Content creation is one of the biggest obstacles that many businesses and agencies face. In fact, some of the top challenges that B2B marketers struggle with have to do with content development. According to the 2015 Benchmark survey by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 60% of B2B marketers said that producing enough content was a big challenge, and 57% said that producing content consistently was at the top of their pain point list.
As an inbound marketing agency with content marketing roots, businesses come to us for these very reasons. Many companies we work with are just starting out with content marketing and inbound marketing. They just don’t have the internal time, talent or resources to develop a strategic plan and create the content that’s needed to execute that plan and meet goals.
Outsourcing content development
When content development is a challenge, many businesses and agencies look to the dozens of cost-effective content writing services in the market today to produce their content. While some do a good job, most are staffed by thousands of freelance writers, based all over the world, often working for very low rates (some even just pennies per word). Now, we’ve talked to a few companies who have had some success with that model, and many others who have not. We are on the latter end of that spectrum.
At SPROUT Content, our entire team has a writing background, and most of us have Journalism, English and Communications undergrad degrees (even our business development manager has an MA in writing). The quality of the content we create is at the top of our list. After all, the final content is the part of the bigger inbound marketing strategy that’s doing all the work, talking face-to-face with customers and building relationships with them.
So, why would you invest the least in the finished product? It’s like developing plans for your dream home with the best architect in town, and letting someone fairly anonymous, whose name you might not know, that you pay below minimum wage, do all the labor. It’s like hiring someone off of CraigsList, based on what they tell you in their ad, and letting them into your house with a hammer.
Some content writing services are just that: services. You simply submit a topic through a form, upload any supporting documents and set a due date. That is it. On that date you receive your draft (hopefully as ordered). It’s as easy as building a burger in the FiveGuys app. You content is one of the most valuable assets your company has. It's your 24/hour sales team and your direct voice to customers. Should it be treated like fast food?
The Freelance Debate
Lots of businesses and agencies work with freelance content developers and writers that they hire directly. And, that can be a good thing. Both types of businesses might be scaling up, and using freelance or contract writers (or designers, developers, etc.) to help meet temporary, or even long-term needs.
We know of many companies and agencies that only use freelance writers. If that system works for them, that’s great. But, that doesn't work for us. We hold the content we create to such standards that we know that level of content can only be created by someone who knows the brand inside an out. All of our content is created in-house by our team of writers. Yes, we have worked with freelance writers, but only if we intend to work with them on an ongoing basis. Sometimes a very specific subject matter expert is needed to write a complex type of content, and then we would seek that expert out. But, in those cases, we plan on working with them for the long-term, and as a transparent part of our team.
That's one of our main points of difference as an inbound marketing agency - all of our content is deveoped in-house. Our clients regularly talk to our content developers, know their name, and have their direct contact information. They're not an anonymous listing on a web page, but someone that will become a part of your marketing team. As they should be.