The most successful SMBs recognize that at some point they’ll need to expand and delegate certain tasks, like content marketing. Creating and promoting content for your business is essentially a full-time job. It starts small when you initially deploy it, but it doesn’t take long for it to grow.
Given the low barriers to entry into freelance work, as opposed to launching an agency, there are countless freelance content marketers to choose from. Some with more skill than others. If you’re feeling iffy about your relationship with your current content marketer, then you may have signed on with one that is less than capable of meeting your needs.
Here are some of the common reasons why freelance content marketers could be disappointing you, along with tips for finding one that will exceed your expectations:
1. Difficulty Hitting Volume Needs
A brand that gradually incorporates content marketing into its strategy is likely focused on writing just a little bit of content initially. It usually starts with blog posts or emails, or even content marketing ebooks. If the content gains traction and the business grows, the frequency and variety of content should increase along with the growing demand from readers.
Initially, a freelance content marketer should have the capacity to manage smaller content needs on their own. As your business grows, they may not be able to juggle all of your projects and assignments – especially if they’re working with other clients and their schedule is already pretty full.
It can be frustrating to spend time creating deployment plans for content, only to find out that your content writer has no availability during that time. At some point, you should consider either bringing on additional content marketers and writers, or moving your content production over to an agency that won’t have any trouble meeting your content volume needs.
2. Trouble with Specializations
Brands utilize content in a lot of forms, and there are dozens of content formats you can use for marketing. As your content needs expand, you’ll need to lean more heavily on your content marketer for a wider variety of projects.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for freelance content marketers to specialize only in certain types of content or in a very narrow niche. Those who have broader skill sets may still lack the experience needed to produce a type of content you need, such as an infographic. That certainly doesn’t mean they’re incapable of handling the project for you, but working on new projects that are outside their scope may take a bit more time to complete.
There are also quality concerns involved with inexperienced freelancers, compared to what an established content agency could provide with a staff of experienced writers and marketers.
3. Maintaining Momentum
In all the time I’ve spent researching content, I’ve come across countless microsites and branded content built around one-off campaigns. Seeing all that great content abandoned after its usefulness for the brand ran its course is particularly saddening.
Wasted content opportunities are often the result of a mindset where companies are solely focused on launching the campaign and barreling toward the finish line. Once the campaign is over, there’s no strategy to move forward with the content created before the launch, so they just leave it stagnant in forgotten pockets of the internet.
In the event you do want to move forward and maintain that campaign’s momentum, you would be hard-pressed to do so with a freelance content marketer. Trying to maintain momentum across multiple campaigns is quite a challenge since your freelancer has a limited number of working hours in the day and they can only produce so much content within that timeframe.
If you want to build lasting campaigns while maintaining your editorial calendar across the board, don’t overwhelm your freelance content writer with this massive task. Instead, consider developing a larger content marketing crew to balance your content production and prevent your current writer from burning out.
4. Inability to Show ROI
There’s a pervasive myth in our industry that says it’s difficult to show returns on content marketing efforts. Honestly, my head might explode if I keep hearing this. It’s completely possible for you to tie content to every stage of the buyer’s journey and measure your returns.
The problem is, if you feel like your freelance content marketer should be the one responsible for showing those returns, then you might feel disappointed with the results.
Your content marketer’s primary role is help you develop strategies for content marketing and produce content as a part of that strategy. Unless your agreement specifically states that they’re responsible for metrics and reporting, and for hitting specific returns, then this isn’t really in their wheelhouse.
This shouldn’t be your largest concern when it comes to content marketing, anyway. The return on your investment will be mediocre at best if you don’t give the talented people you hire the freedom to create masterful stories that connect your audience to your brand.
5. Critical Dependability
Brands often want to form close relationships with those who handle their content marketing. A good relationship means the freelancer will have a thorough understanding of the company’s style guide – voice, mission, values, and brand position – and that insight will shine through in the marketing content they produce for the brand.
If something critical or last-minute comes up, like a press release or a topic that must be covered quickly, you want to be able to get content up and running right away.
When you work with a freelance content marketer however, you may find yourself at the mercy of their limited schedule. Even if they have few or no other clients taking up time throughout their day, they may not be working at the moment or maybe they left the house on any given day.
Trying to find a freelance content marketer who is just as responsive as a well-staffed content marketing agency is a fruitless task, so your alternatives are to hire more freelancers or sign up with an agency to insure you won’t miss deadlines in the future.
6. Limitation on Distribution
By definition, a content marketer is primarily a distributor who sits at the intersection of content, marketing, SEO, social, and PR. Their goal is to make the content go farther. Freelance content marketers have evolved to offer more services to their clients, and in many cases, they perform the actual researching and writing of content in addition to distributing and promoting it.
A great content marketer is highly skilled in multiple areas, including writing, domain or industry expertise, and promotion or networking skills.
At the far end of the spectrum, contrary to the previously-mentioned textbook definition sits the other type of content marketer, who is predominantly a writer but not much of a distributor.
Promotion and distribution is a critical part of content marketing. Even the best content with maximum value for your audience won’t gain traction if it’s not being promoted. Therein lies a major source of frustration for business owners who invest in content marketing but never see increases in traffic or engagement.
This is why it’s so important to find a freelance content marketer or agency that is capable of handling the promotion of the content after it goes live. This includes:
- Understanding the channels used by the audience for targeted promotion
- Leveraging extra distribution channels for pushing out content
- Utilizing tools for promotion and distribution such as Quuu.co and even Buffer
- Finding and promoting to influencers using tools like ContentMarketer.io and NinjaOutreach
- Repurposing content in a variety of formats to expand reach into different audience segments
7. Strategic Pivoting
A majority of marketers struggle to create engaging content. If you find yourself among that group, with limited engagement on some or most of your content, realize that you’re not alone.
You shouldn’t feel let down by your freelance content marketer over this, since not every piece of content you produce will knock it out of the ballpark. Still, you want a content marketer or agency that knows how to pivot if the current strategy is floundering.
The ability to analyze why content topics may have done poorly and implement ways to recover from that is a critical asset that you’ll want to rely on when it comes to your content marketing team.
There’s a vast, overarching problem of quality when working with an individual freelance marketer. You’re more likely to get reduced quality in strategy, as they tend to focus on the writing and not the planning. You’re also not likely to see a quality approach to research, writing, and distribution among your average freelance writer.
If you feel let down by the performance of your current content marketer, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean the end of a relationship. Examine the issues, uncover the potential causes of the problem, and get back on track.
Sometimes, your company may just be growing beyond what a freelancer can reasonably handle, which means it could be time to upgrade to an agency that can handle your volume and needs.
Do you currently work with a freelance content marketer or a content agency? Share your experiences with me in the comments below: