Thursday, April 16, 2020
Publishing a consistent stream of rock solid content isnÃ¢â¬â¢t easy. Consistently coming up with great content ideas is hard enough, but then you actually have to write the post. ThatÃ¢â¬â¢s where outsourcing content creation comes in. And itÃ¢â¬â¢s an option that is becoming increasingly popular for marketing teams. But outsourcing your content writing doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t mean youÃ¢â¬â¢re off the hook entirely. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s just a whole lot easier. To help, we put together this guide, which will help you navigate the entire process from hiring, to onboarding, to managing a team of freelance writers. LetÃ¢â¬â¢s jump in. Ch. 1 The benefits of outsourcing content creation Ch. 2 Hiring: Tips for hiring your next freelance writer Ch. 3 Onboarding: Setting freelancers up for success Ch. 4 How to manage and motivate freelance writers Free Actionable Bonus: Looking to outsource your content writing? Get the complete guide to finding, vetting, and hiring freelance writers Why Do Companies Outsource Content Creation? There are a number of advantages to working with external content writers, whether itÃ¢â¬â¢s through a content writing service or with writers directly. 1. Free Up Time Your time is precious. And the content creation process can take a lot of that time. In addition to writing, it involves research, fact-checking, creating a strong title, formatting correctly, optimizing for search engines, grammar checking, and editing for inconsistencies and readability, to name a few. Hiring a writers can take some of the time pressure off yourself and your employees while you retain full editorial control. YouÃ¢â¬â¢ll get the content you need, as well as time to develop strategies to ensure it connects with your target audience and is effective at growing your business. 2. Save Money According to HubSpot, companies using inbound marketing generally experience a 61 percent lower cost per lead than those using traditional methods. Most businesses have a limited content marketing budget and hiring in-house writers can be expensive when you consider hiring costs, annual salary, benefits, paid leave, and equipment. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the average cost of hiring an in-house writer is $7,221 per month. Outsourcing blog and content writing is more cost effective, as you can hire on an as-need basis at a fraction of the cost. 3. Leverage Industry Experts According to a study by Provoke Insights, 42 percent of companies said they donÃ¢â¬â¢t have the expertise to use content marketing effectively. ThatÃ¢â¬â¢s because industry expertise and writing skills are two different things. Working with freelance writers allows you to hire industry experts when create technical or thought-leadership pieces. So much knowledge. 4. Deliver Different Content Types By tapping into the expertise of various writers, you can develop content that spans a range of topics and content formats. A good content marketing service will have writers that specialize in certain industries or are experienced in writing specific content formats such as white papers or SEO content. Experimenting with different types of content helps you discover what your customers prefer so you can sharpen up your content marketing strategy and maximize your ROI. 5. Meet Deadlines For external writers, your content is their priority. By not being in your office, they wonÃ¢â¬â¢t be pulled off their content duties to work on other tasks. And, any good freelancer will always make sure to meet a deadline. Since youÃ¢â¬â¢ll no longer have the responsibility of creating content, you can ensure your content actually gets published on time. DonÃ¢â¬â¢t let this be you. Hire professional writers. 6. Scale Your Content Producing quality content is time-consuming. If youÃ¢â¬â¢re like most businesses, you canÃ¢â¬â¢t afford to neglect other work to devote hours to content marketing. Delegating the content creation to a professional writer doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t mean you lose control; it just gives you more time to concentrate on other important business matters. Outsourcing writing also means you can hire multiple writers at the same time with varied experience and expertise. Recommended reading: Scaling Content Creation: How to Scale the Quantity and Quality of Your Content 7. Retain Consistency Keeping consistent quality and tone of your content can be tough. Outsourcing content marketing means you can work with writers who understand writing best practices and adhere to strict quality guidelines. 8. Communicate Effectively Professional writers know how to avoid hype and write in a more conversational tone. This kind of writing is more entertaining and taps into the emotions of readers. It gets to the heart of the message so that readers can quickly find the information theyÃ¢â¬â¢re looking for. Good writers can also look at your products and services from an outsiderÃ¢â¬â¢s perspective. They can turn business jargon into compelling copy that builds your credibility and increases trust in your business. 9. Increase Conversions First impressions count. According to the Nielson Norman Group, the average web user leaves a web page after less than 20 seconds. Professional writers can write persuasive copy that gets your message across quickly and clearly, which ultimately improves your conversion rates. Elevate Your Content Marketing Having an effective content marketing strategy is one of the best ways to stand out in todayÃ¢â¬â¢s crowded online marketplace. But creating the quality content needed to support that strategy entirely in-house isnÃ¢â¬â¢t easy. As many successful brands have discovered, it makes sense to leverage the expertise of professional freelance writers to help you meet content demand, and ensure youÃ¢â¬â¢re publishing well-written, engaging content. Hiring Tips For When You Outsource Content Writing Content marketing is one of the most effective forms of digital marketing, but it involves a lot of work. Who has the time to write daily blog posts, update their website, create social media posts andrun a business? Recommended reading: The Step-by-Step Guide to Finding, Vetting, and Hiring Freelance Writers What to Look For in Freelance Writers If you decide that hiring a freelance writer is the way forward, here are seven key things to consider before choosing someone for your next project: 1. Experience DonÃ¢â¬â¢t be afraid to test a candidateÃ¢â¬â¢s knowledge. Ask them how much experience they have in writing the kind of content you need. Give them a set of questions to answer to see if they understand what youÃ¢â¬â¢re after. Are they familiar with common industry terms and current trends? 2. Previous Work Some writers will already have a sample of their work for you to look at. If they donÃ¢â¬â¢t, you can ask for a brief sample. They may charge for this service, but it can be worthwhile because youÃ¢â¬â¢ll get an idea of their ability and writing style. 3. Readability An effective piece of content needs to flow well and capture the attention of your audience. When you first look at a piece of content, is it easy to read? Does the writer communicate clearly? If you struggle to read it, your audience will too. 4. Versatility You need to make sure your content writer understands your brandÃ¢â¬â¢s tone of voice. Can they write content that suits your style and speaks the language of your target audience? 5. Prices How much does the writer typically charge for their writing? It may be tempting to accept work from the Ã¢â¬Å"cheapestÃ¢â¬ writer, but consider the quality of their writing first. While there are many writers that charge a higher fee for their work, this is often reflected in the quality of the final product. When it comes to web content, quality is more important than quantity. 6. Reliability While hiring a freelancer for content helps to keep costs low, you still need writers that are reliable. How long does it take a writer to respond to your questions? How much care have they taken to read your original message? When and how they reply can tell you a lot about their professionalism and reliability. 7. Turnaround If youÃ¢â¬â¢re publishing content regularly, you need a writer that can deliver content on time. Obviously, you should give each writer sufficient notice for each project, but you can still ask potential candidates how fast they can turn around content. This will help you avoid future delays in your content schedule. Here are some questions you can use to evaluate writers Onboarding: Setting Freelancers Up for Success The next step is onboarding. While this may seem like a relatively simple step, doing it poorly will create headaches for everyone so itÃ¢â¬â¢s worth spending a bit of time to get right. To ensure that your content team is onboarded effectively, you need to familiarize writers with your company, products, services, and business goals. There are various ways to achieve this: Provide each writer with a short manual that clarifies your business, itÃ¢â¬â¢s goals, its core values, and its target audience. Give each writera short style guide, outlining industry terms, formatting rules, and headline guidelines. Provide ongoing feedback on every assignment to build each writerÃ¢â¬â¢s knowledge. Show your writers company reviews, testimonials, and case studies that explain how your business solves customer problems. By making your needs and expectations clear from the outset, you can avoid long cycles of content revisions in the future. You should also provide a creative brief for each assignment. Some things to include in a creative brief: A working title A summary of the purpose of the content Any calls-to-action that need to be included Links to supporting research, if you have any Keywords you would like included, if applicable A recommended word count A deadline Freelancers often have creative ideas and unique skills that you can tap into. Use their experience to help with developing content ideas. This will give writers more confidence and make them feel a part of your team. Freelancers often have creative ideas and unique skills that you can tap into. Use their experience to help with developing content ideas. This will give writers more confidence and make them feel a part of your team. Click To Tweet You could also share content statistics with your writers. Did a blog post boost website traffic? How many times was an article shared on social media? Stats like these give a boost to any writer. Tips for Managing a Team of Freelance Writers As the importance of publishing well-written content continues to grow, more and more companies are opting to hire freelance writers to help them meet demand and produce high-quality content. But just because youÃ¢â¬â¢re working with freelance writers, doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t mean youÃ¢â¬â¢re completely off the hook. In order to get the best work out of a team of freelance writers, they need to be managed effectively. Effective management means not only being clear about the project details and your expectations, but also includes the people-side of the relationship. How to Manage and Motivate a Team of Freelance WritersÃ¢â¬ ¦ Effectively managing and motivating your team includes selecting the right writers, setting up a feedback mechanism, and ensuring writers are invested in creating successful content. Here are 7 tips to help you manage your freelance team and keep them motivated. 1. Build a Flexible Writing Team To build an effective content marketing team, select a few writers that have different skill sets. While you donÃ¢â¬â¢t have to work with all of them at once, itÃ¢â¬â¢s smart to have a relationship with multiple writers that specialize in different topics and content types.This mean if you lose a writer or one doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t work out, you have some writers to fall back on. 2. Provide a Content Strategy Template From the outset, give all your writers a clear set of guidelines and expectations regarding content production and communication. Some info you should be sure to include: Company information. Content goals and target audience information. Brand style guide. Typical content topics. Content form, including word counts, formatting, tone, SEO rules, and publication platforms. Deadline rules, including how and when writers should submit content. When equipped with a complete template and style guide, writers donÃ¢â¬â¢t have to ask as many questions and are more likely to produce on-brand content. 3. Make Writers Feel More Invested in Your Projects The best way to build lasting relationships with writers is to make them feel a part of your team. They may be freelancers, but theyÃ¢â¬â¢re still want to feel valued for their work. There are various ways to make writers feel more invested in your projects: Share content performance metrics and company news. Hold a webinar QA session. Help them develop new skills by letting them tackle new topics. Regularly ask for feedback. Give regular praise for good work. 4. Offer Ongoing Support If you think a writer did a great job, tell them. If you have any criticisms, balance it out with something positive. And let writers know youÃ¢â¬â¢re always there if they need any advice. To create a more supportive environment: DonÃ¢â¬â¢t set unrealistic deadlines. Allow writers to show some creativity. Provide preliminary research for each project. DonÃ¢â¬â¢t micro-manage every project. DonÃ¢â¬â¢t overload writers with work. Let writers know the best times to communicate with you. 5. Provide Rewards for Great Work Occasional rewards will boost motivation and encourage good work. It doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t have to be monetary. For example, acknowledge writers in company publications, offer extra writing opportunities, or give them a mention on social media. 6. Pay a Fair Price Paying writers an hourly rate often leads to problems further down the line. First, the writer isnÃ¢â¬â¢t motivated enough to finish a project. Second, itÃ¢â¬â¢s difficult to know beforehand precisely how long a project will take. This can lead to crossed lines and blurred boundaries. Instead, itÃ¢â¬â¢s a good idea to negotiate a per-article or per-word fee. While there is a lot of variety in terms of pricing, you should expect to pay about $0.10-0.50 per word for a high-quality article, depending on the subject matter, the type of content, and the writerÃ¢â¬â¢s skill and experience. For writers that do extensive research, conduct interviews, or take on in-depth projects like white papers, expect to pay more. 7. Refine the Process Managing a team of freelance writers isnÃ¢â¬â¢t just about creating a content schedule and making sure writers stick to deadlines; itÃ¢â¬â¢s about building lasting working relationships and helping your writers put out their best work. As with any relationship, consistency is key to getting the most out of people: Paying them fairly and on time. Giving them plenty of notice for new projects. Not overloading writers Being open to feedback and suggestions. If you stick to these guidelines, youÃ¢â¬â¢ll attract high-quality freelancers, build a more scalable, efficient content creation process, and be able to meet content demand for years to come. More than Just a Boss The most successful managers are able to get the most out of the talent they hire. It isnÃ¢â¬â¢t just about controlling a team; itÃ¢â¬â¢s about being a good communicator, collaborator, coach, and motivator. ItÃ¢â¬â¢s also about trusting your writers to deliver great content without interfering too much. Managing a team of writers can be challenging, but if you remember these essential tips, you can nurture a productive writing team that you can depend on for years to come.