As the demands for digital marketing and online exposure grow, so does the need for content. But in pursuit of having enough content, brands often make the mistake of implementing cost-cutting strategies that skimp on quality. As a result, they end up hurting their brand image and compromising their ability to engage customers.
Within the context of content creation, one of the biggest points of friction occurs when businesses decide whether to handle content writing in-house or outsource it to someone else. While the latter can be an effective option, it often creates issues with quality.
Done well, outsourced link building or content marketing doesn’t need to suffer from a lack of quality. The question is, does your brand know how to handle outsourcing the right way?
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The Benefits of Outsourcing Content Creation
Many successful businesses – both small and large – actually outsource all of their content creation to freelance writers and/or content marketing agencies. They do so for a number of reasons, including:
- Cost savings. Hiring an in-house team of content writers can be cost prohibitive. This is the major reason SEO is so expensive. When you outsource SEO, you’re able to get quality content without having to offer benefits, cover payroll taxes, or provide any of the resources that you’d generally give your employees. You simply pay for the content you receive. This makes it highly cost-effective.
- Improved efficiency. Many businesses deal with the demands of content creation by requiring different employees to write content in addition to their core responsibilities. As a result, content ends up inhibiting productivity in other key areas. Outsourcing content frees up these employees to attend to their primary job duties – promoting greater organizational efficiency across the board.
- Fresh perspective. It’s easy for things to get stale within a company – especially when the same people are consistently tasked with the same responsibilities. Having an outsourced content partner can allow for a fresh perspective.
- Increased reach. While you may not enjoy this benefit when working with a single independent contractor, you’ll often find that relationships with content marketing agencies provide new opportunities and greater reach. This may include access to new publishing platforms and online audiences.
Regardless of size or industry, outsourcing content creation can make sense for businesses. It can serve as a powerful extension of your brand – allowing you to enjoy the benefit of regular content creation without the headaches that frequently stem from handling it in-house.
The Traditional Challenges of Outsourcing Content Creation
While the benefits of outsourcing content creation have been made quite clear, it’s impossible to ignore some of the traditional challenges that have stemmed from moving this key responsibility outside of the organization. They include:
- Steep learning curve. When you work with someone outside of your company, you have to spend a great deal of time introducing them to your brand and making sure they have an accurate understanding of your style and objectives. Depending on the circumstances, this can take a considerable amount of time and effort.
- Back and forth. There’s a difference between walking down the hallway and popping your head into an employee’s office to ask a question versus emailing an outsourced content partner and waiting for a response. In a time crunch, the back and forth nature of communicating with an outsourced partner can prove to be frustrating.
- Reliability. Outsourcing forces you to give up some control that you would otherwise enjoy in an in-house scenario. Should reliability become an issue, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re unable to move things along.
- Issues with quality. Finally, and most importantly, businesses sometimes find it hard to maintain the same sort of quality that they enjoy when content is produced internally. And in many situations, this can be a deal breaker.
It’s important to remember that these are traditional challenges. The content marketing field is evolving and so is the practicality of outsourcing content creation. With each passing year, these pain points are becoming less palpable, while the notion of outsourcing is becoming more realistic.
How to Outsource Without Compromising Quality
Within the context of this discussion, many businesses are left asking one simple question: How can we outsource without compromising on quality?
The answer to this question depends on numerous variables, but it’s not something to lose sleep over. With a proactive, well-developed plan, you can enjoy the best of both worlds – outsourced content that’s crisp, original, and on-brand. Here’s how you make it happen:
1. Identify Your Needs
As is the case with any major marketing decision, begin with a list of your specific needs. In this case, you need to develop a list of the types of content you need, how much you’ll need, and when you’ll need it.
Your specific content needs will, to a degree, dictate how you proceed. There’s a significant difference between needing one 500-word blog post per week for your website and 25,000 words of original content published to specific platforms each month. A failure to account for these differences could lead to wasted resources and inaccurate expectations.
2. Develop a Budget
With your specific content needs in mind, begin developing a budget. This will help you in determining how much content can be outsourced and which partners you can afford to work with.
You’ll have to account for a number of company-specific elements, but it’s helpful to know what others are spending. According to the Content Marketing Institute, B2B companies are allocating an average of 26 percent of their total marketing budget to content marketing. Nearly 40 percent of these marketers expect their content budget to increase in the near future. B2C marketers allocate roughly 22 percent of their total marketing budget to content marketing, while 37 percent expect to see this figure scale up in the coming years.
Again, these are just estimates, but they show the importance of budgeting with a purpose. If nothing else, come up with some soft numbers to guide your content strategy through the initial stages of outsourcing.
3. Create a Style Guide
Every company should have a content style guide – but especially those who choose to outsource their content creation efforts.
A content style guide is simply an organized document with a set of copywriting rules that are specific to your company. These rules address things like grammar, sentence structure, banned words, preferred words, company description, audience profiles, competitive research, boilerplate information, formatting expectations, voice, and tone.
A style guide should be made into a concise and digestible PDF document that can be easily shared with any new writer who creates content for your company. In fact, you shouldn’t let an outsourced partner write content for your brand until they can prove mastery of your style guide.
4. Review a Writer’s Portfolio
Whenever possible, ask for a writer’s portfolio so that you can review content that they’ve previously written and published. This will give you an idea of how they write and what sort of flexibility they have.
When reviewing a writer’s portfolio, don’t get so caught up in any one individual piece of copy that you miss the bigger picture. The mark of a skilled content writer is the ability to change the way they write for different clients without compromising quality. So instead of making a judgment based on a single piece of copy, look at the bigger picture and find a writer who is versatile and experienced across a variety of niches.
5. Require Content to be Pitched
Many of the issues with content quality can be avoided by developing a rigorous quality assurance routine that takes place prior to the first draft ever being developed.
The best thing you can do is have your writers get in the habit of developing a pitch that’s sent over for approval. This allows you to review the pitch and critique any issues you find prior to writing.
6. Hire an In-House Editor
It pays to have a person on staff who knows your brand and what’s happening behind closed doors. You’ll also benefit from having someone who is accessible at all times. So if you have the resources to do so, consider hiring an in-house editor.
Your in-house editor may double as one of your key marketing staffers. This person should have a detailed understanding of the style guide and the ability to articulate content needs to writers (whether they’re in-house or outsourced).
Partner With SEO.co
Whether you run a small startup with large aspirations or an established corporation with very specific brand needs, you need an outsourced partner that you can depend on for all of your content needs.
At SEO.co, we offer high-quality content creation, strategic link building (via our white hat link building service) and powerful digital branding that helps our clients establish, maintain, and grow their brands. For more information on how we can work together, please feel free to thumb through one of our case studies. Better yet, give us a call and we’ll talk through what a fresh content strategy could do for your brand!
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