January 17, 2019
Outsourcing writing can be intimidating. If you're used to dealing with an in-house team, the thought of hiring someone from outside the company may seem risky. Keeping the entire team on the same page requires new tools and there's not much recourse if the freelance writer decides to ghost you.
Like most things, the reality is far less scary than the horror scenarios your brain can imagine up. While there are several things to watch out for if your company is going to outsource content creation, there are also dozens of benefits. Here, we'll give you guidance so you can decide if outsourcing is right for your business. Then we'll show you where to find high-quality writers and how to make the most of your remote team.
Today, the majority of B2B companies run online blogs. Creating new content each week is essential to the growth of your company. Writing high-quality content helps your company build its reputation as an expert and thought leader in your industry or niche. Great content helps build trust and authority and consumers are more likely to be interested in your products if they think they're the best or backed by research.
Content also helps to make your business more visible and drives traffic to your site. The main funnel for this is known as search engine optimization or SEO. The first step in creating great content involves doing market and keyword research to see what types of things your potential customers are searching for. Once you hone in on that, you can create content tailored to those search terms. This improves your rank in search engines, which ensures customers see what your business has to offer. All of this is accomplished by writing informational and engaging content.
There are two ways to go when you need to create content: outsource content writing or create it in-house. In-house writing has the benefit of keeping the entire team under one roof, making it easier to stay on the same page and up-to-date. However, hiring in-house means you have to limit your potential applicant pool to the local or regional area. This means you may miss out on some of the very best writers, simply because they aren't located in your area.
For small business owners, the question may revolve more around whether it's worth it to hire a professional writer or simply do the work yourself. The first step when thinking about outsourcing content creation is to ask the hard questions. Ask yourself if you are an expert in the content subject matter. If you are not, you need to evaluate whether you can learn the material and if you can't, it's a great idea to outsource the content writing. Remember, you want your content to build authority and you can't do that if you don't have the knowledge.
You also need to be realistic when it comes to your time. For many business owners, the day is crammed full from start to finish. Adding on the task of content creation can mean that other things get pushed to the wayside. The beauty of outsourcing content writing is that it saves time. You can focus on managing and running other aspects of the business.
Writing is not easy for everyone. It involves a skill set that is honed over many years of practice. Great writers don't happen overnight, they are the product of years of finesse, fine-tuning, learning alongside editors. As a business owner, you simply may not have great writing skills and that's ok; you're great at other things! As they saying goes, sometimes it's best to leave things to the professionals.
Your answers to these questions may change dramatically depending on the type of content you need to produce. You may be well positioned to write social media posts and press releases that show off your branding and less suited for writing technical pieces such as white papers. Hiring an outside writing team is a great choice if you need to produce expertly researched content.
Lastly, being realistic about your budget is essential in determining when outsourcing content writing services is a good fit. Just because you pay a writer to create content doesn't mean it is going to be good. You need to work with professional level writers and they don't come cheap. Many great writers charge anywhere from $250-$500 per written piece. These costs can add up quickly, especially if you need to produce a large amount of content consistently. For many small businesses, the cost simply isn't workable. If you can write the content at a lower cost without sacrificing quality, it may be better to write yourself or keep the team in-house.
There is no right answer here. Whether you outsource your content or not will depend largely on factors that are unique to your business. While outsourced content is a good fit for bigger companies, it may not be ideal for small businesses depending on the circumstances. You can also do a blend of the two. Create some content yourself and outsource the content you are not an expert at or simply don't have time to create.
Once you've decided to use someone else's writing services, you need to find the right person. As mentioned, you can't just hire anyone who wants to write for you. Writers are a dime a dozen and quality can be all over the map. Keep in mind during your search that you're looking for someone to write the best content possible, not to churn out pieces simply because you have to. You want your content to be engaging and interesting so your potential customers come back for more. The only way to do this is to hire a talented writer.
You also want to make sure the professional writer can create the right content. Just because a writer creates excellent viral content doesn't mean they'll be a good fit for a technical publication. Know what type of content you need to produce before evaluating potential writers.
Finding the right person also means they should be a good fit for company culture. You want someone who can mesh well with your marketing team, especially if they'll be working remotely. Many companies build long-term relationships with freelance writers that perform well. This helps to ensure future content creation and makes it easier when it comes to onboarding and writing in the company voice and on brand. Look for writers that respond promptly and concisely. You can also use tools such as Asana and Slab to keep the content marketing team up-to-date and make documents easy to find.
So you've decided to outsource content creation; what's the next step? You need to decide whether you'll find the right content person yourself or use a professional agency. If you choose to do the hiring yourself, you'll need to create job postings and analyze the submissions yourself. If you go with an agency like The Writer Finder, they'll do all the legwork for you.
Next, you'll need to determine which tools to use when hiring freelance writers. Popular freelance job sites include Upwork and ProBlogger. You'll need to carefully evaluate candidates since these sites don't guarantee quality and you're likely to get some sub-par applications.
When creating a job posting, make sure to be clear in what you expect. The more specific you make your job posting, the more likely you are to weed through low-quality writers and find the right person. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Being upfront about these topics will help narrow candidates down to the ones that best fit your business needs.
Make your job posting harder to apply to. You don't want every Tom, Dick, and Harry who's written a blog to apply. Include specific instructions such as a certain subject line when they respond or have them go through a couple hoops to make it to the second round. If you don't, you'll end up with an overwhelming amount of low-quality applications that will take time to sift through.
When evaluating potential candidates, make sure to check that the person can create the type of content you’re looking for. Evaluate whether they have the skills and experience necessary to get the job done right.
Ask for writing samples. This is often the best way to determine if the writer fits into your company brand and has the expertise required for the job. You don't want to settle for a good writer when you can have a great writer. Be picky and selective and make sure the writer produces content that meets your standards. If they don't, keep searching.
Keep a spreadsheet of all your applicants and their information so you can easily run through it. Add a column and disqualify any candidates that aren't the right fit or any that raise red flags. Once you have narrowed it down to a few dozen writers, you can start conducting interviews. If the writer is in your area, you can sit down one-on-one for the interview. If they are remote, it's still a good idea to meet face-to-face using tools such as Skype or our favorite: Zoom.
Video interviews help you understand the candidate's personality better than phone interviews. You can feel out the person's demeanor and see if they're a good fit for your content strategy team. During the interview, ask about their experience and previous clients. Make sure there aren't any discrepancies with their application. You can also take this time to explain the role more in-depth.
Content is essential to any marketing strategy. Outsourcing can help you meet your content needs while building trust and driving conversions among potential customers.
This handy guide can help you determine if it's time to hire a professional writer or to pen the content yourself.
Content writing can be time-consuming and costly so you'll need to be realistic to find the best fit for your business. Content production isn't for everyone, you need great writing skills, industry knowledge, and time to create engaging web content. If you can't check these boxes, you should think about outsourcing to professional content creators.