article writing company

A Step-by-Step Guide to Outsourcing Your Content (For Startups and Small Businesses)

Stop for a second and think about your marketing strategy. Wouldn’t you rather inform, entertain, and engage your audience than serve them ads?

It’s an important question, but one that’s easy to answer. Most business owners and marketing managers in history would have chosen to connect with customers via the route of useful and entertaining information over simply advertising to them. But the web and social media weren’t always around, and in the age of radio and TV, getting just a bit of ad time was pretty damn expensive.

Fortunately, things have changed. Ad time is still expensive, but now there are other ways to market your brand. Better ways. These days, even a small local business can harness the power of useful information and entertaining art forms to connect with their audience.

Enter content marketing, the darling of digital marketing. Only that, as usual, there is a problem. Content marketing requires content – usually plenty of it – and most startups and small businesses don’t have the processes in place to create this content consistently at the desired standard of quality.

So, like you, they turn to outsourcing.

what is outsourcing

What Is Outsourcing?

When you outsource content, you hire a third-party to create content for you. Usually, this third-party is a company or an individual who specializes in writing, designing, or producing content. Outsourcing usually means working with a provider on a project basis, rather than full time. This is admittedly only a basic content outsourcing definition, but for our present use, it will do.

By comparison, if you were to hire a team of writers, photographers, and video producers, add them to the payroll, and create a content creation team, you would not be outsourcing your content but creating it in-house.

Does outsourcing your content mean taking the easy way out? Paying someone else to do the hard work for you? Without the hassle of creating new departments in your company? Not quite.

When you outsource, you understand that paying pros to create content for you is more cost-effective and yields better results than assigning it to your team.

You still retain full control over the content and can be as specific in your guidelines as you want. You can also ask for repeated revisions and, if you’re not happy with the work, send it back and get your money back.

You’re not taking any shortcuts. You’re merely accessing resources that are not available to your internal team.

And here’s the thing – you’re doing all this not for yourself but your audience. Why is that?

Because when you outsource content the right way, you create great content consistently. You deliver to your audience exactly what they need.

Outsourcing content often takes the form of hiring article writing services, but there are other types of content that call for an even more creative direction, including videos and infographics.

Hence, when you outsource, you may end up working with a video creation service, a professional video editor, an infographic designer, a web developer, and other creatives. It can get quite exciting.

outsource content writing

10 Reasons to Outsource Your Content

The benefits of outsourcing content are here to stay. Whether you’re a fast-growing business or have only launched your startup, outsourcing your content can be an inspired decision, one that can have a far-reaching impact on brand perception.

In the short-term, outsourcing builds a stronger digital marketing strategy which in turn helps spread your message and reach a wider audience. The best part? You generate more interest in what you have to offer, which often translates to more sales.

When it comes to outsourcing pros and cons, the pros tend to outweigh the cons big time. Looking at the key reasons that drive many organizations to outsource their content explains why.

1. Lack of time

You know the importance of digital content marketing but don’t have time to create enough content for your website, blog, and social media pages. Lack of time is often the main reason why startups and small businesses outsource content.

2. Commitment to quality

You don’t have a content team or the resources to create one. As a result, you’d have to assign content creation tasks to people who essentially fulfill other roles on your team. But you don’t want to sacrifice quality, so you outsource.

3. Need to increase volume

You cannot create enough content to cope with the demand across channels. In this case, not outsourcing would mean scaling down your content strategy and possibly losing traffic and engagement in the process.

4. Content diversification

You have the skills and resources necessary to create articles and other simple content forms, but you don’t feel comfortable with more sophisticated content formats such as infographics, videos, and slideshows.

5. Depth of research

You believe well-researched content would add credibility to your message and help you establish authority but you don’t have researchers on your team, or they are already engaged with other projects.

6. Production costs

You have added up the numbers and discovered that the cost of producing content would be higher if you create it in-house instead of outsourcing it. This may happen when your team doesn’t have the experience necessary to create content or else they are expected to perform other tasks alongside content creation. Bulk article writing can help optimize content production costs.

7. Better SEO

You want to craft content that’s optimized for search engines. You want every piece of content you publish to use keywords effectively and make use of on-page SEO. However, you don’t have any SEO experts on your team, and the cost of creating an SEO team deters you from establishing one.

8. Faster turnaround

The nature of your business requires that you create content quickly and link it to current trends or news. However, your team cannot generate enough content fast enough, which makes you want to consider using article writing services.

9. Uniqueness

You expect your content to stand out rather than simply engage users. You know that to make your content special, a fine mix of experience, creativity, and writing skills are necessary, and so you decide to solve the problem by outsourcing.

10. Stronger impact

You want to address your audience in a fresh and upbeat voice that establishes an instant connection but are not satisfied with the impact of your content so far.

So, now that we’ve defined content outsourcing and highlighted its key advantages let’s see how you can start outsourcing your content.

content marketing strategy

Step 1 – Run a Content Assessment

First, you need to define your needs clearly. For example, you may need content only for some of your online marketing channels, not all. At this stage, you need to take into account all channels, which may include your website and blog, authoritative websites in your niche that are open to guest blogging, social media, and more.

Look for any gaps in your content. This becomes easier if you focus on top-performing channels – those that usually require the most content.

It’s usually worthwhile to include your readers into this assessment, to learn what type of content they prefer. You can do this through a survey, through a blog post that invites participation through comments, or through a newsletter poll.

To encourage participation, you can offer respondents a discount, a free download, or the chance to win a prize.

Step 2 – Create a Basic Content Strategy

Having an overview of your content allows you to see the gaps and fill them. It also allows you to set clear expectations and possibly even reduce content creation costs since you can order content in batches on a recurrent basis.

Another benefit of having a content strategy in place is that you can eliminate some repetitive processes and reduce unnecessary communication with your content provider.

Factor in different content types and add variety to channels that require it, such as social media. With a content strategy in place, setting clear deadlines (e.g. weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly) becomes easier since you know exactly what content you need to create and by when.

For best results, schedule your content marketing strategy for at least three months in advance.

Step 3 – Create Clear Guidelines

Outsourcing content is a process and, like any process, how well it works depends on how clearly both sides understand their responsibilities. Your content outsourcing guidelines should provide direction for your content by specifying what needs to be created and when, and they must include at least a simple quality assessment standard.

However, your content guidelines should not be limited to the creation of content itself. They need to include how payments will be handled, what tools will be used for communication, how content will be submitted, and what the revision process will be like, among others.

Step 4 – Track and Monitor Progress

What metrics are the most relevant for your content marketing campaign? For many brands, these are engagement and conversion, but the complexity of tracking these metrics depends on the platforms you’re using. The insights from social networks, blogging platforms, and email marketing tools may not be enough.

To effectively measure the impact of the content you’re publishing, benchmark your new content against your old content and note the results. Compare these throughout at least three months. Also, it’s important to consider the impact of your new content on all your customers, not just the ones who reach you online.

If someone reads your content and then comes in person to check out your store, that in itself can be a sign that you’re doing content marketing right. However, to measure the offline impact of your content, you may need a basic store questionnaire or follow-up a purchase with an email survey.

At the same time, you may want to encourage your in-store staff to ask shoppers simple questions about their online content experience.

Step 5 – Think Forward

Starting to outsource your content is an excellent opportunity to rejuvenate your content marketing and explore new content formats. If until now articles and blog posts have been the mainstay of your strategy, now you could expand to other types of content, including videos, infographics, reports, and presentations.

Instead of doing the same thing over and over again, you now have the opportunity to take your content marketing to the next level. But how can you make sure you’re investing in the right type of content?

Analyze what your competitors are doing. What content formats are they focusing on? Do these appeal to your target audience? And if yes, can these formats strengthen your marketing message?

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep creating the kind of content that’s proved popular in the past.

Focus on visual content

Web users love visual content because it engages more of their brain than static content consisting of plain text and images. Visual content attracts attention and is easier to remember. Even better, go a step further and turn your attention to interactive content, which brings together the appeal of visual content with an added layer of interactivity. Learn more about how to turn static content into an engaging interactive experience.

Keep an eye on emerging technologies

Voice search is transforming the way people search for information on the web, stressing the importance of answering the key questions that customers are asking during the customer’s journey.

At the same time, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality are starting to have a stronger impact on content marketing, either by influencing how people find content or spawning new forms of content, such as VR 360 degree video experiences.

AI, in particular, is improving content marketing tools and paving the way for better content discovery engines. From AI content writing tools to chatbots, AI is changing the marketing game. Ideally, you want to work with a content writing company that embraces new technologies.

content outsourcing guidelines

Finding the Right Content Creation Company

One thing to remember is that it doesn’t have to start with a Google search. A recommendation from a partner or friend can help you choose a provider with confidence and assurance. That said, what are some of the most important factors you should pay attention to when choosing the content creation company?

  • Location is irrelevant – Working with someone continents away can be as comfortable and as productive as hiring a big company in your country. Content creation is a global practice, and outsourcing tends to reward brands that think outside the box and consider all their options.
  • Services – The more complete their content services are, the better. Being able to scale up your content if needed can help you take advantage of the benefits of working with a content writing company. It’s usually better than having to hunt for other possible providers when your expectations are higher than what they can deliver.
  • Transparency – Some content providers outsource content, acting as little more than intermediaries between larger content agencies and satellite clients. If you can’t trust your content provider to create the content for you, you will probably be better off looking someone else. It’s important to choose a content writing company with a proven track record. Check not only their portfolio and website testimonials, but also what others are saying about them online.
  • Communication – Working with a content creation company is a long-term process. You may have to adjust your strategy along the way, explore different types of content, diversify your marketing channels, and more. It’s crucial then for your content provider to be responsive and answer your questions promptly.


The Importance of the Trial Period

Before committing to a content provider and signing a contract, you want to make sure everything goes as planned. The ideal trial period is a scaled-down version of the actual work you expect your content provider to perform for you and allow for quality assessments.

While you don’t want to disregard any samples your provider offers you, it’s crucial that you base your decision not just on the work itself, but on its delivery and the communication process.

7 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Outsourcing Content

1. Thinking only in terms of the end result

Different content creation companies have different processes, and some may require more of your participation than others. At the far end of the spectrum, there are content creators who will bother you about every small detail and ask you repeatedly for confirmation and approval.

When this happens, you may end up investing large amounts of time to make up for the content provider’s lack of direction. You want to avoid this. Otherwise, the content creation process will become a time sink that consumes your energy and, over time, may give rise to frustration.

2. Neglecting communication and project management

Choosing a provider based only on their claims or on the fact that they offer a massive discount if you order your content in advance means not looking at the big picture. It’s easier to make an informed choice when you focus on what really matters – your content provider’s portfolio and their reputation as quantified by reviews. Communication is especially important, and so is the quality of project management. Poorly managed projects on your article writing company’s end will slow down results and be a constant source of discontent.

3. Not establishing clear content guidelines

From the format, tone, and style of your content to practicalities such as how it is delivered, content guidelines ensure that the content creation process yields the best possible results given the available resources. More than optimizing this process, guidelines give your marketing a more precise direction and make objectives easier to measure.

4. Not signing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA)

An NDA protects your interests and reduces the risk that the content you are paying for will end up being used for other purposes than intended. At the same time, it safeguards your marketing data and insights from your competitors. An NDA is especially important when working with a local content provider who is or may become a content provider for one or more of your competitors.

5. Not having a content calendar

Mapping out your content and crafting it with your interests in mind becomes easier when you have a content calendar. This calendar gives you a framework within which to plan your content resources in a way that helps you maximize results.

6. Jumping from one provider to another

When content creation becomes an ongoing process rather than a set of fragmented strategies, enforcing clear guidelines and a high-quality standard becomes easier. What is more, you will be able to reduce costs in the long run by batching up content creation – a bulk content writing company can help with this. You will also be in a better position to negotiate rates and ask for discounts.

7. Not asking for clarifications and advice

If you don’t feel comfortable with any aspect of the process, or are not sure about something, asking for assistance can make a big difference. This refers both to consulting and planning your content marketing strategy.

outsourcing pros and cons

The Importance of a Good Budget

While content marketing is probably one of the most effective marketing strategies in history, quality content takes time and effort to create. To differentiate your content from what everyone else is offering, you need to craft it rather than simply manufacture it.

When you lower the price, you take shortcuts. You settle for a compromise instead of making your articles, videos, or infographics the best that they can be. Ultimately, it will be the people receiving the content that will be the most affected.

Unifying Marketing and Content Creation

Many companies that provide content also provide marketing services, and that’s something you need to remember, especially if you don’t have a marketing department. In some cases, outsourcing marketing to one provider and content creation to another is difficult to manage and not at all cost-effective.

Not only that, but it may require separate processes that increase the need for human resources and extend deadlines. If you can unify marketing and content creation, you can save time and streamline one of the most critical aspects of your business. Marketing and content management outsourcing is a viable strategy if you want a hands-off approach to content marketing, or simply don’t have time to direct your content marketing campaigns.

In the end, there’s only one thing left for you to do – outsource content writing and creation to save money and time in the long run and increase customer satisfaction.

At Meerkerk, we want to provide more than what you’d expect from an article writing company. We want to invite you to explore all different content types and discover the full flavors of a rich and vibrant content marketing experience. Take a look at our services to learn more.