Well, partly because my kids are out of school for Christmas break — and partly because it’s just what you do this time of year — I thought I’d post a roundup of the main times you might want to consider outsourcing your content development. If you have more reasons to add to the list, please feel free to do so in the comments!
Your writer will be out on maternity leave, vacation, etc.
No matter how happy you are with your writer, things come up. People have babies, become sick or injured, take vacations, care for family members, etc. In other words, life happens. If you’re in a situation where your go-to writer is temporarily unavailable, outsourcing is a great alternative to either going on content hiatus, struggling to deal with it yourself, or hiring a temporary in-house replacement.
You have no time or no talent.
SMBs, especially, operate under an all-hands-on-deck mandate. Everybody is already doing as much as they can and stretching their skills to their limits. Outsourcing content creation is an alternative to asking on over-extended employee to take on yet another task or to pass it on to someone who has no talent or experience in developing marketing content. You wouldn’t ask your receptionist to write code for your SaaS product, so don’t ask her to write content for it, either. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s a difference between typing and writing. (If anyone finds that offensive, I didn’t mean it that way. I worked for a gentleman one time who would always ask me to “type something up” — and it stuck with me.)
You need to focus on core processes.
I’m the last person to downplay the importance of quality content, but let’s be real: You’ve got to have a viable business for content to make a difference. It’s kind of like being a parent. You can outsource things like childcare and education, but you can’t outsource the responsibility for developing your child’s character. There are some things only you can do. Figure out what those are; then think about outsourcing the rest.
Your current content isn’t getting the job done.
First, let’s clarify what “the job” is. Most content marketing gurus will tell you that traffic is everything. And, if ad revenue is your main source of income, that’s true. Depending on your business model, though, low traffic isn’t necessarily a problem if your conversion rate is high.
So your first job is to make sure you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish with your content. Then, if your current content isn’t accomplishing whatever your goals are, you might consider outsourcing (especially if content creation was an add-on job for an existing employee rather than a primary job).
Sometimes, though, it’s more subtle. If you’ve got a subject-matter expert doing your writing, but your target audience consists of total newbies, you’re probably either talking over their heads or aiming too far down the sales funnel. Sometimes it takes an outsider to see things from the customer’s perspective, which is why I vehemently disagree with the notion that a writer has to be an industry expert. You’re the industry expert. Your writer needs to be an expert in writing, marketing, business, etc.
And then there’s the boredom factor. If your writer is bored — and, trust me, that’s pretty common — your audience is going to be bored, too. Sometimes you just need fresh ideas.
You want more than writing.
There’s a reason I don’t call myself a “freelance writer”: My services go way beyond churning out 500 words on a given topic. If you know exactly what you’re trying to say, why you want to say it, and how you’re going to get the message across, you need a writer. But if you want expert advice and guidance in addition to the writing, you need a content strategist. And, if you don’t happen to have one of those in-house, that’s a very good reason to outsource.
You have more content than you can handle.
If you’re in the fortunate position of having an editorial calendar that’s so full of content ideas that there’s no way you can get them all done, consider outsourcing some of the work. You can always hire someone in-house after you’ve verified the need and the effectiveness, but outsourcing is a great way to try before you buy.
You lose a writer.
Sometimes people move on, and hiring a replacement can take a long time. Outsourcing content creation can be a great way to fill that gap. And you never know — you could discover your next superstar employee that way.
Sure, outsourcing is the wave of the future, and there are many companies that decide to permanently outsource certain functions. But sometimes you need a temporary solution, whether it’s to cover a vacant position or to test your need for another permanent employee. I don’t know of a single writer who requires a long-term contract. Sure, most would prefer that. But, when you’re first starting out, they don’t know if they’ll like working with you any more than you know whether you’ll like working with them. So don’t be afraid to seek out temporary outsourcing — it can be a win-win for everyone involved.
And now for the shameless self-promotion: If you need content assistance — whether it’s a single blog post or an entire content strategy — I’d love to chat about how I can help.