Why You Shouldn’t Outsource Content

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The internet can be broken down into two separate groups – those who create content and those who consume it. Those who create it have more social shares, influence, revenue, Google love, etc. We get it. Content is king and limes are green.

There’s obviously a need to crank out content on a large scale, which has led to the use of automatic content generation for mass distribution. I’m aware of instant article software that is capable of producing hundreds, even thousands, of unique, content-rich web pages in a matter of minutes. But like Shania used to say, “that don’t impress me much.”

Yeah it saves time, but a marketing strategy built solely upon automatic content generation will not be sustainable. Maybe a decade ago, but not today. We’re witnessing more and more the value Google is placing on content readability, social shares, and authorship; all things you must earn as a content creator.

So what do you lose by outsourcing content to other folks or having it auto generated?

Quality Suffers

In order to create the kind of content that takes your online business to new heights, it has to be correct, creative and contagious. These qualities are difficult to come by via outsourcing and nearly impossible to obtain through tools alone.

It’s no secret that Google is weighing heavily on social shares and interactions. Millions of people stand ready to magnify your great content to unheard of levels. However, nobody shares unreadable spam (definitely not black and white animals), so relying on content generation tools won’t get you far on that front.

Spam Penguin

Outsourced content lacks that smoothness that only comes through industry experience. Freelance writers, bloggers, content strategists and the likes usually possess strong writing skills, but just because an article is well written doesn’t mean it’s great content.

You Lose Your Writer’s Voice

Interestingly, outsourced writing jobs often get divvied out among a group of writers. This could spell trouble for you, leaving significant holes, false assumptions and possible inaccuracies in your product. But more importantly, you lose your writer’s voice.

This pertains more to editorialized pieces where your writer’s style and voice really shines through, rather than encyclopedic type content that’s dry and factual. But your writer’s voice is your pride! You’ve worked hard on it. It’s your style. Your personality comes through to the reader in ways they really appreciate. Your writer’s voice helps establish your culture.

Outsourcing Can Be Viable

If writing is a weak spot or you simply don’t have the time, outsource work to just one writer so that your voice is at least consistent. Then provide that writer with samples so that he/she has something from which to deduce your writing style. A skilled writer will be able to use their skills with your voice.

In Summary

Not everyone has the resources or even the desire to write content themselves. For some, outsourcing is viable. The bottom line here is that it’s important to understand the risks you take by outsourcing content to other folks and by using content generation tools like content reoptimization software, autoblogging, article spinning and the such. They may not be as effective as you think.

Image courtesy of Christian Barmala

Devin Harper

Devin Harper

Director of Outreach
Devin Harper is the Director of Outreach at Nifty Marketing, a local SEO agency. PR and link outreach is his bread and butter. When he's... Read Full Bio
Devin Harper
Devin Harper
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  • Alvin Brown


    I completely agree with you about companies negligently outsourcing and using software to automate their content. Too many times I see companies looking for the silver bullet to answer their content issues without a care in the world for giving value-add content to their customers. Too, I’ve seen companies outsource content and post it as their own without ever taking a peek at what claims are being made within the content or adding their own voice and style to the content. Then they have the nerve to wonder why their content is not being shared socially and heavily penalized.

    • Sahil

      Content outsourcing is the one thing which marketers should always be against. Content for the blog should never be outsourced, instead getting an authoritative or credible person in the niche to write a guest post for the site would be great. The main intention of consistent blogging is to add value to the users or to the niche specific community who are looking for information by writing informative posts and mainly to build brand authority and credibility, outsourced content cant provide so much value.

  • Mark

    Great article, Devin. After dabbling with outsourced content creation for some time, we’ve finally brought everything in-house with far better results. While product or service knowledge can be taught, I find that the personal stake and passion for the company in question is very often missing, which does show.

  • Scott McKirahan

    Unfortunately, many people simply do not have the confidence or ability to write things for themselves (and from much of what I read all over the internet, I can see why!). In those cases, it makes sense to outsource but you are right; what you get is pretty generic stuff that may be grammatically correct, but hardly compelling. The only people who can really write about your company or its products is somebody who has a passion for those products.

    • Devin Harper

      You’re absolutely right Scott. There’s a pretty obvious difference out there between bland words on a page and well-written content, and I think Google will be trying their best in 2013 to separate the weeds & flowers (corny much?)!

  • Lily Belajar

    Great article!. I agree with Scott, they keyword is “passion”. Readers can very easily detect the writers expertise and passion for the subject and without that it’s hard to build content that would make someone come back.

  • Steve MacDonald

    Exactly right Devin! It is really important and a big thing to create your own content, not only for the SEO purposes but most importantly to give your readers and customers the best that they deserve. Hard work and effort will always result to nothing but the best!

    • Devin Harper

      I’m with you 100% Steve, we’ve seen from recent updates that authenticity (there’s no easy path to authenticity) is the way to go!

  • Adam

    I really think it depends on the business and who exactly will be writing the content. Individuals within a company will surely have a better sense of what people will be wanting to read about and have a much better understanding of their industry.

    • Devin Harper

      Yes Adam so true. In some cases, the outsourcing model works but you have to have the right pieces in place and be willing to put up some cash for a decent writer. One problem I’ve been seeing is people wanting champagne content on a beer budget and we both know that a trusted, skilled writer that is capable of producing quality, shareable, likable, passionate content doesn’t come cheap!

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Not everyone is going to be a fantastic writer, and that’s okay. But if you don’t have the writing talent (or time) needed to produce the right kind of content you have to hire the right person to do it for you. A great writer with direction can write about nearly anything, but you also want a writer that is as invested in you success as you are. Content farm copywriters probably aren’t that kind of resource.

    • Devin Harper

      Nick you said it better than I did!

  • Andy Nattan

    If a writer can’t create a distinctive voice for your business, or adapt their work to fit your business’ tone, they’re doing the wrong job.

    Also, I’m not sure which agencies you’ve worked for, but I can’t think of any I’ve been involved in where work is haphazardly divvied up with no thought to a coherent brand identity.

    And your conclusion is basically “I know I said not to outsource content, but yeah, you should probably outsource content.”

    All things considered, this is pretty rubbish advice.

    • Devin Harper

      Hey Andy, thanks for your input. What I mean to say is that outsourcing usually isn’t the best bet, and when you do it in-house, you get writers that are much more invested in your content. I do understand, however, that not everyone has the skills or resources for an in-house effort. In that case, outsource becomes a viable option, but with associated risks.

  • Foster Don Thomas

    How much can actually be saved by outsourcing your content writing? Is it really worth it?

    • Devin Harper

      Foster, I hate to sound cliche but you really get what you pay for, which is why I think it’s best to just ramp up your efforts in-house and take content seriously. For me, content generators are an automatic no. But if you get in touch with the right writer, it can be worth every penny – assuming outsourcing content is your only option!

  • Daniel Fairborn

    Yo Andy, would it kill you to be nice? I thought the article made a lot of sense and I think everyone’s comments (but yours) reflect that. Great article Devin, all valid points!

  • Alexander Miklin

    So what does it cost to hire a profession SEO content writer? What’s the market salary on a position like that?

  • David

    I have to completely disagree if you have a decent team and process you can produce great content and it’s scabable. You will never have scalable content produced inhouse it’s too in-effective, slow and expensive, outsourcing content is the future. You will find that outsourced content is better at keeping a consistent them as long as you have a decent brief and re-using the same writers helps a lot.

    I’m not saying you can’t get shit content produced by outsources but i’ve seen garbage produced inhouse that took a day or two that I could have got written on Fiverr… the secret is having a decent process, structure, direction and a great team of freelancers. The biggest point is that it takes time and resources to secure a decent team and build a process that works but you often get what you paid for so don’t get it done on the cheap and you won’t have an issue.

    For the record if you are a marketing agency and you are working for a client they are outsourcing to you… just sayin…