Following the more traditional business model, most tasks are performed in-house, with departments dedicated to marketing or content creation. But with the rise of social media and the gig economy, many companies today tend to use a mix of in-house and contract work, often outsourcing work when it makes sense. Keep reading to find out more about what outsourcing means and how it can or cannot be beneficial for your company.
In general, outsourcing is a practice where companies hire an outside party to complete work that, at one point, may have been performed by in-house staff. Often, outsourcing can be seen as a cost-cutting measure since companies don’t have to provide benefits to the employees performing outsourced work.
Some experts are concerned about content outsourcing and the loss of jobs for domestic employees, while others insist outsourcing helps maintain a free market. Regardless, outsourcing content can benefit companies and freelancers when done right.
- Frees up time: Content outsourcing can be a way to refocus the company’s core needs by reassigning non-essential tasks to experienced individuals outside of the company. This not only frees up company staff, but also allows outsourced content producers to hyperfocus on projects. This can be a crucial way to improve staff morale, especially for a company that might be bogged down with too many tasks, not enough time, or not enough expertise.
- Cost-effective: Because companies don’t need to pay for benefits for freelancers, outsourcing content can mean big savings. Hiring an outsourced writer means all you pay for is the time they spend drumming up content. With in-house staff, you’ll pay for benefits, taxes, and social security. This alone might be a huge boon for a company looking to streamline their expenses.
- Flexibility: Outsourcing content also offers companies the flexibility to choose creators who have expertise in more niche areas and to adapt their content more efficiently and effectively. Having a bank of outsourced creators means you can pick up or slow down content as needed. If your business has a slow season when you know you’ll need less content, if outsourcing, you can tailor the number of creators to suit your needs.
- Diversity: Hiring creators from different backgrounds with different experiences can lead to better perspectives on projects. This can breathe new life into content that might have felt stagnant. Social media pages also benefit from having a diverse set of content creators or hiring a marketing/social media-focused company. Individual creators and specialized companies may have access to resources and tools that a smaller business might not be able to afford and will have insight about drawing in a wide audience.
- Higher fees than anticipated: Depending on their experience, content creators’ fees for services may end up being more expensive than expected. Finding one that’s cost-effective enough but who has enough experience to create compelling content can be tricky. Do some research into creators and fees before jumping headfirst into outsourcing content.
- Lack of company integration: With in-house staff, companies have the benefit of employees learning the ins and outs of the business or industry, which helps clue them into trends or needs. Outsourced creators don’t have that same connection and likely will never develop it due to the nature of the working relationship. Further, if you currently have an in-house content team, handling the shift to outsourcing can be delicate. It may give rise to employees thinking there may be layoffs or restructuring. Before making any changes, be sure to consider your current staff and how outsourcing might alter their roles.
- Lack of business-specific knowledge: If you need specific content about your company, hiring outsourced creators can be tricky. You’ll need someone who knows something about your specific niche to make impressive content. If you hire someone who doesn’t know much about what your company does, you might end up with clunky, basic articles that don’t engage your client base as you originally intended. To counter this, consider setting up style guides, informative documents about your industry, and any other helpful hints that can assist creators. This is another great reason to keep a core in-house team on board.
Deciding if you should or should not outsource content boils down to determining whether you’re ready. While outsourcing cuts out a portion of a business’s responsibility, it still requires planning and commitment.
- Establish a budget: Make sure to establish a budget that takes into account the anticipated cost for content, the number of content producers you intend to hire, and any additional money you might need to devote to the project. A budget will also help you understand how you want to pay creators: per post, word, video, or perhaps for a lengthier commitment, per project.
- Keep some things in-house: You might not be hiring in-house writers or videographers anymore, but you should absolutely still have in-house editors or a small core team. You’ll need an in-house team to do the big-picture planning that will make sure your content outsourcing is successful.
- Make a style guide: If you don’t already have one, creating and maintaining a style guide is a great way to clue writers into your company’s preferences and brand voice. Content Writers has a great resource for creating a style guide.
- Establish a content calendar: Creating a content calendar with ideas for future content, major holidays, and trends that impact your business will help keep you organized so your in-house team can map out potential assignments for writers. It will also help when establishing a budget.
- Create guidelines: Along with the content calendar, you should figure out a general list of possible assignment outlines, expectations, and goals. Come up with templates for outlines and assignment proposals that you can provide to content producers. This should entail your content topics, SEO keywords, word count, and any other industry-specific information they might need.
- Test it out: Create a test or project for prospective creators to see if they are a good fit. Be sure to pay them for the test, since they should be compensated for their time and effort. It’s also a red flag for applicants if they are asked to create something without compensation.
Taking the time to properly address these points will make for a smoother hiring and introductory process. It is entirely possible that your first content creators may hit roadblocks or your plan may falter, but remember that these are growing pains. Keep refining and working with the new hirees to hammer out any issues.
What you’re outsourcing makes as much of an impact as whom you choose to outsource to.
- Outsource article writing: While you may not want to hire the most expensive writer, hiring a new, inexperienced writer for a cheaper fee might backfire and end up costing you more to fix or recreate content. Be cautious to carefully weigh the benefits of paying more or less for outsourced content.
- Outsource content marketing: Unlike content creation, marketing encompasses a whole array of different channels, including blogs, social media, ads, videos, and more. Agencies often specialize in content marketing and businesses hire agencies to take on all aspects of their marketing needs.
- Outsource social media content: Depending on how much you want to spend, an agency might be out of the question. While there may be a huge difference in output when comparing an agency, which will have a team of staffers, versus an individual, there are certainly freelance content marketers who can help you get started.
An outsourced influencer can increase growth and engagement, which can have a huge impact on your business. In an ideal world, whatever freelancer you hire would stay true to your brand identity without issue. But the fact is, agencies and freelancers are often working with several businesses and brand identity can get muddy. Make sure you have a clear brand voice and identity.