Recently, I was talking to a client about their blogging efforts. Their team had been blogging for several months, but as time went on, their blogging has fizzled out as they have gone from a few posts a month to one every several weeks.
This is a common scenario. Oftentimes, businesses have the best of intentions when it comes to blogging and content marketing, but they discover it’s more than they can handle on their own.
That’s why many businesses opt to outsource their content marketing. And, that’s exactly what I recommended to this client.
We’ve helped clients with both approaches — we provide guidance and optimization for their content or we have developed the content for them. Either way can work, the question becomes can you fuel your blog with internal resources or should you bring in outside help to get the job done?
There’s no right answer. But, there are pros and cons to outsourcing content. You have to determine which approach is right for your business.
Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Content Marketing
If you’re considering outsourcing your blog and content marketing efforts, here are some pros and cons help you evaluate this approach.
- Strategy. Marketing firms can help you develop an overall content strategy around the kinds of content you should be creating and how to integrate this into your overall digital marketing strategy.
- Consistency. An external resource — whether it be an agency, consultant or freelancer — will be more likely to stay focused on the content and ensure that the job gets done with regular consistency.
- Saves time. Outsourcing saves you and your staff the time it would take to come up with blog post ideas, write, optimize and post them to your site.
- Better writing. Hiring a skilled content marketer will give you higher quality content that is written to appeal to your audience. This is especially valuable for longer form content, such as white papers and eBooks.
- Optimized content. Outsourcing content to an agency will ensure the content is optimized for search engines and is set up appropriately on your site.
- Outside perspective. Sometimes, it takes someone outside of the business to identify fresh ideas and angles to present your story and information in a compelling way.
- Cost effective. Outsourcing content to a freelancer or consultant is often cheaper than hiring internal resources (or reallocating staff) to get to the job done.
- Tie efforts to results. Although you might have the ability to do this on your own, most outsourced consultants are skilled at understanding analytics and how to tie content marketing efforts to leads and new business. They can also analyze the numbers and recommend tweaks to improve your efforts.
- Lacks subject matter expertise. Although outsourced resources might be talented writers, they might not know your industry. Make sure they understand your business and can do the research to write content that is valuable to your business.
- Author issues. When you outsource content, you have to think about who will be the author of the post. Should it be ghostwritten for one of your team members or do you want an external team member to have their name on it? Each presents its own set of challenges, so you have to think through what makes sense.
- Weakened brand voice. When someone else writes for you, it can be difficult to capture your brand’s personality and voice. Your team members will be better equipped to showcase who you are as a business.
- Access to content. Your agency partner doesn’t have the access to the content that you do. You have to dedicate the time to give that information to them or they’ll be struggling to come up with information on their own.
- Credibility. There are scores of companies creating low-quality content that could cause all sorts of trouble for your brand. Be wary of content mills or content farms that churn out content on the cheap. It’s much better to work with a trusted digital marketing agency.
How to outsource content marketing successfully
It’s important to remember that content marketing is an investment. Whether you decide to manage it on your own or work with an outsourced partner, you must have the buy-in from your team to make it successful.
And, you must be willing to dedicate the time and resources to get the job done. That means outsourcing your blog shouldn’t be a set it and forget it solution. Someone from your team needs to be involved in the process to ensure the content rings true with your brand.
What do you think? Is it ever okay to outsource content? Why or why not?
Image credit: Thomas Hawk
12 replies on “Should You Outsource Content Marketing?”
Just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should do something. Even though you have a vested interest and think you can do it better than someone else, it is truly the best use of your time?
There are definitely pros and cons and you touched on most; level of sustainable commitment is key if you are going to do it in-house. We struggle with the same thing on our site @LanierUpshaw.
Since I know this topic well, I thought I’d just click on it to see what you had to say….:).
So very true, Bill! I use this analogy all the time – yes, you can file your own taxes, but should you? It’s far better to hire someone who’s skilled in an area you’re not so you can focus on what you do best. It’s common to think that way when it comes to doctors, lawyers and accountants, but not when it comes to marketing.
Thanks for clicking and stopping by! It’s always so good to see you, amigo! 🙂
Your pro/con list is pretty accurate. Outsourcing isn’t for everyone, but it works for a lot of our clients.
Thanks for your kind words, Sherrilynne! I agree – outsourcing not a perfect fit all of the time. In fact, if you can keep content marketing in house, I think that’s certainly preferable. But, it’s not realistic for a lot of companies.
I think you can, but you have to address all the concerns you mentioned. Outsourcing only works if the person hired actually can do the work well and has the drive and interest to make the employer shine.
Great points, Erin. I think outsourcing makes a ton of sense if you have the right partner. The problem is there are a lot of shady outfits out there, so you have to make sure you choose a reputable company and not a spammy content mill.
The most difficult case for outsourcing is when your company really needs the voice of the subject matter experts to shine. We built our service around this particular issue using professional radio broadcasters to conduct interviews with the experts. We then transcribe and rewrite in their own words.
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That’s a great point, Dave. Great writers are good at capturing company voice, but it will always ring truer if it comes from the company themselves. Whenever possible, I think the company should generate the content. But, if they can’t or won’t, outsourcing can be better than nothing at all.
And thanks for offering up that resource. Sounds like that could be valuable for a lot of folks!
There’s some middle ground Laura, it’s not always an either or proposition. Lot of freelance folks out there that would be happy to kick in a well written post now and again. Rather than white papers, give them a topic just like an assignment editor. Paying someone to do writing that’s neutral is truly the brand journalism aspect of content marketing.
Agreed, Frank. That’s an excellent point. I think there are some purists that are totally against outsourcing, but I think it can be valuable if handled appropriately – whether it’s just some of the time or for everything. For the client I mentioned in this post, they’re still going to be doing some writing, we’re just working to augment what they’re doing to get them more consistent.
Hi Laura, great article. As a freelance writer, I can tell you when the client values my contribution and makes the efforts to give me what I need, I will do what it takes to make him/her shine.
In my corporate past, I hired many writers and know the right chemistry and cooperative effort, on both sides, can work spectacularly.
Great points, Terrance. It can definitely work great with the right team in place!