If you are familiar with the saying “content is king,” it likely doesn’t surprise you that creating digital content is one of the most costly and time-consuming areas for digital marketers and companies implementing a content marketing strategy. Blog articles, marketing emails, eBooks, white papers, and infographics are all great ways to drive traffic to your website, but it isn’t free even when you are doing everything yourself. Every minute spent on content creation is one you aren’t focused on other aspects of your business.
Excellent content curation is a priority for SMA. Whether writing in-house or outsourcing to freelancers, we implement SEO best practices with each article and work to match the voice of a client using a well-developed buyer persona. Another strength is our attention to detail when editing content. Although this works well, we found that when we outsourced content writing our team spent a significant amount of time editing articles we paid freelancers to write. Paying to have content written and then spending extensive time editing is a sure-fire way to increase the cost of each article.
Over the past few months, SMA has transitioned away from assigning content writing to account managers or freelance services. We have developed a US-based team of in-house content writers. This has been a learning experience for our team, but the benefits far outweigh any transition stress.
When working with a great inbound marketing agency all content a client receives should be publishable upon receipt. As account managers, we know our clients best and it’s our responsibility to make sure that each piece of content is one our clients agree promotes their company well. That said, there are only so many hours in a day and in order to meet deadlines content development requires a team effort.
We’ve determined that we create the best content when account managers and writers work directly together. We best accomplish this with a team of in-house writers.
Freelancing services vary, and it’s important to distinguish between the options. As I’ve said before, you get what you pay for when outsourcing content. Generally speaking, the less you pay for content, the more you will have to edit before publishing. Let’s take a look at various freelancing services.
A content library platform provides pre-written blog articles. In some cases, the content is specifically for a niche or business such as real estate or a third-party marketing product. Many see this content as beneficial because it requires little editing before publishing.
The problem with buying content from a library is that you have no control over how many other people will use the exact same blog article. If you post something that is 90-100% the same as multiple other websites, Google will not be happy.
When you use a content library, you will need to add sections that personalize the article to make your content stand out amongst the multiple other websites also using the same article. Using a content library can have the exact opposite effect on your organic traffic than you expect and actually drive down your website rankings. This is a shortcut you need to avoid.
You will reduce your risk of publishing duplicate content by using a freelancing platform, but there is often little opportunity for personal contact with the writer. For example, if a writer has a question about instructions you provide when requesting an article, they aren’t always able to contact you directly.
Freelancing platforms minimize direct contact between writers and clients. In some cases, there is no direct contact allowed; in other cases, you can only ask questions through the freelancing platform. Delegating content writing is only helpful when it reduces the time you spend focusing on content writing.
When a writer is unable to clarify a writing assignment the chances of receiving content that does not meet your expectations increases significantly. If you need a writer to re-write or edit the content this extends the content production timeline and takes your focus away from other tasks.
Other challenges we’ve encountered with freelancing platforms are:
You may want to avoid the middleman and hire a freelance writer directly. Or, you might determine you need to hire an independent freelancer because a third-party site doesn’t have writers that develop content for your specific niche. It’s possible the only way to find a knowledgeable writer for your content is to contract an independent freelancer who specializes in the area. The challenge is that finding an independent freelancer may cost you more money than you prefer to pay.
Freelancers need to include their advertising and networking expenses in their writing fees. Additionally, since assignments don’t always come consistently many freelancers charge several hundred dollars an article. If you have a client who requires content written by an expert, you need to make sure you include the total cost of each article into the fee your client will pay.
It takes a lot of time to find a potential writer, review possible submissions, negotiate rates, and then work through a writing assignment with the writer. Compensation for each article needs to include your time and the writer’s time. Remember, you will spend energy finding writers, and this takes away from other tasks. Also, there is no guarantee an independent writer will be willing or available to take on more than one assignment from you.
When we began the discussion on why we wanted to transition to an in-house team of writers we had several goals.
The goals included:
In just a few weeks we’ve achieved all these goals and more. Now, we are no longer restricted in our communication opportunities with our writers. We can hop on a video call, send a text, chat via phone or even chat on Slack to make sure we are on the same page with each piece of content.
Additionally, because we assign our writers to a specific account they have access to the content calendar for the quarter. This means everyone sees the whole flow of how we’ve strategically ordered content to build upon itself, and how we see specific articles pairing together. Our in-house writers see the big picture. They know how strategic our content plan is and after getting to know the account they can strategize with us to serve our clients better.
The best part of having an in-house team of writers is the opportunity we have to continue to help our team sharpen their content writing skills and stay up to date with SEO best practices. Content writing requires a specific skill set. Excellent content will speak to a targeted audience and meet them at different stages in their Buyer’s Journey. We’re thrilled to have a team of writers dedicated to honing their writing skills who also consistently delivers high-quality writing for our clients.
Do you need help developing strategic content for your marketing efforts? We’re ready to partner with you, so give us a call.
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