In a recent survey of marketers, 75% said they expected to increase their content marketing budget over the coming years.
That’s a pretty big increase.
But what’s the best way to deal with this growth? Hire content writers full-time? Or seek help from specialist agencies?
Here’s why agencies make sense.
1. The time struggle
Most content marketing teams are small.
Research from the Content Marketing Institute in 2018 shows that over half of both B2B and B2C responders had just one member of staff creating content for the entire organisation. Just one person.
One writer is going to struggle to create enough content. How long does it take to write 1,000 words? That is, 1,000 words that’s engaging, professional, shows your company in a good light, and draws customers in. And has been carefully fact-checked and edited.
From my experience, a 1,000-word article takes 10-12 hours. We’re talking briefing, researching, editing, proofing. And three to four people, each experts in their field, each responsible for one part of the process. Need videos or infographics? Now we go to a whole new level.
Increase output by 4x through outsourcing
The amount of content a specialised agency can produce every month will amaze you. My findings are that with larger teams of writers, the amount of work can be quadrupled compared with creating content in-house. It’s not that agency writers work quicker, just that there are more of them, so more pieces being produced at the same time.
Outsourcing also allows you to ramp up (or down) your content production without having to hire anyone new. It makes managing seasonal challenges far less stressful.
2. The bias and tunnel vision
Sometimes we work on one brand for so long that we operate with the blinkers on. The biggest problem with this is that content can become too promotional because of an in-house, unintentional impartiality.
Confirmation bias is where we overestimate the value of information that we happen to agree with – and underestimate that which contradicts our assumptions. In content marketing, it can mean writers unintentionally start to filter out important stats or information because it doesn’t conform with their (or our) pre-held beliefs about the brand.
Outsourcing provides a balance of novelty and familiarity
Agency writers aren’t as influenced by your brand, so don’t get caught making content that is so promotional it ends up losing credibility.
Instead by outsourcing you hit that sweet spot of a writer who understands your needs, but can also be inspired by other sources too. Talking of inspiration, that’s up next.
3. The stifled inspiration
The other problem is working on the same thing over and over again starts to limit inspiration.
Creativity is vital for successful content marketing strategies. Turning back to that 2018 survey from the Content Marketing Institute, we find around three-quarters of both B2B and B2C marketers felt that their organisation valued creativity and craft in content creation.
But when the B2B data was split by those who judged themselves as ‘very successful’ versus those who felt their campaigns were ‘not successful’, something interesting happened. A huge 88% of the most successful marketers agreed their institution valued creativity. The least successful marketers agreed just 59% of the time.
Fostering creativity can increase revenue by 10% or more
This was the outcome of a 2014 Adobe report on The Creative Dividend – How Creativity Impacts Business Results.
Outsourcing is a great way to do this. You expose your content to a whole new set of specialisms and skillsets. No longer does your writer have to be a jack-of-all-trades, but they can be specialists in a certain part of your business or a certain type of content marketing.
The push-back might be that outsourcing is also more expensive. But is this really true?
4. The long-term expense
Of course, there are benefits to having an in-house writer – strong brand knowledge and easy access for starters – but money saving isn’t one.
Compare the amount of work delivered by that single in-house writer with an agency in terms of cost. Outsourcing will be hard to beat when it comes to value for money.
Outsourcing is a cost-cutting tool in 59% of cases
This is according to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Outsourcing Survey which collected responses from global companies across 25 different sectors.
It makes sense too, because with an agency you only pay for the exact work you need. You don’t pay for time when someone isn’t working. You don’t pay for the ongoing training. You don’t pay for the annual leave or end-of-service benefits. You don’t pay the bonus.
Explore your options
Of course, not all agency or freelance writers are the same. But that is for another time. Ultimately, if you choose to move some of your content writing out of house, be sure to explore all your options.