Creating quality content is no walk in the park.
Yet, the success of your business hinges on your ability to deliver premium content. How else will you cut through the noise to become an authority in your niche?
Not so long ago, your options were despairingly limited. In the early days of content marketing, you had to have your (pricey) in-house team cook up posts right under your careful, vigilant watch.
Yet the game has changed, and the whole process of content writing has been turned on its head.
Enter: content outsourcing; the new option for content creation that enables businesses of every size to integrate killer content into their business strategy.
To blog or not to blog?
That is the question, yet it doesn’t take the intellect of Shakespeare to work out the answer.
A blog is beyond essential for your business. Period.
Looking for the proof? Here are some of the ways having a blog will benefit your business’ bottom line:
Want to show up on the first page of Google? A blog is a sure-fire way to increase your search engine rankings, and there is no denying the importance of this.
It won’t happen overnight, but building your blog’s search presence is a proven tactic for driving sales.
If your blog is posting quality content, other bloggers, businesses, and sites will quickly take notice.
If sites with a considerable following mention or link to your articles, this can be a big game-changer for your blog and business.
Not only does this allow you to reach new audiences beyond your own following, it also gives your brand “social proof”. By sharing or linking to your blog post, a trusted brand is publicly vouching for your content and, by extension, your business.
NEVER underestimate the power of one quality link to turbocharge traffic to your site.
Blogs allow you to do one very special thing: capture your audience’s attention. Once you have their attention, you’re in a much better position to turn them into a lead.
While visitors enjoy your blog’s content, calls-to-action can be featured in your site’s headers, sidebars, or footers.
For example, a free giveaway to entice visitors to join your mailing list can be the most valuable weapon in your arsenal. This, along with retargeting and smart social media sharing, is the recipe book for blog conversions.
Social media presence
Maintaining a knock-out social media presence is challenging.
Whilst we recommend sharing third-party posts, having your own, original content to share is vital to keep your audience engaged and, most importantly, to become a thought-leader in your industry.
Having your own content also goes a lot further on social media. Out of just one blog post, for example, you could share a chart, image, quote or clip.
Whatever your business is doing, chances are it’s not the only one doing it.
A blog is a tried and tested means of building your authority within your niche, both with customers and fellow leaders in your industry.
Whether you want to set yourself aside from the competition, square-up to larger competitors, or maintain your authority, a blog is your new best friend.
Should you outsource your blog writing?
You’ve established the need for quality content.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of hiring a writer or agency to take care of content creation for you.
Insight into best practices
Is your content strategy a weak link? Outsourcing your content gives you extensive insight into best practices. How do you write with SEO in mind? What topics are trending? What images should you use? Having a a professional guide you through this process ensures you’re hitting the nail on the head every. single. time.
Quality and consistency
Leave it to the professionals. Not only will outsourcing your content save you time, but the net result is bound to be higher quality. Agencies and freelancers specialize in delivering consistent, in-depth content; and in the rare occasion they don’t deliver, you find another who does. It’s simple.
Time to focus on running your business
As the business owner, content creation should NOT be on your agenda. Yet having created armfuls of time out of thin air, you may be wondering what to do with yourself. Focus, and remember your role in growth of the business.
Outsourcing your content is bound to have up-front costs. After all, you are effectively staffing a whole new wing of your business, and whether you choose freelanced or agency content, you will likely be spending thousands of extra dollars each month.
Staying in control
While your in-house team is in tune with the dynamics of your business, it is no easy task to stay on top of outsourced talent. Communicating the vision of your content: its purpose, tone, and voice can be difficult to achieve without constant monitoring.
You should consider outsourcing your content if…
– You’re not producing regular posts
– You keep missing publishing deadlines
– People have stopped engaging with your content
– You don’t have the time to write
– You’re not an awesome writer
If one or more of the above sounds like you, it’s time to outsource your content.
Step 1: agency or freelancer?
Using an agency eliminates a huge amount of guesswork from the picture, and is certainly the more reliable option. In the event your chosen writer is ill, you can rest assured that another writer will quickly emerge to deliver your content; no chasing down your missing content, or re-negotiating new deadlines.
The production process of agencies is more rigorous than freelanced content. With editors and copywriters at their disposal, your content must pass through several layers of quality control meaning you are far likelier to receive a product that has all its t’s crossed and i’s dotted.
If a freelancer is a lone sheep, the agency is the whole flock. They have a host of tools at their disposal to ensure your content stands out; including analytics, planning, promotion, marketing and more; they have all bases covered. And then some.
In the event of a communication breakdown, the structure of an agency takes the pressure out of the situation. When you hire an agency, you can expect a middleman to arbitrate and resolve any issues you have when things go pear-shaped.
Let’s not beat around the bush, hiring a content marketing agency is pricy. They often charge a monthly fee, so you can’t as easily quantify if you’re getting value for money. The pricing model of freelancers is more transparent- typically charged per hour or word.
Getting started with an agency usually requires a bunch of red tape: contracts, retainers, consultations… all of these take away valuable time that can be avoided when hiring a freelancer.
Lack of flexibility
Given that agencies have their own systems in place, they are not as flexible as freelancers, who will often bend over backwards to accommodate the needs of their clients. It’s much easier for one individual to change than an entire organization.
With creative directors, editors, and marketers all having their say, your input can get lost in the noise. it’s all too easy for agencies to produce a homogenous product; something that doesn’t reflect the unique qualities of your business.
Where to find an agency?
is a goldmine when it comes to networking. Reach out to like-minded businesses, individuals and and organizations to find out who they use for their content.
is another valuable tool to get a feel for how an agency operates; follow them on Facebook, Twitter and see what they bring to the table. Any successful agency understands the power of social media, and will be showcase their work across a range of platforms.
Like what a business is doing with their blog? Touch base with any companies that catch your eye and see if they are using an agency.
If you’ve done the above and are still strapped for ideas, take a look at Moz’s list of 50 recommended Agencies for some high-rep agencies.
What to look for when hiring an agency?
Look for influence, impact, and contribution to their industry. You want an active player; an agency that is a fully committed member in their space.
The agency might have one or two big-name jobs in its portfolio, but does it have a range of work? You don’t want to limit yourself by hiring an agency that only does ONE thing well. Look for versatility; more than one string to its bow.
The agency’s site may be full of accolades and positive testimonials, but you’re going to want to do your research. What are others saying about it? Go well beyond the agency’s own site to find independent reviews and commentary.
When you’ve finally stumbled upon an agency that ticks all the boxes, it’s time to pull the trigger. Look for fast response times, and top-notch customer service. If they can’t respond to your initial inquiries with due diligence, chances are you should go back to the drawing board.
There are no two ways about it, if you’re looking for content that doesn’t break the bank, freelancers are the cheaper option. Their rates are usually negotiable, and don’t reflect the overheads of an agency; that is to say, you’re not paying for office spaces, additional staff, etc. Freelancers typically charge per hour, or per word, and may request a monthly retainer fee.
As long as you find a reliable freelancer, you can trust that they will take your deadline as verbatim. Freelancers can deliver lightning-fast turnaround times, and this makes them the best bet for short-term projects.
Office hours are just a guideline for freelancers; meaning you can often access them outside of the 9-5. They are often willing to re-negotiate their time for a solid client, so if you can bring something to the table, they will make themselves available to you. Consider a quality freelancer as an asset, someone you can employ with flexibility.
There simply isn’t the same level of accountability with a freelancer, and you may be let down at the last minute. They often juggle multiple projects, and yours may not be on the top of the pile.
Difficult to find
Finding any old freelancer is easy as pie; while securing the perfect fit takes time. Are you ready to commit to a lengthy hiring process, full of trial and error?
You’re not always going to be on the same page as your freelancer, and that means editing, constant communication and a good dash of to-ing and fro-ing. Working with an agent is a less time-consuming process.
While you may have found a freelancer that produces killer content, it is rare to come across one with the full arsenal of skills to guarantee the project’s outcome: SEO, analytics, etc.
Where to find a freelancer?
In this day and age, finding a content writer can be achieved in a few clicks; yet you should carefully consider how much time you have to invest in finding a quality writer.
If you’re looking to test the waters, job sites are a great place to start, such as:
Social media groups
Join social media groups and platforms, and ask for recommendations; you will quickly find someone that can point you in the right direction.
Check out the competition
Who wrote the best blog posts of your competitors or industry publications? If you can offer something of value, prominent freelancers are dynamic individuals that rarely say no to an enticing opportunity.
Advertize on your own social pages: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… People that have an affinity for your brand will have their ears to the ground for opportunities to work together.
What to look for in a freelancer?
For truly premium content, seek out the best of the best; high profile writers with proven track records in your industry. Articles that have gone viral; author names that keep popping up time and time again.
That said, what works for another business may not work for yours. Look for a voice, style, and tone that is compatible with the needs of your business. Bear in mind your chosen freelancer will be the voice of your company.
They may be a Pulitzer-level writer, but do they know how to optimize for SEO? How to deliver the content in a business-friendly way? If not, prepare to do a lot of leg-work to create a polished product.
STEP 2: Give clear, detailed instructions
If you have a clear vision of what you want from your post, give it to them. Giving your freelancer clear instructions is bound to streamline the process.
Provide specific outlines with key points, presented in an easy-to-understand way. If your freelancer doesn’t understand it, your readers won’t.
Offer examples of your favorite relevant work; your freelancer will be able to gauge exactly what you are looking for.
Explain your audience in detail, taking plenty of time to paint a picture of exactly who will be reading the piece. The writer must constantly have his/her audience in mind to produce something of value.
Reference reliable sources of information: data, images, and any content that will be included in the work. Pre-vetting these will save you from any headaches further down the track.
Want your content to target particular keywords? Provide them. This means you’re not leaving your SEO strategy to chance.
STEP 3: Keep track of your content
There shouldn’t be any need to micromanage your freelancer, but be prepared for editing- this is par for the course. Whether done by you or an editor, it is an essential step to ensure your content is on-brand and relevant to your audience.
Trello, Coschedule, or Ops Calendar are invaluable tools for organizing content and project management. They don’t eliminate the need for management, but they certainly make the process a lot easier.
STEP 4: Communication is key
If the first draft isn’t perfect, don’t fret. As long as you communicate and don’t throw in the towel, your freelancer should be happy to accommodate your needs.
Give constructive feedback for each and every article; refining the tools of your freelancer’s trade for your use.
Don’t be afraid to ask for an edit or re-write; this is in the nature of the game, and your freelancer should understand that.
To produce the best content, think of your relationship as a collaboration. Give pointers to best practices, examples of outstanding work, and guide your freelancer towards the optimum outcome.
STEP 5: Create an opportunity for readers to turn into customers
For each post, create a relevant lead magnet. For example, a template that asks for a reader’s email address, or a free giveaway in exchange for something.
If your readers are interested in a particular subject, create an email course that panders to this specific problem- Drip is an excellent tool to facilitate this.
A Facebook Messenger bot can also work to your advantage. This is a hands-off way to nurture leads and ask them to take action- there are a number of tools available; try ManyChat or ChatFuel.
STEP 6: Promoting your content
This step could be another whole article in itself. Why? Because creating incredible content is only the first step; who cares if no one reads it? You ought to spend more time promoting content than producing it; this is the key to results.
Use social media to constantly promote your blog posts; engaging readers and getting them involved with your brand. Utilizing social media ads is a further way to augment the success of your posts, as you drive traffic to them.
Reaching out to bloggers in your industry is a great way to build links to your content, boosting readership, traffic, and the authority of your site.
Found a relevant community that would benefit from your content? Submitting your links to these communities will automatically vet readers for engagement. If they are a member of the community, they will be more engaged with your content.
Posting quality answers on Quora is another opportunity to showcase your links. If you can establish your presence as an authority figure, it lends instant credibility to your business, while driving traffic to your content.