Why In-House is Out: How Outsourcing is a Better Solution For Content

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How Outsourcing is a Better Solution For Content | SEJ

Disclaimer: I own a copywriting and content agency, Express Writers, so the views presented are from my stance on outsourcing.

Which should you choose for content production: outsource it or do it in-house? These are two terms with the same end; to deliver quality content that is ready for web publishing.

How Outsourcing is a Better Solution For Content | SEJ

Hiring in-house is when you hire and train an in-house content production team. You might have one writer, or five, but they are all under your roof, in your office. You might have a staff editor or leading writer. Outsourcing is when you rely on an outside agency to create, quality check (or edit), and deliver your content.

What’s better?

There has been debate. An Inc.com piece authored by Drew Hendricks says that in-house negatives are a huge budget (you have to pay an office staff more), while the dilemma for outsourcing is quality control.

I’m here to say that with the changing times, the truth of the matter is outsourcing is the better method for your Internet content needs.

Why? Briefly, in-house production facilities tend to take some time to get rolling and unless you’re willing to wait a couple of years before your in-house department is able to deliver high quality content comparable to content creation agencies, you’ll have a pretty rough time on your hands. Content creation and marketing is not an easy task and there are numerous technical details that need to be concentrated on for a content marketing campaign to succeed profitably.

Let’s look at more reasons why outsourcing can be a good fit.

Top 3 Reasons Why Outsourcing is a Better Idea

So why is outsourcing an easier method to go about content creation and marketing?

Content marketing strategies are unique to every company and it can take a lot of research and trial and error to formulate the perfect marketing strategy for content for a particular company. But this isn’t the most important reason why outsourcing content production and marketing is a win-win situation for any company.

The list of benefits that outsourcing brings to the table includes:

  1. High Quality Content: From a buyer’s perspective, the content you get should be of the highest quality. Usually, the writers hired by these content production companies are well-trained and highly experienced in any number of content creation disciplines. Combined with a professional work ethic and a long-term dedication to the art of writing, it’s no wonder why these companies tend to crank out brilliant content repeatedly.
  2. Delivery on Time: Outsourced content agencies tend to be stricter with their delivery times than in-house or freelance individuals. The reason behind this lies with the level of professionalism that is inherent in a company that seeks to deliver quality content to its clients. Once the client comes first then it is only logical to assume that the content needs to be delivered on time in order to meet the clients’ needs.
  3. A Wide Range of Expertise: It is hard to see the forest is when you stand too close to the trees. This analogy is especially true of businesses that have a dedicated in-house content department that focuses on a single angle. Hiring an external agency allows for you to gain perspective on the field. It also guarantees that the writer will have a lot of expertise that can enhance or add to the content that they produce as opposed to the narrow world view of an in-house department.

Not Everyone is Created Equal: Dealing With Content Agencies

Content agencies are not all created equal. Some content agencies can be quite unprofessional at times and it is important that you avoid the agencies that have a less than stellar reputation. There are quite a few content production and marketing agencies that serve as a one-stop-shop for a company looking to get its foot into the proverbial marketing door. Starting off with one of these content agencies requires little aside from contacting a sales representative to start on the details of what you want done. Remember, content agencies are designed to produce exactly what you need to further your business, whether this means a blog post or a content audit.

Bad Agency Content: A Brief Case Study

In the world of content agencies it can be very easy to be misled. Many content agencies talk a great game but fall short when it comes to delivering on it. Recently, we had the opportunity to try out a content agency that was not among the top-tier companies, but still had a decent amount of clients to its name, or so they claimed.

We were looking to fill our own content needs (not for our clients, for our own blogging). After contacting the agency, the initial rapport was good and set the stage for great things in the future. The customer service was instantaneous. These “great things” failed to materialize as the piece of content was delivered two weeks after the original order, and only after a large amount of pestering of the company. The content ordered was one article—and it took two weeks! What’s even worse, the final piece was of the poorest quality English imaginable and was basically unusable.

How to Avoid? Review Their Examples (More Than One) And Their Blog First

This is a very real problem in the field of content creation and in order to avoid this it is essential to do thorough research on the content agency you are leaning towards choosing for your business needs. This can include reading their own blog, and asking for a lot of samples before you order.

Quality > Quantity

The thing that sets a professional content production company above its competitors is its ability to produce high quality content consistently. We define high quality content as content that adds value to the reader’s life. Ideally, a skilled content agency researches the relevant keywords that make up a business’ core demographic.

By developing an ideal buyer or audience, content creation professionals are able to build different types of content that may engage the core demographic. These content pieces are then sent out into the relevant distribution channels, finding the target audience and bringing value to their lives, either by teaching a new skill, bringing updates about goods and services that may affect the reader or giving the reader a new take on existing ideas. Agencies that are worth their salt promote the idea of quality being better than quantity in content production, a fact that many less-successful content agencies quickly forget.

4 Reasons You Should Invest in Outsourced Content

Simply put, outsourced content is better. It does what in-house content would do, but on a massively different scale. Outsourced content is better because of the way it is created. Where in-house content only does the bare minimum required of it, outsourced content usually has quite a few hours of research put into creating it and directing it at a target audience.

Teetering on the edge of doing it or not?

Content agencies invest a lot of time in learning the best ways to approach and engage a number of different demographics across the board so as to cater to any company that desires their services. Outsourced content usually results in a number of benefits to a business such as:

  1. Wider Reach: Content agencies are able to develop a content marketing plan that covers all the major facets of content production and delivery. By combining what is known about the company and its target demographic an agency can pinpoint the most effective method of establishing a rapport with the reader and engage them in such a way that they are able to spread the message.
  2. Expert Opinions in Clear Language: Communication can be a major problem for some companies. In order to get their message out to the wider public, it must be done in a clear, concise way to cut down on misunderstandings. In some cases it can be as simple as breaking down the complex jargon into simpler to understand words and phrases, at other times it requires a complete re-imagining of an analogy. Content agencies are skilled in doing this and getting the message across to the user in a manner that ensures the reader will understand what is being said to them.
  3. Independent Production: In a medium to large company it can be tedious to constantly have to check up on a department to ensure that it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. When you outsource your content to an agency, the team that is dedicated to your content is extremely self-sufficient and able to work independently of your supervision. This frees up time for you to dedicate to other tasks.
  4. Cost Effective: For a business, the bottom line is always a concern. Outsourcing content can be very cost-effective both in the short and long-term. Developing a dedicated department for content is something major corporations can afford to do. Small to medium-sized businesses often don’t have the money needed to keep a dedicated content department running and remain profitable. The obvious solution is to hire a company that does these things professionally, thereby removing the obligation to keeping a long-term content department alive.

Outsourced content is developed to mesh with whatever ideas your company has in mind for their content. In order to fill the required niche, content agencies have authors that pen articles on such varied topics that there is rarely any worry about finding a competent writer to create high quality content for a client. The best content agencies have a strict hiring policy that requires their writers to prove their knowledge in writing in general, ensuring all content is at the highest quality imaginable.

The Moral of My Story: Outsourcing Beats In-House Any Day

The sheer number of positives that outsourced content has compared with in-house content is testament to exactly how much ahead of the game outsourcing is. Developing content can be time-consuming and there’s no way a small to medium-sized business can hope to compete with the likes of a large corporation simply through in-house means. That means investing time and money into outsourced content.

However, you must be wary in doing so, since it is easy to be misled into thinking a content agency is far better than it really is. Customer testimonies and consumer reports help to determine how trustworthy an agency is, but the number one way to determine the skill of an agency is to examine some examples of their past work. The truly brilliant agencies will be the ones that produce high quality content consistently, and those are the people you want working to craft your content.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Filipe Frazao via Shutterstock
Image #1: patpitchaya via Shutterstock

Julia McCoy
Julia McCoy is a bestselling author of So You Think You Can Write, podcaster, and avid content marketer. She’s the founder and CEO of Express... Read Full Bio
Julia McCoy
Julia McCoy
Julia McCoy

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  • Pillai.G

    I can’t agree more,Julia. Outsourcing has been a better choice nowadays when it comes to content development. Thanks for the great share!

  • I beg to differ Julia! Only slightly though because I liked your post. There’s a natural assumption that outsourcing content production needs will produce better and more effective content. That may or may not be the case. Some agencies operate on a revolving-door principle and their writer’s eventually migrate into full-time positions with the very companies that initially hired the agency.

    Often, companies are left having to rework the content that agencies produced. I speak from experience. Outsourcing content only works if the contracted company can produce writers that can thoroughly understand the client’s value proposition. Only then is it possible for there to be a win-win situation. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    • Darrin,
      Thanks for reading, and sharing your insights! Of course, I own a content agency, but I’m 100% honest here. My entire soul and passion is in my content agency, and it is nothing but successful. I am very blessed to have hired and found a very, very dedicated staff who consistently audit and guarantee the perfection of our writers. I know the experience you’ve had, but it’s because you haven’t found my agency yet! (And, we’re ranking in the top 3 of Google for “copywriting services”.) As explained in my case study – I KNOW there are bad agencies out there, in fact, I have tried to order from my competitors to see and had terrible experiences. I am horrified that people like some of my competitors are putting such a bad face on their content services. My team is a real, true, genuine writing team – talented, real writers, and today we’re serving thousands of clients around the globe.

      • And one other note- as a writer myself, I believe that all (really, truly talented) real writers are chameleons. Like actors, they can take on any persona and voice of the brand they write for, and successfully deliver content that will entirely satisfy the client. It’s not hard to fit a difficult client (brand, rather) for the real writer. This is another mission I strive to maintain in my team.

    • Kirsty Burton

      I completely agree with you Julia. On the point that most talented writers end up working full-time for the client anyway… no they don’t. I tried it, and then came back to Express Writers, Julia’s agency. If you know what you are doing and can manage your time and your own career, freelance/ outsourcing works best for both client and writer. 🙂

      The key, Darrin, in terms of quality consistency and understanding the value proposition, is finding an agency that you can trust to produce quality content every time. If you need to work more closely with a writer, you can find an agency that facilitates that and enables you to build a relationship with a writer. That way, you get the best of both worlds… an agency that has a team ensuring the quality of your content, giving you quality guarantee, and the one-to-one relationship should you choose that. They’re my thoughts anyway!

      • Kirsty Burton

        *Darrin. My apologies.

  • I have worked as a freelance writer and I do believe any writer (in-house or outsourced) would be capable of producing effective content so as long as you provide him with an extensive briefing of your company, your goals KPI’s, your content marketing plans and strategy as well as enough reading materials (including your top competitors) to further understand your products and services. This is where communication between you and your writer plays a vital role. 🙂

  • Great article (it was actually the number one article on buzzsumo). Outsourcing is great for businesses that are timestrapped. I agree that you have to check the agency’s track record.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Jennifer! Interesting to know about the Buzzsumo feature!

  • Julia, I absolutely agree with Darrin that outsourcing content only works if they can understand the client’s value proposition; however some value propositions for some clients are very complex. Therefore I disagree with you that a team of freelance writers can write intelligently about everything as that is completely unrealistic and out of touch with certain marketing situations.

    While I’m sure your team does just fine with “writing in general” as you put it, having the ability to write with perfect grammar for example does not mean that you have the expertise and industrial insight to write a detailed thought leadership piece on a complicated niche product or service without hours of hand holding and education. Because of this Outsourcing does not beat In-house “any day.” There are very realistic reasons for having in-house writers and to come out and say that outsourcing is always better is frankly ignorant and out of touch with what many enterprise companies need.

    Now I know the argument against this is that if I spend the time with a writer that they can write anything for me, but the point is that most of us don’t have the time it would take to pick a random writer and train them on everything our client has to offer. Not to mention most writers that write for agencies like yourself are not given access to contact with clients directly outside of your portal, which means a client has to work around the writer’s schedule which could all be solved with having someone in house. To reduce handholding and training it can be much more cost effective to hire people with previous experience in the niche you are working with and create an in-house team.

    While your article does a great job plugging outsourcing, and your company in particular, there is absolutely a time and a place for in-house teams, and to deny that fact is quite comical.

    • Zach, I’m not blind to the fact that many people (like you) still hold the opinion that in-house is better suited to them. That’s quite fine, and something you’re entitled to.

      Here’s a simple problem to illustrate and solve. What if your in-house writer has a cat that dies.. or a son that falls gravely ill… or worse. The problem with in-house I’m illustrating is that if something goes wrong, your someone is gone. Out. Not in the house anymore. Outsourcing eliminates the Fred-is-gone-from-the-desk-today problem in a way that can successfully replace Fred, and I strongly believe this not just because I have an agency, but because it is so successful (quality is our key).

      • Firstly, if “Fred’s cat dies”, thats why we have a content calendar that accounts for that, that’s good management. Secondly, what if you had spent hours working with a freelance writer in your network, only to have them go to another agency or job, or what if their cat dies (god forbid)? Thirdly, having a successful agency is not evidence that outsourcing is the only way, simply that you have a business model that works for some. Being a good SEO is like being a good carpenter. You need to have the right tools for the job. Outsourcing is a good tool for some, but not suited for others. To say that outsourcing is the only and best tool for the job comes off as arrogant and egotistical. There are real applications that require in-house over outsourcing, and that isn’t just because “I feel this way”, it’s real life.

  • Yes, nice article, nowadays, too much information come out every minute, what matters is the quality than the quantity, outsourcing is the same situation, we must review the ROI before we turn to a new outsourcing. I am get the same point with Julia.