Unless you have a dedicated in-house content creation team, it’s likely your content creation efforts will fall behind or just seem really laborious. After all, you’re busy focusing on other time-consuming tasks related to your business.
However, without regular and high-quality content, your reach, traffic, conversions and brand awareness can suffer. That’s why, if you find yourself neglecting your content or just want to ramp up in other areas, it may be time to start outsourcing content creation.
Here, I’ll explain how you can effectively outsource your content in three steps.
1. Identify Your Needs
Before you start looking at content agencies, identify what kind of content you need and how often it should be produced.
For example, if you are lacking a social media presence, you might need daily social media posts and weekly blog posts. Or, if you’re keeping up on social media but need some more in-depth content to establish your company’s credibility, you might need help writing ebooks.
I recently explored the kinds of content different types of businesses are focusing on and outsourcing. For example, in my most recent post about the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 Technology Content Marketing report, we discuss how tech companies find ebooks, white papers, case studies and research reports to be the most effective types of content. On the other hand, B2C companies see the best results from social media posts, videos, illustrations and photos, while B2B companies prefer ebooks, white papers, case studies and social media posts.
Keep those industry trends in mind when deciding what kinds of content you want to focus on.
Before you engage with the agency of choice, have your requirements in mind (as much as possible). Don’t skimp on the nitty-gritty details for your content needs. This can include:
- Word count targets.
- The amount of money you’re prepared to spend.
- The amount of blog posts, social media posts, ebooks or other types of content you’ll need on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, etc.).
- Amount of content you’ll need on a one-time basis.
- Key topics you’d like to cover in your content.
If you provide enough details and information for a high-quality content agency to work with, the content you receive is sure to meet or exceed your expectations. Plus, if an agency can’t work with your budget or proposed schedule, you’ll know in advance.
2. Choose the Right Content Agency
Now that you’ve identified your needs, it’s time to select the right content agency.
First, look for an agency that understands the difference between quality content and low-quality content. Given that some content creators peddle content for absurdly low prices, it’s almost impossible to overstate how essential it is to prioritize quality over price.
This is just the beginning. You’ll also need to find a content agency that has the proper skill set. You’re looking for great writers, but it’s also valuable to seek out those who understand how to market that content, so you can have intelligent conversations about what happens after the content is delivered.
As Jessica outlined in a previous blog post, great content marketers should have specific skills, including:
- The ability to think of content in terms of strategy.
- Strong writing skills, such as attention to detail, a journalistic approach and the ability to use an adaptable voice.
- An understanding of internet marketing.
- The ability to conduct in-depth research.
- Experience in multiple types of content, both online and offline.
Let’s talk a bit more about the first bullet point: strategy. Any good content agency will be able to help you develop a comprehensive strategy, which will take into account your business goals, marketing goals, brand identity, target audience and channels.
(To learn more about content strategy, sign up for our mailing list to the right if you’re not on there already to get instant access to our ebook on your content strategy blueprint).
Additionally, it’s important to find an agency that has good reviews. A good way to get a cursory look at a content agency’s areas of expertise is by looking at their client testimonials or case studies.
3. Establish an Effective Process
You want to ensure a good working relationship with your content creators. Typically, a good agency will guide you on how they like to work in order to create the best content for your brand.
You should be available to your content agency during the content creation process. It’s essential that you keep the lines of communication open so that the content agency can ask questions and access your company’s expertise and internal resources as needed.
This way, the content agency can act as an extension of your company’s brand, and produce content with a consistent voice and level of knowledge throughout.
The content agency should work with you to establish things like:
- Topics and an editorial calendar that can include a project timeline with key deliverable dates.
- The organization’s subject matter experts, whom the writers can connect with as needed.
- What level of involvement you can expect (with examples of what the outcome—the content—will look like when the client is more hands off or more hands on).
One way for all parties to get on the same page about the content is for the agency to create content outlines that you sign off on before the agency starts writing, so there are no surprises and the editing process takes less time. (For more information on outline creation, take a look at Jessica’s post on the subject.)
And, to minimize lengthy back-and-forth reviews, the editing process might look something like this:
- A topic outline is presented for approval—if you like it, you sign off on it. If you don’t, it’s back to the drawing board.
- A first draft, based on that outline, is delivered.
- You conduct your first round of edits, which should serve to refine the content and fill in any gaps.
- The content agency reviews those edits, incorporates them and completes any additional edits of their own.
- You receive the final draft.
(To learn more about the editing process, check out Jessica’s blog post on the difference between proofreading and editing.)
As you can see, an efficient and organized working relationship with your content agency streamlines the engagement.
At the end of the day, choosing to outsource your content can benefit your organization’s online presence, extend its reach and establish a consistent brand voice, all while freeing up your team’s time.
Are you planning to outsource your content? What do you anticipate will be the most challenging part of the process? Or, if you’ve already outsourced your content, were you pleased with the results? Let me know in the comments below!