As a small business or independent startup with a modest budget, there are hoards of so-called writers out there vying to generate content but if the quality is essential to your digital marketing strategy, as it should be, lifting someone from the bargain bin will cost you dearly.
Make no mistake, this article is 100% pro-outsourcing but the old adage “you get what you pay for” rings ever true, so outsource with savvy.
It used to be that a writer had to have guts and experience, they had to ‘find their voice’ and craft words with skill to land jobs. Now it seems anyone with a basic command of English and a search engine to help them ace spelling tests claims to be a freelancer capable of content creation wizardry.
It’s not that hard for someone to paste together an impressive looking C.V and weevil their way into a job if a busy client is desperate to get content flowing for as little as possible.
The beauty of outsourcing is that you don’t spend time and money on interviews or training programmes and you have a far wider scope of potential staff to choose from when you look to the global community online, however, that you aren’t discussing the work face to face means it is even more important to vet potential writers.
Establish a solid briefing process.
Give your writers detailed creative briefs and firm critical feedback.
While you definitely shouldn’t spoon feed your writers (or any of your staff), a certain amount of guidance and direction will ensure that they know who you are and what you want. Voice, tone, goals, audience, keywords- all of these should be in a brief, they’re what the writer uses to construct a carefully considered narrative.
They are working for you but ensure you work together. Simply exchanging money for words will breed sterile content. Ask a writer how they put together a piece, establish a knowledge of their methods. You want to know that they research, outline, and edit even for a basic article. Have them send you something they wrote that wasn’t edited to death by a publication, something in their own voice and tone instead of a client’s.
Give a freelancer enough time to get up to speed. Again, don’t indulge them but if you’re considering giving them the boot after a single piece isn’t perfect, you’re expecting too much. A real writer wants to do good work and will learn from your feedback. If they’re not, either they’re not right for the job, which isn’t your fault, or you haven’t communicated your expectations concisely.
Pay peanuts, get monkeys.
The reality is that for every competent, committed writer there are a hundred cut-rate, semi-literate imitations who will promise the world for a penny and deliver a headache. This is as frustrating for writers who deserve work as it is for you outsourcing it. While contracts shouldn’t be handed out like charity, it’s unreasonable to expect every good writer to labour over a groundbreaking pitch and dance like a performing monkey in the hope of being taken on for next to nothing. It is a given that someone new to the game will accept lower rates in favour of experience but this won’t be the case long term if they’re a success.
The amount you are willing to pay for content reflects your budget, yes, but the arrangement of your budget reflects how much you value quality content. As your business evolves and you see the positive effects of great content, consider pinching your budget in other areas if it means maintaining valued freelancers.
Perhaps the most obvious point of all is the amount of time you will save in revising and editing work by paying someone talented to do it for you. You wouldn’t have a crooked mechanic service your vehicle for the cost of a coffee and expect it to run like a dream and the same goes for your digital marketing strategy. Anyone who is willing to invest time has a keen eye for detail and cares about generating a good reputation is worth paying for.
The best content is more than a smattering of smart words on the page, it is something that makes people feel. Don’t simply toss a few pennies to someone and hope they deliver. Pan out to the bigger picture and you will see an artisanal revolution of sorts.
Whether rebuking the fast-fashion industry or boycotting supermarkets in favour of local, seasonal and organic food, there is a wave of people who want to be informed and will pay for quality. You should be part of that demand and outsource the very best you can afford because it will pay off.
Outsourcing the cheapest labour from some far flung corner of the web is the equivalent of running a content creation sweatshop and it won’t work.
You’re only a small operation so every penny really does count, hence why outsourcing is perfect, but you can’t write off expenses to another department or blame someone else so outsource right and you’ll reap a consistent flow of quality content that has been cared for by a writer who is serious about writing.