How many hours do you clock in at work every day?
Does it seem enough?
Do you feel you could be doing more?
If you are anything like me, chances are you would be quite comfortable with a 12-hour workday, just so you can get everything off your desk before you head out of the office. Or if you could just get by with four hours of sleep each night.
Luckily for all of us who are desperately and wholeheartedly burning the candle at both ends, we live in the era of outsourcing. You can fill just about any position and find the right person for any task through the web.
However, the fact that you can outsource does not always mean you would be comfortable with handing over even a small piece of your business puzzle to someone else.
That is precisely where this guide on how to outsource content marketing comes in, aiming to help you figure out how to best outsource all (or some) of your content marketing related tasks.
Why outsource content marketing?
You could be looking into outsourcing for any number of reasons:
- You don’t have enough time to devote to your content marketing efforts
- You don’t have enough people on your team
- You don’t have the budget to hire a full-time content marketer and content writer
- You only occasionally dive into content marketing
- You have no idea where to start with content marketing
- You have tried to run content marketing campaigns in the past but have failed to achieve any tangible results
And the list goes on.
Funnily enough, 56% of B2B businesses outsource this type of work. Which means the method clearly works, at least for some of them.
Why should you not outsource content marketing?
The simplest answer to that question is “because you can do a better job”.
In order to be effective, evocative and exceptional, content marketing needs to speak from the heart, as corny as that may sound.
The best content marketing campaigns carry a very specific and targeted message, know exactly who they are targeting and how, and craft what they have to say with little to no guesswork.
In other words, they are backed up by quality research, written exceptionally well, and are in line with the brand message.
Outsourced writers and marketers will never know your brand as well as you and your team do, and you may not always be satisfied with what they come up with.
And, to be perfectly honest, there are just too many people out there calling themselves content marketers, content writers, and copywriters, often making some enviable amount of money, who haven’t got the least idea what content marketing is all about.
It may take you some time to find the right fit for your specific campaign, and there might also be some trial and error involved.
I hope all of that hasn’t scared you away, and that you are still with me on this one.
Let’s dive into my “how to outsource content marketing and not cause yourself a headache in the process” guide:
Determine what you need
Whether you are doing it yourself or assigning it to someone else, every marketing campaign needs to begin with a plan and a goal.
Ask yourself some of these questions first:
- What do I want to achieve with my campaign?
Potential answers: get more website visitors, improve conversion rates, promote the latest sale, get more people to sign up to a newsletter
- What is my budget?
Potential answers: you can choose to set a fixed budget per month or allocate a certain percentage of your monthly income to this marketing channel
- How much time do I want to allocate to this campaign?
Potential answers: anywhere from a month to a year, depending on other factors. Doing anything for less than a month does not give you enough time to either see or measure results.
- What types of content do I need?
Potential answers: blog posts, newsletters, social media posts, ebooks, podcasts, videos, tutorials, etc.
- How will I measure success?
Potential answers: depending on your goal and the types of content you will be using, you can measure anything from social shares to the number of leads acquired
Once you have all of this down, you will have a clearer idea of the kind of service you are looking for.
However, if you are a complete newbie to content marketing, and are unsure about any of your answers, it is advised that you discuss them with the person you are looking to outsource to. More on that in a minute, but the most important thing is that you need to have a clear goal in mind.
When the time comes to engage someone, they might offer their own opinions on what the best course of action may be. Listen to their ideas and give yourself enough time to evaluate them.
However, if they are trying to sell you something completely opposed to what you had in mind, and can’t reasonably explain why your original benchmarks were not good, you might want to look at other options.
Determine who to hire
You can either outsource your marketing to a freelancer or an agency. Both have clear benefits and drawbacks:
- Finding the best freelancer for the job can be a time-consuming process
- Freelancers often work on more than one project, and may not have as much time to devote to yours as you’d like
- A freelancer is just one person, and can only handle so much work
- They may not be skilled in all of the aspects of content marketing you need them to take on
On the other hand, going with an agency is not straightforward either:
- Agencies have larger overheads, which means they charge more than freelancers
- Agencies can also outsource the work to others, so you may not actually be working with the people you interviewed
- Agencies often have specific packages they offer, and may not be flexible to your needs
I’d recommend interviewing both. Look for an agency either in your area, either through recommendations or online, and speak to a few of them. A lot of them even offer free consultations, so you know very early on what the costs and potential results might be.
You can hop onto any number of online job platforms and try to find a suitable freelancer. I’d recommend staying clear of Upwork, as it requires sifting through a lot of subpar talent before you find someone worth interviewing. Problogger is great for finding content writers, but I’d mostly recommend Indeed and LinkedIn.
Communication and Cooperation
Once you have a couple of interesting prospects available, the time has come to make your choice. If you can and don’t find it too daunting, I’d even suggest outsourcing different aspects of content marketing to different people.
True, this will require more involvement on your part, but you can’t expect it to be completely hands-off, this is where you need to brush up on your management skills.
For example, you can outsource link building to one person, content writing to another person, and social media to a third. It will take some getting used to, and you will certainly have to oversee a lot of the work initially, but if you manage to find three individuals who are really good at what they do, you could have yourself a stellar little content team.
However, in order to be successful, you will need to achieve a few things: communicate clearly, in detail and on time, and find the best way to cooperate.
You need to be very clear about what you want and how you want things done. You can always defer to the expert you have engaged, and let them do what they think is best. But if what they come up with is not 100% what you had in mind, you can’t place all the blame on them if you haven’t communicated your ideas effectively.
Even if you have never done content marketing yourself, you need to be clear on what you want and know how to communicate your wishes and ideas so you may need to do some research to prepare yourself.
This means that if you are not happy with the way an article has been crafted, you are able to explain what it is you don’t like. Is it the point of view, the voice, the way it is structured? Simply saying “I don’t like this, rewrite it” will not get you anywhere, and you will also likely lose the person or agency if you are demanding a lot, but not giving much.
Finding a communication channel that works for everyone involved as early as possible in the process is also a key element. If you work in different time zones, find suitable times to communicate that work for all parties. Find one channel (Zoom, Slack, email or Asana), and stick to it, and don’t expect your contractor to check in on multiple platforms every day.
If you have chosen to take a look at every piece of content before it is published, make sure you do so on time. Marketers have their own schedules, and the fact that you had a hundred other things to do and took three weeks to get back to them will not make their job easier, so if you expect punctuality, be punctual yourself.
Try to establish a good way to collaborate with the people you hire, if you can. You don’t have to meddle too much if they don’t need your supervision, but don’t adopt the “I’m your boss and you do as I say” attitude, whether you are working with an agency or a freelancer. Listen to what they have to bring to the table, and work out the best possible solution, especially when you are hiring an expert on a subject where you have limited purview.
When to call it quits
Like I’ve said before, you may not find a perfect match the first time you go shopping. This does not mean you should give up. Revisit your initial ideas, get a few more interviews lined up and try to find the right person.
Don’t let your contractor deceive you either. While it is true that seeing tangible results can take some time, if nothing is happening, if they have nothing to show for themselves, and can’t explain where the results are in a language you can understand, the time might be time to end the contract.
Don’t be afraid of looking into outsourcing. After all, as the world keeps getting smaller, there are more and more collaboration opportunities each day, it’d be a shame to miss out.
Notes from the Editor
Outsourcing content marketing is a great way to buy time that you can spend on other important tasks like bringing in more website traffic or working on something only you can do.
It’s always good to start slowly as you learn the best ways to collaborate before you expand and the process will teach you a lot about how you can get more done by outsourcing tasks that you can teach others to do for you.
If you want to grow your reach and content output the only way is to start delegating some of the processes to other competent writers and marketers.
If you have any outsourcing tips or tricks feel free to get in touch and let us know what you have found works best for you.