Content creation can get a bit out of hand, especially if you’ve made the brave decision to outsource some of the work. I’ve dealt with plenty of outsourcers, and it’s a massive task. Trying to keep quality high, content on time and projects organized feels like a full-time job.
But if there’s one thing entrepreneurs understand well, it’s wearing several hats at once. When you decide to start outsourcing content, there are several things you need to keep in mind. If you go at it blindly, expecting it to be a breeze, you’re in for a rude awakening.
Keep these five points in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to a smooth operation:
1. Who: Choose the right content developer
Finding a trustworthy freelancer is a difficult task. In my experience, many content developers are incredibly flaky, and have even been known to disappear without a word in the middle of a project. After plenty of bad experiences, I’ve developed a system that allows me to evaluate the professional content creators from the wannabes. It goes something like this…
Review their websites: If you work in the online world, you need to have a solid website. I like to look for writers that are invested enough in their career to create a solid site with compelling, helpful information. Look for things such as writing samples, testimonials from happy clients, links to bylined work and links to active social profiles.
Look for a specialty in your industry: I like finding specialist writers. If you have a technical industry such as manufacturing, medicine or even marketing, a specialized writer can bring a level of experience and knowledge that a typical generalist can’t.
Read through samples and references: Ultimately, good writers will prove their worth through writing samples and client references. If they’ve got great writing chops and a portfolio to back it up, it’s worth taking a chance on them. Bonus points if they specialize in your industry!
2. What: Decide which types of content to outsource
Everything we do online is driven by content, from connecting on social media to viral video marketing. Somewhere along the way, the written word gets involved. When it comes to outsourcing, there are several types of content that you can have a professional writer take care of, including:
- Weekly blog posts
- Social-media updates
- Guest blogging
- Email marketing
- Pay-per-click ads copywriting
- Web content
- Landing-page copy
- Script writing
As an entrepreneur, you need to decide which forms of content you need most, where you’re lacking in development and how a freelancer can plug in and assist you.
3. When: Make a plan to start the process
Outsourcing your content isn’t just about finding a writer. That’s only a small portion of the work that will need to be accomplished. It requires an entire operational command in order to execute. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with too much managerial work and not enough preparation. As an entrepreneur, this creates a nightmare that ends up in more work than before you started outsourcing.
Decide who manages the writer(s): If you have a team, decide who will manage the outsourced team. A marketing manager or managing editor can often take on this role. But if you don’t have anyone in place like that, you can take on the responsibility yourself.
Develop a strategic workflow: You’ll need to develop a workflow of how to deliver, instruct and receive content from the writers. This includes outlining a creative brief template, deadlines for drafts, turnaround times and a system for delivering completed content.
4. Where: Look for content developers in the right place
Once you have the initial logistics figured out, it’s time to start looking for the writer(s) that you want to help you with content development work. I’ve found that the two best places to find writers include referrals from others in my peer group and direct connections with writers through social media, events or other connections.
While job ads and content farms may get the job done for some, they generally lack the quality, experience and skill you’ll want from a content writer.
5. Why: Define the value outsourcing brings
Don’t get me wrong, outsourcing can be a huge relief to the busy entrepreneur’s mind. But don’t mistake relief for a lack of work. In fact, when you’re just getting started, outsourcing can seem like just as much work as writing the content yourself. Keep with it. It’s a worthwhile investment if you’re willing to put in the initial work up front.
You need to be clear about the value of outsourcing so that you can see things through to the end. What do you get out of outsourcing your content development work? More time to work on sales? The ability to build more local business connections? Freedom to build social media, another branch of the business or any other new development?
Define the value first, and it’ll keep you from throwing in the towel too early.