It’s no secret that writing content is central to any marketing strategy. From informational articles, blogs, and e-books, to interviewing clients and writing case studies and testimonials, the process of continually building your brand’s content library is a big job.
Whether you’re just getting started creating content, or you’re in over your head, you may be wondering if you should outsource content writing. For many companies, this is a great option that frees up internal resources. For others, they find that using internal experts is the way to go.
Here’s what you need to know to help you decide if content outsourcing is the right move.
Why Content Marketing
First, it’s important to understand the role of content in your marketing strategy and the process for creating it. Your website is usually the first impression someone has of your company. But your homepage, about page, and service and product pages can only convey so much information. You don’t want to bog down readers with too much content when they first land on your website.
This is where additional content comes into play. Informational articles, blogs, case studies, and e-books are all used to support your business’s message and goals. To build on your unique selling proposition, position your brand as an authority in your industry, and most importantly to provide helpful, relevant, and valuable information to readers.
The goal of your content creation should always be to help your customers and prospects — not overtly promote your business. When planning content, always assume that when a reader clicks on one of your articles, they’re going to ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?”
- Be educational and informative
- Acknowledge a problem
- Provide a solution
- Contain actionable advice
- Be better than your competitors
Easy enough, right?
But the continual process of content creation can feel daunting. Content creation has lots of moving parts, but is essentially composed of three phases: content planning, content writing, and content editing and publishing. What – if any – you decide to outsource depends on your internal resources. Namely: time, knowledge, and skill.
Before we get into how to outsource content writing, let’s quickly go over what is required in each phase of content creation.
Continually coming up with relevant topic ideas can be a challenge. I always recommend big content planning sessions where you load up several months’ worth of ideas. Using a content planning spreadsheet like the one below can help facilitate the process, keep you organized, and will be invaluable for communicating with writers – whether internal or outsourced.
Use a keyword research tool to help you identify potential content topics. Often, long tail keyword phrases will already contain the topic, making your job that much easier. Another benefit of planning content around long tail phrases is that they have lower competition because they are more specific, which makes them easier to rank for.
Once you identify keywords you want to target, see what type of content your competitors are writing. Compile this inspiration to help your writer understand what you want — and what you don’t want!
Content planning can be done internally or outsourced. If you do outsource content writing, I recommend you are still pretty heavily involved with your content writing outsourcing company, at least during this initial phase. No one knows your business and your customers like you do. You know your customers’ pain points and how to solve them, which is at the core of writing great content.
The reality is that some people have a way with words, and some don’t. If you or someone on your team isn’t a competent and confident writer, your content creation efforts will be stalled. Other factors that impact the writing process include lack of time or lack of knowledge.
And hey, even if you are a stellar writer, you’re passionate about your niche, and you have the knowledge, physically keeping up with a demanding content creation schedule plus the day-to-day business stuff is sometimes just too much. That’s ok. If your content marketing is going to suffer if you can’t do it internally, then you should outsource article writing.
Content Editing & Publishing
Regardless of who writes your content, it needs to be reviewed and edited with a critical eye. Everything you publish on your website is a reflection of your brand and should have a consistent tone. If editing isn’t your strong suit, this is another area where content writing outsourcing companies or freelance editors shine.
Once you’re happy with the final piece, simply publish it on your website and start promoting it. Ideally, you have a user-friendly website platform, like WordPress so that you can easily publish content internally. If not, many content companies are usually well-versed in a variety of website platforms and can publish content for you for an additional fee.
Now that you understand the basic phases of content creation, you can start to think about your team’s strengths and weaknesses and decide if you want to outsource writing services.
Once you decide to outsource writing services, it can feel overwhelming thinking about finding the perfect writer. There are two options here. You can choose to work with an agency or hire freelance writers directly. Here are the pros and cons of each:
- They employ multiple writers that specialize in niches
- They have project managers, editors, designers and technical staff you can leverage for all phases of content creation
- They have contracts that define the scope of work and ensure your satisfaction
- More expensive – you pay more or convenience, professionalism, and predictability
- Cheaper – you negotiate their fee directly
- No contracts
- Groomable – working directly with the writer allows you to groom their writing to fit your needs
- Time-consuming – you may have to interview and trial multiple writers before finding a good one
- Limited knowledge – many freelancers specialize in niches
- Unreliable – if they ghost you, you generally have no recourse
If you’re serious about outsourcing content writing, and you have a lot of it, I recommend at least looking into a couple agencies to get a feel for pricing. They will save you time and hassle, but you pay more for it. If you’re just getting started with content, don’t have a huge budget, and want to see if outsourcing content will work for you, I recommend going the freelance route.
Ready to find a freelancer? Let’s go!
Steps for Outsourcing Content Writing with a Freelancer
Step 1: Post Your Job
There are several websites where you can outsource writing services (as well as editors, graphic artists, web designers, etc!), but my personal favorite is Upwork. I like Upwork because the work stays on the website. Communication and payment goes through the website, and you can review the writers. So if you do get burned, future hirers will be able to see. UpWork freelancers are protective of their public reputation on the site, and with their reviews and job success rate is clearly shown, it’s easy to quickly sort the good apples from the bad.
Onto the job description. The quality of your job post is going to determine the quality of the applications you receive. Vague postings like “looking for a medical writer” is going to net you a lot of vague responses.
Depending on what you’re looking for, you can write a general job post or a specific post if you only want writers in a certain niche.
A job posting should include:
- Brief summary of your industry/topic
- Deliverable – a specific number of jobs, or an ongoing assignment with room to grow
- Assurance that detailed guidelines will be provided
- Heads-up that all content will be reviewed by an editor (even if it’s just you) — this weeds out the lazy writers who plagiarize!
- Request for samples or any other information you want
- Require a cover letter
Step 2 – Screen Applicants
Another advantage of UpWork is that all of the applicants for your job are in an easy-to-use dashboard. You can quickly scroll through your applicants, see their job success, their rate, where they’re located and much more.
From here, you can click into each applicant and read their cover letter and samples. The cover letter can quickly tell you a lot about an applicant. From the actual writing and grammar in the cover letter, to the formatting, whether they followed your instructions for samples and information, and whether they are replying to your specific job post and not just sending a generic cover letter.
Step 3 – Interview Writers
Once you’ve selected one or more writers you think will be a good fit, you can begin a direct dialogue with them right in UpWork. I recommend sending them a list of interview questions to answer in writing. Obviously, since you are hiring a writer, their responses should be grammatically perfect.
Generally, you will want to ask questions to find out more about the writer, their skills, comfort level with types/length/topics of content, their process for researching unfamiliar topics and ensuring accuracy, how much work they want to take on, whether they can perform additional tasks (such as posting their blog to your WordPress site), and whether your rate is acceptable.
Be sure to set a deadline for responses, so that you can review everything at once and are not waiting around.
Step 4 – Select Writers
Review the answers and select the writer(s) you like best. Another advantage (and sometimes disadvantage) of UpWork is that the talent pool is constantly changing. On one day you post, you may receive no candidates you like. Don’t force it. Wait a few days and post again.
If you find several candidates you like, consider hiring them all — at least for small test jobs. Then keep the ones you love. Having multiple writers “on tap” means someone will always be available for a job, you’ll have writers with varying specialties and experience, and you can more quickly scale your content creation when you’re ready.
Step 5 – Send An Assignment To Writers
Remember that content planning spreadsheet? This is when it comes in super handy. When it’s time to send an assignment to the writers you hired, the devil is in the details. The more guidance you provide, the more successful the writer will be. And because you took the time to plan your content, identify keywords and topics, and compile inspiration of likes and dislikes of similar content, you have everything you need to set your writer up for success!
I recommend creating a writer assignment document template. Then each time you need to assign something, just drop in the new details and any additional instructions.
Step 6 – Review Work
The first pass of a draft should always go through you, your marketing director, or whoever on your team is responsible for the company’s online content. First, look at overall quality. Did the writer follow instructions? Is the information complete and accurate? Does it match your brand’s tone and style?
If you’re satisfied, send it to your editor. Again, this may be you, a team member, or you may hire an editor on UpWork! The goal is to review and edit the content for grammar, syntax, organization, etc. to refine and polish it.
Be sure to provide writers with feedback. If they did a great job, say so and let them know they’ll be hearing from you again. If you want to see revisions, ask for them. If someone totally bombed, you can decide whether to provide feedback or just let them know you’ve chosen another writer for the job.
Dominate Your Content
Maintaining a robust content creation strategy is a big job, but it is possible to streamline it, especially if you decide to outsource writing services.
If you’re serious about getting a handle on your content marketing, Long Tail Pro can help. We’ve created an exclusive Content Domination System as part of our Academy educational courses.
Content Domination is a plug and play system for content production that is in active use on over a dozen sites.
The goal of this system is to drastically speed up, simplify, and standardize the process of planning, outsourcing, and publishing your content.
It will enable you to scale your activities on your own site(s) or client sites without compromising on quality or SEO.
More content, when done right, means more ranking articles and more traffic.
What you will get from this system:
- A system to centralize and manage content planning, outsourcing, and publishing
- 3 methods of niche research to make coming up with content ideas easy
- A complete process for hiring, testing, and training content writers (with templates)
- A step-by-step publishing process to guarantee great SEO on every article
The Content Domination System contains $2,941 worth of training, and is available now for only $797! Sign up today and start dominating your content marketing.