Content marketing is the process of planning, creating and sharing content with the people in your target audience. Sharing content with others can help you drive organic traffic to your website, convert leads into customers and keep long-term customers engaged with your brand.
Although content marketing has many benefits, it can be difficult to find the time to create as much content as you need to meet your goals. Content outsourcing is a great way to overcome this challenge. Outsourcing refers to hiring a team of freelancers to produce articles, blog posts, landing pages, case studies and other types of content.
We created this guide to help you understand the challenges that can arise when you hire freelancers without having a plan in place for monitoring their output and making sure they understand your brand’s approach to connecting with customers. The guide also includes tips for outsourcing your content production without sacrificing quality.
Benefits of Content Outsourcing
Before we dive into the challenges of outsourcing, it’s important to understand the benefits. Working with a team of freelancers can help your business in the following ways:
Creating your own content takes time away from developing new products, connecting with customers and managing your company’s finances. A team of freelancers can take research and writing tasks off your plate, giving you more time to focus on business growth.
As a business owner, you’re responsible for supervising employees, resolving customer service issues and overseeing daily operations, among many other activities. Even if you plan to spend a few hours writing and editing content, you may have to change your schedule at the last minute based on what’s happening in your business.
As a result, it’s difficult to maintain a high level of consistency. You may publish a blog post one week and then not publish anything else for two or three weeks, making your content marketing strategy less effective than it could be if you published on a consistent basis. When you partner with a team of freelance professionals, they can work on your content no matter how busy you are.
You could hire a full-time writer to execute your content marketing strategy, but that isn’t always the best course of action. Not only does adding a team member increase your monthly payroll expenses, it also makes it more difficult to be flexible when needed. If you want to scale up your content production, a full-time writer might not be able to handle the increased workload. Conversely, if you want to slow down a little, your full-time writer won’t have enough work to do.
Working with freelancers solves this problem because you only have to pay for the content you receive. If you want to scale up, you can add another freelancer to your team; if you want to reduce your output, you can give fewer assignments.
Working with freelancers exposes you to different points of view, which may help you create content that’s more relevant to the people in your target audience. If everyone on your team has the same life experiences, it’s easy to miss out on opportunities to connect with customers from different backgrounds. For example, if your employees all come from the same region of the country, they may not understand the pain points of customers in different regions. They may also lack an understanding of important cultural traditions, making it more difficult to connect with certain market segments.
Outsourcing Content Production: Common Problems
It’s clear that outsourcing your content production has many benefits. Unfortunately, many business owners jump into outsourcing without understanding what they need to do to make sure their freelancers produce high-quality content. These are just a few of the issues that can arise when you outsource your content production without planning ahead.
Difficulty Explaining Products and Services
Nobody knows your product or service better than you do, but you must be able to explain key features and benefits to freelancers. If you can’t explain your products effectively, your freelance team won’t have enough information to write in-depth content that’s relevant and useful to your audience. This can severely affect the overall quality of the content, making your content strategy much less effective.
Content marketing is about more than writing content and publishing it on your website. You need to create a content plan, monitor content quality and provide actionable feedback to ensure each writer has enough information to write in-depth content. You may think it’s easier to do everything in-house, but if you don’t have the time to oversee each project, the quality of your content is likely to suffer.
Fortunately, you can take advantage of the benefits of outsourcing without spending a lot of time managing a freelance team. At Crowd Content, clients have access to expert project managers who are responsible for monitoring content quality, updating project instructions and ensuring only the most talented writers are assigned to each project.
Lack of Investment in Brand Story
Storytelling isn’t just for fiction books; it’s also an important aspect of your marketing strategy as it can help you build trust and increase customer loyalty. Many business owners are concerned that freelance writers won’t be able to tell their story effectively. If you don’t take the time to find a writer who can communicate effectively with your prospects and customers, the quality of your content won’t be as good as it should be.
How to Outsource Effectively
Most of the challenges described above come up when a business owner rushes into working with a team of freelancers. If you don’t take the time to find the right people, set reasonable expectations and provide ongoing feedback, the quality of your content is likely to decline. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent these problems and maintain a high level of quality without developing every piece of content by yourself.
If you’re concerned that a freelance writer won’t be able to tell your story as well as you could, reserve storytelling projects for staff members and outsource other types of content to trusted freelancers. Product descriptions, SEO city pages and educational articles don’t require as much storytelling, so you can hand them off to a freelancer without losing out on an opportunity to get customers interested in the story of your business.
Alternatively, you could spend a few hours educating freelancers on your products and services, giving them the information they need to tell your brand’s story effectively. If you decide to take this route, you may need to pay each freelancer an hourly rate for their time, even if you’ve already agreed on a per-word or per-piece rate for your content.
Before you start a new project, have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. If you don’t set goals early on, you won’t be able to determine if your content marketing efforts are successful. Metrics can also help you assess the quality of the content developed by your freelance team. Here are some of the metrics you can use:
- Social shares: Determine how many times your posts have been shared on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The more shares you have, the more opportunities you have to attract new customers.
- Visitors: Track how many visitors land on your pages each month and then compare that number to how many monthly visitors you had before you published the new content.
- Search engine rankings: Google rewards website owners who focus on quality. If your page rankings improve after you start working with a team of freelancers, that’s a good sign they’re producing quality content.
- Backlinks: When Website A links to Website B, that link is known as a backlink. Google sees each backlink as a sign of quality; after all, you wouldn’t want to send your audience members to a site with irrelevant or low-quality content. Before you start working with a team of freelancers, determine how many backlinks you already have. If you have many more backlinks after publishing the new content, that’s another sign your freelancers are focusing on quality and relevance.
- Bounce rate: Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visitors who leave your site immediately after landing on one of your pages. A high bounce rate may indicate the content doesn’t meet the visitor’s needs. If your bounce rate decreases after you start outsourcing, it could indicate that visitors like the new content better than the older content.
Style and Branding Guidelines
If you plan to work with multiple freelancers, make sure you provide detailed style and branding guidelines. A style guide explains how your content should be written and formatted, ensuring consistency across all platforms. Branding guidelines are standards for representing your company; they may include logos, colour palettes and design elements specific to your business. Having every writer follow the same guidelines ensures your visitors won’t be confused when they read your content.
Eliminate confusion by providing clear instructions for each project. Detailed instructions make it easier for freelancers to meet your expectations, and they can also prevent delays caused by misunderstandings. When you launch a new project, consider including the following in your creative brief:
- Minimum/maximum word counts
- Guidelines for sentence and paragraph length (e.g. “Write short paragraphs” or “No more than four sentences per paragraph”)
- Formatting requirements (bold, italics, HTML tags, bulleted lists, etc.)
- Terms to avoid
- Keywords to include in the content
- Description of where the content will be published or how it will be used
- Demographic information about your target audience
- Reference requirements
- Linking requirements (internal and external links)
Before you start a project, set clear expectations regarding your delivery requirements. Some business owners prefer to receive each piece of content as it’s completed, while others prefer to receive batches of content each week or each month. If you want the content to go through several rounds of editing and quality assurance review, account for these extra stages when setting your expectations.
If possible, create a buffer between each deadline and the date you plan to publish the final content. For example, if you want to publish a blog post on March 10, you might want to set the deadline for March 1 so you have time to review it and request any needed changes.
One of the best ways to prevent misunderstandings is to give your freelancers at least one example to follow when they’re writing. If you find a blog post that does a great job of telling a brand’s story, include a link in your order brief. You can also provide samples of your past content and tell freelancers what you want them to repeat and what you want them to avoid.
Start Outsourcing Today
Crowd Content has a team of freelancers available to provide a wide range of writing services. We even offer managed content services, connecting you with an expert project manager who can oversee your entire project from beginning to end and helping you reap the benefits of outsourcing without having to do your own editing and content review.