Content marketing is becoming more and more popular, and as it gains in popularity, it begins to present particular challenges to brands. According to the 2017 State of the Creator Economy study (SOCE), 70 percent of marketers had past-year experience with content marketing. While the majority of marketers (63 percent) do keep their content marketing in house, for companies that are struggling to put together a cohesive vision for content marketing or delegate the work to the appropriate departments, content marketing outsourcing can offer several benefits.
Budgets for content marketing are increasing, too, with nearly 30 percent of marketers having budgets of more than half a million dollars for their brands. But the increased popularity of and budget for content marketing raises some questions.
One of the of questions is: “Who should be responsible for content marketing?” The 2017 SOCE found that accountability for content marketing straddled several different departments at many companies, reducing efficiency.
What Is Content Marketing Outsourcing?
According to Entreprenuer, content marketing outsourcing is the practice of having content creation jobs performed by an individual or company who is not an employee or department of your own company.
When it comes to content marketing outsourcing, the practice involves hiring a freelancer (or multiple freelancers) or a marketing agency to handle all of the ins and outs of marketing. The freelancer or agency evaluate which type of content will help a brand achieve its goals, come up with a calendar or schedule for that content, and then create it. The freelancer or agency should also help with publishing and distributing content.
Why Outsource Content Marketing?
According to the SOCE, just 16 percent of brands worked with an external agency in 2016. Meanwhile, only 14 percent worked with freelancers, and a tiny 6 percent used external technology partners to handle their content marketing.
While content marketing outsourcing might not be as easy as in-house marketing, it does offer certain advantages to the right company.
It’s more cost-effective
Although nearly one third of brands have $500,000 or more to spend on content marketing, not every company has money to burn. Content marketing outsourcing can be the more cost-effective choice. You can set your budget, then look for agencies or individual freelancers who are within that range.
According to Neil Patel, it’s possible to find quality freelancers within the $50- to $100-per-hour range, but you might not be able to find an agency that charges less than a few hundred dollars per hour for a full suite of content marketing services. That might sound like a lot of money, but if you only need to work with a freelance content writer for a few hours a month, it’s still a lot less than the median annual salary for a content writer, which is $42,577.
You get a range of skills
Content marketing takes a village. You can hire a writer, and that writer might produce excellent blog posts and other text, but they probably won’t have the skills needed to get your content out there. Additionally, your writer only does one form of content: written. With more than half of internet users watching a video online daily, your brand would be remiss to focus only on producing written content.
Content marketing outsourcing to an agency gives you a team of people who are experienced in all facets of content marketing. That’s everything from strategy to creation, and from distribution to amplification.
It provides a different point of view
When you’re working with a company for a long time, or when you’re working with the same people day in and day out, things can start to get stale. You know what to expect from your co-workers, and you begin to expect certain things for your brand and from your brand.
With content marketing outsourcing, either by working with an agency or individual freelancers, you benefit from an outsider’s perspective. The agency or freelancer can provide you with a new way of looking at a problem or thinking about your brand, which can make your content marketing strategy come to life.
It offers access to technology
Work smarter, not harder. Often, bringing in an outside partner also provides you with access to content marketing technology that would otherwise be unavailable or prohibitively expensive.
Content marketing technology can include analytics software that tracks how your brand’s content is performing, marketing automation programs that take the hassle out of sharing content, and editorial calendars that allow your brand to scale its content creation schedule up as it grows.
How to Outsource
The first step to content marketing outsourcing is figuring out how much of the content marketing process you want to outsource. Perhaps you have a team of marketers who will handle strategy, distribution, and amplification in house, but don’t have anyone to create the content for you. In that case, you want to start by looking for freelance content creators.
If you want to outsource the whole kit and kaboodle of content marketing, you’ll be better off connecting with an agency rather than hiring a team of individual freelancers to take on each task.
Keep in mind that outsourcing your content marketing to an agency doesn’t mean fully washing your hands of it. You’ll want to have at least one person from your company act as the mediator between your brand and the agency. Your go-between should make sure that the agency is clear on what your brand wants from its content marketing, and should also be able to explain what’s going on with content marketing to the executives and higher-ups at your brand.
Whether you decide to work with an agency or freelancer, approach outsourcing as you would any other vendor or new-hire relationship. You don’t want to work with just anyone. Ask to see examples of the agency or freelancer’s past work.
Pay attention to what the agency or freelancer is pitching you. Are they suggesting an ongoing content marketing program, or a one-and-done piece of content? Remember that publishing frequently is one of the keys to content marketing success. You want to find someone or an agency you can work with for the long haul.
Tools and Resources for Outsourcing
If you do decide to go with content marketing outsourcing, you aren’t stuck with posting Craigslist ads and hoping for the best. Several resources and tools are available to help you assemble an excellent team.
Writer/content creator marketplaces
You can think of a writer or content creator marketplace as a place to find out more about who’s available. They let you search by interests or abilities as well as hourly rate. Creators sign up for marketplaces in the hopes of connecting with brands who have work to offer. Some marketplaces rate their creators based on quality or overall experience, while others don’t. Some marketplaces also have guidelines for pay rates and offer other assistance to brands who are looking to hire talent.
In-house agencies typically offer a range of content marketing services, from strategy to creation and so on. They might have an in-house team of content creators. Or they may even outsource the creation of content to a team of freelancers. The cost of agencies varies considerably, as does the quality. Some only work with creators who are native English speakers or who are US-based. Others have no barrier to entry for the people they take on as creators.
When Outsourcing Makes Sense
Content marketing outsourcing might not be the best option for every brand, but it’s the right option for some. Here are a few cases when it makes sense to outsource:
You have a small budget
Is your budget is small? You might not be able to hire a team or even a single person to tackle content marketing in house. Working with people on a per-hour or per-project basis is more cost-effective.
Your team is stretched thin
Does everyone in your department groan when someone mentions adding content marketing to the mix? You’re most likely be better off hiring a team that can dedicate all its attention to your brand’s marketing needs.
You need flexibility
Maybe you’re still not convinced content marketing is worth it, or perhaps the higher-ups at your brand need some convincing. Outsourcing gives you flexibility. You can work with the freelancer or agency on a project-by-project basis. And, you can put content marketing on hold when doing so seems like the best option.
You need more talent
When you outsource, you can connect with people who have a much wider skillset than your own. If you need writers, video makers, or artists, you can find them easily.