content. And this was an actual solution, with AI (non-human), to that world.

Revolutionary.

And so, I joined Content at Scale, and within a month was on the same DigitalMarketer stage saying something completely different…

But it’s because I found something I could believe in:

Content at Scale, created by this guy, Justin McGill.

V2 of Content at Scale in April

Justin’s initial plan with Content at Scale was to solve one of, arguably, the hardest puzzle pieces in content creation: the long-form blog.

If he could automate that with AI, that would be a breakthrough.

And he spent a year on that (all of 2022).

He achieved the breakthrough. 100% self-funded, through painful struggle – the classic blood, sweat and tears. He and early staff members Josh and Andie ran the world’s first done-for-you AI content agency. It worked, but was it hard to pull off.

Finally, the software stood on its own. Content at Scale could generate original blogs for SEO in minutes, from any keyword.

When I found it in January of 2023 through a blogger on YouTube, I was blown away. This was a real AI toolstack. Something that could replace a writer selling the same thing for $300+. For mere dollars. 🤯

In April of this year, Justin and the team launched V2 of Content at Scale. This was a full UX makeover for the in-app editor for the long-form content; a new way to score the content, new dashboard, and everything. We went from looking a little like a single page Microsoft Word (which I didn’t hate) to a full-blown platform with features.

The long-form AI writer, now known as Content Producer, got better.

Looking Ahead – V3 is a Nod to the Future

And then, Justin looked far into the future and decided to do several things:

A) trademark the SEO technology – RankWell©. This was the SEO toolstack behind the long-form writer; Justin bought more technology to beef it up and offer what V3 now has, with Optimization Audits, Content Briefs, and Topic Reports.

B) Next, Content Producer defined the long-form SEO writer, and it’s getting customized options built in that allow it to train individually on user websites and do incredible real-time research across the internet in deeper ways than have ever been done by any AI writer.

C) Offer Generative AI, run by AIMEE (stands for Artificial Intelligent Maximizing Efficiency Everywhere, our future-of-work chatbot). This is the basis of so much more – not all of which I can reveal. Think of it like the creation of a “team of experts”, or even a replica of you; but everything is AI and way more efficient. Gen AI will have 40+ AI Agents you can access, pre-prompted and trained for specific functions; a humanly-curated, high-quality AI prompt library, an index of blueprints to guide best output, and AI detector scans and paraphrasing. This is a house for all the non-SEO content generation and planning that needs to be done by the marketing public. But done in more functional, easier, simpler, better ways than ChatGPT or any other single LLM offers.

(Gen AI will get better, and better, as time goes on. It’s in beta right now – you can access it on the $49/month plan.)

So back to the trial thing…

“Why can’t I try before I buy?”

“Why does this cost more?”

First – the trial is gone because we don’t want “trial-ers.”

Let me explain what I mean.

You see something cheap – or God forbid, free.

You think – ooh. let me quickly “try” that.

Automatically, you don’t give it the time it deserves.

Automatically, there’s an association in your mind that degrades the expected outcome.

Yes – that’s the result of a trial. 😬

We don’t want that.

We want the people ready to commit. Why? Because that’s what content requires.

We want people to use the content they generate.

Because our tool is one of the few that actually allows you to do just that – produce usable content.

This is content you won’t want to leave on a shelf and get dusty, forgotten, and unpublished.

Content at Scale generates content you can actually use.

But if we offered a free trial, or a low, low cost, you likely wouldn’t even use it.

Secondly, finally and most of all, isn’t the “free trial” mindset the opposite of what you should do with content?

You have to use content to see success. You have to put time, thought, and care into it.

Investment in what you’re doing creates a mindset primed to use what you buy – because you’ve officially got skin in the game.

We’re also that confident in the solution we’re building. It’s worth the cost.

Bobby Pinero (Intercom’s growth spear-header) in Lenny’s Newsletter talks about how the idea of creating friction by asking for a credit card, and charging for your product, is good – not bad.

“Friction can be critical to driving short-term adoption and long-term retention. We found that forcing users to invest upfront, in the form of a credit card and a limited-time window to make a decision, adds inertia and urgency to get set up. The act of putting in their credit card increases their level of commitment to go through the hard steps. A free plan does the opposite.”

We want to give everyone accessibility to the product we’re building – and we want them in the driver’s seat.

That’s why the pricing page feels like a customized build-your-plan experience.

Why Content at Scale vs. the millions of other AI tools?

This is a big question.

First, simple answer: most of the other tools are generalized. They’re not built with specific purposes. They’re built to simply make money.

Ours is built to solve a purpose. It has a why behind it. And it took a year to crack that “why” – all of last year, when Justin and Kamran worked tirelessly to build something that worked.

The underlying crux, the “why” of Content at Scale is robust, functional solution. It’s what we were built for. It’s what we do.

Our SEO long-form writer is a proprietary stack of three LLMs that are able to create undetectable content. Most other AI writers, like Jasper or ChatGPT, can be detected as AI-written by Google and AI detectors.

Ours cannot be detected as AI. We’ve cracked the code. The multi-stack of LLMs and the proprietary way they’re stacked is something special. Plus, all the real-time SEO research and optimization capabilities we’ve built into our tool suite is something else that’s pretty special. A non-SEO writer can simply follow the in-app checklist now and dust off an awesome piece of content in less than an hour.

That’s revolutionary.

There is only one other undetectable AI writer on the market, SurferSEO. And while it creates good content, it takes 20+ minutes to generate a long-form piece. Ours takes 5.

But you know what I’d bank on most of all?

Not just the features.

Not just the functional marketing tools we’re building.

Choose Content at Scale because of the people.

When you work with Content at Scale, you’re working with a scrappy, bootstrapped group of real experts building something with a real vision.

The A-Team, dare I say.

And that’s right – we haven’t taken a cent in funding, and won’t.

We want to listen to the customer – not a board of investors that have zero ear to the ground on what you, the consumer, actually want.

Lovingly nicknamed the “AI Avengers” by a DigitalMarketer friend (shoutout to Gabriel V.!): we’ll own that, proudly.

A bit about our team…

Justin McGill leads us all. We think he’s crazy (just me?)…and then we see the vision of what he sees, and it’s incredible. We align around it, because he’s a true visionary that also gets in the weeds and isn’t afraid to make it happen. He leads by example.

Ben Harper directs revenue opportunities and fills a million gaps. He’s whip-smart, efficient, kind and thorough.

John Pratt leading up success, is a wizard at content marketing and strategy. He knows the product unlike any other, and how to wield it for success. His worksheet is living proof.

Jeff Joyce, our Director of AI, is not just a delightful human being but also an incredible AI visionary and clear-minded doer. He can put together an entire plan and then go about executing it to bring AI functionality to life in clear, consumer-friendly ways.

Simon Ogilvie-Lee, Director of UX, and Eva, Lead UX Designer, head up the life and beauty of the app and its user experience. And they’re both brilliant. Simon can speak and drop an entire masterplan for user experience in mere minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Chris Craig, our Head of Product, is smart, thoughtful, and great at team-pacing and leadership. He used to lead a team of nearly a thousand developers at Spotify and continually brings clarity in the middle of the noise.

Korilynn VanDyke, who I’m convinced is one of the world’s most efficient team and ops managers, just joined us to fill Josh Slone’s shoes; he retired to build content sites with his wife. Kori and I have worked together for nearly 10 years; she was an agency manager for me over 100+ people in my team.

Farnaz Kia, leading up SEO content with me, is an incredibly bright mind for so young (still in her 20s). We are lucky to have her.

And then there’s our amazing dev team: Kamran, Anandhan, Ghani, Katie, Taimur, Sharmila, to name a few.

The sales, partnership, marketing and success team is all over, from England to Texas to Philippines to Spain, to Japan and beyond: Kamal, Steve, Victor, Diana, Ivana, Antonella, Andie, Kevin, Genyl, to name a few.

content at scale goofballsNothing to look at here, just some goofballs working in AI and staying at an Airbnb that had a child’s playground, llama, donkey, and some chickens. L to R: John Pratt, Head of Success; Josh Slone, former COO; Jeff Joyce, Director of AI, casually standing with a pool floaty; directly above him our founder Justin McGill, looking lethal with a racquet (not); David Dexter, former VP of Engineering; yours truly, about to toss a beach ball to Chris Craig, Head of Product; Simon Ogilvie-Lee, Director of UX and Ben Harper, Director of RevOps, sharing the task of holding a basketball while attempting to look cool.

content at scale team

Shown left to right looking a bit more serious: Ben Harper, Director of RevOps; Josh Slone, former COO; Justin McGill, Founder; yours truly, President.

Building something YOU can use and love… is critical to us

We’re in a new era.

People know AI can solve an incredible gap. And 80%+ of marketers are using AI in their workflow, says Capterra.

But there are two sides to the AI coin.

Using the wrong coin, it can be destructive.

From unwanted plagiarism to sharing sensitive input with the world at large, AI is a minefield.

But with the right AI, one that is robust and built to be a real solution, you can make it a goldmine like Top Click Joe did – adding five figures in reoccurring revenue to his agency simply by offering AI-powered content services, edited by the new type of writer – AIO writer.

And look at these incredible new features like our Topic Report, available in the Content Producer. 🤤

topic report

Or saving money on your own SEO content process, and not having to wait around on content written by a third-party agency that didn’t really treat their writers great anyways.

There’s lots of reasons to adapt to AI – the right AI.

And we hope you’ll be one of our folks… the adapters we call Content Hackers. 😉

See you inside Content at Scale V3?  And all that is to come ✨ .

Sans free trial 😉 … because we want you coming in ready to commit to your own success and your content creation journey. You’re welcome.

Want to talk to a real human?

Our chatbot, affectionately known as “ScaleBot,” closes nearly 50% of conversations now – successfully.

But we know it takes talking to a human to get answers to those hard questions.

Ben, our Director of RevOps, runs an awesome sales & customer team.

You’ll likely talk to him or Kamal, his right-hand man, if you book through this form.

Yes, we’re an AI company – but we know the importance of a real human team to support our customer best. 🥂

See ya around!

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Become a prompt master. Download our free guide to AI prompts.

Written by Julia McCoy

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