Content marketing is a massive field which is essential to your business. This means there is a need for you to consistently deliver top-notch content for your readers. This includes blog posts, social media posts, landing pages, and so on. Basically, not having a lot of these on your website is not an option. The question is, “how is one supposed to stay on top of all that while still attending to other aspects of running a startup or a full-grown business?”. In the early days of content marketing, you would have to hire an in-house team to develop all the content you need, or, in extreme cases, you have to be the one doing all the writing and developing all the strategies needed.
However, with the introduction of content outsourcing, you can reap the limitless benefits of content marketing for your business. The good thing is that no matter the nature of your business or its size, content marketing has promise for you. Content marketing is currently the biggest digital marketing strategy you can incorporate into your business today. Consequently, you have to let the best hands handle yours. Here is a step-by-step guide to outsourcing your content and still maintain quality.
Have a company style guide
Whether you are outsourcing to a freelancer or an agency, your content marketing will be handled by different people at some point. What you need to do first is to design a company style guide. This should serve as a vector for all the content to be developed for you, even in the future. This way, you are assured of consistency, which is very important as far as content marketing is concerned. Once you have this covered, it won’t matter how many people the agency in charge of your project has working on it. In fact, in the event that a writer becomes unavailable halfway through writing a blog post, a detailed and well-structured style guide will ensure the change of hands is not noticeable.
A company style guide should contain the preferred tone, grammar, punctuation, word choice and structure of the articles. It will help your content marketing agency create content that is consistent with your brand, so that readers won’t notice it was made by different hands. Consequently, it will help further solidify the voice of your brand generally.
The style guide should be for the general programme. However, you still need to design a brief for each piece of content. This should contain the word length, the focus of the content, the niche and the target audience. Also, you should also attach examples and an attachment of a competitor’s article you want your content to compete with. The idea is that the writer has an idea of what you need. This will save you time and the number of times you’d have to edit or even rewrite to get your dream content.
Decide what to outsource
This is the next decision you have to make immediately after developing your company content marketing plan. It is not recommended that you outsource every aspect of it. For Chris, an SEO expert at Synapse NZ, “aspects of content marketing which you can learn from and which can help in the growth of your business should be handled in-house”.
Also, areas you are an expert at should not be outsourced. Instead, you should handle them yourself and ensure they are strengthened. However, expertise isn’t the only yardstick for deciding what not to outsource. You will often find that some of your in-house experts aren’t great writers in their teams or find it extremely daunting. In this case, the area should be handled by an outsider.
Basically, anything you cannot handle efficiently in-house should be outsourced. The list includes content creation, social media management, video creation, and so on. A quick look at your company’s content marketing plan should tell you the parts you can comfortably handle in-house, the ones you need to handle, and the workload you can afford to take on. What remains is what you should outsource to professionals.
Lastly, do well to outsource content that needs a fresher perspective. Even when there is no need to free up some work for your content marketing team, you can consider outsourcing some content if you feel you will better connect with your audience through the help of fresher angles. In this case, you should be looking for a marketing agency that can pinpoint the ways to better communicate with your audience. You stand to lose them if you continue hammering on your product without targeting how your product can be better adapted or provide real-life solutions to them.
When you are done deciding to outsource and what exactly you want to outsource, the next step is to choose your writers. At this stage, there are a couple of options open to you. They all boil down to choosing between content marketing agencies and freelancers. Both have their pros and cons. It is left for you to weigh them and choose which would work best for you. For the most part, it is recommended you choose an agency.
Content marketing agencies approach your content marketing with years of experience. They know all the techniques and trends relevant to your niche. They have project managers with the same level of experience and who can ensure your project is delivered consistently. They are more reliable than freelancers. For instance, if a chosen writer for your project doesn’t work out or is not going to meet your deadline, they quickly provide another writer to take over in time. The content itself has a better chance of meeting your standard since they hire writers according to the different niches available. The ones with the expertise on your niche will be assigned to handle your project.
Also, they are more likely going to be available for a longer period of time than a freelance writer. Remember, content marketing needs consistency. If you are hoping to succeed, you need to be particular about the agency you hire. Choose a continuous content marketing programme over one-time content delivery.
Generally, agencies are more expensive than freelancers. This is the major reason some businesses choose freelancers over content marketing agencies. Another reason is their lack of flexibility. Seeing that they have their own internal system, their service delivery might be a bit limited.
Provide clear instructions
Remember, outsourcing doesn’t mean you have removed yourself from the content being developed for you. So, you need to provide the writer or agency with as much information as possible to ensure quality content. The absence of clear information leads to lots of content that needs a lot of editing work. The writer is not in your mind, so you have to be as vocal as possible so that they can better meet your expectations. This should serve as the starting point of your relationship with the writer you have hired. Map out enough time to note down clear instructions on what you need. The more information you provide, the more likely you are to get good service. Some of the areas you have to cover include:
- Target audience: knowing the target audience will help the writer determine the kind of content you need and the tone to produce it in. Writing a blog post in either a professional or casual tone can make all the difference. The secret is knowing who your readers are and your writer needs to be armed with this detail before they begin.
- Volume: most blog posts should have a word count of between 400 and 700 words. However, the nature of the content and the readers can inform the right word count. Your writer needs to know the number of words to provide.
- Point of view: you should also let the writer know whether the pieces should be in first person, second person or third person. However, most professional writers will know the best point of view for any piece. This way, they can better communicate what your brand is to your audience.
In some cases, the writer will need to contact some of your experts. He or she could also need access to some documents or your website or blog. It is recommended that you make all these available to them. If you already have some favourite articles or video content, you can bring it to their attention so that they fashion it based on them. When writing down your instructions, make sure you are not too vague or too detailed. When you give too many details, you run the risk of endangering sensitive company data. Leave it short and to the point and assure them you are available to take any questions.
Keep track of progress
You shouldn’t turn away from the development process once you have given the writer the necessary instructions. You need to constantly check in on the progress of the writing and make some corrections. This will be needed often when you hire a freelancer. Agencies have structures set in place for such checks but, even with them, you need to still pitch in sometimes to ensure everything is going as expected. You will save yourself time and resources if you make the needed changes and corrections on time.
Your reason for hiring a content marketer may vary. It could be to improve your SEO, create awareness for your brand or just to increase sales or your product or services. This means that the content created for you should reflect these goals. It is important to check in from time to time to at least make sure they are moving in this direction.
The same applies for when you hire an outside graphics designer, illustrator, or video editor. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be you. Someone else on your team needs to be assigned this task to ensure the content stays true to your brand. Waiting until the deadline to check with might have you extending deadlines or redoing the project entirely. In fact, the best way to relate with your writers is by recognising that you are on the same team. So, feel free to give tips, pointers and always ask for a rewrite if you feel like an edit is not going to cut it. It is such guidance and monitoring that will lead to that quality content you desire.
Create channels for communication
The moment you outsource your content marketing or have any outside content creator working on any part of your project, you need to create an efficient channel of communication. In fact, you have to have as much media open as possible. It essential that your content creators are able to get you anytime they need to. At the beginning of your relationship it should be part of what you should discuss. Ensure that whichever channel you choose can allow other members of your team to take note of the correspondence between both parties for future reference.
Outsourcing your content marketing is a sensitive decision. It means giving an outsider the voice to speak for your brand. It is important that you understand the implication of this step and take it seriously. Which is why you should ensure your producers and writers find you as accessible as your in-house employees do.
The main aim of bringing in outside help to manage your content marketing is for you to generate high ROI through quality content while still having enough time on your hands to attend to other aspects of running your business. But, apart from that, outsourcing your content should have other additional values. But giving an outsider such power and letting go of some aspects of your marketing can present its own challenges, especially in the area of communicating your needs efficiently or even knowing what it is you need. These steps are designed to guide you in doing just that while still maintaining quality and consistency in your content marketing.