Outsourcing doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Many companies successfully outsource their content marketing strategy to both save money and tap a large pool of specialized talent, but it does take a little work. If not properly managed, flaky workers, inconsistencies and missed deadlines can quickly sink even the most thoroughly planned content marketing campaign. But when managed successfully, outsourcing will give you access to content that is of a far greater quality than could otherwise be achieved.
Create a Complete, Concise Content Packet
- Pay attention to form and content. Don’t take anything for granted. All writers are different and may be coming in with different assumptions.
- Show, don’t tell. A good sample is worth its weight in gold. It’s far easier to provide one or more samples than try to express what you want in directions.
- Be brief. The longer your instructions are, the less likely it is that someone is going to read through all of them. This is just an unfortunate truth.
While it may be cheaper to upload your projects piecemeal and go with the lowest bidder each time, it’s not going to give you a cohesive content marketing strategy. Even if you find a single writer that you know you can work with in the future, you’re at their mercy; if they leave you, you need to go through the entire process again. After a certain point, the process becomes more costly than it’s worth. If you choose a single writer, choose one who is very well-established within your industry and will remain available to you. A small, dedicated team will give you more flexibility for larger scale projects.
Always Have a Content Manager
The role of a content manager is extremely important. A content manager should curate content, ensuring that all content is consistent and up to current quality standards. Content managers will often polish pieces, giving them a full editing pass, checking facts and adding relevant formatting and images. Without a single person ensuring the quality of the work, quality will quickly become erratic. If you’re working with a content marketing team, it’s likely they will already have a manager in charge. If not, it’s important to find someone who can continuously monitor the quality of your content.
- Express deadlines and pay rates clearly from the beginning. It will expedite the process and ensure that you get what you want when you need it.
- Provide specific feedback — even on work that is good but not great. Writers will look to this feedback to improve and will not be able to improve otherwise.
- Be clear about scope. If you’re going to need the writer for future work, let them know. This will make it easier to secure them in the future.
Watch for the Red Flags
You know how they say “When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time”? It’s great advice for all types of relationships, including business relationships. Any hitches you encounter during a first job with a new writer or content marketing team is probably going to set the tone of your future relationship. Were they fast, courteous and accurate? You’ve probably struck gold. Were they slow, ineffective and off the mark? Unless your directions were very poor, this is likely to continue. Don’t feel as though you need to commit to something that just isn’t working; it will only frustrate you in the long run.
Avoid “Grass is Greener” Syndrome
As you optimize your content strategy, it can be tempting to try out new content teams and new writers. Testing is a fantastic idea; you can bring in new perspectives and potentially get lower bids. Flipping from one writer to another at a rapid pace, however, is a bad idea. It doesn’t give your content strategy any time to settle nor does it give each writer time to acclimate, ultimately creating an incoherent jumble rather than a cohesive whole. Often, companies think that they can get work done better or cheaper and end up trying out a long sequence of writers… only to find that, at the end of the process, the original writer that they had is no longer available for their work.
Outsourcing effectively requires that you be very clear about your expectations and that you conscientiously manage the content that you bring in. The benefits to outsourcing are numerous: you have a wealth of talent to choose from, you have complete flexibility on a project-by-project basis and you pay only for the services that you need. But the drawbacks exist, too: you need to invest some time in finding dependable people. Outsourcing will only be as effective as your outsourced talent is, regardless of budget and content goals.