In a study conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, more than half of the respondents reported outsourcing some parts of their content marketing, with content creation topping the list of outsourced services. Content marketing can be a massive burden for businesses that do not have the skill or manpower to generate premium content, but what’s the most effective way to tackle content outsourcing?
Should you hire an agency or a freelancer? Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast answer to this question, as both approaches have pros and cons. Our guide discusses the benefits of both approaches, along with actionable tips for selecting the best option based on your business needs.
When Should You Outsource Your Content Development?
Many business owners are unsure if outsourcing is the best solution to their content development needs. Here are several situations where content outsourcing will offer the most benefit.
1. If you have no writing skills.
The most common reason business owners outsource their content development is their lack of web content writing skills. Being a writer is different from being a web content writer. Web content writing involves writing for humans and search engines (SEO), a skill not all business owners have. Outsourcing your content marketing to skilled freelancers or agencies is a great way to strike a good balance between both.
2. If you have zero knowledge about SEO.
Search Engine Optimization is a constantly evolving field, and staying abreast of the latest SEO trends is crucial for web content to succeed. More often than not, business owners do not have the time or focus to keep up with these changes. Therefore, outsourcing your writing to freelancers or agencies with SEO experience is often the best choice.
3. If you want to free up more time.
A regular blog post consists of 500 to 2,500 words, which may require hours to write. Outsourcing your content development initiatives can free up your time so you can focus on more important tasks.
4. If you’re looking to save.
This is the most obvious reason to outsource your content writer. Freelance writers and content writing agencies are cheaper than hiring an in-house employee as you won’t have to pay benefits, taxes, or social security.
5. If you’re not looking to commit to an in-house employee.
Outsourcing your content creation means having the flexibility to hire or let go of writers depending on your changing needs. Hiring an in-house writer is a long-term commitment, and you may feel stuck with them even if the quality of their writing has dipped.
Another reason to outsource is your content frequency. Depending on the season, the amount of content you need may change, and having an in-house writer may not be a cost-effective solution.
How Freelancers Work
As solo business owners, freelance content writers work independently to find clients, conduct research, generate content, and edit their work. Web content writers typically have all the skills required to produce content from start to finish, which equates to lower overhead costs.
As self-employed individuals, freelancers have complete control over their job, including the ability to define their rates, restrictions, and working hours.
Pros of hiring freelancers
- Cost-effectiveness. Freelancers are cheaper to hire, while well-established agencies typically have higher overhead costs and rates.
- Expertise. You hire freelancers based on their knowledge and specialization, so you’ll most likely receive a product that reflects their experience. This isn’t always the case with agencies. When you hire an agency, you’re unsure who’ll complete your work, and it could be an entry-level writer for all you know.
- Flexibility. Freelancers, unlike agencies, do not need long-term contracts. You may hire a freelancer to work as many or as few hours as you require.
- Negotiable. As opposed to agencies, freelancers are more negotiable when discussing their rates and services. This is especially beneficial if you’re looking to save.
Cons of hiring freelancers
- Poor availability. Freelancers have the freedom to take on multiple clients, so they won’t always have time reserved for you. This may become an issue when looking to get an impromptu or urgent project done.
- Hard to replace. Unless otherwise agreed upon, freelancers have the flexibility to stop offering their services anytime they want to. When a freelancer drops you, it may be challenging to look for a replacement, especially if your freelancer already knows all the technicalities of your work.
- Coordination difficulties. While freelancers can work independently, they still need some oversight. You will likely have to guide them along the way, ensuring they understand your expectations and deadlines. This means setting time for regular alignments and feedback sessions.
How Agencies Work
Several professionals work together in a content writing agency to fulfill your content request. Content agencies usually consist of a team of writers, editors, graphic designers, project managers, account managers, and accountants. The team may consist of full-time employees, freelancers, or a mix of both.
Because agencies work with an in-house team of professionals, they usually function during regular business hours and are easier to get in touch with.
We pride ourselves on our stellar team of writers who must undergo three months of training before producing content. All content orders come with in-depth keyword research, specialist writing, relevant media, and website publishing.
Pros of hiring agencies
- Scalable. Agencies are composed of a team of professionals who can handle large projects. This is especially beneficial if you’re looking to ramp up your content production.
- Little oversight. While freelancers require hand-holding, agencies have project managers who can oversee projects on your behalf. Unlike freelancers, an agency may quickly bring in more staff if a project runs late.
- Access to topic experts. Outsourcing firms often include writers that concentrate on various topics, which is hugely beneficial for businesses that require highly specialized topics for their content.
- All-inclusive packages. Most content writing agencies have packaged their services to offer everything you need in content development. This includes writing, SEO services, content strategizing, localization, or translation. (thereader.com)
Cons of hiring agencies
- Higher costs. In most cases, agencies will always be more expensive than freelancers due to their overhead costs.
- Lack of focus on smaller clients. Agencies with large clients usually focus most of their attention and resources on them, leaving smaller clients on the sidelines. While not all agencies are like this, it’s wise to ensure that the agency still values you even if you aren’t a significant source of revenue.
- Challenging coordination. While agencies offer the benefit of a project manager handling your content, your instructions may get lost in translation when they get passed over to the project team. This is significantly more frustrating if the agency doesn’t allow direct access to the people working on your project.
Things to Consider Before Outsourcing
Before hiring a contractor to handle your content generation, here are some important tips.
Determine your content needs
Different types of content require different skill sets. For example, a social media copywriter may not have the skills to develop long-form articles, while casual bloggers may not have the know-how to produce formal whitepapers.
On the same note, not all writers and agencies have the knowledge to write about your topic, especially if your business is in a highly technical field like law or medicine. Be sure to interview your freelancer or agency about what content they can produce and topics they can cover before going into a contract.
Gauge your project complexity
Does your project require multiple skill sets to finish? If so, you may need more than one person to complete it. For example, a regular blog post may require a writer, a graphic designer, and an SEO specialist. While you can hire three different freelancers with these skill sets, the more cost-effective solution is to hire an agency to handle more complex work.
When you sign up for a package at Hands-Off Publishing, you get access to our dedicated writers, SEO experts, and graphic designers who can cover all your content requirements. That’s far more convenient than hiring different freelancers to work on one project.
Have a style guide ready
A style guide can help ensure that your contractor stays on brand with the content they create. A well-made style guide or brand book can direct writers, graphic designers, and video creators on how to adapt to your particular voice or design. It should include details about your preferred grammar or tone and technical guidelines like your brand color palette or logo placement.
Be specific about the work you need
When outsourcing content development to a contractor, it’s essential to be extra clear about your instructions. Apart from providing a style guide to abide by, make sure to relay any information that will help the worker produce the exact type of content you need.
Our clients are required to fill up a project information form that outlines everything they need for their content, which lessens the possibility of mistakes down the road.
Many business owners fall into the trap of leaving the work entirely to the contractor without measuring the effectiveness of the content they produce. How will you know if your freelancer or agency is contributing positively to your business goals without any KPIs?
Several metrics to watch out for include organic traffic, social media engagement, average time on page, and the number of generated leads and conversions. Tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Buffer can help you track your KPIs to see if you’re reaching your business objectives.
Find the Perfect Partner for Your Content Development Needs
Looking to outsource your content creation? Our ultimate goal is in our name: for you to be completely hands-off with your content development needs. We manage all the steps of content generation, from topic research and SEO to graphic design and publishing. We work with high-level publishers and are responsible for endless page 1 rankings and hundreds of thousands of pageviews.
Feel free to contact our content experts for more information about how we can help you reach your content marketing goals with authority blogs that generate results. Learn more about Hands-Off Publishing here.