When it comes to content creation, business owners face two options: create the content in-house or outsource it. It can be difficult to decide whether or not outsourcing is worth it. However, with the right workflow, outsourcing can be a great way to save money and time while increasing your return on investment.
How? This guide will go over how to outsource content writing and how to best set up and manage a content creation workflow.
You may be a business owner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the time or know-how to dedicate to writing content. Even if you enjoy writing, what happens when your company is ready to scale? An increased need for content—quality content, that is—requires more manpower.
When you outsource your content production, you can increase output without decreasing the quality of your work. This especially holds true if you notice a skill gap. For example, maybe you’re great at identifying content topics and keywords, but writing doesn’t come easy. A content writer with improved skills can efficiently and effectively create an interesting, informative piece of writing.
If you’re targeting an audience in a specific niche, outsourcing to subject matter experts (SMEs) means your content will be written by people who can explain technical details and nuances to the audience.
Flexibility is another major reason to outsource. Depending on your content needs, you can adjust how many writers you outsource to. You can also choose to hire writers who specialize in forms of writing that best meet your needs, like whitepapers or SEO website copy.
Moreover, working with new voices brings in fresh points of view to your company. An outsourced writing team might have ideas for content based on industry trends or changes in audience behavior that you might not have been aware of.
Financially, freelance writers are more cost effective than in-house writers. That’s because freelance writers work as independent contractors. While you must always pay your content creators, freelancers won’t receive benefits like healthcare that full-time employees do. Additionally, if certain tasks require training or software, it can be more cost-effective to outsource to someone who already has those resources or that training.
Outsourcing your content writing is also one way to free up time to focus on core activities. Instead of sinking time into editorial work, you can focus on business priorities. For example, if you work with a content marketing agency, its content management team might offer services like SEO research and other editorial planning tasks.
Outsourcing content writing isn’t as simple as asking someone to write something for you. Content creators need to know what your goals are and how they can tailor their content to your needs. Set them up for success by preparing before you outsource.
Before you even start looking for places to outsource your writing, you must understand why you’re outsourcing. What goals do you have for your digital marketing strategy? This will influence the kinds of content you produce. Someone who seeks to increase organic traffic, for example, will focus more on informational, shareable content. In contrast, if you want readers to sign up for a service, you may focus more on whitepapers, e-books, and writing that’s worth a reader’s time and money.
As you develop your strategy, consider your audience and how they interact with your business. If you’re writing for a specific niche or industry, it may be necessary to hire subject matter experts (SMEs) who understand technicalities in the field.
To fully understand your needs, content writers need guidelines. Create an overview of your content goals, the audience you’re writing for, and what tone to use in your work. Specify formatting details, like what sources to link to, which competitors to avoid, and any statistics or products writers should mention.
Consider writing an example article or two for writers to reference. Yes, the point of outsourcing is that you won’t have to write articles. However, providing an example will help writers best understand what to aim for as they create content.
When you outsource, you have several options to choose from: independent freelancers, freelancers who work on gig-based sites, and content agencies.
Independent freelancers work directly with businesses. They set their own rates and have typically established themselves through years of experience. Freelancers often turn to starting a blog or newsletter as a way of networking with others and getting their work out there. When researching freelancers, look for reviews from past clients.
Pros of independent freelancers:
Cons of independent freelancers:
Gig sites like Upwork connect writers with businesses in need of their services. When freelance writers first start out, they often turn to gig sites to build experience. However, because there are so many writers trying to get as much work as possible, quantity often trumps quality.
Pros of gig sites:
Cons of gig sites:
Content marketing agencies, like gig sites, connect businesses with freelance writers. However, they have vetting processes to ensure a writer’s quality and ability to meet deadlines. In addition, content marketing agencies have their own editorial and project management team, which means that content will be reviewed before it comes back to you.
Pros of content marketing agencies:
Cons of content marketing agencies:
No matter how you decide to outsource your content, you should still have an in-house editorial team to review content. A content marketing manager on your team, or a similar role, will approve content before publication.
If necessary, you may consult with SMEs when planning content. SMEs can also create content or edit it.
Finally, you’ll work with content creators. If you’re working with freelance writers independently of a marketing agency, you’ll be able to build a more interpersonal relationship. Note, however, that if the content doesn’t land the way you’d like it to, you’ll have to discuss changes with the freelance writer directly.
To make the most of content outsourcing, develop an organized workflow. Workflows detail all the steps that need to be taken for a piece of content to go from ideation to publication and promotion.
The foundation of a successful workflow is a solid editorial process. Your editorial process outlines how written content meets your content strategy goals. It lays out deadlines, topic ideas, keywords to target, and channels for content creation. It answers the following questions:
While you set up your editorial process, compile resources content creators may need. These include a point of contact for the writer to go to with questions, documents like a style guide and brief, and any other resources the writer may need to reference.
A typical content outsourcing workflow starts when your in-house content marketing team defines goals for the content. Your team ideates the content, determines keywords to target, crafts a thesis statement or call to action, and identifies your audience.
Once that information has been compiled, the content is outsourced to writers or other content creators. An internal editor reviews the article. If revisions are necessary, the outsourced writer completes requested edits or does a rewrite.
After the content has been approved, it’s published and promoted. The cycle begins again.
There’s a difference between “content” and “high-quality content.”
To avoid the worst, research your candidates. Ask people in the industry for recommendations and read reviews. If you’re looking for independent freelancers, find writers whose work you like on sites like Substack and Medium, on blogs, or in other publications. If you’re working with a content marketing agency, research their vetting process for their writers.
Establish your own vetting process, too. What are your candidates’ relevant skills? What audiences do they have experience writing for? How adaptable are they? If you have specific requirements, outline those: do your writers need technical skills like learning to optimize for SEO? Are you looking for SMEs in a particular field or niche?
To test a writer’s compatibility, consider having them do a writing test or submit writing samples. Be aware that this should be a paid test. Otherwise, your outsourced writer may feel that their time and expertise is not respected.
Remember that your outsourced team is your partner. When providing feedback, do so constructively. Maintain a collaborative mindset rather than one that takes outsourced writers for granted.
To best manage outsourced content, focus on this spirit of respect and communication.
On a practical level, it’s important to consider your budget and time constraints when outsourcing content. How often you’ll publish content will affect how many writers you need and how available those writers should be. Additionally, your budget will influence what kind of outsourced partner you work with. For a small budget, a gig writer may be best instead of a more expensive marketing agency.
For ease of use, make sure everyone uses the same file format and software. If you’re working in Microsoft Word, for example, it can be complicated for freelancers to turn their work in through Google Docs.
Communicate with the content team regularly. In the beginning, it’s especially important to set expectations and communicate your goals. Content creators are experts in article writing, but they need to understand what you want and expect out of your content.
Have a channel of communication, like Slack, and hold regular meetings through video chat to stay updated. Use project management software to track the progress of each piece of content and keep all teams on the same page.
After your content has been created, promote it on social media and through other channels. Don’t just hit “publish” and go—this is only the beginning of your content’s journey.
As you work with outsourced content teams, you’ll need a content marketing manager to head your efforts and maintain communication. They may work with a content strategist, as well as a promotional team, to boost your content’s presence online. Often, these can be outsourced, too. As discussed previously, content marketing agencies offer additional services like SEO optimizing and social media marketing to serve your content strategy.
Meanwhile, if you don’t have an in-house editorial team, start by hiring an editor to ensure your content aligns with your brand’s tone.
Are you ready to step up your content production, while working with a group of professional writers and editors? Elite offers content writing, editing, and social media marketing services to suit your needs.
Getting a quote is free and easy. Reach out today!
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