The step-by-step guide to (successfully) outsourcing your content

As a business owner, it is important to regularly update your website with high-quality content. This is not just to benefit your readers but to increase your visibility in search engine results pages.

But content creation takes time and skill. From not having the expertise to time limitations, there are many reasons why you may be struggling to regularly update your site with relevant, engaging and well-written copy.

Rather than writing content themselves, many business owners choose to outsource content writing. This is where you hire a freelancer or content marketing agency to do the work for you. It is usually best to use an agency over a freelancer, as freelance writers tend to work alone, whereas content marketing agencies often have a team of writers and can allocate the person who is most suited to the job and can therefore provide you with the best results. An agency will also have employees who are dedicated to specific areas of content creation, so they will be able to assist with anything content-related, such as SEO keyword research, topic ideation and putting together a content marketing strategy, as well as writing blog posts, outreach articles, landing pages and social media posts.

If outsourcing content writing is something you are considering, you may be wondering how to go about it. To help, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide, which explains what you need to do in nine steps.

To outsource your content, you need to determine your budget, research some reputable content marketing agencies, identify your content goals, gather together your company information and communicate clearly with both your internal staff and your writers.

Next, you should create a content calendar, review the copy before publishing it, measure its success and maintain the relationship you have with your content expert in case you wish to use them again in the future.

Continue reading for an in-depth explanation of each of these steps and to find out why outsourcing your content could be the best option for your business.

1. Determine your budget

When budgeting for content writing, some of the things to consider are:

  • How much money do you have left to spend on outsourcing content once all other costs are accounted for?
  • How much are you happy to spend?
  • What is a fair fee based on how much work you are expecting the agency to do?

When deciding how much to spend on outsourcing your content, it is important to remember that the cheapest option is rarely the best. High-quality content is an investment, so avoid scrimping and bear in mind that all being well, you will benefit from long-term rewards. That said, you don’t need to spend a fortune on great content.

Balance is key here. You don’t want to go over budget, yet you want to make sure your writers are paid fairly in order to get quality content in return.

2. Identify your goals and expectations

The next step is to think about what you want your content to achieve. Every business owner will say “more brand recognition” and “more sales”, but it’s a good idea to consider the specifics and decide what your priorities are.

Do you want to focus on increasing brand awareness by generating more organic traffic to your site? Is your priority to position yourself as a market leader to your existing customers? Or is it more important for you to drive sales? Your goals will impact the style of your content. If you want to drive sales, for example, your blog posts and articles will feature salesy language and calls to action or links to sales pages rather than other internal blog posts.

Once you’ve decided on the purpose of your content, you can start making some decisions about the following:

  • What you want to outsource — It could be that you don’t want to outsource all your content tasks. In this case, you can ask the agency to only work on the things you need help with, for example, your content strategy and planning, keyword research, topic ideation, writing blog posts, landing pages, outreach articles or social media posts, editing and proofreading, videos, graphic design or images.
  • How many articles you need per month — As a guide, blogging two to four times per week produces the most traffic.
  • How many words the average article should be — The length of a blog post will vary depending on the topic. It also helps to do some research and check the word count for the top pages on Google search results.

3. Do some research

Now that you’ve established your budget and you know what you want to achieve, you can start doing some research into different content marketing agencies. 

Some of the things to look for include:

  • Clients they’ve worked for previously
  • Examples of their work
  • Their understanding of SEO
  • What their rates are
  • How well they communicate and whether they are asking you questions in return
  • Their turnaround times and whether they will be able to meet your deadlines
  • Their areas of expertise (this is especially important if you work in a niche field, such as finance or medicine)

4. Gather your company information

Once you have decided on the content marketing team you want to work with, it’s a good idea to get together all the information you have about your business in terms of your brand. This will prepare you for the initial meeting, during which you can outline your expectations and writer directives and give the agency a clear understanding of your brand and who they are working with.

They will likely ask you some of the following questions, so it will be helpful to have all the relevant information to hand:

  • What does your company do?
  • What is your USP (unique selling point)?
  • Who is your target market?
  • What are your buyer personas?
  • What is your brand positioning?
  • What is your mission statement?
  • What is your tone of voice?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • What existing content do you have?

If you don’t have the answers to all of these questions, don’t worry, as your content marketing specialist will be able to guide you.

5. Communicate clearly

To avoid confusion, it is essential that you communicate clearly — both with your employees who work in-house and the agency workers you’ve hired. 

During your first meeting with the content specialists, you will need to find out more about their processes to establish a way in which you can work together effectively. Some of the questions you might want to ask include:

  • How can you tailor your services to fit my budget?
  • How much creative input will I have?
  • How do you come up with topic ideas?
  • How do you implement quality control?
  • How much communication will we have during the content creation process?
  • What do I do if I’m not happy with what you’ve produced?

After your initial meeting with the agency, it’s a good idea to set up an internal meeting with your employees to discuss what you learned from your conversation with the content specialist, which tasks are being outsourced, what the next steps will be and what your employees’ responsibilities will be.  

Before any work starts, it is essential that you sign a contract outlining all the details of the work that needs doing. It should include fees (including any extra fees that will be charged for multiple revisions), payment due dates, goals (for example, how many pieces of content are to be created and how long they should be), responsibilities, reports or updates, quality control and timelines.

Once the agreement has been signed, you and the agency will decide what the articles should be about. Usually, they will then create the briefs for you and assign them to the appropriate team members.

If you are required to write your own briefs, some of the things to include are:

  • Suggested headline
  • What the content should cover
  • Outline
  • List of keywords to include
  • Target audience
  • Tone of voice
  • Calls to action
  • Internal links to include
  • Formatting requests (such as bulleted lists, FAQs or tables)
  • Word count
  • Deadline
  • List of resources to consult
  • Links to reference pieces
  • Additional SEO requests (for example, description tags, feature snippet and meta title)

In terms of communication, one final thing to bear in mind is the balance between direction and creative freedom. While you need to give the writer direction regarding keywords, word count and tone, it is important to allow them room to exercise their creative flair (while adhering to the brief, of course). This is the best way to ensure you are getting engaging content that people will want to read. Remember that they are experts at what they do, and this is why you are hiring them instead of doing the work yourself. 

6. Create a content calendar

By this stage, you should have a clear idea of the exact content the agency is creating for you. This means it’s time to start planning when and where to post it. The best way to do this is to create a content calendar. In it, you will need to include:

  • The title of each piece of content
  • The format of each piece (for example, blog post, social media post, outreach article)
  • The target keywords for each piece of content
  • The name of the person who is creating each piece
  • The due date for each piece
  • The publication date for each piece

If you need help with what you should be publishing when, your content marketing agency will be able to advise. They may even offer to create your content calendar for you.

7. Review the content

Once a writer has finished a piece of copy, it will be proofread and checked by other members of the agency’s team. They will check the content for the following:

  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar
  • Fulfilment of the brief
  • Tone of voice
  • Accuracy
  • Plagiarism
  • Broken or toxic links
  • SEO

(Note that if you hire a freelancer, you will need to double-check all of the above yourself.)

A draft will then be sent over to you for review. If it satisfies your brief and reflects your brand and voice, you can approve it for publishing. If not, now is the time to request changes. When giving feedback, remember to communicate what you want clearly and politely, and, to avoid being charged rewrite fees, don’t stray from your original brief. Professional writers are used to constructive criticism and will be more than happy to revisit their work and submit another version for your approval at no extra charge.

8. Measure the results

In time, you should see traffic building as you regularly publish high-quality content. To determine the success of your content, your content publishing platform may have built-in visitor tracking features that enable you to analyse some of the statistics listed below. Otherwise, you can use a tool like Google Analytics or Semrush. Social media channels like Instagram and Facebook also give in-depth reports about how your content is performing.

Some of the statistics to analyse include:

  • The number of new visitors you are getting each month
  • The average time visitors spend on a particular page
  • The percentage of people who leave after viewing just one page (bounce rate)
  • The number of monthly sales or leads generated from your content
  • The number of social media shares each piece of content gets
  • How your page ranks for targeted keywords

It is important to analyse these statistics regularly, so you can see what is working and whether your keyword strategy or content writing plan needs to be adjusted.

9. Maintain the relationship

When working with a content specialist, it is important to nurture the relationship to ensure you are getting the best results. In addition to communicating your expectations clearly, this involves being prompt with your payments and feedback, giving advanced warning if you’re planning to increase or decrease their workload and praising your writer for work that’s well done.

But even when the project is over, it’s a good idea to send them an acknowledgement of thanks and — if you like what they did — let them know that you’ll keep them in mind for any projects you may have in the future. You could even share your analysis with them and let them know which of their pieces are performing well. You never know when you may need their help again, so it’s wise to keep the line of communication open.

The best way to ensure you are getting well-written, engaging content that performs well is to outsource it to a content marketing agency. Our article on the benefits of outsourcing your content creation has more information on this.

No in-house team

The main reason why business owners choose to outsource their content is that they have no in-house content team.

This means there’s no one dedicated to creating a steady stream of online content that resonates with readers and drives traffic to their website.

Rather than hiring a whole team of in-house writers to do this for you, it is easier and cheaper to outsource your content writing to an agency. That way, you don’t need to worry about career trajectories, holiday pay, sick pay and other HR issues. Instead, you can just pay for the work as and when you need it. 

Insufficient time

You need to publish blog posts and articles on a regular basis to remain at the forefront of people’s minds and to generate more organic traffic. Not only that, but your content should be meaty enough to add value — both for SEO purposes and for your readers. A short and snappy 300-word blog post just won’t have the same impact as an in-depth article of 1,500 words or more.

We mentioned earlier that to maximise your Google search results, you should aim to be publishing between two and four blog posts per week. You may be managing to upload a couple of posts each week, but the best way to upscale is to hire a content marketing agency.

As you can see, creating high-quality content is incredibly time-consuming. And time is something most business owners don’t have a lot of.

Unless you hire someone to write for you, content creation risks taking a backseat to all those other things on your to-do list.

Lack of expertise

As we keep stressing, the content on your website must be of the highest quality, both for SEO purposes and so your audience sees you as a professional and trustworthy brand. 

The great thing about content marketing agencies is that they are experts in their field. The best ones are at the top of their game when it comes to SEO best practices, spelling, punctuation and grammar, creativity and adapting their tone of voice to comply with different clients’ writing styles.

While it is possible to hone your writing skills, writing well is hard for people who struggle with the skill or don't enjoy it. And if writing isn’t something you are particularly good at, you could find yourself spending days agonising over a single blog post.

Additionally, writing copy that generates organic traffic and leads to conversions requires a thorough understanding of SEO. SEO is a highly technical area of expertise, but not only that; SEO best practices are constantly evolving, so it is essential to be aware of what to do and not do at all times.

So, unless you are a talented writer as well as an SEO expert, it is usually best to call in the professionals.

What exactly is content marketing?

Content marketing is a type of marketing which is focused on creating and sharing online material, such as blog posts, infographics, videos and social media posts. The aim of the content is to create brand awareness, determine brand positioning, attract new customers, generate leads, increase sales and build a trusting relationship with existing customers.
If you want to know more, our article goes into content marketing in more detail.

How do I find someone to outsource my content to?

If you are looking for an individual freelancer, you can search on freelancing platforms like Upwork, Copify and Fiverr. Be cautious about using these sites, though, because even though all writers are vetted, some have received criticism for unfair pay. You could also try a social media platform like LinkedIn or Facebook. However, the best way to outsource your content is to use a reputable content marketing agency like Prime Content. That way, you can be sure you are getting high-quality, top-performing content.

The nine steps to successfully outsourcing your content are:

  1. Set a budget for content creation
  2. Research reputable content marketing agencies
  3. Identify your goals and expectations
  4. Gather your company information
  5. Communicate clearly
  6. Create a content calendar
  7. Review the content
  8. Measure the success of the content
  9. Maintain your relationship with your content expert

And there you have it, we hope this helps you to find your next writing partner!