Keeping up with all your company’s content needs takes a lot of effort. The website pages, product descriptions, and blogs are more than enough to consume a full-time employee’s day. But there are also videos, e-books, white papers — you name it. The sheer volume can be overwhelming before you even think about content audits and search engine optimization. Outsourcing your content could be the answer to your growing list of demands.
When you’re looking at partnering with others, you can hire individual freelancers or larger agencies. Content marketing agencies may already have vetted teams of writers and search engine optimization experts in place. But the agency price tag could be a bit of a stretch for smaller businesses. If you’re on the fence, here are some tips on deciding whether to outsource your content needs and who can best handle them.
Map Out All Requirements
While creating content involves some universal truths, needs between companies can vary. Yes, you want to produce high-quality, engaging pieces. You’ll probably need to develop an editorial calendar and experiment with multiple formats like short-form videos. However, you want to start by mapping out the basics before you decide whom to partner with.
For instance, how often do you need to publish? Are there some topics you’ll want to keep in-house if you have a copywriter on staff? You may want to produce similar content at a high frequency. Perhaps you regularly launch integrated marketing campaigns across multiple formats, including a website, online videos, and pay-per-click ads. In this case, you might need an agency with access to scalable resources like a component content management system.
These types of assets let you recreate related content without having to reinvent to wheel. You can save time by instantly syncing items like images and blurbs. With blogs, outsourcing them to freelancers might be OK if you’re not as concerned about consistency. If you are, content agencies can deliver a uniform voice if you have the budget and high-volume needs.
Determine Performance Goals
By outsourcing your content, you’re putting your brand’s reputation in someone else’s hands. It’s a gamble the majority of marketers take. A 2022 survey revealed 71% of in-house marketers and 68% of agencies outsource content needs to freelancers. Although it costs money to farm out pieces, companies often spend more on staff copywriters. Besides competitive salaries, there are benefits and other perks to pay for.
Even if businesses can afford in-house content teams, creating the average blog post takes four hours. And there’s no guarantee the blog will perform to expectations in the short or long term. Sometimes a company’s performance goals exceed the capabilities of its staff.
If this sounds familiar, relying on external partners’ skills can help your company reach its objectives. You might not have the expertise to do a gap analysis or the time to research your audience’s content preferences. Your business might want a fresh perspective on why your materials aren’t performing up to par. By determining what you want your pieces to achieve, you can find freelancers or agencies with the know-how to match.
Look at Budget
Freelancers may have the word “free” in their name, but they sure don’t work for that. Neither do content marketing agencies. They might schedule an initial meeting in the name of goodwill, but they won’t start work without a contract.
While outsourcing can be less expensive than hiring in-house staff, a company’s budget will influence its options. The average business spends around 25% of its marketing dollars on content. However, you may want to allocate more or less.
Working with a smaller team of freelancers may make more sense for a mom-and-pop company. As the business grows, it might be time to step up to an agency. Medium-sized companies on the verge of change could find a two-tiered approach beneficial. Minor pieces may go to independent contractors, while major campaigns land on the doorsteps of agencies. It all depends on what you can reasonably afford for the value you’ll receive.
Think About the Audience
Not every agency or freelancer will be a great fit for your audience. An outside content team could be good at what they do, but they might not have experience in your industry. Someone could also lack knowledge of your market, impacting whether pieces resonate with your customers.
For instance, you might operate in a rural area. Content marketing agencies skilled at crafting materials for urban dwellers may not be the best choice. A freelancer who’s a whiz at tech topics might not have the appropriate background to write about performing arts. If your company specializes in accounting for startups, you’ll need someone with a background in that specialty to create quality content. Ideally, outsourcing means finding partners who can understand your audience and turn your brand guidelines into compelling pieces.
You may have to “interview” several agencies and contractors to find a match. Opening discussions are a chance to see samples of past work. But they’re also an opportunity to gauge whether a potential content partner gets what you do. You want someone who can deliver brand-authentic materials that convert.
To Outsource or Not to Outsource
Handing over your editorial calendar to someone outside your company can seem like a risky move. You don’t have as much control over the finished product as you do with an in-house team. Even so, your business’s content needs may exceed your staff’s capabilities. Outsourcing those needs to a well-suited partner can help you take your brand voice and message to a new level. You just have to be realistic about finding a balance between your goals and resources.